Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

How very different from the home life of our own dear country

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The Berlin newspaper Die Tagesspiegel is reporting a story of a demonstration on the streets of Berlin – but one with a difference: under the headline ‘The rich demonstrate for a wealth tax‘, this is a campaign begun by a group of wealthy individuals for higher taxes so as to help Germany out of economic crisis.

The campaign Vermögende für eine Vermögensabgabe is based on the 2.2 million Germans who own more than €500 000 in property paying a 5% property tax for a two-year period – enough, the campaigners say, to plug the country’s €100bn budget gap.

Dieter Lemkuhl, the founder of the campaign alongside twenty friends, considers himself a privileged individual as an heir to his father’s brewing interests but, as a child of the 1968 demonstrations, he has a social conscience as well as a personal fear of the vicious circle based around money, greed and consumerism. He is also acutely aware of the significant redistribution from the bottom to the top which has taken place in German society, based on an increased number of millionaires, as income from assets has doubled while the tax burden has halved, proceeding alongside a growing precariousness in and around the workplace.

As Lemkuhl says, the growing gap between rich and poor cannot be in the public interest and is by itself unjust. Getting rid of money is not a problem, but this does not create the fairer social structure he seeks by virture of the initiative.

I shall be scanning the pages of the Financial Times more keenly than usual next week for news of a similar initiative being taken in London, perhaps in Pall Mall – though perhaps I shouldn’t be holding my breath…

Hat-tip: the BBC report of the story.

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Written by Calvin

23/10/2009 at 3:21 pm

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