Weak gov't, heavy pressure
This week's power outages and the strike at Ben-Gurion International Airport have a single common denominator: a weak government that has no backbone and does not stand up to pressure.
The economy responds to signals, and Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signaled that they have no budget restraints or money problems, and that they will operate based on the intensity of the pressure rather than genuine needs.
The two started by stating that they would increase the budget not by 1 percent, like the evil Benjamin Netanyahu, but by 1.7 percent - because they have the money. Later on, Olmert did nothing when two Labor MKs did not vote for the budget in its first reading. The message was understood and the number of coalition "rebels" rose. Now Hirchson must pay opposition parties NIS 600 million to ensure the budget's passage. The coalition is crumbling.
Olmert caved in to Shas when the coalition talks had only just begun, and gave up the Sharon government's biggest social achievement: equalizing child allotments. Then he gave in to cancer patients, even though he said that he would not. He could have increased funding for health care, but then the other ministries' budgets should have been cut immediately to compensate. Otherwise, people think something can be created out of nothing - and from then on, the demands will only increase.
Employees of the Israel Electric Corporation and the Israel Airports Authority understood immediately with whom they were dealing. If they thought they were facing a strong government - one that would make no concessions, and would investigate power outages and airport strikes - they would work day and night to make sure that they were doing their jobs.
This is only the beginning of the strike season, because once the special interests realize that the government does not withstand pressure, they will all try to get whatever they can - and all of us will pay the price.