Organised workers in modern democracies are protected by their trade unions, and so they should be. The super-rich are sheltered by their wealth. Good for them. But who looks after the self-employed workers and the small businesspersons?
The self-employed have the worst deal of all Israeli workers. They rarely have adequate pension plans or enjoy minimal unemployment benefits. While paying very high taxes, they are rarely entitled to sick leaves, not to mention any type of vacation. Those who serve every year in the reserve security forces, often suffer from income losses that are far from being covered by normal social security benefits.
I don't know much about economics, but I have a strong feeling that no modern economy can develop properly without viable small businesses and successful self-employed professionals.
The worst destiny is that of Israeli artists, writers, musicians and similar creative people. Almost all of them are self-employed, but they often lack the business skills needed for their status. Today, many of them are simply at the brink of collapse.
If Israel wishes to stay a civilised society with a reasonable cultural life, its public and leadership must think of a proper solution for the self-employed in general and the artists in particular.
Ehud Tokatly, 2/September/2004