Spending orgy with consequences: the federal government’s new relief package is only a reaction to current problems that make it almost impossible to think properly about the future. The fiscal petrifaction has long since begun.
The favorite word of all politicians is future. The future must be conceived, secured and shaped. The parties are happy to organize future congresses, decide on future programs and in Jürgen Rüttgers the Union already had a future minister to offer in 1994.
But no sooner have they reached high government office than the politicians dive into the problems of the present, never to emerge from them again. The “lust for the future” (CDU) ends again and again in a large self-discharge.
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An important group of voters always has to be calmed down, gifted or – as is the case these days – relieved. The political focus changes with great regularity – until the future is hardly recognizable because of the present. The greed for the moment, to use Ingeborg Bachmann’s phrase, actually means a continued consumption of the future. The hallmark of the modern state is its eternal need.
The shift in emphasis from the future to the present can be read in detail in the state budget. Social politicians from all parties convince people that there is enough money for everyone. You don’t have to make an effort, just pull up your shirt like Sterntaler. If you don’t let the state subsidize your house, car, solar system, having children or even your pension, you haven’t understood the game.
This “maternalistic paternalistic and caring machine” (Peter Sloterdijk), constituted by all parties as a joint venture, means that the normal federal budget for investments in the future has hardly any money left. A large part of the budget, around 90 percent, is “petrified”, wrote the Federal Court of Auditors in its report on the 2023 budget: “As petrification progresses, the danger increases that the state will lose its ability to act.”
The spending frenzy set in motion again by the 65 billion relief package, the core of which is the issuing of bad checks, will lead to further petrification. Sloterdijk sees a latent social democracy at work here that goes beyond the party of the same name because it is more or less irreversibly built into the procedures of modern statehood.
Here are the facts that did not play the role they deserved when the Ministry of Finance presented the 2023 federal budget yesterday. Although Christian Lindner – this is added to his relief – is not the inventor of fiscal petrification, only its executor:
“The shifting of expenses and debt into special funds and accounting practices distort the picture. At around 78 billion euros, the real net borrowing is four times higher than that shown in the federal budget.”
With the financing of a permanent present, the eternal Cretaceous period will continue to rule in schools, Germany’s largest transport company will remain a little train and the digitization of administration will only be able to start in the 22nd century. Germany is not getting rid of itself, as Thilo Sarrazin once prophesied. It just petrifies silently.