July 12: UFOs at B-G

"Flightilla" activists should be sent to Libya or Syria. There they won’t be invited to have a cup of tea with the police, as they are here.

UFOs at B-G
Sir, – In the 1950s there were numerous mysterious sightings in the heavens. They were labeled UFOs. Now another wave is heading for Ben-Gurion Airport, expecting to land and prance around with placards (“Activists plan week of protests for Palestinian statehood in West Bank,” July 10).
Coming down to earth, these people should be sent to Libya or Syria. There they won’t be invited to have a cup of tea with the police, as they are here – they’ll be detained and taught the realities of life.
There it’s a different ballgame and they’ll be playing for real.
Sir, – I was pleased to see that some of the “flightilla” participants were taken into custody by police. Perhaps they will be kept under some kind of house arrest until kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit is returned to his family.
Taxing issues
Sir, – In a fascinating article (“Israeli gov’t has got it all wrong on taxes,” Business & Finance, July 10), Prof. Yoseph Edrey clearly points out how the lower and middle classes are being slammed by indirect taxation, such as VAT, while corporations and the rich are not paying their fair share on capital gains, etc.
Is it any wonder that the public is not getting the services it needs, that police recruitment is low, and doctors and social workers must strike for better conditions? One wonders why such an important issue gets so little attention in the media as compared to the price of cottage cheese and disposable diapers.
Petah Tikva
Sir, – Yoseph Edri’s article spews old-time socialist claptrap, wasting three columns of your valuable space.
His theory is that citizens do not spend all the money they might save on tax breaks, meaning demand is not commensurate with such reductions. “On the other hand,” he claims, “raising taxation and using it wisely for government investment... and social and human capital will increase aggregate demand by 100% of the tax collected.”
How many people believe the government is efficient and can spend their money better than they can? Is this an April Fool’s joke?
Sir, – Yoseph Edrey claims that “the view that lowering taxes always leads to economic growth...[is] false.” This can, of course, be partially correct because a government can depress economic growth by other means, for example through heavy debt, excessive bureaucracy, entrenched corruption, punitive customs duties and monetary policy, inefficient or anti-business bank policies, etc.
However, if he is quoting from certain non-recent studies, they have been either debunked or severely criticized.
Is Edrey familiar with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), of which Israel is now a proud member? What he excoriates is what the OECD urges! (See the OECD’s “Tax Policy Reform and Economic Growth” of November 3, 2010.).
Furthermore, he says that Israel’s rates of income tax on capital, capital-gains taxes and companies tax “are among the lowest in the Western world.” Really? Many nations have no capital gains taxes. In Europe alone, the capital gains taxes of the UK, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Poland are lower or zero percent. Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico, Canada, Brazil and many other countries have capital gains taxes that are lower or 0%.
Edrey singles out Ireland as an example of ruinously low capital gains tax rates bringing a country to the brink of bankruptcy. However, Ireland’s rates are much higher than Israel’s, at 27%. The US has a current capital gains tax of 0-15%. Because economists there perceive a direct correlation between raising the rate and reducing GDP, they are arguing to keep it low instead of enacting a planned rise to our 20%! We are a small country and we need to remove whatever disables our economy from thriving, whatever cripples our business people and induces more poverty. A growing and healthy economy will increase the money for social spending in areas such as education and health care, and allow investment in our defense and everything else Edrey and the rest of us hold dear.
Increasing taxes is not the way to get there.
And now: Humous
Sir, – After reading “Strauss: Consumers’ anger surprised us,” Business in Brief,” July 8), I wonder if readers of The Jerusalem Post have noticed the latest food product to suddenly increase dramatically in price. It is humous.
The manufacturers of the product have changed the packaging and use smaller containers and less content, but keep the price as before. This has allowed them to award themselves overnight a price hike of at least 50 percent, improving their profits at our expense.
I am sure we can all reduce our humous consumption so that the manufacturers return prices to what they were before. So, Post readers and other consumers, unite and boycott humous! BOB GOLD Jerusalem Sir, – The “cottage cheese revolution,” as we all know, is merely a pimple on an economy that is severely dysfunctional.
Much has been made of the wickedness of manufacturers.
Fingers have also been pointed at supermarket chains. All of this is no doubt true, but there is a third party that has failed to act rationally: the consumer.
Very few of us take the trouble to compare prices, and we continue to buy over-priced products even when there is an alternative.
Let me give an example. I buy one or two kilos of humous spread every week because I like it, it is healthy and cheap.
The second kilo is for my granddaughter’s family, who have little time for shopping and no car.
I used to buy the Strauss brand, which cost about NIS 10 for a 1-kg. tub. A few weeks ago there was a promotion where Strauss was selling 1.2 kg. for the same NIS 10. But suddenly the promotion was over and the 1-kg. product was back on the shelves – although the price had jumped to nearly NIS 14! Then I noticed a house brand priced at NIS 10 and change. I bought it and found it to be of excellent quality. But looking in other people’s shopping carts and judging by the quantity of the products on the shelves, I believe I am in a small minority.
There are many other products, like cornflakes, where the highly advertised brands sell for almost 50% more than perfectly acceptable competitive brands, but people don’t buy them.
If consumers would look at prices before they buy, as I do, and shop accordingly, the manufacturers would have a strong incentive to reduce them. If not, then all the fuss about cottage cheese will have been in vain.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Just be a veggie
Sir, – As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, I was pleased to read “Chief Rabbinate ‘against’ shackle-and-hoist method, but not quite acting on it” (July 8).
Yet while I hope this cruel method will soon be ended, I believe this issue is just the tip of the iceberg.
First, even if animals are slaughtered in the most painless way consistent with Jewish ritual law, can we ignore the cruelty on factory farms where they are raised? And second, even if animals are raised humanely, can we ignore how animal-based diets arguably violate Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people?
New York