Why, and for what, are they paid in the neighborhood of a million shekels a month? Is it for their amazing, incomparable talent? Do we support them with salaries and cushion them with bonuses because they toil especially hard? They take it because it’s given to them, and those who give are also happy take – today it’s me, tomorrow you, each of us in turn – everyone here is just a big glutton. They take because they can, and who exactly is going to stop them?
“Executive compensation” has become the national liquidator, crushing the balances of our cooperative society’s solidarity. Never have the fat been fatter, or the thin more emaciated and depressed; there is nothing as alienating as flaunted wealth. Their gain is our loss, because all that money comes from us. Knessets come and go, and each passes a thousand laws. But there’s one law they haven’t managed to pass, although it has been introduced and then pulled from the agenda more than once. This is no coincidence; they’re birds of a feather, so they flock together.
I really need to find a new metaphor: The typical Israeli politician is not a bird, but a beagle, that the tycoon out on a hunt sends ahead. We have never heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bark when the convoy of capital overtakes the government and crushes any efforts in its path to set a maximum salary. From his perspective, the issue isn’t equalizing the burden; equality is itself the burden, since there will always be people who are more equal than others.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid, in contrast, actually tried his hand. He called on Bank Leumi’s shareholders not to approve the improved compensation packages for CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach and chairman David Brodet. They didn’t listen to him, and voted unanimously in favor without so much as blinking.
Why, actually, did they just ignore his appeal? Doesn’t a request from the finance minister himself move them or obligate them? Isn’t it worth it to them to cast their bread, since eventually they will find it on his table and theirs? They ignored him because he’s just a cabinet minister, and things have changed around here lately; now the rich rule over the ministers and the ministers do their bidding. Governments weaken, but companies and corporations – domestic and international – just get stronger and more controlling. Financial empires have arisen that have replaced superpowers. The politician’s power is gradually waning, and when he wakes up, he will discover that he’s been shorn.
They ignored Lapid because they could. Yair is one of us, say the members of the club; he took his own fistful as a presenter when he had the opportunity. Now he’s welcome to smell our rear ends. In his new job he’s giving the public what it expects to hear; we understand and we forgive him. Our successful lad will come back to us yet, and until then we’ll meet at celebrations and exchange chit-chat and hugs at Jacob’s birthday parties. One day the Protocols of the Tycoons of Zion will be exposed, and the public will realize how we used him to obliterate the protest, and why we chose a kitten to represent the cream in the Knesset and the government.
This column likes to deal with the importance of setting an example, and we’ve apparently done so ad nauseam. No longer is it “Greedy ones, we’re sick of you,” but it’s the writers they’re sick of, the ones who are just jealous of those who are successful.
But personal example is not just a nice character trait, it’s a prerequisite for leadership and governance. A prime minister can’t say “follow me!” when he’s marching toward Jersey and the Virgin Islands.
It’s not Ukraine here, but here it will also end badly. Because there will come a time when the “fellow slaves” stop being “bros” and start acting like citizens.
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