Tuesday, 27 November 2012 00:00

ISRAEL - The Rich Should Pay More Tax, Defense Minister Says

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Defense Minister Ehud Barak has been one of the two strongest personalities on the political scene in recent years. He’s a former prime minister, a former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, and a member of that small circle of those in the know about Israel’s most closely guarded secrets.
Barak spoke to TheMarker about wealth disparities. “We have to find certain ways to tax the very rich,” he said. Does that include you? TheMarker asked. “That includes me,” he replied.
The defense minister noted that even the British magazine The Economist, which he called a “clearly conservative publication,” recently featured a call to address wealth disparities, which the magazine said weigh on countries’ ability to realize their potential. The magazine, he noted, called for tough action against economic concentration as a way of increasing competition.
“We’ve started with that, but there is a long way to go,” Barak said. “The second thing is to concentrate government spending on things that are really needed. And the third thing is changing the taxation system, avoiding the wild suggestion, like that in France now, of a 75% income tax but trying to direct the tax so it’s more progressive, imposing it more on the haves and less on the have-nots.”
Barak denied that his party had abandoned social-welfare issues to others such as Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich and Yair Lapid, the leader of the new Yesh Atid party. “Well before I knew there would be elections, I made a clear call for action to address the [demands of the] social-justice protests. This is our backbone [the protest leaders are] very serious people. I would have been happy if they had appeared with us, but it’s not unnatural for them to find their way to the Labor Party.”
In an apparent reference to the luxury apartment buildings in Tel Aviv where he has lived in recent years, Barak acknowledged: “I am also aware of the fact that there are things in my character and lifestyle that don’t help identify us with the issue of social justice, but we are very much identified with it in a real sense, in what we do every day in the government.” He said only some of his suggestions on the social-justice issue were adopted by the government. “Ultimately, he added, “they will accept all my suggestions.”
-haaretz.com, 24 October 2012

Arno's Commentary

Defense Minister Ehud Barak puts it bluntly, openly and honestly: more taxation, particularly for the well-to-do to achieve social justice. Although Israel has lost its “welfare state” position long ago, its citizens insist on proper social justice, as was demonstrated in August of 2011, when hundreds of thousands protested throughout Israel against unequal wealth distribution.
Another article reads, “Years ago, current President Shimon Peres warned that Netanyahu’s economic policies would lead to ‘6,000 millionaires and 6 million beggars.’ In recent years, his gloomy predictions appear to have materialized. Israel is now the second most unequal country in the developed world—behind only the United States. And with many middle class families spending half their income on their rent or mortgage, it was just a matter of time for the outrage to surface.”
Will Israel solve the income inequality? Yes, one day when the Lord returns; this we read in Deuteronomy 15:4, “Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it.”
(For more on Israel’s future, read Hidden Signs in the Olivet Discourse, Item 1060).
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