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"...securing German access to Moscow's vast natural gas and oil supplies?"

Imagine what the media would be saying if you replaced the word "German" with 'American'.

Socialism in Germany is incomplete unless it's national. Only national socialism properly motivates the German to deeds of destiny.

I've always known that Das Kapital was a threat to democracy.

Its simple. 2002: resistance against american bombing in Iraq = a second term for red-green. 2006: resistance against american capitalism = a third term for red-green. Its stupid, it makes no sense, it doesn't work. But thats not the point. The point is that there is a deep desire for revenge in many parts of the population. To blame those who blamed us since 1945: Americans and Jews. Until 2002, the government always tried to contain Anti-americanism, as it was seen as a danger. Since then, it is seen as a political ressource. Münterfering now is testing the reactions on this kind of national-socialist discource (schaffendes und raffendes Kapital). If it works, it will be the ticket for SPD in 2006.

"short-winded trade for profit"

Everytime you see a total loser who never had any kind of business experience (like most politicians) telling such nonsense, you see how extremely frustrated and jealous they are of all those 'rich' people.

Jealous of those 1 in 4 working people everywhere that own their own business, those managers and technicians earning a lot of money, ... Easy to see where this jealousy comes from : they always thought : "i studied in lawschool so i'm on top of the world", and, guess what, all those "ordinary people" make far more money than them ? How comes ? They MUST be short-winded not sustainable, dirty capitalists etc.

These incompetent idiots have destroyed the third largest economy in the world and created gigantic unemployment. Still, they blame it on the "short-winded trade for profit". This infuriates me and makes me want to hurt them, it is totally unacceptable !

Ulrich,

It certainly will work on a large portion of the German population. Like elsewhere, Germans have shown they can be easily manipulated by soundbites.

This is what I would like to see. I would like to see George Bush "spontaneously" say very nice words about Schroeder in front of the press. I want Bush to say how highly he thinks of the SPD, and say that it would be wise for Germans to "stay the course" and give Schroeder and the SPD more time to do the tough work that lies ahead. Compare Schroeder to a tough, rugged cowboy trying to right some wrongs.

The way I figure it, if Bush did this Schroeder crap his pants.

Let's also not forget most of them are syndicalists...

The problem is that Mr. Meuntefering is directly associating German social programs with the quality of German democracy. If there is no welfare state, there is no democracy.

In America, very few people associate government programs so strictly with the health of the democratic nature of the country. We have social programs like unemployment insurance, social security (pensions) and medical assistance BECAUSE we have a democracy. Most Americans believe in the value of these programs and they encourage their representatives to establish and support these initiatives.

We do not have a democracy BECAUSE we have these programs.

Mr. Meuntefering seems to be taking the opposite tack. I would question his judgement on this issue. Democracy and social welfare are separate, but related issues.

Now, given that this seems to be Mr. Meuntefering's worldview, then I have to agree with him. Yes, the "Anglo-Saxon" social model is both successful, and doesn't place an emphasis on the social controls and programs that the German welfare state does. Therefore, according to his logic, it is a threat to "democracy" as he understands the term. However, I think his personal definition of democracy is skewed.

Additionally, the SPD's position on what constitutes a threat to democracy is very hypocritical, as the original post points out. Taiwan is undoubtedly a democracy. However, the SPD prefers to sell weapons to the PRC, which also might endanger their democratic U.S. and Japanese friends, as opposed to doing anything to support Taiwanese political development.

The SPD also appears ready to give Russia a pretty free pass on it's backsliding into a kind of quasi-czarist commisariat, and Chechnya.

Oh well!! Maybe if Mr. Meunterfering spent as much effort in trying to improve the German social model as he does in trying to denounce the American model in his thinly veiled way, the German model would have reached such a state of prosperity and social justice that competition from insidious American capitalism would not be a threat.

Can someone describe to me the fundamental differences between Socialism and Communism? I am beginning to believe the only difference is one degree of separation. Communists wear the jackboots and Socialists make money propping up Communists wearing jackboots.

My primary point being Amaericans will NEVER be anyone's "comrade", but we would be willing to be your true friend. To translate, friendship implies a reciprocral relationship in my culture. Surely you respect my culture.

Steve, exactly, Mr. M. tries to associate "social programs" with "democracy", like all socialists and leftists in general (and indeed, as Tom writes, no ideological difference with communists, they only have to share power with others, to their own dissatisfaction of course).

The question really is : WHY do they try to make that association ? What's in it for them ?

Answer : "clientelism". Their voters only vote for them because they receive benefits from them. Their political vision is : if you vote for me, i'll give you a government job or money (and take that from others).

They like to build theoretical "social" models around it, mainly focused on "fighting poverty" or "protecting the environment", in order to blur that obvious fact, but that's really what it comes down to.

Problem : The unstoppable march of freedom and capitalism. In the real world, you don't need politicians to address poverty or environmental issues, the private sector is incomparably better in fighting poverty then the government is.
Look at any nation state : the bigger the government, the more unemployment (and thus poverty) and the worse the condition of the environment. "Relative poverty lines" try to blur that basic fact but can't really fool anyone except the ones who really need to believe it in order to receive the benefits, like their voters.

This means : their mask falls off, and the social programs from the government have no added value and should be diminished in size (or better : abolished). So, with less social programs, they lose their voters. And thus their jobs.

Solution : Associate the social programs with democracy, the sacred concept they know nobody can protest against (they use democracy like islamofundamentalists use liberal immigration policies).

Mr. M. is basically trying to save his lousy job by spitting on all hard working people who provide the immense wealth capitalism produces, which is, to their pity, the only way to fight poverty and protect the environment. And that does NOT require any significant political interference.

Tom, the issue with Müntefering here is more with national socialism. In his speach he clearly distinguishes between entrepreneurs who take responsibilities for "their" workers etc. (good) and the "international" financial capital (bad) who is responsible for German economic problems. This is a classic argument. And a classic strategy: Our problems are not the results of our faults, they are the result of the activities of the destroying power of international capital. Today you find this argument on the extreme left (attac) and on the extreme right (NPD). Its new to hear this kind of propaganda from the governing social democrats.
The commentators have linked this discourse to the extreme left, to communism. But in fact it's the classical anti-capitalism /anti-liberalism which has been a driving force for both, communism and national socialism. Götz Aly has, in his new book, highlighted the socialist element in national socialism.
The problem in Germany is the weekness of liberal thought. People think more in categories of communitarism (Volksgemeinschaft) than in categories of liberalism. Liberalism is not rooted in Germany. So nobody stands up and fights Müntefering openly. His critics may think that he has gone to far. Others think he has not gone far enough. But most agree that he is going in the right direction.

"Der Dingo ist keine Angriffswaffe."

Wrong. The Dingo would not have been solely defensive and unarmed as the myth is often told! It was planned to upgrade the Dingo with one (I think even two) machineguns for using in occupied territories. Please keep honest. The citeted sentence is a clear manipulation.

--Answer : "clientelism". Their voters only vote for them because they receive benefits from them. Their political vision is : if you vote for me, i'll give you a government job or money (and take that from others).--

We call it "pork" and "pork-laden budgets."

Cos they're piggies w/their snouts in my trough/pocketbook.

There are many reasons for the decline of Germany. (Low reproduction, low productivity, high Government control, inflexbility in the workplace, etc.) The problem started with the "Wirtschaftswunder". The problem was that it didn't come with instructions of how to cope with the prosperity Germany had never before experienced. Of course America had just a little bit to do with that. I remember the D-mark was at the ridiculous exchange rate of 4.6 to one, enticing American companies to move production into Germany, opening the US markets for German goods, etc.
Today,(and for many years)the Goebbels apprentices have started an anti-American sentiment that has taken root in the population.

The "Buzz word seems to be "Volks-this, Volks that". By demonizing the entrepreneurs and higher wage earners who at least had the intetinal fortitude to risk their assets the Government is succeeding to slant the Volks mentality toward Government intrusion. There are more proletarians than leaders in business. The population seems to forget that most of them are employed by small to medium sized companies. If Government ever succeeds in the take-over of even one large company as punishment and to set an example, foreign and internal investment in business would immediately cease and drive the country even further into the abyss.

Look at a headline today in FOCUS entitled: "Arbeit macht krank". One third of German employees feel that stress at the workplace is causing many illnesses, even backpain. With this attitude, no wonder, productivity is slipping and the social system is in danger of bankruptcy? Those mean and nasty corporations will see no alternatives to outsourcing, but the unions have a good coutermeasure, Strike.

The Government under Schroeder wants to stay in power at any cost. You see overtures to be closer to China and Russia while abandoning the US. This is of course a very dangerous exercise.
Germany has chosen to be totally dependend on Russian oil and gas. Therefore we can't say anything bad about Russia since they have the ability to turn off the spigot. Schroeder expects a lot of business with China. What he seems to overlook is that trade with China will be at a deficit, since it is mostly one way.

It seems more and more likely that the US will become isolationist and pull out of Europe as well as South Korea. While I believe in international cooperation and trade, the savings of US taxpayer dollars,at least in foreign military deployement, seems more and more appetizing given the political backstabbing in those theaters.

Europe better watch out for the possibility of a new US tax law financing everything through consumption taxes. (No more corporate or personal income taxes) If that would happen, which,while it is debated, I doubt it would ever be enacted, fasten your seatbelts, a corporate exodus from Europe would ensue.

Of course, that's only my opinion and I could be wrong.

@americanbychoice

I' don't think that abolishing personal and corporate income tax and replacing it by VAT or consumption tax would lead to a better business climate.

The only thing that matters is that the TOTAL TAX BURDEN is lowered.
Replacing one tax with another will have a lot of effects but won't solve the real problem, big government.

The difficulty lies in the fact that, if you want to lower taxes, you also HAVE to lower government expenses. And that's the hard part. Well, not really hard, we all know how to do this, but extremely dangerous : 100's of 1000's of people will want te kill you for doing it, even if you have millions of fans. You really need political guts to do that. Better not be married and better not have children which could be kidnapped etc.

Some people think being threatened by islam fundamentalists is dangerous. Wait until you are threatened by leftist pigs losing their fake jobs. THAT's dangerous...

@ jean,
I am not arguing with you, however, one point to consider is that in the absence of corporate income tax, it would behoove companies to set up shop in the US.
Also prices would actually decrease since many taxes, including corporate are included in the price of goods. Analysts have already projected that this type of system would create a first year growth of 25 to 28%. Naturally, the consumtion tax is so revolutionary that it will probably never be carried out. ( The lobbyists would also lose their jobs since there is nothing to lobby against :)

@ jean,
I am not arguing with you, however, one point to consider is that in the absence of corporate income tax, it would behoove companies to set up shop in the US.
Also prices would actually decrease since many taxes, including corporate are included in the price of goods. Analysts have already projected that this type of system would create a first year growth of 25 to 28%. Naturally, the consumtion tax is so revolutionary that it will probably never be carried out. ( The lobbyiests would also lose their jobs since there is nothing to lobby against :)

@americanbychoice

A nice outlook indeed, i'm curious if there are countries who tried that before, do you know of any ? What's the catch it seems almost too beautiful to be true ;-).

I suppose the consumption tax itself is a good thing since it comes down to a kind of flat tax system, everyone pays the same tax for buying the same goods. That alone could be good for the economy since you don't punish people for working harder and earning more money.

In Europe several countries are lowering corporate taxes or social security contributions while increasing other taxes (so the net effect doesn't alter the total government budget), until now without a positive effect on economic growth.

There's a lot of talk here for lowering taxes on labour and increasing taxes on consumption (again : net effect : zero).

Imho the only way to solve the EU crisis is a drastic cut in government spending in conjunction with a drastic cut in taxes and simplification of the tax system. Anyway, that's how Ireland did it.

I'm really looking forward to what the Bush team has in mind for the tax code, it could create a perfect atmosphere for the much needed change in Europe too.

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