Posts Tagged ‘economics’

Avodah Ivrit and Economic Independence

October 26, 2010

When I write that the Jews of Yosh are led by children trapped in adult bodies, I mean it. The staggering immaturity and naiveté of the dati leumi sector is reflected by the staggering immaturity and naiveté of its few uncorrupt leaders. The few men who dare to challenge the Israeli State do so in utterly counterproductive ways. They build plywood “outposts” that can neither feed nor defend themselves, much less command the surrounding countryside. They erect “settlements” without fortifications, whose “security forces” have no heavy arms, no combat-worthy armored vehicles and no indirect fire weapons. They slavishly register all their guns with the Israeli government. When their arms are maliciously confiscated by the Israelis, they do not merely feign defenselessness for the sake of propaganda. They really ARE left defenseless in the face of Islamic attack. Yet when the Moslems attack and murder them, they refuse to comprehend that the Israelis DELIBERATELY disarmed them in order to murder them by proxy. They blame individual Israeli kapos and bureaucrats, but, despite decades of bloody lessons, it never even occurs to them that the ENTIRE ISRAELI STATE is an enemy out to murder them all. They serve in Israel’s occupation army and expect the foreign Israeli soldiers to protect them, then have the gall to act surprised when the Israelis instead attack the Jews and protect Hamas. They honestly expect justice from Israeli “courts”. They honestly believe that if they just make their case clearly enough, the anti-Semitic Israeli press will suddenly stop demonizing them.

But nowhere is the childishness of Yeshite leaders is as apparent as in the matter of Avodah Ivrit. This policy would seem a no-brainer. After all, when a Moslem works for a Jew, the Jew pays the Moslem, and the Moslem then turns around and uses his wages for jihad, the Jew is effectively paying for the murder of fellow Jews. Since all Moslems are obligated to give 10% of their wages as zakat, it is 100% certain that at the very least 10% of the money provided by any Jew who employs Moslem workers will be used to finance the murder of Jews. This, of course, makes any Jew who employs Moslems a malshin and a rodef, with all the legal consequences thereof.

Furthermore, any Jew who does business with an employer of Moslems is indirectly subsidizing jihad as well, since the profit made by the employer of Moslems will clearly enable him to pay the Moslems and thus to murder more Jews. Therefore, any Torah-true Jew is obligated to shun the employer of Moslems even if he is unable to enforce justice against the rodef for some reason.

Yet despite the obligations imposed by Torah, the vast majority of communities in Yosh employ Moslem laborers on a daily basis. Moslems were employed in Gush Katif even as Gush Katif endured daily mortar attacks. Among their many averot committed by the addled idiots who lived in the Gush, perhaps the most egregious was that they paid on a daily basis for the very mortar rounds used to kill and maim their friends and neighbors. Their example is daily followed even by allegedly “religious” so-called “settlers”. The PA buses that can be seen every morning dropping off day laborers at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion are not a unique phenomenon.

There are, of course, exceptions. Bat Ayin is one. Yitshar is another. But even there, the Avodah Ivrit policy is, frankly a joke. Take Bat Ayin. Members of the community attempt to practice Jewish agriculture, but their methods are so ridiculously primitive that they cannot even feed themselves, much less make a profit. What should be a means of establishing self-sufficiency has instead degenerated into ridiculous hippie posturing.

It is understandable that Bat Ayin residents who were born under Israeli occupation or who made aliyah from the post-Soviet space cannot improve things. They come from societies where the only agricultural traditions are large-scale, inefficient, unproductive, collectivized, mechanized agriculture and small-scale, even more inefficient and unproductive, primitive agriculture. The knowledge base needed to improve their agricultural methods simply does not exist in any language they can read.

The so-called “Anglo” olim have no such excuse. These people come from nations with a century-long tradition of small scale organic agriculture going back all the way to First World War “victory gardens” and the French agricultural research of the interwar period, improved upon and perfected by British and American scientists working to maximize crop yield from small home farms under conditions of total war. By now, this is not merely mature and well established technology. These are essentially traditional methods practiced for two or even three generations in the countries where these olim were born. To the Anglo oleh, accessing the knowledge base necessary to produce two to four times the yield per unit area produced by inefficient mechanized farms is as easy as ordering a book online. And yet, despite years of obvious agricultural failure, not one of Bat Ayin’s English-speaking residents has seemingly ever bothered to acquire a good textbook for practitioners of small-scale self-sufficiency agriculture or even a basic primer for garden hobbyists. The result, despite the best of intentions, is a ridiculous hillul Hashem. In a place where one should not be able to walk two meters without tripping over a compost pile, a square foot garden or a biointensive raised bed, one sees instead ridiculous bronze age fields and Russian-style hobby gardens suitable for growing a couple of carrots and a few tomatoes for a pensioner’s salad.

Things get worse when it comes to contractors. For example, last year a contractor was hired to perform some construction in Bat Ayin. The contractor was, in theory, a Jew. He promised to use Jewish labor only and charged a premium for it.

Here is one of the contractor’s employees at the community front gate, receiving a load of stolen construction stone from his Moslem supplier.

The truck full of stone is simply driven up to the gate by the Moslem driver, who feels comfortable enough doing this that he brings along his twelve year old son. The PA plates are switched to Israeli plates IN FULL VIEW of the Israeli “soldiers” “guarding” the gate. There can be no doubt that each and every one of the green-suited Israeli kapos lounging about at the entrance to the community hopes and prays that the truck is a bomb that will kill many Jews inside Bat Ayin. The Moslem hands over the keys to the “Jewish” contractor (note lack of kippah, tzitzit and beard) and catches a ride back home. The Israeli drives the truck into the village without further ado.

That is how things would have gone, at any rate, were the pseudo-Jewish Israeli in question not caught by one of the residents. Being caught forced the Israeli to stop, call his boss and complain that some crazy Jew was interfering with his business.

After he finished complaining, he drove right in.

Far from being fired, the contractor got paid. Never mind that the entire transaction from beginning to end was a violation of halacha, not to mention a security gap large enough to literally drive a truck bomb through. Bat Ayin had no choice but to pay the Israeli contractor. An Avodah Ivrit provision cannot be placed into a fake Israeli so-called “contract” or enforced in illegal Israeli so-called “courts”. Abiding by halacha and common sense by refraining from feeding, clothing and arming your enemies is “racist”, you see. The Bagatz says so. In fact, even compiling an Avodah Ivrit registry, a kind of Jewish Angie’s List, is “racist”, so much so that someone doing this openly is subject to arrest by the Israelis.

So what are the Jews to do? The obvious solution – Jewish courts and Jewish policemen operating underground in order to put to death all those who employ or do business with the enemy – is difficult and dangerous. While ultimately this is the only way to permanently stop these murderous criminals, it is quite obvious that the leadership of the Jews in Yosh is unwilling to take the necessary steps. Marighella cells can take up this work independently of any official leadership and have a significant long term impact by slaughtering Moslem laborers in droves with bomb attacks, executing the pseudo-Jewish business people who employ them in various shocking and painful ways, distributing bloodcurdling videos showing such executions via the internet and so forth. But in the short term, it would appear that the residents of semi-sane Jewish communities like Bat Ayin and Yizhar just have to put up with the “situation”.

Yet in fact appearances are deceiving. There is more than one way to skin a cat. The fact that the leaders of these communities have not developed alternatives to cope with the problem should not be chalked up to the problem being too large for them. Rather, it should be filed, like their pathetic “agriculture”, the absence of fortifications around their communities and the complete lack of proper security, as further proof of the infantilism of their leadership.

The reason Moslem labor is used is economic. The reason that stolen supplies, be it illegally quarried stone, illegally harvested produce, stolen auto parts or anything else, are bought from Moslems is economic. Yes, these actions are crimes. But they are not crimes of passion or psychological compulsion. They are crimes that pay, and pay quite well.

Therefore, if this crime wave is not fought by means of law enforcement, it should be fought by means of economics. There is a need for an economic wall between the Jewish economy and the Israeli-Islamic economy. Erecting such a wall would encourage the Jewish economy to become self-sufficient by raising the cost of transactions with Israelis and their Moslem allies, and lowering the cost of transactions between Jews. It would also make it cheap and simple to abide by Avodah Ivrit both as a Jewish producer and a Jewish consumer. Correspondingly, it would make it quite difficult to violate the national Avodah Ivrit policy, as doing so would involve substantial additional expense.

The reasonable question arises – what is an “economic wall”? How does one “wall off” an economy? Is it even possible to “wall off” the economy of a small town or region?
The answer to this question, of course is CURRENCY. Currency is an economic wall. A currency that is accepted in a community but is not accepted outside the community effectively walls off the community from the economies that border it. By setting exchange rates, the community leadership can control the cost of exchanges with the external world, thus forcing the community to develop and use its own resources. As result, the economy of the community begins to develop toward self-reliance. Since the local leadership controls the currency, it can also use it to pay community employees, such as guards, whom it could not pay due to lack of resources when it depended on non-local currencies.

Local currencies are generally introduced via a compact. A group of activists convinces a critical mass of businesses to accept the currency, paying attention to making sure that a customer could meet most of his ordinary needs via the participating businesses. In order to back the launch of the currency, the participating businesses contribute some sum to a common launch pool. Once the compact is sufficiently large, a stock of notes is printed and the system is launched. Generally at the beginning the system is not greatly trusted. The participating businesses agree to take the local currency as some percentage of a transaction, but not as 100% of the transaction. The activist group that controls the local currency effectively collects taxes to support it by means of membership fees initially collected in the currency they are trying to displace with their system.

The system is grown by offering zero interest local currency loans to businesses and trustworthy individuals, with the provision that the loan be spent within some period of time (penalties and fees may apply for non-use of loaned funds) and that the project involved benefits the community. Eventually the system grows more trusted and businesses begin to accept more of the local currency. The point can come when virtually all of the currency in local circulation is the local currency. At this point, if exchanging local currency into non-local currency is a problematic endeavor for any reason, the community is completely economically walled off from the outside world. If the activist group now begins to collect maintenance membership fees in the local currency, it becomes a de-facto self-sufficient government that prints its own money. It can then expand the range of the system by permitting new members in targeted locales to join by contributing fees in the external currency, thus generating “hard” currency for transactions with foreign powers while simultaneously expanding its control.

Were the communities of Yosh to introduce a local currency, calling it a “barter certificate”, a “community discount coupon” or something else innocuous, they would have in their hands an effective weapon for economic self sufficiency through Avodah Ivrit. Since only Jewish businesses would take it and only Jews would receive it as payment for work, the currency would be an effective enforcer of Avodah Ivrit. Since it would be structured as a voluntary club or association, the currency union could exclude and/or expel members under any number of pretexts, thus preventing Moslems and those who employ Moslems from using the system. Since the currency would be nothing but a worthless piece of paper in Israel, it would effectively wall of the communities of Yosh from the Israeli economy, causing local businesses to develop local resources to take advantage of local customers and local opportunities. This, of course, would effectively subsidize everyone in Yosh and work to create a closed, self-sufficient economy. Since cash transactions and cash profits are notoriously difficult to track even in shekels, much less in “discount coupons”, it would also be a means to fight against illegal Israeli taxation of Jews living under Israeli occupation.

For a Jewish local currency, there is, of course, one more issue that we have to address. The currency must be backed by a store of value. This is required by the Holy Torah, obviously deriving from the requirement to use honest weights and measures, “an honest hin and an honest shekel”.

Traditionally, the store of value that backs currency is precious metal. However, a store of precious metal would be subject to confiscation by the Israeli enemy, who, of course, possesses overwhelming force at this stage of our national liberation struggle and can therefore go anywhere in Yosh and do whatever he desires. A vault full of gold bars cannot even conceptually be spirited away from place to place one step ahead of enemy soldiers. The same applies to any other physical store of value. Regardless of what it is, gold, drugs, grain or any other commodity, the Israelis can find it, confiscate it and thereby collapse the currency system. Nor can the currency itself have intrinsic value as held, for example, by gold coins. If it does, it is no longer an economic wall. It is just a means to issue some pretty medallions that will quickly demonstrate the validity of Gresham’s Law by disappearing from circulation.

However, there is one store of value that the Israelis cannot control. They cannot lock it up, they cannot confiscate it, they cannot destroy it. And every Jew has some in his or her possession. That store of value is TIME. A currency that is backed by the time of the individual Jew in the form of an hour of unskilled labor is as honest a shekel as a shekel can get.

Obviously, the labor of a medical specialist, a skilled craftsman, and so forth, is worth more than mere unskilled labor. But every hour of specialist labor can be expressed as some number of hours of unskilled labor. In fact, the hour of unskilled labor is already priced in Israeli shekels, providing a basis for instant conversion of any price in the current economy. Since Israeli official minimum wage is approximately NIS 21 an hour, we cannot go wrong by setting our “Jewish Hour” to be worth NIS 25. Doing so gives a slight incentive for the average Jew to prefer the Hour as payment without unduly distorting wages and prices. It also makes for easy math.

Now, all of this might sound like fantasy. A local currency? A currency backed by time? Whoever heard of such a thing? It cannot possibly work, right?

Well, dear reader, it can work. It HAS worked. In fact, it has worked many times and it is working RIGHT NOW. You do not even need to go very far to see it work. You do not need a time machine to go to Depression-era Austria. You do not need to hack through jungles in Asia or visit slums in Latin America. All you need to do, next time you visit Brooklyn, is take a trip upstate, to Ithaca.

A Jewish local currency is a simple, effective, yet completely non-violent means to address the twin and intertwined problems of enforcing Avodah Ivrit and developing a self-sufficient Jewish economy independent of the State of Israel.

Of course, the Israelis will eventually try to disrupt any local currency system. However, if it is backed by time and if the Jews persist in using it, the Israeli efforts to disrupt it will only breed resistance and resentment and, ultimately, violence against the occupier. Without a doubt, after trying legal injunctions, arrests for non-payment of taxes and other such measures to no effect, the Israelis will eventually resort to such massively counterproductive things as large-scale counterfeiting of Jewish currency notes, “tax raids” to seize goods and services, mass arrests of Yosh residents caught using the currency and so forth. But with every act of violence and sabotage targeting the use of “community discount hour coupons”, they will only succeed in making themselves look more stupid and more ridiculous than they already look. Thus, ultimately, even if the Israeli enemy manages to collapse the system, he will play into the hands of the Resistance while he does so.

Were the leaders of the Jews in Yosh not a bunch of children trapped in adult bodies, they would not need someone else to point out to them the value of and need for a Jewish local currency. They would be busy right now establishing one themselves

16 Cheshvan, 5771