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07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

07.02 American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion laws

07.02 'Committed' CO2 emissions jeopardize international climate goals, study finds

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07.01 Freak summer hailstorm buries cars in Mexico's Guadalajara [0:50 video]

07.01 Climate Change is Devastating India With Heat Waves and Water Shortages [13:48 video]

06.30 American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy

06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]

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07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

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07.15 Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]

07.15 If there is an 'immigrant' who has failed to integrate in America, it's Donald Trump

07.15 Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to 'go back' to 'original' countries

07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]

07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]

07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]

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07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

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07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  Print view: Social Inequality in Israel
COMMENTARY:

Social Inequality in Israel

by Stephen Lendman
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:

  • efforts to reduce budget deficits to near balance; and
  • dampen inflationary pressures by cutting wages, prices, credit, the currency's value, public benefits, pensions, and union power to establish a secondary, exploitable, temporary worker market.

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:

  • its standard of living;
  • poverty rate; and
  • extent of social inequality.

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:

"In the last year I realized the gravity of the situation. In economics there's the absolute level, and....the pace of change. I've long been aware of Israel's bad situation regarding important parameters such as the employment rate and the quality of education. What I learned in the last year is the pace of change. I discovered that we are moving down the problematic trajectories much more quickly than I'd realized."

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 pdf graphic," 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:

  • gross 2008 income increased only in the top bracket; all others declined; working household wages have been falling 3 - 4% a year;
  • the share of top bracket income increased from 28.3% in 2007 to 28.6%; all other brackets showed declines;
  • women's average income was 63.1% of men's;
  • the percent of middle class families decreased from 27.7% in 2007 to 27.1%; other studies show a declining 25% figure; middle class total income also decreased; Adva defined it as "all households whose income is between 75% and 125% of median household income;"
  • the average compensation for senior Israeli executives employed by the "Tel Aviv 25" listed companies (Israel's largest) increased by 7%; their earnings were 95 times the average wage; for these companies' top officials, it's 500 times;
  • from 2000 to 2009, Israel's national income grew by 30%; however, it was 17% for employees compared to 59% for companies;
  • only 44.4% of 17 year-olds passed their matriculation exams, the lowest rate in a decade; however, affluent locality rates increased from 63.8% in 2004 to 67.1% in 2008; "development towns" declined from 54.2% in 2004 to 46.9% in 2008, excluding East Jerusalem;
  • inequality in access to healthcare increased; and
  • did as well for pension savings.

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.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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.

 

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