Economics Minister Habeck admitted on ARD that the gas price brake is unfair. He is honored by his openness. But the fact that the vice chancellor of a more left-leaning government says that is revealing.

Economics Minister Robert Habeck has one thing ahead of other coalition politicians: he doesn’t pretend that everything is going perfectly in the traffic light government. It is fitting that he has now admitted with astonishing clarity for a traffic light minister that the gas price brake is unfair.

When asked whether speed came before justice in this decision, he answered in the ARD “Tagesthemen”: “In a certain sense that’s the case.” And also said why: “It’s unfair in the sense that large consumption – which are usually associated with high incomes (…) – get the same relief as lower incomes and lower consumption.”

Habeck concedes what cannot be denied. Still, it must have been difficult for him. After all, the Greens had started a competition in the traffic light to see who was even more social – they themselves or the Social Democrats, who actually subscribed to social affairs.

Politicians from both parties like to talk about more redistribution, would like to ask “the rich!” and everyone who thinks they are, to pay more. The instruments of torture are already ready: wealth tax, capital levy or higher rates of income and inheritance tax. But the coalition partner FDP is not going along with that.

In practical politics, of course, there is not much of a claim to social justice. Red-Green-Yellow uses the watering can far more often than the eyedropper in an effort to mitigate the effects of inflation and skyrocketing energy prices.

dr Hugo Müller-Vogg is a journalist, book author and former editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

Whether it’s a petrol price brake or an energy flat rate: the generous state also pours out its cornucopia to those who don’t need this help at all. The fact that the Treasury recovers part of it from higher earners via income tax does not change the wrong approach.

And now the gas price brake. Whether someone has used energy sparingly in the past or the heating was running at full blast with the window open, whether one person or five people live in an apartment – ​​the state will pay the down payment due in December. This is exactly the opposite of social justice.

Of course, Habeck is right that it would be “even more wrong” to wait with the payout until a payout model that is as fair as possible has been found. Because the energy providers do not know whether a customer lives alone in a large villa or is the father of a large family with a small income.

But Habeck and the traffic light have themselves to blame for sitting in this justice trap. They got themselves in there because they wasted valuable time on the grotesque gas fee. Until they finally realized that an increase (!) in the gas price decreed by the state and a simultaneous reduction in VAT is nonsense.

No, the gas price brake has nothing to do with social justice. It is an honor for Habeck to admit this. But that doesn’t detract from his blatant failure to think from the start of the gas crisis about how to combine effective help for those on low and middle incomes with the principle of social justice. It’s easier to talk about fair politics than to practice it.

Energy has never been as expensive as it is now. But instead of panicking, you should calmly check potential savings at home. As our guide shows, there are many of them.