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Archive for May 14th, 2010

In town for a speech tomorrow morning (will also be on Fox and Friends at 8:15). Saw this on my walk to the hotel.

Is the city government really this greedy? Or is there something so horrible about idling that it requires outlandish fines?

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Here’s a great chart put together by the New York Times. It shows the degree to which government debt issued by profligate nations such as Greece and Spain is owned by banks in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. It is quite reasonable to describe what happened as an indirect bailout of domestic banks dressed up as a bailout of the Mediterranean nations.

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I continue to be amazed at the creative ways that politicians buy votes with other people’s money. Here’s an article from the LA Times discussing the warnings of an Israeli economist about the long-term fiscal crisis his country faces because – at least in part – the government gives people welfare payments to pray and engage in religious study. An astounding 65 percent of ultra-orthodox Jews have decided this dependency option is better than working. I suppose I should go out of my way to say that I have nothing against prayer, but I do have a problem with people thinking that it is morally acceptable to pray at someone else’s expense:

Weaning itself off socialist-influenced policies that once brought 400% inflation and 60% income-tax brackets, Israel’s economy is now growing despite the international financial slowdown. Debt is manageable, the currency is strong; Israel’s high-tech sector is admired worldwide. But one Israeli economist is warning that beneath Israel’s back-patting lurks a hidden peril — fueled by demographic trends and political choices — that could eventually mean an end to the country. …According to Ben-David, nearly one in five Israeli men between the ages of 35 and 54 — a group that he believes has “no excuse” for not working — are not part of the labor force. …Officially, Israel’s unemployment rate is about 8%. But that doesn’t include Israeli citizens who are not trying to find work, either because they feel disenfranchised, such as many Arab Israelis, or because they’ve chosen a life of state-subsidized religious study, such as many ultra-Orthodox Jews. Nearly 27% of Arab men and 65% of ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t work, government figures show. The non-employment rate for ultra-Orthodox men has tripled since 1970, Ben-David said. …What worries Ben-David most is that the nonproductive part of Israel’s population, which survives largely on welfare, is also the fastest growing. Today Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox together make up less than 30% of the population, but they account for nearly half of school-age children. With heavy lobbying from ultra-Orthodox parties that often prove crucial in forming government coalitions, Israel has increased welfare payments fivefold since 1970… Over the last 30 years, the percentage of working ultra-Orthodox men has decreased because of government programs that subsidize their religious study, experts say. Such programs are now facing a backlash from Israel’s secular and non-Orthodox citizens. A radio talk-show host recently described ultra-Orthodox Jews as “parasites.”

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