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Health Care & Environment
11.20 Dead fish to power cruise ships [using dead fish to ultimately kill more fish, animals and plants but at a slower rate]
11.20 Indonesia: dead whale had 1,000 pieces of plastic in stomach [We have to stop killing everything!!!]
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.20 New York City subway and bus services have entered 'death spiral', experts say [death spirals are the end-thing nowadays]
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.20 'He may not rewrite immigration laws': Trump's asylum ban blocked by federal judge [Has anyone thought about putting razor-wire around the White House?]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Social Inequality in Israel
Monday, 20 December 2010
Misguided policies disproportionally favor the rich, producing greater inequality, unemployment, and poverty for failure to address root causes.
An earlier article explained neoliberalism's impact on Israeli Jews, beginning in the 1980s. In 1985, the Knesset amended the Bank of Israel Law, prohibiting it from printing money to finance industrialization, full employment, and immigrant absorption.
It was part of a neoliberal takeover, embracing a massive power shift from various government agencies to the Finance Ministry and central bank (the Bank of Israel), similar to American financialization that empowered Wall Street, the Federal Reserve it controls, and US FIRE sector overall (finance, insurance, and real estate).
In 1985, Israeli policy included:
The same year, the Arrangements Law established an emergency Economic Stabilization Plan. It sidestepped the normal legislative process, became a permanent budget adjunct, and kept Knesset members from debating its destructive effects on democratic values and social justice.
As a result, a race to the bottom followed, especially since the 1990s, as evidenced by mass privatizations, cutting welfare and social benefits, and, like in America, shifting wealth to the rich. The results were predictable. Israel not only flaunts democracy, it's a land of extreme and growing inequality.
Taub Center Study
The Jerusalem-based Taub Center's 2009 State of the Nation Report sees disaster ahead for Israel's economy based on three basic measures:
When "a major problem" exists in one or more of these variables, "the society is in danger of a potential crisis." Moreover, when their root causes aren't addressed, it's "on an unsustainable long run trajectory." Compared with other Western countries, Israeli income inequality and poverty "are among the highest...." A growing crisis exists from failure to deal with them.
"What are Israel's national priorities," Taub asks? "The answer lies in its government's budget" compared with other developed countries. "Although Israel's standard of living has risen in absolute terms since 1973, it has declined in relative terms, compared to that of the leading countries in the world." Moreover, benefits disproportionally favor the rich, a continuing trend that bodes ill ahead because of misguided priorities, producing greater inequality, unemployment, and poverty for failure to address root causes.
Study editor Professor Dan Ben-David explained, saying:
On employment, for example, headline numbers are misleading. They show how many job seekers are unemployed. "The main problem is those who are neither working nor seeking work, and here the figures are frightening." Excluding ultra-Orthodox Jews and Israeli Arabs, it's 18.9%, about 25% higher than for developed nations on average.
For Israeli Arab males, it's 27%, and for ultra-Orthodox ones, it's a staggering 65.1%. The average per capita income for working Israelis is $19,150 compared to $6,756 for Israeli Arabs. Moreover, they get less than 4% of the education budget and 8% of welfare benefits. As a result, 50% of poor children are Arabs, but Jewish poverty is serious and growing.
In addition, non-employment is compounded by the "astonishing data....about (Israel's) education system. Here, the surprise is in the direction and intensity of the changes."
In the last decade, the number of students in mainstream state education dropped by 3%, while enrollment in "national-religious" schools rose by 8% and 51% in ultra-Orthodox ones. Arab ones increased by one-third. "These are astounding figures - and that's just in a single decade."
If the trend continues, by 2040, 78% of Israeli children will be in religious, not secular, schools. Already, Israel's education system is in decline. For Arabs, it's "Third-World," and for Jews "it's among the lowest in the West." School performance is eroding because Israel's education system "is in a state of anarchy."
Moreover, poverty and inequality rates are "very high." At yearend 2008, 32.3% of families lived below the poverty line before tax and welfare adjustments.
Ben-David compared politicians to slow-boiling frogs. Clueless about a growing crisis, it'll be too late to address it when they "realize the pot is boiling."
Adva Center Report
The Tel Aviv-based Adva Center released a December 26, 2009 study titled, "Israel: A Social Report - 2008/2009 ," presenting disturbing findings like Taub. It showed 2008 was characterized by increasing inequality in salaries, household income, and matriculation success rates. "High levels of inequality were also found in higher education, health and retirement savings."
Its main findings were as follows:
Overall, investments and economic growth benefits "a small section of the economy and only some parts of the country....The blunt of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 hit employees, not employers" or the rich.
On April 29, 2010, Jerusalem Post writer Sharon Wrobel headlined, "Gafni attacks excessive pay," saying:
Knesset Finance Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni said "(e)xcessive salaries paid to banking and corporate executives are widening the gaps in Israeli society."
Hebrew University's Momi Dahan called Israel's experience "similar to the US (and) UK, where over the past three decades senior management (compensation) increased out of proportion to widening inequalities in the economy and society."
On October 12, 2010, Haaretz writer Meirav Arlosoroff headlined, "The Israeli middle class is shrinking - but only slightly," saying:
Planned tax cuts "will mostly benefit the wealthy, (since) it involves reducing the highest marginal" rates, not others or average taxes for most workers. Moreover, a Knesset Research Center study showed only 25% of Israeli households are middle class (based on the above Adva Center definition) because of high poverty, depressed wages, and unemployment.
For years, middle class wages have eroded, lower class ones even faster. Israel's rich alone are getting richer at the expense of working households. According to Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer, about 20 Israeli families control banks, supermarkets, telecoms, real estate, newspapers, high tech companies, utilities, and other basic industries and services.
The central bank's 2009 annual report showed these families control 25% of Tel Aviv Stock Exchange-listed companies and 50% of total market share, one of the highest concentrations among developed countries.
According to the 2009 Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report, 5,900 Israelis have at least $1 million in liquid assets, and from 2005 to 2007, Israel produced more millionaires per capita than any other country. The net worth of its 500 richest, in fact, exceeds one-third of total GDP, an extraordinary concentration level, and with it a chokehold on the economy and government policy.
At the same time, falling wages and social benefit cuts in healthcare, education, and other areas have widened the gap between rich and most others. Among all developed nations, Israel, America and Britain are the most unequal, a trend getting worse, not better.
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Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 20, 2010.