A Comment By Ehud Tokatly

Big Brother Returns

Recently, I called the service department of Israel Electric Corp. The lady on the phone was quite pleasant, but she failed to explain why certain services were so expensive, while others were unavailable. She actually used the term "forbidden" to describe technicalities that were not approved by the IEC regulations. Her superior with whom I demanded to talk, was less polite and much more honest. When I asked why I couldn't get a particular service, the man simply said: "Because that's what we decided." End of story.

I still remember how our telephone services were provided by the Postal Ministry in a very similar way. One had to wait for years to get a phone line. Today, Israel's Bezeq is only one of several players, so the service and rates have changed dramatically.

It is a simple fact that monopolies and cartels are bad for everyone. The client always gets more value for money in a free economy and the service providers are forced to become more efficient and successful. Israel's monopolies are the leftovers from its centralised, Bolshevik past. But today's more capitalistic economy is developing new power centres, many of whom are closely connected to the political system and thus form a small social group that controls our daily lives.

Perhaps it is natural for the big guys to seek even more power, but the real blame is ours, the citizens. As long as we collaborate with the system and fail to use our power as consumers and citizens, things will never change!

Ehud Tokatly, 26/May/2005

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