Israel News | Zionism Israel Center | Zionism History | Zionism Definitions | ZioNation | Forum | Zionism FAQ | Maps| Edit

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Importing manpower, exporting brainpower

Importing manpower, exporting brainpower
By Nehemia Shtrasler

Anyone out there remember that the party known as "Kadima" once had a platform? Anyone aware that this platform included an economic program? Well, one clause in this program speaks about "broadening the scope of employment" as an important tool in fighting poverty and narrowing social gaps.
So how does one go about broadening the scope of employment? By reducing the number of foreign workers, writes the author of the program. Minister Meir Sheetrit, in presenting the party platform, explained that jobs must be freed up for Israelis. "This means a drastic cut in the number of foreign workers employed in Israel," he said. Fine words, indeed.
But this week, the government, now headed by the same old Kadima, decided to increase the number of foreign workers employed in agriculture from 26,000 to 29,000. In so doing, it not only broke an election promise and reversed the decision of a previous government (Sharon-Netanyahu), but it has done harm to the lower socioeconomic sectors, to which Ehud Olmert is always pandering in his speeches.
The prime minister and the minister of agriculture put forward the proposal, and most of the ministers supported it. We need to help the periphery, said Shimon Peres. No one can work in a greenhouse in 40 degrees centigrade heat, argued Zeev Boim. No Israeli is going to take a job in the settlements around Gaza, Avi Dichter added.
And who was the one saint in the crowd? Eli Yishai, the minister of industry, trade and labor, who opposed the increase. The finance minister, Avraham Hirschson, also opposed it, but his opinion never matters much to his dear friend Olmert.
Over the last two years, the government has worked to prevent any increase in the number of foreign workers. Recently, the Ministry of Finance budget department got the contractors, industrialists and hoteliers to agree to zero growth in foreign labor until 2010. Now that agreement is in danger, because how can the heads of those sectors sit around and twiddle their thumbs when the farmers are getting another 3,000 foreign workers and they're getting nothing?
Employing a foreign worker is always worthwhile. They make no demands; they're willing to work long hours, including on Shabbat and holidays; and they're cheap because they aren't paid social benefits. But they take away jobs from Israelis in construction, industry, agriculture and the hotel business. As a result, wages drop in these labor-intensive branches, and Israelis, who have the option of unemployment benefits and income supplements, are tossed aside.
In 2000, at the height of the high-tech bubble, the industrialists tried to convince the government to let them import programmers, engineering technicians and engineers from India. But then the workers unions jumped in, and the evil decree was averted. Blue-collar workers don't have unions or advocates in high places. Even the Histadrut labor federation has abandoned them.
There is another group pushing to increase the foreign worker quota: the human-resource companies, which rake in millions as intermediaries. Some of the owners of these companies are political activists and vote contractors, who know how to press the right buttons. Once they were members of the Likud Central Committee. Now they belong to Kadima, because making a living comes before ideology.
On the other side of the spectrum, the findings of a new study released this week revealed that Israel is becoming the number-one exporter of brainpower to the United States, relative to its size - ahead of India, Pakistan, Canada and Europe. According to the Shalem Center study, the brain drain intensified in 2002-2004. While the number of Israeli emigrants with a high school education or less is stable, the percentage of those leaving who have academic degrees is growing steadily.
Globalization and the information revolution have made emigrating easier. Higher salaries and lower taxes are a further incentive. Israel's political and security situation has also taken its toll.
Combined, these two trends create a pretty grim picture. On the one hand, Israel is importing workers with low human-capital value, who add very little. On the other hand, it is exporting scientists, whose human-capital value is high; they study at the country's expense but contribute their knowledge to the United States. And the natural resources of today, as everyone knows, are education and know-how.
The brain drain, it turns out, has not passed over educated young people from the former Soviet Union, who are leaving Israel for the West, or even going back to Russia, where their salaries are higher and the tax rate is very low - only 13 percent.
And if that were not enough, half the population - the ultra-Orthodox, the Arabs, the Bedouin and the underprivileged - is not receiving the kind of education needed to integrate in the modern job market.
Olmert likes to boast about how well the economy did in 2006 - none of which is his doing - but what about the future?
Who will free us from this dangerous bear hug, which has locked us into importing manpower and exporting brainpower?

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to
email newsletter for this site and others

Powered by

Feedblitz subcription
To this Blog only

You can receive our articles by e-mail. For a free subscription, please enter your e-mail address:

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Web Logs & Sites

This Site

Zionism & Israel
Zionation Web Log
IMO Web Log (Dutch)

ZI Group
Zionism-Israel Pages
Israël-Palestina.Info (Dutch & English)
Israƫl in de Media
MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views
MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log

Brave Zionism
Israel: Like this, as if
Israel & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog

Friends and Partners
EinNews Israel
Israel Facts
Israel Proud Adam Holland
Middle East Analysis
Irene Lancaster's Diary
Middle East Analysis
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel Facts (NL)
Cynthia's Israel Adventure
Jeff Weintraub Commentaries and controversies
Meretz USA Weblog
Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers
Simply Jews
Fresno Zionism
Anti-Racist Blog
Sharona's Week
Z-Word Blog
Jewish State
Take A Pen - Israel Advocacy
Zionism on the Web
ZOTW's Zionism and Israel News
Zionism On The Web News
ZOTW's Blogs
Christian Attitudes
Dr Ginosar Recalls
Questions: Zionism anti-Zionism Israel & Palestine
Southern Wolf
Peace With Realism
Sanda's Place
Liberal for Israel
Realistic Dove
Blue Truth
Point of no Return
Christians Standing With Israel
Christians Standing With Israel - Blog

Encylopedic Dictionary of Zionism and Israel
Middle East Encyclopedia
Zionism and its Impact
Zionism & the creation of Israel
Zionism - Issues & answers
Maps of Israel
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism
Albert Einstein
Gaza & the Qassam Victims of Sderot
Zionist Quotes
Six Day War
Jew Hatred
Learn Hebrew
Arab-Israeli Conflict
International Zionism

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Israel Boycott
Boycott Israel?
Amnesty International Report on Gaza War
Boycott Israel?
Dutch Newspaper Reporting: A Study of NRC Handelsblad
Hamas (Dutch)
Dries van Agt (Dutch)
Isfake lobby

At Zionism On the Web
Articles on Zionism
Anti-Zionism Information Center
Academic boycott of Israel Resource Center
The anti-Israel Hackers
Antisemitism Information Center
Zionism Israel and Apartheid
Middle East, Peace and War
The Palestine state
ZOTW Expert Search
ZOTW Forum

Judaica & Israel Gifts
Jewish Gifts: Judaica:
Ahava Products

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

RSS V 1.0

International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory