Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Came across an interesting, old, and misleading, and breathlessly outraged article on ynet regarding Bituah Menahalim: www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3730813,00.html

Bituah Menahalim pays out a monthly benefit ("kitsba") for the lifetime of the "insured" ie. retiree, which is calculated by dividing the accumulated amount ("keren") by a factor called "mekadem hamara" that is either fixed (in old policies) or dynamic (in new policies).

The author takes a hypothetical case of someone with 1,000,000 NIS saved in Bituah menahalim and then receives 5K NIS per year under a dynamic mekadem.  The author then argues that if you view the kitsba as an interest payment, then effectively the insurance company is paying you interest on your money but keeping the principal for itself.  Shock horror etc.

The author acknowledges that in the current financial environment the kitsba (5%is somewhat higher than what you can realistically earn without risk but does not account for this in the calculations.  So in reality the insurance company is paying you e.g. 3% earnings and 2% of the principal in a given year.  So someone who collects for 20 years might end up receiving 50% of the principal.

Nevertheless, this still makes Bituah Menahalim sound like a raw deal compared to e.g. the American model where you draw on your 401K/IRA however you wish.

I took a look at what an American annuity costs at some random site ( https://www.immediateannuities.com/information/annuity-rates-step-1.html ).  For 100000 USD, the monthly benefit (including payment to a spouse as in Bituah Menahalim) is 5712 USD/year. which is marginally better than the example used by the ynet author.   But if you have a Bituah Menahalim policy with a fixed mekadem, you will do significantly better than that.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Shaban reimbursements

Recently one my kids needed a medical procedure done.  I had it done via a privately engaged doctor (Sharap) with the intention of getting remimbursed by Macabi Zahav.

Two interesting things about the reimbursement:  a)  the amount that Zahav is willing to pay is significantly less than what the doctor required.  b) Zahav is willing to pay for the anaesthesiologist, but the private doctor in this case was not willing to provide a separate receipt indicating what the anaesthesiologist was being paid.  In total, the reimbursement was left than 50% of the total cost of the procedure.

A separate complaint:  Zahav's policy currently is that they will not reimburse sharap for doctors who are part of the Macabi network.  Thus, if you want to go private, you cannot use your regular doctor.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Einot Tzukim

Einot Tzukim is a nature reserve on the highway towards Ein Gedi.  Three areas:  main one is some man-made swimming holes.  Second area is accessible only as part of a guided tour.  There is also an entirely closed off section of the reserve.

The second area is the one that is interesting.  There are pools created by rainwater that runs off from Jerusalem and also an ecosystem of reeds, palm trees and other flora and fauna.  Some of the animals are said to be unique to the area.  We saw a particular type of Amnon fish in a shallow pool.  The guide also described unique cicadas, ants, and a particular kind of bird.  We did not see these however.

The reserve used to include the edge of the Dead Sea, but the sea has vastly receded in recent years. The pools themselves are moving location to the changes to the Dead Sea topography.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Regime change - attempt #2

After the first time that the Obama admin flipped out on Bibi (ie. the Ramat Shlomo zoning announcement), some trial balloons went out claiming that Obama's real goal was getting a change of the Israeli government (Might have been Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic).  Right after that was a weird, cooked, and soon debunked Haaretz poll claiming that most Israelis thought Obama was sympathetic to their interests.

It's that strange atmosphere that has returned now. Even though the IHH has apparently distributed pictures of  bloodied and bound IDF soldiers, the MSM seems to still be calling these people "peace activists".  It doesn't make sense that this can still be a major international incident (with calls for a UN investigation etc.) when it is so clear that the dead were part of a known extremist group and that they attacked and subdued lightly-armed soldiers.

Previously Obama tried to rally the Europeans and UN against Bibi for the Jlem building freeze.  So it doesn't seem like such a stretch that this international flipout on Bibi is a slightly more subtle attempt to prod Israelis into wanting to swap him for Tzipi Livni.  If this is correct, we can expect to see more of this extreme (and unjustified) criticism of him on an ongoing basis.

A Mearsheimer-ish weekend NYTimes article suggested that Israel is a strategic liability and the US might throw Israel under the bus if there isn't a "2-state solution" soon.  The effect of articles like that might be similar ie. to frighten supporters of Israel into dumping Bibi and avoiding international pariah-hood.

Of course,  Israelis might return to a more dovish gov't if they actually thought that the "peace process" would lead to peace.  But since Obama is trying not to mediate but rather to impose his "obvious" solution  - when the PA will not even agree to sit down in the same room as the Israelis - there is no way this is going to happen.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Having a decent Google ranking due to some good links in 2002-2003 hasn't brought much traffic.  So I haven't had much enthusiasm for writing here.

The flotilla thing of the past week has added another layer of surreal-ness to the situation here.

What seems unprecedented to me is how the facts of the situation are now known - but the governments and media seem to be carrying on as if nothing was learned since the first (now-obsolete) accounts of the peaceniks were made public.  In particular the NYTimes writers (Ethan Bronner, Robert Mackey) seem to be aware of who the IHH are and what happened on the Mavi Marmara but are doing their best to obscure the situation. 

This is really messing me up personally and getting me unfocused and angry.  In a few days I will have gotten accustomed to this new level of unreality.  Reading the NYTimes today reminds me of listening to shortwave broadcasts of  Radio Moscow when I was a teenager.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mark Lilla has written a new article which takes a rather condescending if sometimes insightful view on the tea parties.   As is always the case with Lilla these days, you don't know whether his self-representation as a mainstream liberal is sincere or tactical.

Lilla thinks that "metastasizing" libertarian spirit "is the deepest reason why public reaction to the crash of 2008 and the election of Barack Obama took a populist turn and the Tea Party movement caught on.".

Well maybe that has something to do with it - but Lilla gives no consideration to the role of Obama and his policies.  This is particularly shocking as the article starts by revisiting Lilla's old thesis that the "sixties" and the Reagan Revolution are both irreversible fait accompli.  Supporters as well as critics of Obama see his economic policies as an attempt to reverse the Reagan Revolution.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

So the Obama-imposed solution to the Israel-Palestinian dispute is moving forward, or at least a trial balloon is moving forward (link).

It's good that Bibi hasn't yet done a major cave-in to Obama's thugocracy.  He's going to need a lot of spine to stand up to this, and Israel might face a lot of consequences in terms of removal of aid and vilification.

One thing we can be certain of is that no matter what happens, Israel will be widely blamed for the failure of Pax Obama (whether or not it is implemented). Another is that it will include gifts to the Palestinians never seen before (eg. ceding Jewish parts of Jerusalem, accepting large numbers (hundreds of thousands??) of "refugees" into Israel, and establishing a Palestinian state without the basis of peace, ending the conflict, or "mutual recognition).

The next 6 months are the most dangerous time I think ... as Obama probably sees the period between now and then as his last chance to make very radical steps without pushback from more moderate elements that will be elected in November.  Quite likely that Obama will attempt to "engage" with Hamas I think.