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March 25, 2006

Where are we?

This year, economic growth is expected to remain strong.

Yet, beyond the conspicuous displays of prosperity it is also becoming clear that the benefits are not shared by all.

[...]'s economic growth has forged a wider gap between the rich and the poor, and in so doing the otherwise welcome prosperity has had the peculiar effect of undermining some of the values that used to unite the country's people.

The government's own figures reveal that one in three children in [...] live in poverty, an indication that values such as social justice and solidarity are being eroded.

Economic "prosperity" is more than just numbers. We need a better measure.

"The rich are getting richer" is becoming a tired refrain and the yardsticks used to measure "prosperity" of this type are faulty. Life is not an economic game where 80% of the players have to lose.

And the situation is getting worse.

The overall proportion of poor people in [...] has risen from 15% during the 1990s to 20% now, according to figures from [...]'s National Insurance Institute.

[...] now ranks second after the United States in the table of inequality in developed countries, and there has been a parallel fall in solidarity among workers in the country.

We're a trendsetter in so many ways, aren't we?

Israel hitched their star to ours a long time ago (with good reason) and now they're reaping some of the dubious benefits of following our economic model. (Let's hope they don't find themselves following us too far down this path.

"In the past, about 80% of Israel's labour force belonged to trade unions, but this ratio has shrunk to about 30%," observes the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Coincidence? I think not.

"To be poor among the poor is not so bad. Being poor in such a consumer-oriented culture as there is now creates a lot of problems," says Tel Aviv University lecturer Yosi Katan.

That's something to think about. If "poor" is the measure of your ability to consume conspicuously and not a measure of your ability to feed and clothe yourself and your family and keep a roof over your head, then we definitely need some changes.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:06 AM