In Germany, billions of euros flow into social benefits. Our columnist believes that the constant assertion that the country is still socially divided only serves to legitimize even more government.
Some contemporaries keep claiming that Germany is a socially divided country. With this moral club more and more state redistribution is demanded. Irrespective of the fact that this accusation is fundamentally unjustified, history shows that an ever stronger state ultimately turns prosperity for everyone into less for everyone.
In which country in the world is it more socially just or is there more redistribution than here? The federal government alone will pay around 160 billion euros in social benefits this year. The top 10 percent of higher earners pay around half of the taxes to finance them. In the top 30 percent it is even 80 percent. Nobody can seriously talk about a lack of redistribution from the “rich” to the “poor”.
Robert Halver is Head of Capital Market Analysis at Baader Bank.
Without the higher earners, which already include skilled workers, a welfare state is unthinkable. And if Germany is supposed to be a socially cold country, then America and Great Britain are living in the worst ice age. Incidentally, we are also at the top in Europe in terms of social policy.
Nevertheless, it is still not enough for the do-gooders who believe in the state. Even the economists – actually wise voices of economic reason – are of the opinion that the engine of state redistribution must be lubricated even better in the energy crisis.
There should only be temporary increases in the top tax rate or the introduction of an energy solis only until around spring 2024. Sure, the state has to be there in an emergency. But the example of the solidarity surcharge to finance German unity shows that it is almost impossible to wrest from the state what it is holding in its claws once the purpose has been fulfilled. It still applies to higher earners today, who, by the way, show solidarity with it.
Yes, father state is like a dog that knows no feeling of satiety. He never runs out of imagination about what can be done with even more tax payments from economically active citizens.
A wealth tax is being demanded more and more loudly, which also endangers the economic substance of small businesses. And why stop with an excess profit tax? There are still so many ways to pull the tax skin over the ears of companies and citizens.
How can one think of tax increases in Germany, which is stuck in a major energy and economic crisis? We are already a high-tax country. Should more companies close or leave Germany and take their economic power with them?
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In any case, filling the supposedly ever-increasing gaps in justice can also have a counterproductive, even anti-growth, effect. This is how the lower income groups consider whether a job is still worthwhile. In a well-known TV talk show, a social worker recently admitted that it can make more economic sense to receive full benefits than to go to work.
Here we remember the summer when foreign workers were recruited at German airports, for example for baggage handling, although Germany still has around two million unemployed. The earlier argument that there is not enough work and the state has to intervene is no longer valid today. In fact, there is a shortage of workers everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong: social benefits in crises are a natural part of a democratic society. But the welfare state should only be the solution in crises, not the standard offer.
And of course Germans are not lazy at all, but the state is inviting more and more people to do so. You get used to the blessings of the state, which you no longer want to do without. I can’t help but get the impression that many politicians are primarily concerned with the next election.
It may be politically incorrect these days, but the principle of encouragement and challenge must be preserved. Otherwise, the hard-working population will have to give away more and more of the fruits of their labor. In this context, it is hypocritical for moralizers to beg theatrically for higher taxes. What is stopping these people from establishing alternative welfare-promoting foundations or donating the money directly to the needy?
There are good alternatives to state redistribution. Why isn’t the income limit from which tax and social security contributions start to be pushed back significantly in order to have more net from the gross. Work has to pay off again.
But above all, if performance is less and less worthwhile here, it is no longer provided here. Abroad, such as America, is happy about new talent and our companies with their fantastic industrial know-how. To ensure its prosperity, however, Germany does not need dropouts, but climbers.
But those who carry the alleged division of Germany before them like a monstrance at the Corpus Christi procession are about much more. They are concerned with a “better” social model. And only one can do that, the state, which orders “equality” from above.
But Germany must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of Sweden, which inflated its state economy so much in the early 1990s and trampled on the principle of individual performance that the country was on the verge of bankruptcy. Increasingly higher fixed state costs have to be financed somehow.
As much individual freedom as possible to implement economic ideas is the well-fertilized and watered breeding ground to create progress, prosperity and jobs. A dominant state knout, on the other hand, only ensures the spread of the economic desert.
And so that self-interest does not get out of hand in relation to the common good, Germany chose the social market economy as a form of company, which has proven itself very well. With her, individual economic freedom is coupled with social responsibility, a win-win situation. I am sure that this is also the formula for success in climate protection. How nice it would be if German (economic) policy returned to these virtues.
When politicians cut back on this successful model in favor of state paternalism, they suffer from the loss of angle syndrome, in English: they have a corner off.
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