Freitag, Januar 11, 2008

Helping the poor...

I've been catching up on my reading, and just recently got to some Spiegel magazines.

There's an article in Spiegel 51/2007, from 17.Dec, that talks of the German "Gerechtigkeitslücke". This is best translated as "justice gap", and points to the fact that apparently the distribution of income in Germany has gotten steeper, rather than broader.

Of course, the article in question - couldn't find any link to it, but it's in that particular issue - found all the reasons why German income inequality has worsened: globalization, manager's greed, awful capitalism, the usual suspects.

What they didn't talk about was the fact that Germany, with its reliance on VAT for a good portion of its income, uses a regressive tax system that means the poor bear an larger burden of taxes, proportional to income, than the rich.

Hence here is my recommendation for helping the poor in Germany: get off their backs. Sink the proportion of government spending of GDP from over 40% to less than 30%, and that 10% difference should be used to reduce the VAT.

Anything else is a waste of time, and will only ensure that the poor will continue to be worse off, rather than better.

Likelihood of this happening: nil.

Likelihood of any German politician realizing what the problem is: even smaller.


fabius.maximus.cunctator hat gesagt…


How long have you been living in Germany ? With no wish to be disrespectful, I find the solution you outline slightly theoretical.
No European country I know of could reduce govt sprending by 10 % or more within a reasonable period of time (measured in years, mind). In Germany, something like 70 % of the legislators are civil service "lifers" (that s a old statistic I admit). Would they reduce the power they get from redistributing wealth ?
What you are asking for here is akin to a revolution I think.

I am all for it, mind, but I wouldn`t bet a single, now worthless Pfennig on it.

PS: I enormously appreciate yr comments on watchuseek. I look in now and then.

John F. Opie hat gesagt…

Hi -

Well, I did say the chances of it happening are as good as nil.

I've spent, on and off, 24 years in Germany, and I well know that no German politician could dare to take this position without being tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail.

My intent is to show that the mindset of German politicians is exactly what you say: making life for German poor better is about the last thing they are really interested in.

Glad to see you hear as well. I got about 30% of my meagre traffice here from WUS... :-)


fabius.maximus.cunctator hat gesagt…


You`re right, of course. My only excuse for not reading your comment properly is that I came back to it as a relaxation after writing a PPoint presentation on a very arcane legal thingummy and was probably a bit tired.

Rather close to what you wrote in your aswer:

German politicians may realise what s happening, but - to them - it s not a problem. It s an opportunity to keep people - not just the poor but the middle class - dependent on them.

I am not suggesting a conspiracy, mind. Such a thing wd be too complex and the process has been going on for too long anyhow for a decent conspiracy.

John F. Opie hat gesagt…

Hi -

Agree: there's no conspiracy as such.

The thing with conspiracy is that it takes more effort and energy than most people are willing to spend, and most such conditions are due to stupidity and venality than are due to an organized, well thought out and implemented, deliberate attempt to reach some sort of goal.

Never underestimate the human capacity for stupidity... :-)

Thanks for your comments.