Kleptocracy on Steroids

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