Economy and Community

Social Protest and the National Budget

The Bimat Mandel (Mandel Platform) series at the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem will deal this year with the subject of "social justice." In light of the social awakening during the summer of 2011 and the great public interest in the need for a new social order, we dealt with the subject of "social protest and the national budget" during the first gathering

Nehemia Shtrasler, a winner of the Sokolov Prize, senior editor for economics and society at the "Haaretz" newspaper and a commentator on economic issues for Channel 2 news, reviewed the socio-economic agenda of the State of Israel and argued that a socially-committed economic policy requires a commitment to free-market policies that encourage competition and put the interests of the consumer first.

Shtrasler discussed the socio-economic forces that affect the widening gaps in Israeli society, including education, welfare, government intervention in the market, taxation, and privatization. He advocated for increased market freedom by decreasing government involvement in land ownership, by cutting import taxes on certain products, and by increasing competition in the private sector through the breaking up of monopolies and control pyramids. He also stressed the importance of a high-quality free education with a required core curriculum for all students.

In addition, Shtrasler discussed the role of the media in the national budget. He described how politicians and military figures manipulate the media to raise public support for increased spending or to attack political opponents by emphasizing emotionally charged—but numerically insignificant—details of budget cuts. He criticized journalists who do not dig deep enough into the details of socio-economic issues, leaving the public with only a partial understanding of significant problems, and falling short of holding politicians properly accountable. He also gave examples of how public pressure often brings the government to make short term concessions that calm protests rather than create real and lasting solutions


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