Overworked and Underpaid in Israel… another news inspired post

I just read this article in Haaretz about the growing problem of poverty in Israel.

The author suggests that the government implement welfare to work programs and vocational training, and that’s all fine and good… but I don’t think that is truly treating the root of the problem. In my opinion, that’s just another band-aid plaster (as we call it here!)

I know I’ve only been here for 2 years, but I’m taking the liberty to comment on this from a personal perspective.

B”H, Yoram got a job relatively quickly as Aliyah stories go. We moved to Katzrin in May and he was hired as a temp worker in the winery in August. Within the last year, he was promoted to a full time employee, and although there are many wonderful benefits of his job (not the least of which is free wine!) his income alone puts us right in the above statistics. And he works haaard!

I’m going to make a bold statement. In my opinion, the lack of education is what’s causing more people to drop below the poverty line. The problem is that pay is not commensurate with workload in most “middle class” jobs.

In most of Israel, certainly here in the Golan, a one-income family is not even the dream that most couples aspire to achieve – only needing two incomes would suffice!

Vocational training programs, as well as easily attained government subsidies to attend them, exist in spades here. But what happens once you enter your new profession? Will you now suddenly feel fulfilled and able to sustain a lifestyle that allows for even the most meager purchases over “basic needs”? or even those actual basic needs (without going into overdraft!)?

Probably not.

Maybe if you’re single and live in your parent’s Mamad. But not if you actually want to get married and have a family.

What we need is to raise minimum wage to something that reflects the actual prices of groceries and basic amenities. We need a way to encourage companies and employers to pay higher salaries and give more merit based and need based raises. Benefits packages need to be re-evaluated to reflect the needs of the allegedly vanishing middle class families.

an overly generous social welfare system that leads to people finding it easier to stay home and live off of welfare checks than heading back to work

Considering that in most cases a second income will not cover daycare – you might also be tempted to take the “easy” road of unemployment if it means you get to raise your own kids – or even see them and spend time with them instead of being completely exhausted from the 2 or 3 jobs that you are working just to pay the bills.

And then, once all that’s done, and we “middle-classers” have a little disposable income – that’s when we North Americans will be needing our Sunday’s back to shop!

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