Archive for the 'Economics' Category

Enough with the NIS already

January 3rd, 2007

The correct abbreviation for shekels, the New Israeli Shekel included, is ILS.

Yes, that’s ILS. Not NIS. Even if NIS seems like a much better acronym for New Israeli Shekel. NIS is neat, it fits, it makes sense, but it has the single disadvantage of not being correct.

ILS was the code for the old Israeli Shekel, and it still is the code for the New Israeli Shekel. Prices are in ILS, not in NIS.

No international bank will offer to exchange any currency for NIS, or will have a clue about the exchange rate. But they will be happy to exchange your ILS.

And the prices you see on those online stores? In ILS, not in NIS.

Please, please, please, stop putting NIS after every time you write to me a price of something in English. It drives me mad. I don’t care that most Israelis will understand what it means. I don’t even care (well, I’m saddened by it) that more Israelis will understand what you mean by NIS than what you mean by ILS. It’s just not the currency code.

This rant was intended as a public service for Israeli readers, and for myself. I expect anyone else on the world who has a reason to use Shekels will know that the currency code for Shekels is ILS and not NIS. It’s just most of the locals here who insist on sticking with this pesky NIS abomination. And as I wrote above, it drives me mad. Thank you for your attention.

Enough with the attempts to evoke sympathy for huge families

September 5th, 2006

Every time there is a big event that has an economic impact, the newspapers and other media try to publish a few articles showing some of the people it hurt.

Giving the “human element” touch to the story, instead of focusing on things like hard facts. And human element stories are much more efficient when they’re about the poor, suffering, and hard working people than when they’re about people who are well off.

This happens every time there is some law that changes taxation, savings, and so on. And, of course, after things like the latest war/skirmish in Lebanon.

But what always annoys me is the families they choose to portray. Obviously they take families with children, because nothing evokes sympathy quite like children who will now go hungry because the recent changes made it impossible for their parents to feed them[1].

And if that was as far as it went, that would have been fine. At least, fine for what they want these articles to achieve.

But these families are always, always, with 8-12 children. OK, I lie, not always. Sometimes there are 15 children. And always we hear about how now even while the two parents are working (though sometimes only one is working, or they lost their jobs, or whatever) they can’t afford to feed all of them, or get them proper clothing and other essentials.

What the publishers of these articles probably expect is to get reactions like “Oh, the poor dears. Look, so many children now have to live this bad. How horrible”. But what I usually feel is, well, that if the stupid careless parents have stopped making children after the 2nd, the 4th, or after how many they could actually expect to be able to take care of, then they wouldn’t have the problem.

Anyone who raises 8+ children will have a very hard time, financially (and otherwise, but that’s beyond the scope of this post), taking care of them. Children do take a lot of money to raise, clothe, educate, and feed. A couple with two high incomes will have a problem raising so many kids in high life quality. And these people, with those huge families, usually earn average and below salaries.

And the parents know that. They know that ahead of time, in advance, when they decide to have another[2] kid. So when I hear about a family with 10 children who live in bad conditions, I know who to blame. Not the new economic reforms. Not the war. Not any politician, or any world event. There’s just one source for all the trouble they’re having. The stupid and careless parents.

Anyone who doesn’t have a very good reason to expect to both have a very high income, and to be able to keep that income coming, shouldn’t raise that many kids. I don’t say not to raise any kids if you’re earning minimum wage. People understandably want kids, and I fully sympathise with that. But 8, 10, 12, 15 kids?! No, no, no, and no.

If these parents would have gotten sued for malicious negligence of children, instead of getting welfare support per child, things would have looked different. There would have been a lot less hungry kids for us to feel sorry for.

But they get welfare support for the kids. The more kids, the more money. Helping a needful family raise the first, or even second, kid I can understand. I can support that on a moral/emotional ground, even if it’s questionable economically. But giving people more money to raise even more children? That’s just asking for trouble.

It is no wonder that people who need to get extra money to raise all their children, can’t raise their children without receiving a lot of extra money.

If you can’t afford ten kids, don’t have ten kids. If you can’t afford ten kids, and yet chosen to have ten kids, don’t come to me for sympathy. Someone rich, who got into unexpected troubles, and so can’t raise the children, that can get sympathy. They fully expected to be able to raise and support them when they made the decision. But anyone who isn’t filthy rich should be ashamed of themselves.

This post was, of course, in a response to reading yet another such article. This time about a poor family from the north who, purely because of the damage caused by the bombardments, now cannot afford to feed their children, or to buy them all the things they need for school. They do have 10 children, naturally.

  1. Nobody really goes hungry for lack of food in Israel. Anyone in this country who, even earning minimum wages, claim not to be able to eat is likely either lying, or have some inappropriate standards. So it won’t be Basmati rice with fillet steaks, but plain rice with turkey gizzards. Still perfectly edible, and even quite tasty if done right.[back]
  2. and another, and another, and another…[back]