The following op-ed by Hans Heckel looks at the ever-elusive tax cuts that are promised repeatedly to German voters, and the increasingly shrill (and ineffective) outbreaks of the Screaming Nazi Heeber-Jeebers in Germany.
Many thanks to JLH for this translation from Die Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung:
When the Con Artist Acts Generous
How many times tax relief has been promised, what came of it and how Frauke Petry invited attack
Week in Review by Hans Heckel
September 17, 2016
Is it time for elections already? Today already, the government is promising Germans a total of €6.3 billion in tax reductions. That is supposed to happen in two stages, i.e. 2017 and 2018. Since that is nailed down now, we are free to believe confidently in it.
After all, that’s what we always did when announcements from the chancellor’s party put a gleam in our eyes. In 2005, with little effort and a slight head-start, Merkel clambered onto the chancellor’s throne ahead of Schröder. She also got votes out of gratitude for her agreement to noticeably lower taxes.
The VAT would rise a compensatory two points, so that the state would not have to accumulate more debt. The SPD rejected that completely. In the end, they came to an agreement — instead of the VAT rising not at all (SPD) or by two points (CDU), it would rise three points, from 16 to 19%. We were a little impatient in those days. But it was not long, luckily, for the word in the 2009 elections was, again, Merkel intends to lower taxes. Of course we voted for her because of that. Who wanted to miss out on a windfall?
Windfall? Not a sou, and some people took it badly, but astonishingly, not against the chancellor’s party. Their new coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party, struggled in vain to lower the tax burden. At one point we were able to see a demonically grinning Finance Minister Schäuble sitting next to the helplessly commiserating FDP head, Rösler, as though the old fox was saying, “Run around all you want, little twerp, I’ve laid traps everywhere.”
The liberals didn’t have a chance. They couldn’t pass anything and consequently, by 2013, they were vaporized. Not so the ruling party, which won our complete confidence again in 2013 with the ever-new “CDU will lower taxes.” That was three years ago, which is why it’s time to lay the scratchy old record on the turntable. And behold, it scratches just as enticingly as ever!
And how will that go after the election? We can predict that with some exactitude, by looking at 2002 and the following election year. Unexpectedly, “new, unforeseen challenges” will arise which make a tax reduction “unsustainable at this point in time.”
The idea of “noticeable tax relief” chosen by the house of Schäuble is noteworthy in and of itself, if you are looking at a sum of €6 billion. This year alone, the finance minister will generate a budget surplus of €18 billion, is the proud announcement out of Berlin.
“Generate” sounds wonderfully solid, honest and competent. But money can be handled. Right? Well, if you look behind the lovely curtain, that pretty phrase turns to dust in your mouth, because what you see there is more a legal con game than a solid economic triumph.
Since the beginning of the credit system, which existed even before the invention of money, the lender gets something from the borrower for the loan. Called interest. For the first time in our history, our powerful people brutally abolished this interest, so they could loan themselves money for nothing. And, in fact, from us — our pensions and our savings.
They are legally forcing the insurer to invest our money “securely,” i.e., in government bonds. That is how Schäuble rakes in our money. Then he only has to wait until inflation erodes their value. He calls that “generating” where someone else might be thinking “theft”. But wait — inflation? That doesn’t exist anymore! At least give us the government statistics. The politicians, too, and the many “independent experts” are always congratulating us on the stability of our money. Some of them are even complaining that it is too stable, and that is paralyzing the economy.
Into this charming fairy tale of stable money values burst a verdict of the Supreme Court, that the welfare rate must at least rise above the poverty level.
Since then, we have had a yardstick for how the development of prices for our daily needs is arranged. In other words, how the value of our money is set in the supermarket. By January 1st, welfare payments of single individuals are to rise from €404 to €409, or 1.2%.
So that is the exact money devaluation for 2016. Not much, right? Depends. For example, Schäuble issues ten-year bonds, borrows the money from the private pension fund scheme so beloved of the politicians. When they run out, with 1.2 % inflation, the whole thing has lost almost 12% of its buying power — after 30 years, more than 30%. And then the insurance company or the bank gets its fees and that’s the end of our “secure golden years.”
So, the Minister of Finance is quite simply promising to return to us 6 billion of the “generated” 18 billion euros — one-third. The man is clearly driven by a deep-seated desire to provide care and justice for German citizens.
But what is he to do? Election campaigning is election campaigning, after all. If you don’t intend to offer the people anything, this is what you have to do. Politicians count on interest and loss of buying power being too complicated for most people. They look at their currency and say to themselves: loss of buying power? How? Doesn’t it still say ten euros?
It is not only our stupidity that plays into their hands. Now the bothersome political competition is from time to time good enough to do something that can be attacked. Frauke Petry [AfD] said that she didn’t think that “völkisch” was so bad — it’s just a word expressing the attributes of a people.
Sublime simplicity! But of course it is not that simple. Since the name “National Socialist” has taken on the meaning it has, we no longer think of it as including patriotic Social Democrats. “Völkisch” has taken on a certain tinge that goes beyond the pure meaning of the word.
No matter. Petry’s odd excursion into naïve interpretive concept analysis was joyfully taken up, and the attacks began instantaneously. Tageschau.de sports an edition of the Völkischer Beobachter, which insinuates everything that needs to be said: that the AfD head has been revealed as a Nazi — That’s all, folks!
In the process, it escaped the notice of the happy warriors that they were riding a dead horse. which is on their own conscience. For more than a generation, and recently with downright hysterical zeal, they have been shoving anyone whom they saw as politically rightist into the Nazi box. They rode this fear-mongering word to death, and it has increasingly lost its original meaning for people. Nowadays, when we hear that someone is said to be a Nazi, we comprehend immediately: Aha, this person has been criticizing the euro or asylum policy, that’s all.
That’s how it is. Inflation can devalue not only money, but also words. At some point, they will be lying worthless in the corner, with no declarative power — Nazi!? So what?
|1.||= ethnic/nationalist/of the people, but carries the burden of its Nazi history, as well as the subsequent memory of such things as the “people’s Police” — Volkspolizei or Vopos — who among other things, guarded the Berlin Wall and shot down escapees from East Germany.|
|2.||The People’s Observer: the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party from 1920-1945.