May 10, 2010

"Welfare system could cause Israel to collapse, economist warns"

From Edmund Sanders in LA Times:
Nearly one in five Israeli men between the ages of 35 and 54 do not work, including Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews, says Dan Ben-David. As their numbers rise, so does the economic peril, he says.
When people talk these days about Israel's economy, they use words like booming, resilient, even "miracle." ...
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.

Armed with a Power Point presentation he's been showing to lawmakers, newspaper publishers and anyone else who will listen, Dan Ben-David, executive director of Jerusalem-based Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, says the problem is simple: Not enough Israelis are pulling their own weight.

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. That's about 60% higher than the average among nations in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, an international forum fostering market-based economies that Israel joined Monday.

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. ...

"Eventually it's going to break the bank," the economist said. "We're on trajectories that are not sustainable." ...

Reasons differ for the non-employment of Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews.

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." Tel Aviv's mayor said the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox community was "endangering" the economic strength of the "silent majority."

But defenders of the ultra-Orthodox credit them with preserving Israel's Jewish identity, saying that without the high birth rates of ultra-Orthodox families, Israel could see an Arab majority in future generations. ...

"If I were Jewish, it would have been much easier to find work," said Salwa Idreis, 30, an Arab Israeli from Jerusalem who, despite earning a law degree, has been unable to find a job for five years.

"People don't trust us because we are Palestinian," said the mother of four. Even Arab-owned law firms won't give her a job because they think Jewish attorneys will draw more customers, she said.

So, arrested rappers, mafiosi, and Palestinians all agree: "Get me a Jewish lawyer!"

Ultra-orthodox men on the dole doesn't really sound like a terribly insoluble problem for Israel. Israelis have the huge advantage over us here in the land of the free and the home of the brave that they are allowed to publicly discuss the implications of demographic trends without using the word "vibrant."

48 comments:

l said...

[b]"...defenders of the ultra-Orthodox credit them with preserving Israel's Jewish identity."[/b]

More like: Reinforcing negative stereotypes of Jews.

Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman needs to set this Ben-David fellow straight: The more people on the dole, the healthier an economy.

Anonymous said...

If I were on welfare,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a welfare bum.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

If I were on welfare, I'd have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

If I were on welfare,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a welfare bum.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

Mr. Anon said...

Judaism.

Is it good for the Jews?

punk said...

very unlikely. If Greece manages to fleece Germany for some Bob, I bet Israel can do it. Plus they have their hands deep in US pockets. If all fails, they can always send their formidable army to raid some oil fields and hidden gold vaults.

Thrasymachus said...

The specifics are unique to Israel but essentially it's like all the other Western social democracies- welfare is politically popular and buys peace but is expensive and not sustainable in the long term. The only question is when "the long term" arrives.

Anonymous said...

mafiosi.

Anonymous said...

But defenders of the ultra-Orthodox credit them with preserving Israel's Jewish identity, saying that without the high birth rates of ultra-Orthodox families, Israel could see an Arab majority in future generations. ...


Tsk, tsk. They need to learn to celebrate their diversity.

Anonymous said...

Why did they interview a Arab woman instead of a man? Could that be part of the problem. Are Arab women taking males jobs?

eh said...

Sounds like an agenda item for the next AIPAC meeting.

Josh Kalish said...

Culturally, the predecessors of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel were relatively educated and hard-working. IMHO, the cultural shifts that have occurred in their world are very small compared to their history and will straighten out in time.

Dave said...

20% of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 are also unemployed. So we've got that much in common with our Hebrew friends.

Mike said...

It's interesting that the two groups causing all the problems - the Orthodox and the Palestinians - get paid to sit around the house all day.
The people that actually go to work and have to interact with the world tend to be more pragmatic.

Geoff Matthews said...

I imagine that, at least with the orthodox contingent, vote buying is a motivation.

Anonymous said...

"65% of ultra-Orthodox Jews don't work, government figures show......... they've chosen a life of state-subsidized religious study......"



I'm sure they can interperet every verse in the Torah six different ways by now, and practically have it memorized.

I wonder what such a set of mental and verbal selection pressures would predispose one toward professionally? Something where you had to concoct arguments while contorting other's arguments and persuasively asserting these apologetics to a jury. The legal field maybe? Politics?

asdfasdfasdfs said...

As dire as rise of Orthodox numbers may, it's still better than Jews being overrun by Arabs. I'd rather have 'orthodox' whites in America who have lots of babies to keep the white population the majority--even if they have to be footed by tax payers. Besides, when the system finally goes kaput, they will be forced to do pratical labor. The thing is, we would have lots of whites than non-whites entering the workforce, which is good.

Besides, there's another advantage to huge orthodox numbers. If the system does indeed break one day, the huge orthodox numbers may not attack the Jewish state but Palestinian neighbors in West Bank, push them out, and grab all the land. It would be the Jewish version of reconquista--what Mexican-Americans are up to in the US.

Anonymous said...

Yes but, unlike the US, the elites actually care about Israel...

Anonymous said...

It seems they could just put a cap on how many they will subsidize and for how long. Just make religious study a more competitive field. They will get better theologians and the others can still pursue it in their spare time.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any ideas of the Ultra Orthodox IQ ?

Some of the poorest US Cities are almost enterely Jewish and as poor as Hispanic or Natives Americain cities.

Whiskey said...

It is a huge problem Steve. I saw that same article.

Israel has no "margin." It is tiny. It has no friends whatsoever. [Obama is deeply hostile to it, and American Jews accept that because SWPL is more powerful than religious/ethnic ties.]

Suppose Israel collapses like Greece, with no banks being willing to lend to Israeli banks, or bail-out bonds being floated, and the like, as public-private debt implodes Israel's ability to raise funds in the market?

What then? ALREADY high taxes are driving critical middle class Israelis out of Israel.

Suppose all Israelis just left Israel, or most, and the rest were killed, exiled, or what have you? For a Thought Experiment. Would Muslims stop hating Jews?

Unlikely. They hated them before Israel existed, before Zionism existed. Now, without a protector State, Muslims could demand of Europeans, of Canadians, of Americans, of South Americans, of Australians, of Kiwis, and so on, to persecute or at worst, exile Jews to Muslim lands for murder on a mass scale. On pain of oil embargoes, or nuclear attacks. You could see a "race" between Shia Iran and Sunni Pakistan, with competing models of Militant Islamism, to achieve that.

It would not happen overnight, but long-term (30 years or so) it would, particularly with Western demographic weakness and Muslim takeover of Europe.

If you are going to be the eternal target for genocide and hated anyway, the best response is to be strong enough and independent to deter attacks, through fear. Since being "loved" is useless and out of the question. This was Paul Kagame's solution to the Rwandan Genocide. Tutsis with an ethno-state to protect them, one strong enough to deter attacks.

This implies, however, a degree of frightening unity and Spartan-like incorruptibility.

Anonymous said...

Nothing that an increase in U.S. taxpayer funded subsidies can't handle.

Israeli Hi-Tech Guy said...

Note: The Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel do not collect unemployment benefits.

Rather, they have a small monthly stipend, which is cheaper to pay than unemployment benefits.

Some argue that an entry of the Haredim into the Israeli workforce would break the system since most of them would be unable to find jobs.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey: Obama is not "deeply hostile" to Israel. Just because Obama wants to be a guiding hand in the ME peace process, which includes some micromanagement of Israeli military policy, doesn't make him "deeply hostile". Furthermore, while American Jews have a tendency to be liberal, they still believe in the legitimacy of the Jewish state on the basis of its Jewishness - they only differ from the hardliners in that they want to see a more negotiated peace.

Anonymous said...

let me fix that:

they only differ from the hardliners in that they want to see a more negotiated "peace".

BGD said...

Well from the Arab side of the equation if over the next year or two some form of Palestinian state is finally declared (and who can be anything but cynical at this stage)there might well be a population swap - settlers for Israeli Arabs. There's a lot of "what ifs" here but.. http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/4418

Melykin said...

ALREADY high taxes are driving critical middle class Israelis out of Israel.

===================

The main reason Greece has gone broke is because hardly anyone is actually paying tax.

Anonymous said...

Ironic that the Jewish neoconservatives and the Jewish liberals promote mass immigration + multiculturalism in America, but then turn around and support Israel's attempts to main Jewish predominance in the Holy Land. Even more ironic is how many of them have drawn comparison between Arizona's immigration policies and Nazi Germany, but then flip around and support mass deportations of Palestinians out of Israel.

One negative downside, for the Jewish population, to America's demographic change is that Latinos, and more especially blacks, often hold somewhat anti-semitic views. As these groups become a larger part of the population, expect to see more rhetoric directing us to have solidarity with the Palestinians and lots of Israel-apartheid comparisons.

J said...

Steve and commenters, take another look at it. The large percentage of Israeli Orthodox Jews do not work because they study full time. They have created a learning society, where education starts at age 3 or 4 in the "kollel" and goes on the "yeshiva" till death. They are in fact like post-graduates in the secular education system. For comparison, only an infinitesimal percentage of Americans continue post-grad (most of the post grad students in American universities are Asians) while among orthodox Jews is about 30 - 40 %. Isnt that admirable? And they are not studying something utilitarian, they are dedicating their life to study subjects like Ethics of the Fathers (in Aramean!), Philosophy and Jewish Law. While you in America cannot lure even a small percentage of the population to study (many universities are basically free), these people choose to stay in educational frameworks and spend their time learning as much as possible without starving. In a way, they have created the Ancient Greek ideal of a society of philosophers. They are not spending their time on the beach or in fiestas. They are studying from sunrise to midnight.

adfadfasdfsaf said...

"Steve and commenters, take another look at it. The large percentage of Israeli Orthodox Jews do not work because they study full time."

Maybe these people can be tricked into doing economically valuable work...
like designing a computer program that better enables one's understanding of the Torah and Talmud, thus of God Himself.
Or coming up with a mathemetical model to predict the coming of the true messiah.
This way, these orthodox Jews may stumble on some great discovery by accident in their wild sheep chase to find the essence and meaning of God.

Isn't it true that some Chinese guy stumbled upon gunpowder while looking for the secret of eternal life?

rockingham said...

It's interesting that the two groups causing all the problems - the Orthodox and the Palestinians - get paid to sit around the house all day.

Not true. Many Orthodox have real jobs and many are in the military. The one you think sit at home are actually at schul studying Torah. Some are also teachers of Torah which I will admit can be informal and low paying. Not a real world job. But my point is they are busy and their wives are busy with children.

The Palestinians. They are in the tea shop smoking harsh cigarettes (that would make you sick) and adding lumps of sugar to their mint tea. Watching with one eye what's on a banged up TV set

Big bill said...

It would take too long to explain the fear that secular Israeli Jews have of the ultraorthodox in Israel. If you want to get a real taste, google for "Haredim" and "riot" or "assault" or "fraud" or "autopsy" or "stone throwing" or "arson". If you get too many hits, limit your search to Israeli domains.

Alternatively, go read "Failed Messiah" an award-winning Jewish blogger who compiles many items each day from the Jewish press.

But don't believe the silly nonsense that American Jewish boys will spin out on this website. They were sold the Jewish equivalent of "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" in Hebrew School right before their bar mtzvah and really
don't have a clue. Find a secular Israeli man to talk to. He can really fill you in on what living in a creeping theocracy feels like. Or ask the folks in Rockland County, New York or Postville, Iowa.

It ain't Fiddler on the Roof or Yentl.

rob said...

They are in fact like post-graduates in the secular education system.

J, what are they learning? Are they dedicating their lives to immunology and cell biology to cure cancer and infectious disease? Nope, they're re-reading old books. As an analogy, a huge chunk of graduate degrees in Saudi Arabia are awarded in Islamic studies. What's so great about it? They know a lot...about things that aren't true.

adfadfafdf said...

"The Palestinians. They are in the tea shop smoking harsh cigarettes (that would make you sick) and adding lumps of sugar to their mint tea. Watching with one eye what's on a banged up TV set."

They seem to having lots of sex and 'studying up' on how to take back Israel via reconquista.

It's a space race but not about out there but down here. Nothing so valuable as holy space.

Anonymous said...

"For comparison, only an infinitesimal percentage of Americans continue post-grad... While you in America cannot lure even a small percentage of the population to study (many universities are basically free)"

This post was made by someone apparently wholly unfamiliar with the unbelievably bloated (and expensive) American higher education system, which produces far too many PhDs in non-"utilitarian" subjects for even the overgrown academic job market to bear.

Bruce Banned said...

It couldn't have happened to a nicer people, as Voltaire would have put it!

Mr. Anon said...

"Whiskey said...

It is a huge problem Steve."

No. No, it's no problem for me at all. It's happening in someone else's country.

Anonymous said...

Whiskey said: Suppose all Israelis just left Israel, or most, and the rest were killed, exiled, or what have you? For a Thought Experiment. Would Muslims stop hating Jews?

Unlikely. They hated them before Israel existed, before Zionism existed. Now, without a protector State, Muslims could demand of Europeans, of Canadians, of Americans, of South Americans, of Australians, of Kiwis, and so on, to persecute or at worst, exile Jews to Muslim lands for murder on a mass scale. On pain of oil embargoes, or nuclear attacks. You could see a "race" between Shia Iran and Sunni Pakistan, with competing models of Militant Islamism, to achieve that.


Over the last 1000 years Jews have cooperated with Muslims better than they have with Christians. They helped the Moors conquer Spain and assisted the Ottomans in running the Balkans. The only reason there is tension between them today is because of the creation of Israel.

Prior to this Muslims used Jews to help occupy Christian territory. The problem, in Muslim eyes, with the creation of Israel is that Christians are now using Jews to occupy Muslim territory.

As for Muslims wanting to kill all the Jews, what explains the fact that the Iranians and Arabs have not killed or expelled all their Jews? Why does Iran allow Jews to sit in their Government? The reason is that they have no problem with their Jewish citizens who are loyal to their nation. Their problem is with Zionists.

David said...

Fortunately all the forms of welfare Israel receives from the United States won't bankrupt us.

J said...

I am not objective, but you cannot compare the Saudi madrassas with Israeli yeshives. Only a few Saudi adult males spend time studying, while Orthodox Jews study all their life.

Regarding the subject matter, old books on ethics and phylosophy, it may look worthless to many. Maybe. The idea is that all the knowledge required for a trade can be learned (for a person trained in learning) in a few months. And that is true, for most yeshive students who follow regular university programs say that the universities are easy and they excel effortlessly.

J said...

I wish to add that the idea tht studying in the US is very expensive and only the rich can afford it, is a myth. A convenient alibi for the lazy. There are many state universities that offer jobs to the students, there are hundred of thousands of assistance programs for poor students, and if you are some kind of minority - ethnic, religious, whatever (and who is not?) = there are well funded special government and NGO programs. The universities are desperate to attract black, latino, white proletarian, etc. students without success.

georgesdelatour said...

It's discussed a lot in Eric Kaufmann's "Shall The Religious Inherit The Earth?"

http://www.amazon.com/Shall-Religious-Inherit-Earth-Twenty-First/dp/1846681448

Whiskey. Here's another interesting thought experiment. Imagine that Europe's Roma, after a thousand years of persecution and the Nazi holocaust, invent a Roma version of Zionism. They want the right to emigrate to Rajasthan, build up a Roma majority, then secede from India and create a Roma state. The local Rajasthanis don't want it, and react violently to Roma settlers. Western governments worry the Roma will upset their peaceful relations with India. Conflicts break out between Indians and Roma in European cities. Where would you stand? Would you support the Roma-Zionist project or not?

Professor Ghut said...

"In a way, they have created the Ancient Greek ideal of a society of philosophers."

LOL. LOL. LOL. Yeah. The parallels are uncanny.

J, who is supposedly a robust fan of both Zionism and early Zionists, now, for this audience, suddenly heaps praise on the people those Zionists couldn't stand. What a world!

"I'd rather have 'orthodox' whites in America who have lots of babies to keep the white population the majority--even if they have to be footed by tax payers."

Wow. It's like this guy's never had any contact with the 'orthodox' at all. New Flash, pallie - the Jews don't need the lower-case nebulous identity of "white", nor do they in any way identify with it. Why should they?

Big Bill is right. Talk to a secular Israeli some time about the rise of the black hats. They're not so stoked.

I'm surprised Steve has never looked at the racial angle of all of this. Fanatical blue-eyed redheads, tallitot flying, being manhandled off their settlements by swarthy, muscular Arabic-looking dudes. Who's the real Jew, like Noah Efron asks? I remember talking to one sabra whose ancestors came from Iraq. "Our fanatics all come from Brooklyn," he said.

BTW, here's a timely article:
http://www.jpost.com/Features/FrontLines/Article.aspx?id=174945

rabbi aadfafsdf said...

This is a problem that might be called intellectocracy or intellocracy. There are two kinds of people who don't wanna do REAL WORK. Idiots and intellectuals. Idiots would rather live on welfare and watch TV all day, and intellectuals would rather live on welfare--aka public grants or private donations in their case--and read books all day.

If everyone in society had a IQ of 100, most would be happy working at REAL JOBS. If everyone had an IQ of 70, most would want welfare to stay home to play videogames--as in IDIOCRACY.
If everyone had an IQ of 160, most would want to do something MEANINGFUL.
For really dumb people, most jobs are too challenging. For very smart people, most jobs are too boring and pointless, beneath their time and talent.

So, whether it's Beavis-n-Butthead or Karl Marx, they are prone to shirk real work. Maybe that explains why supersmart guys like Chomsky champion really dumb people in America who just wanna live on welfare.

Really smart people want to make a lot of money. If that's not possible, they want jobs which give them power and prestige and keep their hands clean. To justify their privilege, they convince themselves and assure us that it's for the good of THE PEOPLE.

Obama and Kagan, both are members of the intellectocracy. They've produced nothing but gained power by 'thinking' and formulating 'policy'.

Though reactionary and religious, the Orthodox Jews in Israel are also of this ilk. They are so into studying and thinking that they disdain REAL WORK--just like Karl Marx did.

ATBOTL said...

Israeli Water Engineer thinks that we are lazy for not studying more when his whole country is getting welfare on our dime. He also thinks that everyone in America qualifies for some kind of minority scholarship. It's good to know our allies think so highly of us.

Mike said...

To the commentators claiming that the Ultra Orthodox have created a "learning society" and other assorted nonsense - sorry, no dice. Studying the exact same thing for a couple of thousand years has to be the definition of insanity. What exactly is there to learn?
The idea that the Orthodox are somehow noble workers and the Palestinians sitting around are bad is simply too dumb an idea to debate. They are both leeching off society.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"and if you are some kind of minority - ethnic, religious, whatever (and who is not?) = there are well funded special government and NGO programs"

So where are the well-funded special gov't and NGO programs for religiously agnostic, IQ 140 boys of Scandinavian/Austrian/German ancestry, living in the Mountain West, whose parents are the middle income people you disparagingly call "white proles"? Hmmmmmm??

Tell me, quick, because I haven't got the 30K a year to send the boy to the nearest engineering school that teaches what he wants to learn.

adfasdfasdfasdf said...

"To the commentators claiming that the Ultra Orthodox have created a "learning society" and other assorted nonsense - sorry, no dice. Studying the exact same thing for a couple of thousand years has to be the definition of insanity. What exactly is there to learn?
The idea that the Orthodox are somehow noble workers and the Palestinians sitting around are bad is simply too dumb an idea to debate. They are both leeching off society."

I think at this point, most of them see it as the greatest jokebook ever written. Humor still remains a mystery.

And besides, if academics can devote entire lives to studying Shakespeare or ancient Greek philosophers, why not study the greatest book ever written?

Anonymous said...

The Jews who came to the United States from Europe, the same ones whose children and grandchildren won more Nobel prizes in science and medicine than all of Latin America ever will, who created the American film, radio and television industry, who dominate investment banking, who made Google and Facebook and the rest, those Jews have the exact same genetic makeup of the Ashkenazi ultra-orthodox in Israel. If Israel turns them into workers, which they will, then it is Israel which shall again reap the benefits and shake the world. IQ is everything. Those genes are more valuable than lower taxes deregulation and non-unionization and all the other nonsense the right in America constantly spouts.