Iron Dome 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The latest batch of statistics, tossed onto our overheated socioeconomic griddle
this past Tuesday, indicates a significant economic slowdown. It’s not entirely
unexpected, considering the paroxysms gripping the global marketplace, but it’s
very meaningful in our own context.
The bottom line is that we’re still
growing – in fact more than most Western economies. The average Eurozone growth
is just some 0.2 percent. Nevertheless, we’re growing at a slower pace than
several months back, and far from the buoyant forecasts which kicked 2011
According to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics,
this year’s second quarter produced limited growth only, calculated at an
annualized rate of 3.3%.
This is quite a sharp downturn from the 4.7% of
the first quarter, to say nothing of the 7.4% of 2010’s final quarter.
gets worse: There was a sharp rise in imports and a concomitant decline in
exports, especially to North America (no doubt a byproduct of the economic
travails there, which lower demands and make imports more expensive due to the
diminished value of the dollar).
These are cogent reasons to switch on a
host of red lights. Not only are exports down, but industrial output is
declining steadily and tax revenues were a full 2% lower in the second quarter,
as compared with the first.
And while the recessionary signs pile up,
inflationary markers rise, too.
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This obviously all but rules out a new
interest rate hike, but low interest is no cure.
Whichever way we read
the data, the indisputable conclusion is that the national cake is already
smaller, and shrinking further. Put simply, this means that there’s less to
divide, regardless of the shouts for the well-meaning “social justice” sparked
off by what debuted as the rent-protest in Tel Aviv’s Rothschild
Footing the bills for the protesters’ spiraling demands –
including, for instance, free education from age three-months through university
– would necessitate mammoth cash outlays. Yet the incontrovertible fact of life
is that our resources are dwindling, which is essentially what the slowdown
Some maneuvering is always possible, but there’s not a whole
lot that shifting emphases alone can feasibly finance. True, freeing up public
lands for construction isn’t expensive at first glance. But not selling public
lands to the highest bidder eventually means less going into the public coffers,
which contain our collective holdings. This reduces funds available to us
With a smaller cake to slice, priorities become key. But priorities
are in the eye of the beholder – or in the vocal chords of the
Underscoring the dilemmas inherent in giving in to the
tent-protest movement are the demands of various Negev localities for immediate
deployment in their vicinities of Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries. Recent
attacks from Gaza have spawned renewed insistent clamor for the Iron Dome from
Beersheba, Ashkelon and the Eshkol region.
The scientific achievement,
which took the original Iron Dome concept from the drawing board to an
operational multi-tested anti-missile system, is resounding.
another in a long line of feathers in the caps of Israel’s innovative
researchers and defense industries.
The fly in our ointment, though, is
the fact that while we have the technology, we frankly cannot afford
One single Iron Dome anti-missile missile costs $100,000. This makes
the sticky issue of footing the bill inescapable. The popular mantra is that no
price is too high to save lives, which – considered strictly on the moral plane
– is undeniable. However, we need to keep in mind that it costs next to nothing
to manufacture a Kassam, and that Hamas may have many scores of thousands of
crude rockets stored in its arsenals.
Clearly, firing at any flying
object from Gaza could wreak havoc with the IDF budget, which the Rothschild
Boulevard protesters anyway want radically slashed.
This was a cruel
enough quandary even before the first tent went up in central Tel Aviv. But now
the predicament has intensified.
Whose interests do we prefer when the
national cake doesn’t expand as much as the appetite for bigger and bigger bites
of it? Food for thought.
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