Financial Predators Mustn't Be Allowed to Teach

After all, their wealth isn't the result of their intelligence, but a byproduct of our foolish conduct.

When a tycoon falls from his personal jet, only the state coffers can save him - our coffers.The College of Management invited me to take part in a seminar on "financial education." The idea was that experts would go to the schools and teach the kids about how to conduct their financial affairs intelligently so that when they grow up they will know the difference between the blessings and the curses that money can bring.

The people who spoke at the seminar about the financial side of things had vast experience in banking, insurance and investments. I, on the other hand, represented the education side - or at least that's how I was introduced.

When I was given the floor, I immediately made clear my opinion that, if I were education minister, I would not allow these financiers to put their feet inside a classroom. They should remain outside the fence.

After all, their wealth and huge profits do not come from our intelligent conduct but rather from our foolish conduct, which they take pains to make even more foolish and confused than before. Even the governor of the Bank of Israel recently complained about the hard time he had deciphering his bank statement, which has fees for everything and all kinds of other bloodsuckers. Stanley Fischer's sigh of despair is my sigh of relief because it seems Fischer is a layman just like me.

I wouldn't allow them to enter the classroom because the example they would set is a bad one, and we have plenty of examples like that. Those who pocket NIS 1.5 million per month - 150 times more than a teacher, or even more than that - do not have the right to teach anyone in Israel. Those who get benefits even when their company is losing money - a total disconnection between profit and punishment - do not have rights. Those who do not restrain their urges and have no compunctions about being ostentatious are not the ones to be role models. Those who fall from the sky and still receive a golden parachute should show respect and stay home.

Those who have lost a sense of responsibility and a feeling of shame cannot stand up in front of a class, in front of the public. The trumpets already feel ashamed, but not the trumpeters. I recently read statements quoting the chairman of Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot, which is making money, and the company Magal, which is losing money. He's on the board of another 10 companies and his total salary is confidential.

And this is what Jacob Perry said or asked on behalf of his colleagues: "You tell me, to whom do I have to apologize?"

"Tell me," he begs of us. So we will tell him: You can apologize to the clients from whose small savings the bank makes such big money. Had the senior officials not filled their pockets with golden nuggets, it would have been possible to throw a few crumbs to the depositors.

And it's possible to apologize to teachers, doctors, nurses and social workers, as well as soldiers, police officers and other civil servants who earn a pittance and don't feel that their contribution is worth hundreds of times less than that of Perry and his associates.

This isn't the top hundredth percentile, or even the top thousandth, but the top ten-thousandth, whose members dance and sing at every Independence Day ball. It's no longer a question of grabbing something and eating or grabbing something and drinking - after all, how much can you eat and drink without bursting? It's a question of grabbing and grabbing - of grabbing and pigging out.

I would not allow these bankivores to teach, just as I would not allow carnivores to teach vegetarianism or cannibals to teach issues of human rights. The Ofers and the Dankners will not get a teaching certificate from me; they are not your teachers.