Our grotesque government: A two-headed creature with 46 limbs

Yesterday, our politicians formed Israel 35th government after 508 days and three rounds of elections. Israelis watched sadly the swearing-in of 34 ministers with fake titles and unknown functions and another 12 deputy ministers scratching for meaningless jobs. This government is nothing short of a gargantuan monster, bathing in a life of affluence, and extraordinary benefits playing cards with our taxpayer's money while sitting in an oversized armchair.

Israel deserves better than those smiling self-congratulating politicians serving their political interests. Let's only imagine if our two prime ministers had shown any responsibility and sense of public service.

A responsible government, even with two heads, would have decided to put the public sector on a diet. The country is facing its worst economic crisis; a quarter of Israelis are unemployed, more than half a million small business owners are on the verge of bankruptcy. Still, our politicians are distributing offices in the hope of staying in power for a few more months (or weeks).

The cost to the country is enormous, and I am not referring to the ministers' salaries, cars with chauffeur, and generous pension plans. Those costs are estimated to be "only" a few million shekels a year. Unfortunately, ministers don't work alone, they need staff, and when you break a ministry in two or three pieces to accommodate your friends, you cannot split the workers, so you need to hire a few more. Further, to appear steady and essential, each minister needs a respectable size office, filled with seemingly working bureaucrats and a budget at his disposal for implementing its pet programs. Still, those direct expenses are small compared to the indirect costs on the economy of adding multiple layers to our already obese bureaucracy. Already in 2019, Professor Zvi Eckstein estimated that Israel's bureaucratic red tape cost the state NIS 14 billion ($3.9 billion) a year, 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP). As Netanyahu said in 2014: "If the industry is to thrive, regulation must be eliminated, I acknowledge that we are tying your hands and binding your feet."

Our two prime ministers had a choice; they could have been responsible and act to weaken the bureaucratic monster; instead, they decided to put it on steroids. Burdensome regulations specifically hurt small and middle-sized businesses, the economic sector already on its knees after the Corona lockdowns. As was the case in getting COVID19 financial help, the biggest companies will rely on lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists to bypass the bureaucratic process. But smaller companies and private citizens will be strangled by the new regulations that each minister will soon try to implement to legitimize its office.

It is a sad day for Israel, Israelis deserve better. It's time for us citizens to be the responsible adults in the room and think about bringing drastic changes. We still have the power to choose our future!

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