Monday, September 13, 2004

Leftists making sense

When left-wing commentators get it right, they deserve proper credit. I hereby present a couple examples from this week's Jerusalem Post.

1. Larry Derfner often annoys me when he writes about politics, but on other subjects he can be surprisingly sensible. This week, he wrote about the ubiquitous incompetence in management of Israeli supermarkets.

As a rule, I object when olim - or native Israelis - criticize aspects of Israeli society, kvetching that such things would never happen in a "proper" country. (At the post office recently, I was treated to a rant about how citizens of normal countries would never have to wait 40 minutes in line at the post office. Tell that to the USPS or Royal Mail.)

On this subject, however, he's right on target. The practices of efficient, customer-oriented supermarket management are no big secret, and stores large and small in the U.S. and Europe implement them without difficulty. Why not here?

(Some gripes he doesn't mention: Every little cashier's error can be corrected only if the manager swipes his authorization card, delaying the customers and betraying a lack of trust in the cashiers. Since it happens so often, he swipes it without thinking anyway. Also, the display screen is usually oriented so the customer can't watch items as they are rung up, and can rarely follow the registered prices. Way too many products have no label or product code, setting off a mad price check rush at the register.)

2. Yosef Goell is an old-style Labor socialist, supporting territorial compromise, a strong defense and a highly-regulated economy. He usually talks sense, even when I disagree with him vehemently. This week he discusses Sharon's strategic errors in pushing his highest-profile recent initiatives, the security fence and "disengagement" from settlements. His solution: a "time out" to rethink strategy - lest Sharon inadvertently return Israel to the unthinkable 1949 Green Line borders.

If we're forced to swallow the inexplicable disengagement plan, at least let's do it right.

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