Anyone calling for a ban on corporate dividends should remember that companies don’t really exist. They are mental aids. Whoever punishes companies punishes the people who make them up.

Let’s do an experiment: touch the device you are reading this text on. The iPhone, the computer or whatever. Then touch Apple.

Do you notice the difference? You can touch products that Apple makes. You can also touch the corporate headquarters where Apple designs these products. But you can’t touch the company itself. That’s because the company doesn’t really exist. If you are reading this text on a Samsung phone, the same applies.

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There are two things in the world: real and fake. The chair I’m sitting on, the table my forearms are resting on and the laptop I’m writing these lines on are real. I can touch, see and feel them. And above all: I am real. Just like my family, my friends and over seven billion people worldwide.

The many mental aids we use to regulate the coexistence of these seven billion people are fake. We invent football clubs like FC Bayern Munich because some people love to play football and others want to cheer for it. We invent countries because laws should only apply in a certain area. And we invent companies like Apple because people want to organize their collaboration. This invention enable our modern world. But they are as fake as the number two. I can touch, see or smell them again.

This difference becomes important when we talk about dealing with fake thinking aids. Nobody can punish things that don’t really exist. These punishments always end up reaching the people who make these things happen.

Billions in fines hit employees, dividend bans hit many small investors who can use every euro in an expensive time. They are of no use to anyone.

More on the topic: ban on dividends demanded – if politicians just look on, the gas price brake will make shareholders richer

Instead of achieving pseudo-victories with senseless corporate penalties, anyone who wants to reward or sanction certain behavior should specifically punish the people responsible for this behavior. Temporarily banning board bonuses or banning dividends to directors – all sensible debates.

But whoever bans companies that have received state aid from paying out dividends is actually banning money from moving from a bogus brain teaser to real people. This is temporary at best. The companies only pay out the money later or someone else pocket it. Sooner or later it ends up with someone.

Anyone who acts as if money, which the company is not distributing as dividends, will magically arrive where you would like it to be is lying to yourself. This harms Germany and its residents because it conceals problems and punishes the wrong people. If German companies are easy targets for takeover by foreign sovereign wealth funds, everyone suffers.

Gas price help is intended to compensate for the messed-up energy policy of the past few years. They should help employees by securing their jobs and guarantee the prosperity of all Germans by keeping the location internationally competitive. Quite reasonable. But anyone who draws conclusions about dividends from this is comparing apples with oranges.