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May 17, 2007 - Image 23

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-05-17

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Editorials are posted and archived on JNonline.us.

Dry Bones pF TIE



The Little Eligine


ne of the brightest secrets hid-
den by the clouds of turmoil
in the Middle East has been
the strong, four-year growth of Israel's
While political turmoil, terrorism and
warfare capture the headlines, Israel's
7 million residents have been quietly
building an economic miracle that has
recovered from the ashes of the second
intifada (Palestinian uprising).
Since 2002 and the end of a two-year,
worldwide downturn in high-tech busi-
ness, Israel has experienced steady eco-
nomic expansion. According to Yaacov
Fisher, a former senior economist for
the Bank of Israel who has recently been
touring the U.S. and Canada, in the last
four years:
• Israel has achieved economic growth
of 5 percent or higher per year.
• Foreign investment into Israeli busi-
nesses has grown rapidly.
• Israel has a balance of payments
• The Israeli shekel has grown stronger
in relation to the U.S. dollar.
• Israel's stock market values have
risen 83 percent since 2004, more than

any other developed nation. During the
same period, the Dow Jones Industrials
Average in the U.S. rose 20.8 percent.
A rosy picture indeed.
But a few other statistics mar the
bright scene.
Unemployment in Israel, while at its
lowest point in a decade, is still at 7.7
percent. And the shekel, which strength-
ened 10 percent against the dollar in the
last 12 months — it was trading at 4.01
to $1 at the end of April — is a two-
edged sword. A stronger shekel makes
exports more expensive for foreign buy-
ers and could reduce foreign investment
and tourism.
And Israel's construction industry,
according to Fisher, is doing so much
business in Eastern Europe that it is
ignoring growing needs at home.
So what's a country to do? Celebrate its
success while working out its problems.
Jews and gentiles in southeast
Michigan have taken note of what Israel
has accomplished and are looking to
boost our flailing economy with a bit
of Israeli ingenuity. Several public and
private entities are looking into attract-
ing Israeli firms to the Detroit area and


to Michigan to spur
job growth and foreign
investment here.
Israel has become the
"little engine that could."
Perhaps its success could
translate into another
Israeli export: Michigan
While that is happen-
ing, Israel must con-
tinue the success it has
achieved and, at the same
time, fix the problems
that threaten its success.
Those problems include
the chronic unemploy-
ment and housing issues,
the hefty share of its
prosperity that the vul-
nerable high-tech sector
maintains and the growing lack of confi-
national character.
dence in its political leadership.
It's a tall order, but it could truly make
While Israel has built a success story
Israel the "light unto the nations" we
in spite of what is happening on its
always talk about. I I
borders, it does not live in a vacuum. Its
continued economic achievements would E-mail letters of no more than 150 words to:
be a certainty if it can somehow solve
letters@thejewishnews.com .
the Palestinian puzzle and rediscover its

Reality Check

Shades Of Green

W by all this commotion and
hand-wringing about climb-
ing gas prices?
If you accept the idea that global warm-
ing is caused in large part by automotive
emissions — and the national media tell
us that all right-thinking people should
— this trend should be welcomed. And
the higher the better.
In fact, prices aren't nearly as high as
they should be if cutting emissions is the
goal. Europeans tax the bejeebers out of
their gasoline so it's upwards of $5 a gal-
lon at the pump. Canadians follow the
same path. It's basic economics. If you
decide it is good policy for people to use
less of something, you tax it more heavily.
Not only would that cut down on emis-
sions, but it should go a long way toward
solving the obesity problem everyone is
so worked up about. With gas prices head-
ing to the sky, people will either have to
get out and walk more or they won't have
enough money to put food on the table.

Either way, fat loses. Greens
should be dancing in their
Or is this largely a matter of
people backing such policies
as long as it doesn't hurt their
own wallet? Isn't moral postur-
ing, after all, supposed to come
cost-free? But let's not talk
about that.
It's a funny thing, though.
The moment gas prices started
to climb, all the newspapers and TV sta-
tions that were praising greenness and
the need to fight global warming went
absolutely bonkers. The possibility of gas
at $4 a gallon is regarded as catastrophic.
People will have to sell their children and
eat Chinese dog food.
But did they really believe that there
would be no economic price to be paid for
the policies they suggest?
The greens tell us that the planet's
ecology is an inter-related whole. Change

something here and the rami-
fications become apparent
way over there. Glaciers melt,
walruses die, New York City
But the same is true of the
economy. When car sales drop
it affects the value of homes
in the Detroit area because
demand slackens. This in turn
will cause a further drop-off
in automotive sales because
the construction industry will order fewer
vehicles. And profits dip at GMAC because
of mortgage foreclosures.
Apparently, the greens believe that if
they make the auto industry bear all the
costs of reducing emissions by revamp-
ing their fleets and spending billions on
research for alternative fuels, the only ones
who will get hurt are those evil industrial-
ists. Who cares about them?
They also seem to think that the Kyoto
Agreement to reduce global warming can

be effective without China signing on. In
the accepted demonology, only the United
States is vilified for failing to come aboard.
But much of the air pollution on the
West Coast is directly attributable to
emissions that pour unchecked from the
factories of China's growing economy. And
if China does not have to consider envi-
ronmental costs, what are the implications
for its American competitors?
But let's not talk about that.
Let's talk about conspiracies, instead.
The bloated prices of the oil companies.
Those are the rascals who should be taxed
up the wazoo.
Of course, I don't recall anyone suggest-
ing they should get rebates during all the
years when the profits weren't there and
their research costs were rising. Must have
missed it. I 1

George Cantor's e-mail address is

gcantor614@aol.com .

May 17 y 2007


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