...Ever since the Israelites made their way out of Egypt, the Jews have tended to complain, and we always will -- but let us take a look at the numbers • Where were we in 1984 and where are we today? Guess what, we have a lot to be proud of.
01 April '15..
H/T Martin Sherman..
In honor of Israel's 67th birthday, here are a few remarkable facts about the economic wonder that is the State of Israel. Our sages taught us that it is important to give thanks for what we have. On Independence Day, my Facebook friend, the gifted writer Galit Distal Atbaryan, mentioned Louis C.K., who spoke about the way people complain about flying. People "soar through the clouds, impossibly; partake in the miracle of human flight. Sitting in a chair in the sky like a Greek god" and complain about the chair not reclining far enough. That is exactly our attitude toward the state in which we live. "Israel is nothing short of a miracle, like a plane that slices through the sky," she wrote.
Indeed, the complaining and desperation over the "situation" began with Israel's birth, when the Israelites were led out of Egypt. Masses of slaves who were just recently freed yelled at Moses: "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to bring us forth out of Egypt?" (Exodus 14:11).
They didn't stop at that. They continued to accuse him of destroying their relationship with the Egyptian empire and the pharaohs. "Is not this the word that we spoke unto thee in Egypt, saying: Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it were better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.'" (Exodus 14:12). After that came the crossing of the Red Sea, but even the miracle that Moses performed -- splitting the sea and ushering the Israelites through it on dry land -- was not enough to stop the complaints. Since then and to this day we enjoy complaining.
So for us complainers, here are a few reasons for optimism. Of course there is plenty to improve on, but it would serve us well to take a look at where we were 30 years ago and where we are today. The following data was compiled by Dr. Adam Reuter and his company Financial Immunities Ltd.
Well, in 1984, the population of Israel was 4.1 million. Thirty years later, the population doubled to stand at 8.2 million. The average number of rooms per person increased by 37% during that time. In 1984, the number of vehicles per 1,000 people was 157. Last year there were 364 vehicles per 1,000 people. Today, the gross national product is $307 billion, but 30 years ago it was a mere $30 billion. That is an increase of more than 900%! In 1984, the GNP per capita was $7,000, and in 2014 it climbed to $36,000 -- an increase of more than 400%.
In 1984, Israel's foreign currency reserves amounted to $3 billion. Thirty years later, our reserves skyrocketed to $90 billion -- an indication of financial stability. The national debt was 280% of the GNP in 1984, but by 2014 it had dropped to 66% of the GNP.
Security expenditure comprised 20% of the GNP then, and only 5% today, and it stands to be even less in the future. The tax burden was 45% and has gone down to 32%. American aid was 10% of the GNP and is now only 1%!
In 1984 Israel's exports were valued at $10 billion, and 30 years later they are valued at $96 billion -- that's an 860% increase. In 1984 high-tech exports were valued at $1 billion, and at $37 billion in 2014 -- a 3,600% increase. Not bad. The national deficit made up 17% of the GNP in 1984 and today only 3% -- an 82% decrease.
In 1984, the public sector employed 75% of the working public, while today that figure is only 43%. Employment of women was 34% and by 2014 it had risen to 54%.
Government regulation of capital markets declined from 85% then to 27% today. Annual interest was 770% and inflation was 450% in 1984, but in 2014 the annual interest rate settled at 5% and annual inflation at a mere 1%. Incidentally, national expenditure on research and development has risen by more than 220% over the last 30 years.
In 1984 we did not have independent sources of energy, but today, 38% of our energy comes from our own sources, and we are on our way to complete energy independence. We did not have desalinated water in 1984 and today more than 40% of our water consumption comes from the desalination plants that we built.
Over the last five years, the cumulative economic growth was 21% -- the second highest rate among the 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. A recent study conducted by the Economist tried to divine where it would be best to live as an adult in the year 2030 in terms of health, wealth, and personal security. In an index ranking the world's countries in order of where it is best to be born, Israel ranked 20th -- higher than the U.K., France, Italy, and even Japan.
The most important economic aspect, one that effectively forecasts future economic growth, is the percentage of youngsters aged 20 to 34 among the general population. This age group works the hardest while generating the highest demand for consumer goods, as that is the stage when people generally start their families. Israel is blessed with a relatively young population, as compared to the other OECD states (the high birthrate among Israelis, even secular ones, is unique in the Western world, thank god), and this age group stands to grow bigger in the coming decades.
According to a CIA report, mortality rates in Israel are the second lowest in the OECD and among the lowest in the world. And we haven't yet mentioned the steady influx of tens of thousands of Jews who immigrate to Israel from other countries every year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Israel is the second most educated country in the world, placing behind Canada and ahead of Japan. While there were 64,000 Israelis enrolled in higher education institutions in 1984, there are currently 306,000 enrolled in colleges and universities across the country. Of the 148 countries analyzed, Israel ranks first in innovative capability, second in entrepreneurship, and third in global innovation.
Over the last 20 years, the Israeli economy grew by 180%, while the number of residents increased by only 45%. Israel ranked 19th on the United Nations Human Development Index, which uses life expectancy, education, and income to calculate its results -- ahead of Belgium, Austria, France and Finland.
Let us conclude with an interesting figure. The U.N.'s 2015 World Happiness Report, released last week, found that Israelis are happier than most people in the Western world. Israel ranked 6th among the OECD states and 11th overall, out of 156 countries worldwide.
I concede that after years of Israel being constantly maligned, and after the recent election in which we were told how terrible things are here, it is difficult to reconcile what we know with this optimistic data. Therefore, we must keep telling ourselves how miraculous this country is, thus creating an antidote to protect us from the venom of desperation. In this way we can continue the legacy of Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh who were wise enough to say, "The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceeding good land" (Numbers 14:7).
This data indicates where we were 30 years ago. The truth is that we should actually measure our current situation against what we had 70 years ago -- in 1945.
"Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and come to thee. ... For thy waste and thy desolate places and thy land that hath been destroyed--surely now shalt thou be too strait for the inhabitants, and they that swallowed thee up shall be far away. Then shalt thou say in thy heart: 'Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have been bereaved of my children, and am solitary, an exile, and wandering to and fro?" (Isaiah 49:18-21).
Think about it.
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