We Will Save the World, and Save All of It

Published on 2012/12/03
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Last week it was time for another World Climate Summit. Although most countries on this planet – especially the leading polluters – showed little inclination to subordinate their macro-economy to the single cause of “saving the world from climate change”, Germany remains defiant. Since there appears to be no other way to forestall the end of the world by global warming, Germany pursues an increasingly radical agenda of its own, incrementally jacking up its “climate targets.”

“Sustainability” has become something of a new state religion in Germany. Each politician and each manager feels obliged to drop the term “sustainability” at least ten times in any speech they give. While being responsible for just three percent of the world’s emissions, Germany demands increasingly restrictive climate targets; and paradoxically shuts down all of its nuclear power plants at the same time.

Berlin announced that, if needed, Germany would implement its ambitious climate targets on its own, setting an example for the rest of the world, so to speak. Everyone will rejoice when one fine day we are no longer responsible for 3% of the global emissions, but only 2.8%. Never mind what the price will have been for the German economy. “Being German means to overdo a thing just to be doing it” is a maxim that has proven right again at the World Climate Summit.

Last week also saw another summit meeting by Eurozone finance ministers on the subject of bailing out Greece. Here as elsewhere, Germany did not wish to take the backseat. In addition to saving the whole wide world from environmental disaster, we will also save debt-ridden Southern Europe, starting with Greece. As from a sheer inexhaustible cornucopia, we keep transferring billions to Greece.

Initially, politicians told us that the sums involved do not represent actual cash money but just guarantees. But we have now reached the point where real money is being disbursed. No one has yet said that any debt will be waived. No, we are “only” discounting the interest Greece needs to pay. Using a conman’s bag of tricks, the illusion that this is about something else than another debt relief is maintained. The transfer union expressly forbidden by the Maastricht Treaty has long become an established fact, with Germany being the main payer. This, however, does not keep Germany from being vilified by the very recipients of the transferred money. We have yet to hear a word of gratitude from Southern Europe for the billions forked over Germany.

Meanwhile, the socialist President of neighbouring France is waging an ideological war on “the rich” and basically on the entire economy. In the process, he is driving France into an economic crisis. Will Germany eventually have to bail out France, too, after Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, whose bonds are bought up by the ECB? The German leftist party “Die Linke” is full of admiration for Hollande and his anti-economy policy. Jürgen Trittin of the Greens can barely wait to pursue a similar policy as Germany’s future minister of finance.

Germany obviously believes itself to be omnipotent: we will save them all. But who is going to save Germany? Germany is a “wealthy” country, yet its public budgets are nearly two trillion euros in debt. Add to this that Germany has signed benefits acts such as for the pension obligations vis-à-vis its civil servants or the statutory pension insurance scheme, the combined short cover of which adds up to seven trillion euros.

And even if tax revenues in Germany are higher than ever at the moment, not a single euro is spent on debt repayment. Instead, new loans are happily taken out in order to finance social benefits such as the child care bonus and to subsidize solar arrays and wind turbines. While Germany is not exactly known for its sunny climate, it has more solar arrays than any other country, thanks to generous subsidies courtesy of the taxpayer. All of it is borrowed, of course. The inflationary use of the buzzword “sustainability” contrasts starkly with a government policy that lavishes benefits on those living today at the expense of future generations.

About the Author

Dr. Rainer Zitelmann is one of the leading experts for the strategic positioning and communications of companies.

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