Germany is making great strides towards the level of a third world country. At the same time, the state is taking more of its citizens’ income than ever before. Shouldn’t you at least ask for an explanation?

The chief executive of the parity welfare organization Ulrich Schneider sees Germany on the way to the alms state. Exploding energy prices, rising living costs, increasing burdens: society is on the verge of falling apart, says Schneider.

He has numbers ready. 13.8 million people are already at risk of poverty. Due to the current crisis, another 12 million households would be added.

That’s a combined 38 million people at or below the poverty line. Germany – the new Cuba. If I were chairman of a charitable organization, I would also sound the alarm.

I don’t want to contradict at all. I only have one question: Where has all the money gone that the German state takes from its citizens? Tax revenues amounted to over 880 billion euros in 2022, more than originally expected. That is about as much as the bottom 90 of the world’s 192 countries together generate.

Where has the money gone?

At the train? I’ve lost count of the reports of travelers who trusted the railroad’s promises to get them from A to B and ended up stranded somewhere because their train broke down en route. It is now news when, contrary to expectations, you reach your destination on time. Big hello then on social media: “Imagine what happened to me! I arrived without delay!”

I now have the suspicion that the turnaround in traffic does not mean the switch from cars to trains, but the change to horse-drawn carriages: “Volker, hitch up the car, see the wind is driving rain across the country.”

Is the money in the schools? Can also be ruled out. There are so many teachers missing that in some places only a kind of emergency operation is maintained. In the case of school buildings, you can be lucky if the parents’ association doesn’t approach you and ask if you don’t want to lend a hand at the weekend because it’s raining through the roof or something urgently needs to be painted.

Did our taxes go to the hospitals? The question answers itself in a country where even small children have to lie in the corridor in a flu epidemic.

Is the money in defense? The connoisseur laughs. This month we are taking the lead in NATO’s Rapid Reaction Force. During a practice maneuver, all 18 Pumas failed. And the Puma is not just any tank. It is the most expensive infantry fighting vehicle in the world. As the army inspector of the Bundeswehr said: You have to catch a very good day if national defense is to work.

So where’s the money gone? Apparently, it also didn’t go into alleviating poverty, if one is to believe the man from the Parity Welfare Association. Almost half of the population is in need, and that in a country whose tax ratio after Belgium is higher than anywhere else in Europe. Not only are we at the forefront of deteriorating public infrastructure, we’re also among the record-holders when it comes to reaching into citizens’ pockets.

It’s an enigma. Which of course does not prevent any politician from demanding more power and influence and thus an even larger share of the income of those he governs. It is precisely in these difficult times that it depends on the state, it is said as a possible justification, and the state, i.e. politics, should not be underfinanced.

The FOCUS Online Guide answers all important questions about pensions on 135 pages. Plus 65 pages of forms.

Basically, the typical German social politician talks like Donald Trump. Precisely because he shows himself unable to manage the money entrusted to him in a sound manner, credit has to be granted to him. Your own dubiousness as proof of special trustworthiness: You can only get away with that in the real estate business and in German high politics. Any decent mafioso would be ashamed to act like that. Anyone who pays their dues to the mafia at least gets the protection they were promised.

The relationship between the tax rate and the ability of a community to function is overestimated, most notably by people who tell us that everything would collapse without their redistribution ambition.

In Switzerland, the top tax rate for federal tax is 11.5 percent. In a sample calculation that I found for the municipality of Bottighofen in the canton of Thurgau, a father with an income of 100,000 Swiss francs pays 13,900 in taxes, including all cantonal and municipal taxes. That’s about half of what he would have to pay in Germany.

Do you have the impression that everything is collapsing in Switzerland? Not me. The trains come on time. The roads are in pristine condition, as are the bridges. There’s reliable WiFi, even in places you shouldn’t expect it. The police and judiciary are doing their job smoothly. The hospitals work despite the flu epidemic.

Years ago I took the trouble to explore the subsidy paths of the German welfare state. It is not so easy to find your way in the thicket of inflows and outflows. You shouldn’t. So you can console yourself with the hope that in the end you will be among the winners and not among the losers.

What began as an event to protect against life risks such as illness, accident and unemployment has developed into a transfer system, and no one is in a position to provide information about the distribution effect.

In the meantime, everyone who can even be suspected of suffering from an officially curable disadvantage is put on the drip of social administration: married couples, childless or many children, single parents, divorced and widowed; Employers, employees, unemployed, night workers and professionals who work on Sundays or in shifts; Tenants, landlords, builders and those who want to become one.

women who have worked in the household all their lives; women who are about to enter the workforce; women who got the wrong college degree; multiparous; pregnant women; Pregnant women who no longer want to be pregnant; Women who only love women and women who are actually men. For social reasons, they are all granted either additional special rights or additional entitlements to cash and non-cash benefits or tax breaks or cultural sponsorship or everything together.

The model of the modern welfare state is the citizen as boarder. Therefore, he offers himself to this in almost all situations as an appellate instance. The German welfare state provides cheaper opera tickets and language trips to Tuscany as well as free marriage counseling and socially graded telephone tariffs.

He adopts mumbo jumbo such as taking sugar pills to relieve back pain, offering compensation for inclement weather and freezing winters, and has himself ruled on whether the unemployed have a legal right to claim home interest payments or whether tourists can expect repatriation during a pandemic may (they may).

Only the smallest part of the huge social budget is still used to care for the poor, “protection and assistance in emergencies”, as the “German Legal Lexicon” puts it under the term welfare state. Measured against the total budget, this part is actually getting smaller and smaller.

I have a suggestion. We’re going on a tax strike. And that’s until someone tells us why Germany is in a state that is more reminiscent of a third world country than an industrialized nation, even though tax revenues have been rushing from one record to the next for years. Fridays for Finance – maybe we’ll get an explanation then.

• Read all of Jan Fleischhauer’s columns here.

The readers love him or hate him, Jan Fleischhauer is indifferent to the least. You only have to look at the comments on his columns to get an idea of ​​how much people are moved by what he writes. He was at SPIEGEL for 30 years, and at the beginning of August 2019 he switched to FOCUS as a columnist.

Fleischhauer himself sees his task as giving voice to a world view that he believes is underrepresented in the German media. So when in doubt, against the herd instinct, commonplaces and thought templates. His texts are always amusing – perhaps it is this fact that provokes his opponents the most.

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