TEL AVIV (Jan. 15)
Israelis, who often describe themselves as the most heavily taxed people in the world are also the most “pampered,” according to Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai. They must be prepared to accept a drastic reduction in their standard of living, he told a meeting of the Engineers Club here.
Modai said the government aims to reduce living standards to the level of 1980 which would be “decent” but not “comfortable” in order to implement the massive budget cuts necessary for economic recovery. He admitted that the cuts he seeks have not yet been effected.
The Israel government carries a burden comparable to a country with six times the population, he said. No other country in the world has one-quarter of its population in productive enterprises and more than one-third in service jobs, Modai declared. In no other country does the public pay less than 20 percent of its total expenditures for health and education.
Modai noted that Israelis visit doctors five times more frequently than Western Europeans and use four times as much medication per capita. “If the choice is between Sparta and Athens, then I prefer Sparta,” Modai said. “The Spartans worked harder and they were not pampered.”