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Israel's Histadrut Terrorism
by Steven Plaut
September 21, 2004

In recent days, Israel has been repeatedly shut down by the Histadrut, its trade union federation, the worst round of which was a compete general strike after Rosh Hashanah, supposedly to help out the "unfortunates". In the latest developments, the Histadrut launched the general strike in order to defend the rights of municipalities and local authorities to engage in open-ended fiscal irresponsibility and malfeasance.

Some of you may recall the bankruptcy of New York City back in the 1970s and that famous headline in the New York Daily News, "President Ford Tells New York City - 'DROP DEAD!'" What Israel needs is a whole series of similar headlines directed at the mayors and city councils who intentionally run up huge deficits.

The outrageous scandal of local authority finances rivals the similar mega-debacle a few years back involving the Histadrut's insolvent pension funds, and has many of the same features. Back then, the Histadrut was running one of the world's largest pyramid schemes, ratcheting up multi-billion dollar deficits and planning to dump the whole thing into the lap of the taxpayer. The local authorities learned from that epoch the appropriate lesson; namely, that fiscal irresponsibility pays off and the taxpayer will end up with the bill.

I have a piece of advice for Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Imitate the headline in the New York Daily News. Tell the local authorities, "Drop dead, fellas, you ain't getting bailed out!"

Let me explain.

Israeli local municipalities have been led to believe over decades that there is absolutely no reason for them to maintain any semblance of budget discipline and responsibility. They can spend 'til they drop, while at the same time giving countless exemptions on municipal property taxes to any group that appeals to them, and then come knocking on the door of the Treasury for bailouts. The Treasury then complies and milks the taxpayers.

The Treasury bears some of the blame for the current crisis because it never seriously conditioned aid to the townships on major overhaul of local authority finances. It never appointed conservators to take over the powers of criminally spendthrift mayors and city councilmen. It did not attempt to criminalize further deficit spending nor to hold mayors and alderman personally accountable.

Many of the very worst of the deficit-mongers have been the Arab towns, which tend to grant exemption to the paying of local property taxes to nearly everyone capable of breathing twice in a row. Then the mayors of these same towns march about whining about their financial hardship, screaming "discrimination against Arabs." In reality (as is proven in a research project I am involved in), Arab towns are over-funded, relative to their fair share of revenue sharing by the Treasury, in the fiscal equivalent of affirmative action discrimination. It should be emphasized, however, that there are also plenty of deficit-mongers among the Jewish municipality mayors and city councils.

The Left likes to scream that Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu is a "Thatcherist". If only he were. I have often wondered whether a clause might be added to the Amidah prayer asking for a bit of Thatcherism for Israel. Israel would become a far more fiscally viable country. What Israel needs most is a large dose of Thatcherism, or a leader with the courage and backbone of a Ronald Reagan, and a large prison that can hold the trade union thugs.

Bibi Netanyahu has in fact been making some mini-Thatcherist attempts to rein in the fiscal spending sprees of the municipalities, some modest pension reforms, and to privatize the featherbedded seaports. He threatened to stop footing the bills for criminally irresponsible municipalities and leave them to face their own budget heat. But that meant that some of the municipal deficit-mongers just ran out of funds and stopped paying municipal civil servants, perhaps half of whom actually do any work. The unpaid local civil servants then made noises, screamed about their misfortune, pled poverty, held protests and recruited the Histadrut crime family to back them up.

The Histadrut, run by the Chief Bolshevik Amir Peretz, then decided on a showdown with Netanyahu, and has simply shut down the country over and over, airports, seaports and all. Israel has lost huge amounts of business because businessmen are afraid to enter the country. Not because of fear of terrorism, but rather out of fear of being marooned when the Histadrut shuts down the airports.

Peretz demands that Netanyahu stop trying to coerce the municipalities into reining in their budgets or implement fiscal sanity. Meanwhile, the Histadrut is still able to bank on the economic illiteracy and liberal guilt tripping of the average Israeli. It is lobbying for a huge increase in Israeli unemployment, in the form of a large hike in the legal minimum wage. It has also been flexing its extortionate muscles against the Treasury by claiming it is striking because Netanyahu has been cutting some social welfare spending. The problem is that the country is in recession, tax revenues are down, and social welfare is the only place serious budget cuts can be made, because so much of Israel's national budget is today allotted for social welfare spending.

The Minister of the Interior, Avraham Poraz from the Shinui Party, is nominally in charge of ladling out the revenue sharing to the local authorities. Poraz outraged the Recreational Compassion Camp by dismissing the rhetoric coming from the Histadrut and others about starvation and malnutrition in Israel, supposedly caused by some minor cuts in social spending by Netanyahu. (Never mind that national budgets for social spending have skyrocketed over the last two decades, at the same time that the defense spending has been halved in real terms.) Poraz pooh-poohed the claims as empty hyperbole. In other words, he dared to tell the truth in a country where that is often risky; namely, by saying that there is no hunger in Israel. In so doing, he sparked an explosion of fury from the middle-class journalists and other professional chatterers for compassion.

Now, don't get me wrong here. Sure, Israel, like all human societies in history, has its richer folks and its poorer folks. But, no, it does not have malnutrition and hunger. From national health statistics, it is clear that the only deaths in Israel from malnutrition are among the yuppie girls with the anorexia problems. Poraz enraged the Caring Crowd by telling the simple empirical truth, namely that there is no hunger in Israel (other than maybe on Yom Kippur afternoon) and no malnutrition, other than among those with eating disorders. The leftist press has been having a field day attacking Poraz. But the fact of the matter is that the only place in Israel where people do not have bread to eat is inside the Chinese restaurants.

So why all the news stories about the "hungry", supposedly eating out of dumpsters? It is simply part of the orchestrated media campaigns of the Left against fiscal cuts in social spending. The Left wants social spending perpetually raised, and it can be paid for by eliminating all defense spending now that the Left has created peace in the New Middle East.

Israel periodically is afflicted with waves of liberal compassion posturing and leftist whining about the plight of the "poor". I have never understood who is stopping such people from helping out the poor via tzedaka or charity. Let us note that the one time when leftists are even more dangerous than when they are seeking peace is when they suddenly get all caring about poor people. Leftists caring about the plight of the poor, of course, have absolutely no interest in helping out the poor by foregoing a bit of their own creature comforts. The property and income of leftists are never to be used to help out the poor and unfortunate. Instead, lefties want the government to take away your income and property. So, when a leftist gets compassionate, it is time to hide your wallet.

But the most amusing part of the national Israel Poverty Festival, in which middle-class people posture their concern for the poor just as long as they are not asked to toss any of their own cash into the pushka, has been the continuing saga of Vicki Knafo.

One of the main manifestations of compassionate leftism (or what P.J O'Rourke would call "bed-wetting leftism") in Israel in recent years has been the movement of single mothers, led by Vicky Knafo. A dropout and single mom from an impoverished Negev blue-collar development town, she organized some other single moms and their supporters into a silly protest movement, to fight against any fiscal cuts at all by the government in social welfare spending. She also quickly allied herself with the far-left and started spouting pro-Palestinian political slogans and, of course, the de rigueur denunciations of settlers and spending on settlements. She ran to Geneva as part of Yossi Beilin's team in the Israeli Left's attempt to perpetrate a Munich there. At one point, she indicated she might run for a Knesset seat. She became the darling of the evening news. Local Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv adopted her as mascot and the Israel Feminist Caucus linked themselves up with her cause.

The national pastime of the media these past few months has been hand-wringing over poverty and "hunger", and Vicky is often cited as the inspired authority who raised public consciousness over the issue. So what has she been up to during the current Poverty Festival?

The answer is that she has been making porno on behalf of the impoverished. Really. (Haaretz, Maariv, and Yediot Ahronot, Sept 15, 04) Knafo appeared on a porno web site (sorry, I am not posting its URL here, and you should be grateful), in which her anatomical parts are covered with leftist caring graffiti. I mean, even Madonna - renamed "Esther" - ain't flashing her glands for us to ogle any more.

As for bailing out the local authorities and ending the Histadrut campaign of trade union terrorism, here is a modest suggestion:

Condition any bailouts for deficit-running local authorities on the seizure of all personal assets of the mayors and alderman in power while the deficits were run up, place liens on real assets held by the municipalities, and make it a criminal and prison-earning offense for any municipality or local authority to run a deficit in the future. Any money used for bailing out the towns with the worst deficits should be conditioned on a two-per-one deal, whereby for every shekel the weary taxpayer is coerced into ponying up for the bailout, the local authority will be required to run a two-shekel budget surplus per year until the debts are all paid off. Failure to do so will earn the perps real jail time.

As for the Histadrut, the next time it shuts down the airports or seaports, call in the military, Reagan-style, to run things at the ports and fire the entire workforces there. Finally, seize all Histadrut assets and use the proceeds from their sales to cover parts of the Histadrut's pension fund Ponzi Game.

The original article on IsraelNationalNews site : here

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М.С.Паниковский, человек без паспорта

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