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Paul Krugman exposes how Netanyahu used Iran to conceal Israel’s economic disaster

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The real reason behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent anti-Iran speech to Congress had nothing to do with foreign policy, Paul Krugman opines in Monday’s column. Insulting the president is not the way to go about that. No, Netanyahu has a serious problem at home and polls suggest that he may well get the boot in Tuesday’s election. That problem might sound familiar—Israel has become almost as unequal as America, and there is widespread economic discontent in the country that once was built on the socialist ideals of the kibbutz syztem.

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Economic happiness is not the usual mainstream story we hear about Israel. The country is a high-technology powerhouse and its economy has grown rapidly, barely affected by the worldwide recession starting in 2008. But the spoils of that growth have gone disproportionately to Israel’s own version of the one percent. According to Krugman, since the early 1990s,

Israel has experienced a dramatic widening of income disparities. Key measures of inequality have soared; Israel is now right up there with America as one of the most unequal societies in the advanced world. And Israel’s experience shows that this matters, that extreme inequality has a corrosive effect on social and political life.

Consider what has happened at either end of the spectrum — the growth in poverty, on one side, and extreme wealth, on the other.

According to Luxembourg Income Study data, the share of Israel’s population living on less than half the country’s median income — a widely accepted definition of relative poverty — more than doubled, to 20.5 percent from 10.2 percent, between 1992 and 2010. The share of children in poverty almost quadrupled, to 27.4 percent from 7.8 percent. Both numbers are the worst in the advanced world, by a large margin.

And when it comes to children, in particular, relative poverty is the right concept. Families that live on much lower incomes than those of their fellow citizens will, in important ways, be alienated from the society around them, unable to participate fully in the life of the nation. Children growing up in such families will surely be placed at a permanent disadvantage.

At the other end, while the available data — puzzlingly — don’t show an especially large share of income going to the top 1 percent, there is an extreme concentration of wealth and power among a tiny group of people at the top. And I mean tiny. According to the Bank of Israel, roughly 20 families control companies that account for half the total value of Israel’s stock market. The nature of that control is convoluted and obscure, working through “pyramids” in which a family controls a firm that in turn controls other firms and so on. Although the Bank of Israel is circumspect in its language, it is clearly worried about the potential this concentration of control creates for self-dealing.

The widening inequality in Israel, like that in the U.S. is the result of policy decisions, not just some naturally occurring phenomenon that free marketeers like to claim. Shockingly, according to Krugman, “Israel does less to lift people out of poverty than any other advanced country — yes, even less than the United States.” Now that is saying something. And those living in poverty are not just Israel’s oppressed Arab population and ulta-Orthodox Jews.

Israel’s oligarchs, like Russia’s, managed to gain control of businesses that were privatized in the 1980s. That control enables them outsized influence on policy. Works every time. Netanyahu is a big advocate for policies that keep them sitting pretty, and like New Jersey’s Chris Christie, the Israeli P.M. enjoys sitting and traveling pretty himself, often on the taxpayer’s dime.

There are serious signs that Israeli’s are sick of it, and that Netanyahu’s bombast in the U.S. Congress did nothing to fool them.

 

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Giuliani trying to ‘regain relevance’ by advising Trump behind the scenes on coronavirus cures: report

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According to a report in the Washington Post, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is slowly reinserting himself back into White House affairs by advising Donald Trump on possible cures for the coronavirus.

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Jared Kushner sparking ‘confusion’ by routing COVID-19 response through Trump’s ‘corporate allies’: WaPo reporter

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Reporter Robert Costa revealed that Jared Kushner has been coordinating the distribution of medical supplies with Republican donors.

The Washington Post national political reporter said President Donald Trump's son-in-law has sparked confusion in those efforts by placing himself in the chain of command, and both Kushner and trade adviser Peter Navarro were contradicting advice from White House medical experts.

"When you ask about the inner circle, it is clear to me," Costa told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," "based on my reporting, that Peter Navarro, more than anyone now, whether it's on urging the president to take a position that's different than Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, or when it comes to the Defense Production Act, nudging corporations, sometimes pushing corporations to do what the White House wants, that Navarro is at the center."

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‘Don’t you dare!’ CNN’s John Berman rains hell on Trump official Peter Navarro for suggesting he wants people to die

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CNN's John Berman on Monday got into a heated exchange with Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro after he questioned whether Berman actually wanted to see people recover from being infected with COVID-19.

Toward the end of a lengthy interview about the potential merits of treating COVID-19 with anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, Berman told Navarro that "we all want the same thing, which is people to get better."

"I'm not sure we do sometimes," Navarro replied.

"What are you talking about?" Berman asked.

At this point, Navarro fumbled around trying to explain himself, but Berman called him out on it.

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