February 13: It's our future, too

Instead of thinking of their political futures by lowering prices, the coalition partners should think of the future of the country.

It's our future, too
Sir, – Instead of thinking of their political futures by lowering prices, the coalition partners should think of the future of the country and continue the policy that has helped us weather the recent financial meltdown better than most other countries (“After failed talks with PM, Histadrut prepares for strike,” February 10).
A few new taxes should even be imposed. For starters, I suggest one on junk food. This would bring in untold sums and also help improve the health of a large part of the general public. Let’s not lower the tax on gasoline, but reduce its use by staggering work hours to help alleviate traffic jams.
Another wonderful source of income would be to clamp down severely on traffic offenders, which would also save lives. And the price of water should be raised, now lowered – if water is not severely conserved, the alternative will be disastrous.
They beg to differ
Sir, – In “Feeling the pinch” (Editorial, February 10), you write that Prime Minister Netanyahu has at least kept direct taxes stable, and even given some miniscule breaks.
I beg to differ.
As part of the 2008 emergency plan, the ceiling on National Insurance Institute payments was raised; this translates into a huge tax increase. Since then I have been paying over NIS 2,800 per month in extra NII payments, and this is rising to over NIS 3,000 this year.
I am but a regular physician, a member of that increasingly rare breed called the “middle class” who works 12 grueling hours a day to keep two sons at university, a third daughter and a household.
This has been a crippling burden and dwarfs all the gasoline, bread and water increases combined. Yet no one even mentions it. Why? ANTHONY LUDER Rosh Pina Sir, – I beg to differ with the statement in your February 10 editorial: “There’s no householder who doesn’t feel the pinch.”
Knesset members and government officials never really feel the pinch. After all, many of the items on your list of rising costs, as well as many more perks and allowances, are provided either directly or indirectly to every MK and government official, in addition to a relatively high basic salary.
Is it any wonder, then, that a government can pass taxes and creatively named fees, tariffs and other charges with impunity? Is it any wonder why survey after survey indicates that people perceive the government as being cut-off from the general public? With such a centralized and concentrated economy, and such a large percentage of resources in the hands of a relatively small number of super-wealthy families, can we expect anything different? As long as the vast gap, both economically and socially, continues to grow between the average MK and the average taxpayer, there will be no improvement.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
Return on investment
Sir, – Regarding “Impending loss of anesthesiologists will make it impossible to run Bikur Cholim Hospital” (February 9), not only do the physicians not know if they will receive their salaries for January on time (or at all), they have no idea whether they will ever recover the loans the hospital has been taking from their salaries for the past many months.
Those Israeli drivers...
Sir, – You report that Jerusalem District Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby claimed authorities “can’t do anything about drivers who go through red lights” (“J’lem’s light rail suffers 1st accident as car runs red light,” February 9).
If the police would arrest offenders on the spot and prosecute them, this might have some salutary effect. Far more people are killed and injured as a result of traffic violations than from terrorism, and it is the sort of helplessness that Ben-Ruby indicates that is allowing this to continue.
A change in this attitude, which effectively condones dangerous behavior, is long overdue.
Salford, England
Sir, – I don't know about you, but I learned that when you see a red light you stop, a detail that would appear to be missing from the Israeli Drivers’ Manual of Correct Behavior on the Roads.
There is something intrinsically amusing about the police reaction to this offense, which would be considered particularly serious in any other developed country. The authorities are virtually implying that they expect most drivers to disregard traffic signs.
The truth of the matter is that the police make little effort to combat bad and illegal driving on our roads.
On making aliya over four years ago, I decided, after a blame-free 45 years of driving in England, that I would neither purchase a car nor drive here, since I wished to keep my blood pressure at a reasonably stable level and my expenses at a similar level – a decision I have yet to regret.
Sir, – It doesn’t surprise me that the new light rail system had its first accident last week – this, despite the fact that the system is not yet in service.
Even though drivers around the world have learned to coexist with a light rail system, it is hard for me to imagine it working in Jerusalem. This is due mostly to the fact that there are no barriers to prevent people from crossing the tracks in the middle of the street.
With all the pedestrians we have here, especially women pushing buggies and strollers, with slightly older children holding on, I can visualize a child letting go and, God forbid, running onto the tracks.
Why can’t barriers be put up to prevent such accidents? There were no injuries this time, but will this prevent injuries next time? HANNAH SONDHELM Jerusalem ...and that bus system! Sir, – Idiocy is the only word I can think of for Egged’s practice of selling bus tickets at central bus station ticket offices without giving these customers boarding priority.
Instead, the driver opens the door and everyone fights his way in, and the advance ticket purchaser often has to stand.
Because the driver is so busy selling tickets, the bus often leaves late, and in order to reach his destination on time, he often violates the speed limit.
I have complained to Egged’s Jerusalem management but have yet to receive a response.
My advice to advance ticket purchasers: Don’t waste your time.
Stick to the facts
Sir, – I have no idea whether it is a realistic expectation that the Muslim Brotherhood would win 25 percent of the votes in any Egyptian election. However, it is a figure we’ve seen in more than just Gershon Baskin’s February 8 Encountering Peace column (“The roots of democracy on the Nile”).
Not only Baskin, but US President Barack Obama needs to be reminded that Hitler came to power in 1933 with a minority position in democratic elections. It did not take long for that to change.
Baskin has no idea whatsoever about the future of the Muslim Brotherhood. What we all know right now from its own pronouncements is that it is anti-US and anti-Israel.
Enough said. Let us stick to facts, not false hopes.
Tel Aviv
Watch that language Sir, – Every evening, when children are still watching television, the promo on Channel 10 for “Survivor 4” twice refers to the female genitalia as a term of contempt for women.
I am not a puritan, but where have we got to and where will we get to? Has nobody else complained?