The fictional Mrs. Cohen cannot really be helped, at least not in the way the new finance minister, Yair Lapid, alluded on his Facebook page. Riki Cohen, as a representative of the Israeli middle class, is the majority of the population in Israel. She is the spine of the economy and society. There is no way to help this spine except by stabilizing the entire body.
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The truth must be told: For the next three years, Riki Cohen will mainly suffer. The budget figures show that until 2015, Israel has already tied itself down to overreaching expenditures that there will be no choice but to slash. Gifts and benefits to the middle class, the upper class or the lower class are out of the question in the coming years.
Riki Cohen needs one gift only: the promise that Israel’s economy will continue to be strong and stable, that it will continue to create jobs, that mistakes will not be made that bring us to the situation of Greece, Cyprus, Spain or Portugal. Riki Cohen carries the Israeli economy on her back and she will have to keep on doing so. She does not need palliatives, rather she needs economic policies that will preserve Israel’s strength and stability and ensure its future.
To this end, the finance minister must take the painful steps but the right ones: fight to bring the ultra-Orthodox into the workplace by cutting allowances and requiring their schools to adopt the core curriculum; assist the Arab community by allocating funding but at the same time requiring Arab local authorities to shape up their operations; improve the functioning of the heavy-handed government monopolies − the Israel Electric Corporation, the ports, the Mekorot water company − through reforms and by opening them up to competition; make the Israeli economy more competitive by exposing it to competition and dismantling pockets of economic concentration; deal with the terrible inefficiency of government services by moving ahead reforms in the public sector; treat poverty and inequality by means of tools that encourage employment; continue to improve the failing education system.
Only reforms that treat the fundamental problems of the State of Israel will ensure Riki Cohen a better life.