Winter time. Last night at 1 A.M. the clocks were moved back to 12 A.M. and winter time began - earlier than anywhere else because of a compromise hammered out between Avraham Poraz and Shas. The economy saved NIS 63 million during summer's daylight saving time but according to industrialists, it could have saved a further NIS 37 million if we had adopted the (reasonable) suggestion of summertime stretching for nine months, because everyone knows that summer lasts longer than three months here.
Every day with daylight saving reduced electricity demand - mainly of lighting and air conditioners - by 0.44 percent, and raised production levels. Summertime also reduces road accidents and improves the standard of living for workers as they enjoy more leisure hours of daylight. But these are trivial considerations when compared to Shas' politics.
l Communications Ministry. These days it is impossible to turn on the radio without hearing the Communications Ministry's advertisement for changing cellular phone numbers to seven digits. According to the ministry, the change will allow each cellular operator to have its own unique dialing code, and then we'll all know where we're phoning - cheaply to someone else on the same network, or an expensive call to someone on a competing network.
At first glance, this seems reasonable, but on second thoughts it raises questions. How many work hours (or leisure hours) will be spent changing phone numbers saved in handset memories or phone directories? How much will it cost to change headed notepaper, or to print new business cards? How many mistakes will be made until the new numbers have been internalized? Does the Communications Ministry have an estimate of how much the changeover will cost?
l Richard Grasso. Last month, Richard Grasso, chairman and chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange, announced his resignation. He was forced to go by the outcry after details of his compensation package became public: $140 million. His salary in 2001 stood at $30 million, at a time when the stock market was weak. The board of the exchange was asked to approve an extra $80 million, and the reports of Grasso's wages and conditions made them wild.
Apparently, justified criticism of bloated wages in publicly-traded companies is not unique to Israel. It exists too among the U.S. public which has had enough of gigantic pay checks. Journalists, brokers and economists all called for Grasso to go. Even Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, candidate for the Democrats' nomination for the presidential race, called for Grasso's resignation. One member of the exchange's board sent Grasso a letter in which he wrote: "Your salary has harmed our efforts to restore public faith in the financial system."
Grasso's peak was in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when he worked around the clock in order to get the NYSE up and running by September 17. He earned the public's accolade at the time, but this turned to enormous rage when, a few weeks later, it became clear that he had received a $5 million bonus for that week's work. There is no limit to swinishness.
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