Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Wrong Fix

There are 750,000 Israelis who have left Israel to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. To mark the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel the Absorption Ministry headed by Jacob Edery has decided to lure them back. They have put together a neat little package costing 100 million shekels. I want Israelis to come back home but their approach boggles the mind.

Somebody did a survey. In today's day and age people at the top are so distanced from the regular guys that they need surveys to find out what everyone else knows. Of course you have to ask the right question. When asked the number one reason for delaying their return home the answer was health insurance. They don't want to pay 8,730 shekels and they don't want to wait six months for the health insurance to kick in. My first response was "huh?" What idiot ran this survey. Then I looked at the question. The question should have asked what the number one reason for not returning to Israel is. What they asked was if you are returning what is causing the delay. If my question had been asked it would not have health insurance as the number one answer. The answer would have been cash, moolah,the big bucks.

I'm not thrilled by Israeli's who leave to make money. I understand the need for money. Just ask my bank! Yet some inner part of my being dislikes the idea of chasing after money. I think that is what most are doing. I'm glad the pioneers of this country never felt that way and they had it much harder. Okay so times were different. I can almost hear the Israeli's living abroad saying "So what's so wrong about wanting a nice life?" Nu, okay, maybe.

My objection to this new fix is that it fixes the wrong problem. Should we not be fixing things so Israeli's don't leave in the first place? If you fix that then the Israeli's living abroad will come back too. Its a simple plan really. Get a team together of regular people. No government workers with inflated salaries allowed. First figure out what size the average Israeli family is. Then figure how much mortgage or rent costs for a middle class type apartment. Add to that the cost of food, electricity, gas and water. Don't forget phone bills. Then add the cost of clothing, school supplies and other basic needs kids might have. Don't forget taxes! To this number add savings. People should be able to save money so they can buy a house or car,even go on vacation. When you arrive at a number that is what the average Israeli should earn. The government should adjust salaries accordingly. People need to be able to live without the fear of overdraft and bankruptcy hanging over them constantly.

As it stands today the average Israeli salary does not cover these costs. There is a 95% tax on new cars! Arnona which is like a local tax is close to one month's salary! I won't even mention the price of an apartment or how large of a down payment you need. This is what drives Israelis away. The government should work on making life here better. Then the extra million left laying around that they would have used for luring people back could be used for something important like sending me on vacation to a villa in Tuscany!

Submitted by Carol