The fight for the debt brake is developing into the hottest front section of this government. Here the heavy weapons are used, at least argumentatively. In reality, however, there is a much bigger problem at stake.
Superficially, it’s about the FDP’s struggle with the rest of the world. In truth, however, it is about the widespread need for the eternal present, which would like to let off steam again at the expense of the future. In the balance sheet of those who are greedy for the present, there is no debit and no credit, only an eternal wanting to have.
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With a red head, the greedy for the present always presents a new emergency situation, with which the debt brake can be expanded and the claims to a gross national product that can still be generated can be justified. “Emergency!” calls Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil. “Now no principle riding,” even seconded Markus Söder. The Bigspender’s front is more stable than Putin’s army.
There are seven good reasons to break through this phalanx of eternal need and want and to help sustainability achieve a breakthrough in fiscal policy:
1. The galloping devaluation of money – currently the most cruel scourge of the population – is driven by more debt, not dampened. The additional money created creates additional demand and thus the leeway for craftsmen, car manufacturers and food chains to pass on their price increase strategies. Only subdued demand reduces the scope. Otherwise, the money that has become soft cannot harden again.
2. The additional demands on the future national product will not disappear after the crisis. People are not like that. And party politicians are certainly not like that. That is why, as a rule, there is never a reduction in debt and, on the contrary, what the Federal Court of Auditors recently called “the petrified budget”.
3. Politicians who are imbued with their “right to take”, to use Peter Sloterdijk’s phrase, will have no choice but to collect the money raised on the capital market from the citizens. Sloterdijk is not philosophical at this point, but clear: “Should the current volume not suffice for its growing needs, the state will take what is itss from the future by incurring huge debts and thus preparing the next century of bourgeois incapacitation .”
Today’s debt is tomorrow’s tax hike. Someone in the Ministry of Economy has to dare to explain this mechanic to the Minister.
4. Rulers used to like to finance their spending orgies by plundering foreign countries. Today, one holds harmless to one’s own population and – this is the boy’s play of social policy – later presents the result of this encroachment as a “social benefit” or in new German as a “relief package”.
5. Under the pressure of the multiple crises of our day, many politicians are ashamed of their steadfastness. The media likes to ask, and Tina Hassel almost every day, when the debt brake will finally be expanded. Financial politicians, like the quiet drinker, have gotten into the habit of keeping small supplies everywhere so that they can take a sip from time to time.
The shifting of expenses and new credit authorizations into so-called special funds arises precisely from this need for secrecy. The real net borrowing – said the Federal Court of Auditors only recently – is four times higher than shown in the federal budget at around 78 billion euros. The principle has been tried and tested: you don’t see any bottles, but the drunkard stands there with a heavy tongue and flushed cheeks.
7. The expansive state stabs its own central bank in the back, which is trying to stop the gallop of prices by making money more expensive. The simultaneity of Hü and Hott leads to a state of extreme confusion in the horse. In the worst case, the rider makes a flop.
Fiscal policy will determine whether the traffic light coalition has truly understood the lessons of the last great German inflation, which is about to celebrate its bleak centenary. The French writer and politician André Malraux automatically comes to mind: “If you want to look into the future, you have to leaf through the past.”
Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.