Kleptocracy on Steroids

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To
change one's mind is the easier, the less of a mind you have to
change in the first place. This is twice as true in politics. After
Franz Müntefering's unexpected resignation from his Vice Chancellorship
candidacy, he resigned from his resignation. To make things easier
to understand, his fellow resignator, the formerly designated candidate
for Secretary of Economy, the sitting Bavarian Prime Minister, Edmund
Stoiber sent a letter to his party members with a plea for forgiveness
for his premature resignation. So he's going to join Ms. Merkel's
crew again? Who knows, who cares?

Being
far away from having a functioning administration crew, our designated
and temporarily designated nation's saviours agree on a few things.
First: a gaping hole of thirty-five to seventy billion u20ACuros must
either be filled with new debts or diminished by cutting tax loopholes
or cutting down subsidies. To do the latter, a functioning administration
is required which can afford to hurt the clientele of an opposing
large party. This is one detail large enough to hide a battalion
of devils in: both our large parties are players in the grand coalition,
so both of them can't afford to kick their own clientele where it
hurts. Scratch any possibility of diminishing the size of next four
years' budget. New debts are another can of worms, as Germany has
never since the Maastricht treaty has been in power, fulfilled the
stability criteria, and we're not going to do so in the foreseeable
future. To make things a little more complicated: to raise the debt
quote would violate our constitution. Not that is something that
disturbs the mind of a full-fledged politician, but some of the
voters might remember next election year…

Our
politicos got a revolutionary, brand-new, super-duper idea: not
only to raise taxes, like the VAT from 16% to 20% or, as some suggest,
to 25%, but to invent a new one. The VAT augmentation makes the
poorer folks bleed most, so, justice must be done, the “rich” must
pay their share as well: If you are hard-working and qualified enough
to have an annual income exceeding u20AC 250K, single, or u20AC 500K married,
or if you happen to own a bank account exceeding u20AC 250K, you'll
have to pay a punitive special tax. The “Reichensteuer” is born.

If
you think now, to transfer your money into friendlier environments
is a good idea, think twice: since 9/11, all bank accounts in Germany
have to be registered at the Federal Bureau for the Supervision
of Credit Traffic (I don't make this up, it's the Bundesanstalt
für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht
), what means that all
bank accounts in Germany are open to the search of the authorities.
To add insult to injury, during the “Arbeitsmarktreform” (Reform
of Labor Market), a law had been passed, that authorities, not only
the treasury, can at any whim, check all financial transactions
any account owner in Germany makes. No warrant needed. So, if your
money vanishes into the thin, chilly, but friendly air of let's
say Switzerland, you'll have to answer nosy questions of our “Waffen-IRS”,
aka Steuerfahndung. Excused by 9/11 as well as by the War Against
Drugs, it has been illegal for years to carry more than u20AC 10.000
over any of the numerous frontiers in Europe. Thanks to our magnetic
metal “safety” stripe in our Euro bills, larger amounts of cash
will set a magnet detector off, so don't you think you can hide
it.

Due
to the Schengen Treaty, the custom controls at the EU internal borders
have been abolished, but that does not mean that there are no controls
at all: within 30 kilometers each side of a border, civil patrol
cars of customs and police can search any car they find on the road,
no warrant, no suspicion needed. If they find more than ten thousand
Euros per person, you'd better call an attorney ASAP.

Europe
has grown to be a nice and cozy place to live in. Really.

November
8, 2005

Ulrich
Biele
[send him mail] is
a consultant in Munich, Germany.

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