web analytics
December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘budget’

Netanyahu Dissolves the Knesset, Announces Early Elections

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to dissolve the Knesset and declare early elections, which are expected to take place early next year.

In his announcement, at 8 PM Israel time (2 PM Easter), Netanyahu noted the stability of his government, which is expected to complete its appointed four-year term—a rare feat in Israeli politics.

Netanyahu pointed out that this stability enabled his government to enhance both the country’s security and economy. “There is only one way to preserve these gains,” he added. “We must continue to carry out a responsible policy.”

“I have concluded that at this time we cannot pass a responsible budget,” Netanyahu told the nation. “It is my duty as Prime Minister to put the national interest above all else, so I decided that the wellbeing of the State of Israel requires elections now – and as quickly as possible.” He added that Israel would be better off with a short election campaign, which would minimize the damage to its economy.”

The political class in Israel has been preparing in recent weeks for such a move on the part of the PM, due to the lack of progress on approval for the state budget for next year. Netanyahu said last week that until mid-October he would announce whether he intends to try and pass the budget, or to dissolve the Knesset and hold early elections.

Members of the Likud Knesset faction estimated last week that Netanyahu would declare early elections for next February, and that he had no intention of committing political suicide pushing through a budget that includes decrees and cuts and could harm his standing in an elections year.

Netanyahu planned to dissolve the current Knesset last May, when the Knesset plenum approved the first call on a bill to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections within three months. But before the second of three votes had come up, Netanyahu surprised everyone when he announced a coalition with Kadima. That coalition was short lived, lasting only some 60 days.

It is expected that once Netanyahu receives a new mandate – since he and the Likud are well ahead of their rivals in the current polls – he will move to pass the harsh budget no one dares pass before the elections.

Netanyahu May Announce Early Elections Tonight

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Following meetings with the heads of the parties in the coalition, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be holding a press conference at 8 PM in Jerusalem on Tuesday. It’s believed he will be announcing early elections, perhaps to be held as early as February 2013.

If Netanyahu doesn’t call for elections, then he needs to start preparing to pass the budget for 2013-2014, something that sources say has not been worked on seriously.

By holding early elections, Netanyahu will miss the historic opportunity to be the only Prime Minister in Israeli history to serve his entire term. On the other hand, by holding early election now, Netanyahu will be going into elections from a position of strength, and not hurt by the political damage trying to get the budget passed might cause him.

Bibi May Call For Early Elections In February

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

JERUSALEM – Faced with the prospect of not having enough votes within his own coalition to ensure passage of the 2013 national budget, as well as a growing political rift with his defense minister, Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly considering moving up next year’s parliamentary elections from October to February.

According to Yisrael Hayom, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz are trying to stitch together a revamped national budget that would feature a series of austerity measures aimed at reducing the country’s budget deficit and addressing the global economic slowdown. Israel’s annual growth rate has shrunk from five to three percent over the past year.

The economic downturn in European Union countries has adversely affected Israel’s mostly blue-collar export industry (canned foods, flowers, fruits and vegetables, glass, etc.), as thousands of workers in those fields have recently been laid off – mainly in towns across the Galilee. In the past month, the unemployment rate has reached nearly seven percent. On two positive notes, though, exports of products from Israel’s renowned hi-tech and biotech industries have remained strong and Standard & Poor’s recently gave Israel one of the world’s best credit and economic ratings.

Yisrael Hayom reported that the Finance Ministry’s initial call for 15 billion shekels, or more than $4 billion, in across-the-board budget cuts – featuring reductions in social service programs to children in need, mentally and physically disabled citizens, the elderly and poverty stricken families – will likely be reduced to 10 billion shekels in cuts. The Shas and Yahadut HaTorah parties have already informed Netanyahu that they would vote against any budget that includes cuts adversely affecting their struggling Orthodox and haredi constituencies.

For his part, Barak has waged a media campaign against Steinitz’s insistence on cutting over a billion dollars from the nation’s defense budget in the wake of the various security threats Israel faces from Iran and Syria.

This has only worsened the Netanyahu-Barak relationship. According to Israel’s Channel 2 News, Netanyahu has become frustrated with both Barak’s political demand that he retain his defense ministry post in the next Netanyahu-led government (if Netanyahu is asked to form the next government) and their differing tactics in managing Israel’s relationship with the U.S. (Recent polls show Barak’s center-left Atzmaut faction winning only two-three seats in the next Knesset if elections were held now.)

Netanyahu’s disenchantment with Barak has spread across his Likud Party. Likud members have blasted the defense chief for telling the international media that he would recommend that Israel execute a unilateral withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria despite no formal peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu was incensed with Barak’s comments to the American media earlier this week regarding his positive meetings with Secretary of State Clinton and other high-ranking White House officials. Yediot Aharonot quoted a senior Israeli government official who claims to have heard Netanyahu say, “He [Barak] traveled to the U.S. to actually stoke the conflict between us and the Americans in order to come off as the savior – the moderate party that reconciles between the sides.”

A number of Likud members have urged Netanyahu to immediately fire Barak and replace him with former IDF chief of staff and current Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon.

Even if earlier elections are called for February 2013, the Netanyahu government will still be one of the longest-serving Israeli governments ever.

Speculations: Israeli Elections Moved Up to February

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to move the next Knesset elections from October to February, 2013.

The Israeli press has been featuring several leaks from Netanyahu’s inner circle on Tuesday and Wednesday regarding the approaching declaration of a February vote, although an official declaration is yet to made.

“We will make a decision by the opening of the winter session” of the Knesset, Netanyahu said on Tuesday. The winter session will start in two weeks.

Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz have been discussing a less severe clipping of the national budget, which was supposed to be trimmed by $3.9 billion. In light of the expected elections, they are likely to reduce the cuts to $2.6 billion.

“Over four years, we have responsibly managed the economy, reduced unemployment, protected growth and added hundreds of workplaces. We coped better than most countries in the Western world with the global economic crisis. For four years we acted as a responsible government and we must continue on this path,” the Prime Minister said, already sounding as if he is campaigning for his next term in office.

It is expected that the early vote will be scheduled for Tuesday, February 12. The last elections were held on February 10, 2009.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai from Shas said his party would rather not have the early elections.

“I told the prime minister that if the budget is passed with compassion, we will support it,” Yishai said, hinting at the need to avoid cuts that would hurt the needy segments of Israel’s population, adding: “We are prepared for elections at any given time, although Shas would be happy to continue its term for the year that remains.”

Opposition leader Shaul Mofaz of Kadima, who spent a short stint in Netanyahu’s coalition government this summer, said that “Netanyahu must be replaced and hope needs to be returned to the people of Israel.”

Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said that setting an early date for the national elections, because “Israel needs elections to decide between different alternatives and to reset the country’s path.”

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) told Israel Today: “In my opinion, the prime minister does not have a majority to approve a national budget… There is no majority in the coalition to approve the cuts. Without a budget, the government cannot continue to function and therefore there will have to be early elections.”

Universal Education or Universal Competence?

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Education was the defining paradigm of the 20th Century model of social progress, particularly the scientific education distributed through cells and classes where trained educators teach from prepared texts imparting the same knowledge to every students through the same methods.

Our educational system is nothing if not extensive. We, collectively and individually, spend fortunes on it. The average cost of a four year degree is approaching 100,000 dollars and that isn’t counting textbooks (1,100 per year) and the astronomical rates of interest on student loans. Total student loan debt has doubled in the last seven years and is approaching 300 billion dollars. The average student under 30 owes around 20,000 dollars as education has become the new mortgage.

Senior citizens who came of age in the age when college became universalized are having their social security payments reduced to cover their student loan debts proving that a college education really does last for a lifetime.

The individual expenses for an education are trivial compared to the collective burden. The budget for New York City’s Department of Education is 24.4 billion dollars. That is nearly the GDP of Vermont being expended on the schools of a single city. It’s the GDP of 60 percent of the countries on the planet being shoveled into a single school system of 1.1 million children under the banner of “Children First” that amounts to 40 percent of the city budget.

New York spends 11,572 dollars per pupil. For now the home of Wall Street can afford this kind of insane waste, closing the budget shortfall by finding a way to impose a 300 million or 500 million dollar fine on a major bank or brokerage. Most other places can’t. Across the river, New Jersey’s disastrous schools are bleeding taxpayers dry with murderous property taxes to fund failing schools.

The same story is repeated across the nation where homeowners are bled to fund swollen pension funds and failing urban schools. Gimmicks such as “weighed student funding” are used to divert as much money as possible from successful local schools to unsuccessful urban schools. People are losing their homes so that another high school in Newark can roll out more afterschool programs and Michelle Obama’s idea of nutritious lunches.

Politicians take for granted that education is the road to empowerment and equality. Obama has read poems off his teleprompter about the wonders of education as the only means of ensuring “our” children’s future. There is nothing revolutionary about that. Every politician takes it for granted that education means empowerment. But does it really?

Universal education was the panacea of every socialist state. By NEA rankings the Soviet Union had a better education system than we do. Its system routed as much of the population as possible through higher education and degree mills making it better educated, on paper, than the Yankee running dogs of the decadent West. And yet the USSR was behind the United States in every possible area of life.

The more you universalize education, the lower the value of that education becomes. When the goal of education is not to teach, but to graduate, then the educational system becomes a cattle run which exists only to move students through the system and then out the door through classroom promotion. The High School education of today is inferior to the Elementary School education of yesterday and the four year college graduate of today couldn’t even begin to match wits with a high school graduate from 1946. College has become the new High School. Graduate school is the new college. If we keep following the European model, then two decades from now, everyone will be encouraged to get a Master’s Degree which will be the prerequisite for most jobs and also be completely worthless.

The current model is that the more education you have, the better you are and the better that the society you live in will be. Everyone is expected to finish High School and as many as possible are encouraged to go to college, even if they’ll die before they pay off the student debt and even if more people go bankrupt subsidizing other people’s education. And at some point when everyone has six years of higher education, we’ll have a utopia of flying cars, glowing sidewalks in the sky and 5 minute tours of the moon.

How to Retire When You Don’t Have Enough Money

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Very often, life doesn’t turn out the way you expect it. For example, over the years you may have dreamed of having a certain income or level of savings when you retire. For various reasons, however, that has not happened. Maybe certain things occurred within your personal life that meant that you had to spend the savings that you worked so hard to accrue, such as a serious illness, major, unexpected repairs to your home, or more. Perhaps you started investing too late, or you put your money into investments that did not bring you the returns that you anticipated. Or maybe you were just one of those people who spent too much every month.

Whatever the reason, if you reach retirement age and you see that you are not going to have enough money for your anticipated needs, what should you do?

First of all, don’t stress about it. Although this is not the ideal situation, you won’t necessarily end up on the street. There are some steps that you can take to make your life a little easier if your nest egg isn’t as large as you would like it to be:

Keep working part time. Consider partial retirement instead of full retirement. Though older people do not always find it easy to get new employment, there are still places where the experience of a senior citizen is appreciated. Any income you receive means that you will be withdrawing less from your savings account.

Turn down the volume. As you are going to face a cut in your income, learn to cut down your expectations. A trimmed budget doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut out recreation, just find cheaper or free means of entertainment. Visit the library, not a bookstore. Visiting free public museums, going for walks along the sea front, and offering to take your grandchildren for one afternoon may not be as glamorous as a luxury cruise, but they cost a lot less and believe it or not, they can be just as rewarding.

Pay attention to your spending habits. While some people watch their budgets for most of their lives, there are plenty who don’t. If you fall into that second category, it’s time to change. Start taking note of your budget now, even before you retire, and you will be better able to cope with living in reduced circumstances when the time comes.

Keep up with your investments. If you do have a few investments, don’t panic when you retire and start selling them all. Consult with a financial adviser on how to make the best of the investments that you have and what you can do to make the best of your retirement years under the circumstances.

There aren’t any magical solutions to retiring comfortably without adequate savings, but there are certain strategies you can use to avoid and fix personal finance mistakes.

Box Of Chocolates

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The other night, after having a truly bad day where nothing seemed to go right, I jokingly changed my Facebook status to “I have had one of those awful, miserable, terrible days! And there is NO chocolate in the house!”

I immediately received more than 10 responses, offering me sympathy and virtual chocolate. Despite the late hour, my next-door neighbor offered to let me come over to get whatever candy bars she had in her house. I love my online girl friends, but declined the candy bars. However, I enjoyed the sympathy – and ate that all up. But over the next few days, my craving for some real chocolate kept nagging at me.

Thursday rolled around and I was having another stressful day while doing my usual shopping in the local Trader Joe’s grocery store. I had a specific list with a specific cash budget. After loading my cart with the items on my list I made the horrible mistake (or perhaps a part of me intended to do this all along) of going past the store’s amazing chocolate candy section. At least six different containers of fancy chocolate-covered candies called to me, begging to be purchased, and somehow I was able to resist the urge. Though I lingered and salivated, I eventually forced myself to keep to my list and budget and move to the checkout lane. While waiting there, the invisible bubble above my head was working overtime.

I started thinking: “Maybe I should just run out of line and grab the chocolate caramels. After all, $3.99 won’t break the budget. I should have enough money … maybe if I put something else back. Or I can get the chocolate-covered pretzels; they’re less money … Oh, the chocolate-covered cashews sound so delish…” And so it went until, before I knew it, I was completely checked out and it was time to pay. I had spent so much time thinking that my window of opportunity to get any chocolate treat for myself was gone. So I came back to reality and paid the bill. And just as I was about to push my cart away, the cashier handed me a gift-wrapped box.

“These are for you,” she said cheerfully.

“What’s this?” I asked, confused.

“We’re giving out boxes of chocolates today. Enjoy.”

I almost got lightheaded from the shock of what she’d just said, considering what I’d just obsessed over just seconds ago.

“Wait,” I asked, “Why are you giving free chocolate to people?”

“We just are. It’s a goodwill promotion, so enjoy them. They’re really good.”

On the back of the gift-wrapped box was the information sticker with ingredients – and right there was a reliable kosher symbol. I could have cried with joy. Despite the fact that the cashier from Trader Joe’s just handed me the box, I knew from my very soul that God had just handed me this box of chocolate.

“Wow, this is so nice. I am really going to enjoy these [chocolates]. Thank you so much,” I gushed to the cashier. But my sentiments were intended more toward the Almighty!

Then I noticed that the cashier was looking at me in a strange way, and it dawned on me that I might be acting slightly goofy while fussing too long over the candy and lingering in her line, refusing to move on. So I took my spiritual box of chocolate and put it in my cart, and left thinking about how special this experience was. I drove home with a huge smile on my face, knowing that not only did I get a free box of candy but I also got a divine gift that let me know that ultimately I don’t have to post my true feelings on Facebook. I also knew that God is always listening to my heart and knows what’s going on with me. He is with me every step of the way, lending me sympathy and support – even when there is no chocolate in my house!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/box-of-chocolates/2012/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: