The Bottom Line / The Dark Ages

Pines-Paz looks up at the heavens and thinks: I am the one responsible for us changing the clocks back too early this year.

When the clock shows 5 P.M. and it is getting dark outside, Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz looks up at the heavens and thinks: I am the one responsible for us changing the clocks back too early this year, on October 9, almost a month ahead of the U.S. and Europe.

So it now turns out that on the nicest days of the year, those with the nicest weather, the pleasant evenings go dark already at 5:15 P.M..

All this just because Pines prefered to give in to the religious and ultra-Orthodox instead of representing the free people who sent him to the Knesset. In the near future, there will be years when the Yom Kippur fast will fall in September and Daylight Savings Time will end in the middle of September. All this at the same time that the clocks in the U.S. and Europe are set according to a fixed schedule. It always ends on the last Sunday of October.

The Knesset debate on the issue was surreal. Instead of talking about the human side, or the economic or social aspects, the MKs talked about the Yom Kippur fast.

They forgot that the purpose of Daylight Savings Time is to better exploit the sun's warmth and light so that work hours will be more pleasant, and at the same time save money on lighting and air conditioning.

They forgot that Daylight Savings Time reduces traffic accidents and saves lives. They ignored the welfare of the working man and the advantages of getting home from work while it is still light out, to spend time with the kids and family while there is still sunlight.

The religious MKs thought it was more important to make the Yom Kippur fast easier, as if in Antwerp or New York no one fasts. But there, Jews simply start their morning prayers an hour later on Yom Kippur. A simple and elegant solution. Because there, they don't have anyone who they can drive crazy. There they can't make a joke of the overwhelming majority.

Pines-Paz claims that the law that was passed was the best possible result that the Knesset could achieve. But we say that he should have fought over it. The interior minister has plenty of funds that he can use to "persuade" the religious and ultra-Orthodox that other citizens also have values and desires. The time has come when Israel should have the same Daylight Savings Time schedule as the rest of the Western World.

A light to the nations

You enter a hotel in the U.S. and ask the price. The clerk says "$99". You say OK. But the next morning when you get the bill, you discover that they have added 8 percent in state tax and another 4 percent in occupancy tax - and the bill is really $111.

Wait a minute, why didn't they tell you that earlier?

It's not only in hotels. Every purchase, whether in the supermarket or clothing store: all prices are labeled without tax. Only when you get to the cash register to pay do they add on the taxes, which are different in every state, and are often different from product to product.

Why in a country where the customer is the king, where consumer organizations are strong - do they continue to dupe the public? How can they continue to show prices lower than what things really costs?

Here in Israel, the situation is much better. The price always includes all the taxes. A real light to the nations.

A crown of thorns

If we are already talking about the great wide world out there, then it is appropriate to talk about the road from the airport to the big city: either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

This road is the first impression that a tourist gets of the country, and first impressions are the most important. Road 1 is ugly and rundown. The sides of the road are covered with thorns and brambles. there is no landscaping whatsoever. There are only a couple of accidental trees, and in between only more thorns.

The new Public Works Department recently received NIS 19 billion, for a five-year period, to invest in roads and interchanges. They should invest some of the money in creating landscaping and signs on a Western level. Maybe they could learn something from the Road 6 toll road.