Who Will Protect the Men?

Everyone runs for the primaries from the second they are elected to the Knesset; thus the chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee is stronger than the Prime Minister.

There was a time when it couldn't have happened. There was a time when the finance minister was the one who decided, and the prime minister would support him fully. Today, they are so weak, so scared, that any MK can tell them what to do.

Today, everything is populism. Everything is short-term political calculations. Today, MKs compete among themselves over who will distribute more goodies and who will make a better impression on the public. Everyone runs for the primaries from the second they are elected to the Knesset; and thus it turns out that the chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, Haim Katz, is stronger and more influential than either Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

As finance minister in 2004, Netanyahu was the one who led the pension reform. It was discovered at the time that life expectancy increases by a year and a half every 10 years, and therefore there is a need to increase the number of years of work and savings, so that there will be a way to finance the many years of retirement pensions.

In the wake of those developments, it was decided at the time to raise the retirement age for men to 67 and for women to 64, in two steps. The first step was implemented, and the retirement age for women was raised to 62. But the second step, which was supposed to begin next week (January 1, 2012 ) won't be put into practice.

Katz didn't want it, and Steinitz couldn't do anything about it. Neither could Netanyahu. Katz easily defeated both of them and submitted a draft bill that postpones discussion of the subject to 2017. And until then, either the count will die, or his dog will. Of course, all the members of the committee supported Katz. They all want to be good to the public.

This represents blatant discrimination against men. Not only do men often work at difficult and exhausting jobs in industry, construction, agriculture and transportation, but they also subsidize the women's pensions. Because nothing comes from nothing. If one group in the population receives extra rights, another group is funding them. And, in fact, men are forced to work longer, until the age of 67, and also live for a shorter time. On average, women live to the age of 83, but men leave the world already at the age of 79. In other words, the women benefit from the pension for four more years; that is why, according to natural justice, they should work longer, not less.

But under current circumstances, the woman has the best of all worlds. She is not required to retire at the age of 62; she is permitted to do so. If she so wishes, she can continue to work until the age of 67. In that case, why grant this significant privilege to women only? Aren't men human beings? If you prick them do they not bleed?

Today, with the new pension funds, money is accumulated on an individual basis. That is why a woman who retires at the age of 62 will receive a low pension, both because she worked for few years and because her life expectancy is relatively high. That is why encouragement of early retirement means a life of poverty for retired women. In addition, an employer who knows that his female employee will retire already at the age of 62 tends not to promote her to managerial positions that require training and investment. That is why Ofra Friedman, the former chairwoman of the Na'amat women's organization, is vehemently opposed to setting the low retirement age (62 ) for women.

The general trend in all the Western countries is to raise the retirement age. Greece and France are now raising the retirement age by two years. In the Scandinavian countries, the retirement age for women ranges from 64 to 67. The OECD recommends increasing the retirement age for men to 66.6 and for women to 65. In Israel, the recommendation for men is already being implemented. Why not implement it for women too?

Some six months ago, the Nissan Committee, which examined the subject in Israel, recommended instituting the same retirement age for men and women, and to set it at 67 for everyone, in order to "enable a stable and durable system of social security." There's no need to go that far, and giving women an advantage could be the answer; but we don't have to overdo it. Retirement at the age of 64 is also a very significant benefit.

Throughout the public discussion, Netanyahu and Steinitz did not oppose Katz. Although both are in favor of raising the retirement age for women to 64, they don't dare to speak. They have also given in to populism. They also want the girls to like them - and to hell with the social security system and the state budget.

Read this article in Hebrew