April 2: Cut for growth

Every attempt should be made to avoid the concept that cuts are made without any thought as to how to generate growth in the economy.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Cut for growth
Sir, – With regard to “Lapid lays groundwork for ‘hard, unpopular’ cuts” (March 28), here is a wonderful opportunity for Finance Minister Yair Lapid to change the way that budgets are prepared.
Instead of the old method of mass, across-the-board examinations, the time has come to really assess every single heading, not taking anything for granted and not using as a basis years and years of accepted figures that have never been truly evaluated to the core.
Every attempt should be made to avoid the concept that cuts are made without any thought as to how to generate growth in the economy.
The policies of most of our governments, for example, have succeeded in hiding from the public the real unemployment problem by publishing figures that are much lower than the actual situation. We have been led to believe that the main problem is the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, but the truth is far from that, with large segments of the population that are completely underexploited.
The old and well-tried maxim of increasing economic activity to improve quality of life and citizens’ contributions to the economy has never been a driving force for the Treasury. Yet it is the type of economy that attracts investors and quickly reduces deficits.
Changing the clocks
Sir, – You say: “One of life’s simple pleasures is leaving work at the end of a hard day and, instead of encountering darkness, finding a sunny sky” (“Daylight saving time,” Editorial, March 28). I say that one of life’s simple pleasures is waking in the morning and finding that the sky outside is bright and blue rather than grey and gloomy – the sort of sky that makes one feel really awake and ready to enjoy the new day instead of wanting to go back to sleep.
Whatever the claimed benefits of daylight saving time – and you yourself indicate that they are unproven – they are greater the farther away one is from the equator. For anyone who does not know, a glance at a map will confirm that Israel is closer to the equator than anywhere in Europe, so the “benefits” of daylight saving time are less.
To suggest that we need to have the same period of daylight saving as in Europe is to betray ignorance of a simple fact of geography.
 Sir, – As your editorial rightly notes, there are “conflicting findings as to exactly how much, if any, energy is saved by DST....”
Daylight saving time is indeed significant in northern climes where the difference between summer and winter daylight hours, as in Europe, is six or seven hours, and sometimes more. But in climes like ours, where the difference is not much more than one hour, its significance is vastly exaggerated. It is countered, somewhat, by the morning hours of darkness.
DST might be the fashionable thing to support, but not all European countries have adopted it, and it is not necessarily called for here.
 Sir, – Hours of sunlight are a critical factor for those who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). The increased hours of sunlight that daylight saving time gives us during our waking hours can help people avoid the depression and difficulties they might experience during the short winter days.
Let the sun shine!
Sir, – Our family had the most enjoyable Seder in years due to the fact that the clocks had not yet been changed to daylight saving time.
Our grandchildren, ages three to 14, stayed up the entire time.
There were no scenes of various family members crashing out on the sofas or drooping their heads over the table or displaying irritability due to the fact that they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
I wonder if we were the only ones to have this wonderful experience.
I understand that for future Passovers we will again suffer the slings and arrows of this “wonderful institution” called summer time. Could someone please explain the logic of changing our clocks just before the holiday?
Sir, – You advocate extending daylight saving time in order to “align Israel with its European neighbors.”
I am not a big fan of DST, and I am against extending it. This is not because of Yom Kippur (since I will fast for 25 hours anyway). Also, as you mention, the money saved is not so great – and certainly minimal at the beginning of spring or the end of autumn – probably less than a few shekels per capita.
What I think is being overlooked are two main differences with most of Europe: 1. We are located farther south, with Tel Aviv about 10 degrees in latitude south of Rome, and 20 degrees south of London. Summer days are longer in Europe than they are here.
2. The normal working day in Israel starts at 8 a.m. In most of Europe it starts at 9 a.m. On a workday I wake up an hour earlier than my in-laws in London – and at the beginning and end of daylight saving time I am forced to do so in the dark. Not so pleasant! We should consider what is good for us and not do things because others do it.
Sweetly inebriating
Sir, – In “Preaching to Israel’s converted” (Terra Incognita, March 27), Seth J. Frantzman highlighted the fact that US President Barack Obama chose to make his speech in an arena of least resistance to his ideas, and as expected he was rewarded with applause time and time again. The feeling was that the entire country was on board, and all that we have to do to be successful in making peace with the Palestinians is to be a bit more flexible and willing to take a few more chances to accommodate the Palestinians’ needs.
Nobody asked why Israel should negotiate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose term expired more than a year ago. What has he done up to now to make him the receiver of such presidential praise? Obama made it clear that he wanted two states for two peoples living side-by-side in peace and prosperity, but he never mentioned the fact that 70 percent of the residents of Jordan are Palestinians. Doesn’t that qualify Jordan to be the state he seeks? My impression is that the president’s speech was laced with a little bit of honey and a large dose of vodka. It has the average Israeli reeling.
No FDR was he Sir, – With regard to “Obama, FDR and Zionism” (Comment & Features, March 19), as fate would have it Harry S. Truman became president of the United States just 82 days after taking over the vice presidency.
He and Franklin D. Roosevelt were complete opposites. Truman never attended a cabinet meeting and wasn’t part of the “inner circle.” He was not even aware of the defense and security system in place prior to the bombings of Japan.
Truman was a folksy type of person. His best friend, the Jewish Eddie Jacobson, was his ear and heart into the Jewish world and what was transpiring in Europe. They had been in business together, and Truman said Jacobson was the best man he ever knew.
In his biography Truman admitted that his “sympathies were always with the Jews,” but he faced untold and unprecedented pressure not to recognize the new-born State of Israel. He finally agreed to meet with Chaim Weizmann, and the rest is history. America recognized Israel 11 minutes after David Ben-Gurion declared statehood.
Many speculate that Roosevelt would have done otherwise.