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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not a Zero-Sum Game

Jonathan Rosenblum has printed some really interesting columns lately, Not a Zero-Sum Game is another one.

For the record, I made a very similar point 5 years ago in this post The Charedi view of the government and money.

I would like to make a few comments on some of what he wrote:

From an economic point of view, Israel has no interest in chareidim performing menial work when they are capable of much more productive labor. As a professor of computer science at Bar Ilan University commented recently, “Anyone who can hold kop in Rabbi Akiva Eiger can be taught to be a highly skilled computer programmer.”

This is a myth that the Charedi likes to perpetuate, that Charedim are smarter then everyone else. It is simply not true. There are smart Charedim and not so smart Charedim. חכמה בגויים תאמין and there are some very smart chilonim as well. This idea that any Charedi who wants could become a professional is silly. Some certainly could, others definitely could not.

Both arguments implicitly accept the necessity of higher and better paid chareidi employment. In his interview with the English Mishpacha two weeks ago, Bnei Brak Mayor Yaakov Asher spoke of the upsurge in vocational education in the wake of dramatic cuts in child allowances.. Still, according to the article, there are only 13,000 employed individuals in Bnei Brak, a city of 165,000 souls. Clearly, it is a rare salary that can support 12.5 individuals.

There are 2 very important points here.
1. He can say that there is a necessity for higher Charedi employment but until the "Gedolim" say it it is meaningless.
2. It is unbelievable that in a city of 165,000 only 13,000 people work. Believe it or not money doesn't grow on trees. This relates back to the post that I quoted at the beginning. Many Charedim view the government as a cash machine, give us money and leave us alone. The budget is a zero sum game, whatever we can save and get for us great whatever doesn't go to us is basically lost.