Thursday, January 03, 2008

 

Israeli Crisis...redux

Over the years, Soccer Dad’s blog, among others, has adequately documented just how pathetic a news source the Israeli daily Haaretz is. Today I want to join in on the fun. Over at washingtonpost.com (Post Global) they have a piece by Yossi Melman who, when not writing for the Post, is a senior commentator for Haaretz. He purportedly is responding to a query as to his country’s (Israel’s) biggest story for 2007:

“The continued shelling of Israeli towns and rural communities near Gaza by Hamas could have been a natural choice for the most significant event in Israel in 2007.”

But Mr. Melman is much too bright to go with the obvious:

“But I’ve decided to select the impact which globalization is having on our society as the most important, the most formative event of 2007.”

This then leads to a predictable rant against capitalism. Fortunately for Mr. Melman, he had already written word-for-word much of this retrospective on 2007 for his 2006 country report for Global Integrity (globalintegrity.org).

Here’s part of Mr. Melman’s assessment of “the most important, the most formative event of 2007.”

“Israel now worships the golden calf of the free market: privatization and sink-or-swim competition, what British Prime Minster Edward Heath once called the “ugly face of capitalism.” The country’s economy is under the influence of a handful of families who, like robber barons, rob public assets, utilities and national resources, all with the help of corrupt officials and ministers.” Yossi Melman at PostGlobal: PostGlobal on washingtonpost.com

Now here’s part of Mr. Melman’s report on Israel for 2006:

“Israel now worships the golden calf of the free market: privatization and sink-or-swim competition, what British Prime Minster Edward Heath once called the "ugly face of capitalism." The country's economy is under the influence of a handful of families who, like robber barons, rob public assets, utilities and national resources, all with the help of corrupt officials and ministers.” Global Integrity - Israel Notebook

I’m certainly no expert on Israel but I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that this new year will unfortunately find Israel worshipping the golden calf of the free market (and damn - isn’t that a great turn of phrase – I can see why he wants to use it over and over). Sure, Israelis may continue to be blown up by terrorists and their towns continue to be indiscriminately shelled but it’ll be this false god worshipping that, come January 2009, we’ll all be talking about as the obvious Israeli story of the year for 2008.

Comments:
There is a case to be made that there are a number of extremely influential families in Israel who hold an unhealthy sway over the economy and politics. One of those families, is the Schocken family, which owns (drumroll please)Mr. Melman's Ha'aretz!

The silicon economy has performed impressively in Israel allowing a new sector to emerge outside of the oligarchy. Perhaps Melman is upset that capitalism may one day compete with his meal ticket.
 
The idea that globalization is something new is garbage. Globalization has existed since Marco Polo, arguably since Alexander. It's a buzzword, not a new economic reality and not a new one for Israel either.

Capitalism isn't pretty. I have heard it argued that the airline industry, overall, has had a net capital loss since its beginning, that the total investments in exceed total return to capital, from all of the failed and barely profitable airlines, etc. But this does not mean that airlines have not been a net good, or won't be as time marches on, including the positive externalities of such industries in other markets (e.g. airline developments are transferable to some extent to automotives, to military development, to the disciplining of governments against over-the-top protectionist policies due to the availability of desirable overnight shipping of goods, etc.

As for Israel, it's ironic that left-wingers assault Israel. Even the Likud supports domestic policies that would get Newt Gingrich to call them socialists. The amount of money that Israel spends promoting private artists essentially on, more or less, welfare shocked me. Government-sponsored and subsidized health care, educational subsidies, you name it: they are the Conservatarian's nightmare of what Maryland might threaten to become. Israel is the only socialist country that leftists hate.
 
Thanks guys - Israel's economic growth over the past few years has been remarkable and stands out in the MidEast for its non-reliance on oil revenues. that this guy doesn't recognize that is truly head-in-the-sand. And Bruce is right about the overall leftist tilt of the Israeli government - Judge Bork devoted a chapter in his book to the Israeli court that made our Supreme Court look positively reactionary.
 
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