Shopping (Tomer Appelbaum)
Israelis still flock to the malls rather than do their buying online. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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There's one serious illness for which the government not only fails to provide the right treatment, at a subsidized price, but that it actually encourages people to catch. And without the slightest embarrassment. On the contrary: According to TV news reports this week, MKs were seen quarreling among themselves over who will be considered the "architect" of the law that encourages the spread of the above-mentioned disease. Even the consumer columnists in the newspapers went out of their way to describe the revolution that will take place in our lives, the minute legality and legitimacy have been granted to anyone suffering from the disease.

But before we go into specific details, here are several symptoms of the illness, which should help us figure out whether we ourselves are among those suffering from it: Symptom A is a kind of uncontrollable desire to be cheated that is manifested, among other things, in a loss of the ability to resist being tempted by all the nonsense that is being advertised. For example: subscribing to the advice of consumer maven G. Yafit, who wants us to believe that margarine isn't really margarine, but rather a source of wonderful Omega 3. Or believing the commercials depicting how a particular yogurt cleanses one's stomach of microbes. Or the demonstrations of laundry detergent that penetrates the fibers of a fabric and destroys the evil stains.

Symptom B, which usually is manifested along with the above symptom, is better known by its popular name: "I won't be your sucker." In other words, on the one hand, the fool really does long to be cheated and lives under the illusion that if he continues to use the aftershave advertised by that hunk of a model, like in the commercial, in the end he will end up looking just as attractive, and will also be as healthy as G. Yafit, who recommends schnitzels made of corn. However - and here Symptom B comes into play - the same fool may also allow himself not to fall for the illusion, and will say: "Aw, go on - that nonsense doesn't work on me. Give me some good hummus and pita and to hell with everything else."

And here is where the third and sometimes more lethal Symptom C displays itself: Let's call it consumerism. This is the name of a relatively new science that tries to make some sense of people's stupidity and their tendency to be tempted into believing in the aftershave and the corn schnitzel - and also to minimize the damage of their stupidity. Consumerism is designed for folks who don't really need a thing, but think that they do. In other words, it is the religion of bored people.

The religion of consumerism has long since given rise to several fundamentalist sects, like the television show "Kolbotek," in which the frightening voice of an imam warns believers about a certain firm whose meat products are spoiled, or about another company whose dairy products contain harmful microbes. And the influence of the imam with the frightening voice is no less powerful than the influence of those Jewish imams who preach, for example, not to rent apartments to Sudanese refugees.

But while the public is alarmed at the inhumanity of those fundamentalist imams, nobody thinks it is necessary to do anything about the fundamentalism of consumerism. Because if people suddenly stop worshiping consumerism, and buy only what they need, the malls will close and the chain stores will be emptied of people, and we'll return to the days of half a loaf of bread and cheese and olives from the corner grocery.

"You jerk - you bought another unnecessary item that you didn't need in the first place?" say the regulations passed this week in our parliament. "From now on, the government, which is proud of you for being such a fool, will enable you to return to the place of business where you purchased the item you didn't need, to get your money back and to purchase, according to your choice, something else that you think you need."

These new regulations, which once and for all formally recognize the public's right to be foolish, were signed off on with unconcealed pride by the head of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, Ofir Akunis. Some people say that by doing so, he stole the limelight away from MK Eitan Cabel, who as long ago as 2005 hatched the idea of recognizing the right of the idiots to self-determination.

Whatever the case, from now on it's legal: The state recognizes the temporary insanity that attacks a citizen during the act of purchasing a product that he clearly doesn't need, and enables him, when he returns to his senses, to get his money back instead of being left, as before, with a credit slip in his wallet, which will remind him every time he opens it that he is seriously ill.