Times Change

Not. Not when it comes to government creating problems by having good intentions and then creating even greater problems by trying to solve the self-inflicted problems it just created. On and on this process goes. Politician generation to generation. Just like the families who now live around Berlin’s Sonnenallee in Neukölln (Little Beirut) will experience, being welfare recipients for many generations to come – instead of working  for a living like the Arab refugees who came before them, albeit “in an orderly manner.”

Neukölln

Of the nearly 695,000 migrants who applied for asylum in Germany in 2016, more than 62 percent received refugee status or humanitarian protection, which enabled them to work and receive welfare benefits, according to data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (the same scandal-ridden authority we’ve been reading about these days). Among applicants from Syria, the figure was higher, at around 97 percent.

In contrast, 10 years earlier less than seven percent of asylum applicants in Germany received refugee status. A 2016 study by Bielefeld University found more than half of established migrants in Germany believe the newcomers should settle for less.

“When I saw what they received, I wished I was a refugee.”

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VW Too Big To Fail?

Then it’s too big. Think GM (Government Motors). Only different. As in much worse.

VW

At Volkswagen AG, political connections come already fitted.

When it comes to Volkswagen, German chancellors don’t intervene in company decisions. But the unique arrangement in Lower Saxony (it holds 20 percent of the company) has spawned alumni in high places with an interest in the boardroom, including Merkel’s Social Democratic predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder. Schroeder, who sat on VW’s supervisory board for eight years as state premier, was known as the “auto chancellor” when he led Germany from 1998 to 2005 because of his perceived closeness to the car industry.

Following him to Berlin after serving at his side in Lower Saxony was Frank-Walter Steinmeier, now in his second stint as Merkel’s foreign minister. Sigmar Gabriel, who succeeded Schroeder as state premier — and VW board member — is now vice chancellor and economy minister. He also heads the Social Democratic Party, Merkel’s junior coalition partner. Christian Wulff, a Christian Democrat like Merkel who succeeded Gabriel in the state capital Hanover, made it all the way to the German presidency, before resigning in 2012 amid a legal probe.

Im Abgas-Skandal, dessen Auswirkungen noch unübersehbar sind, rückt die Frage nach der Mitverantwortung der deutschen Politik in den Fokus. Und weil die politischen Spitzen der Republik wie geschockt schweigen und selbst die sonst geliebten Talkshows meiden, werden Vorwürfe laut, die Bundesregierung habe mit Volkswagen gekungelt und möglicherweise sogar von den Manipulationen gewusst.

Coffee From Togo To Be Heavily Taxed

At last count, Germans who purchase coffee from Togo toss some 3 billion of the disposable cups used to temporarily carry it in each and every year.

Togo

Predictably outraged by this, German green shirts have predictably outraged German coffee vendors by suggesting that a 20-cent tax be placed on this luxury drink to encourage coffee Togo connoisseurs to bring along their reusable and occasionally re-washable coffee Togo coffee cups with them, preferably hanging on the environmentally friendly coffee Togo belt loop hangers attached to their biodegradable pants.

Should this prove to be too impractical for some customers, the ecological crusaders suggest, vendors should offer them a discount option (taxpayer subsidized) of drinking the invigorating beverage directly from their trembling cupped hands.

“Nehmen Sie sich ein wenig Zeit und trinken Ihren Kaffee vor Ort – aus einer Tasse.”

Brilliant “Master Solution” Falling Apart

When “good guys” like the Deutsche Bank get raided after being suspected of incorrectly claiming some €211 million in tax rebates from the trade in carbon tax certificates, then it’s time to also suspect that the days of this nonsensical European emissions trading have finally reached their end.

Cap-and-trade

In case your were wondering: Emissions trading or cap-and-trade is a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.  A central authority (usually a governmental body) sets a limit or cap on the amount of a pollutant that may be emitted. The limit or cap is allocated or sold to firms in the form of emissions permits which represent the right to emit or discharge a specific volume of the specified pollutant. Firms are required to hold a number of permits (or allowances or carbon credits) equivalent to their emissions. The total number of permits cannot exceed the cap, limiting total emissions to that level. Firms that need to increase their volume of emissions must buy permits from those who require fewer permits.

Well, it turns out that the European “carbon market” is now flooded and recent EU efforts to fix the system have only served to highlight how lame it is, yada, yada, yada, thus further eroding the price of a ton of carbon dioxide emissions permitted. Government intervention at its best again, in other words.

You know how that old saying goes: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’

EU-Klimakommissarin Connie Hedegaard will den Preisverfall der CO2-Zertifikate stoppen, der nach ihrer Meinung ein System unterminiert, das einst als Meisterlösung für die weltweite Klimaverschmutzung gepriesen wurde.

Clean Power Cleaning Us Out

The German textile industry, among others, is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore. Not when it comes to having to pay billions into the governments way cool Ökoenergie-Förderung (clean energy surcharge = tax).

That is why three companies now plan to challenge this surcharge subsidizing renewable energy in court.

More good government in action again, I guess. Energy companies have to pay the price for electricity generated through renewable technologies, and transfer the extra cost on to their customers. While energy-intensive industries like aluminum or steel are free from the surcharge, most of the textile industry has to pay.

“You cannot get an energy turnaround for free.”

State Subsidies In Action

This would be funny if wasn’t so funny. Where do we want to go broke today? Q-Cells is now the fourth major bankruptcy in the German solar industry sector of late and although they are sure to have made a lot of dumb mistakes themselves, they certainly couldn’t have gone bankrupt “this well” without the German government’s relentless and merciless help.

It’s all about drugs, subsidy drugs. And once these subsidy drugs had been administered – in this case promoting wonderful and environmentally friendly solar technology for the good of all German-kind (in a country where sunshine is still a news item) – most of these companies failed to wean themselves from their reliance upon them and made some bad business decisions as a result (decisions they wouldn’t have made if they had been clean).

In the meantime, Asian competitors in the real world learned to produce the solar technology cheaper (as usual) and, just to add a little insult to injury here, it turns out that the German government helped the Chinese solar industry with financial aid , too. Only they did this better than they did in Germany.

Then Berlin finally got tired of shelling out all this money back home and started reducing the dosage faster than the addicts could adapt to and, well,  the rest is history, or Geschichte, if you prefer.

So what’s the moral of the story? Remember those nine most terrifying words in the English language: “We’re from the government and we’re here to help.”

Somehow the German government must have lost sight of the fact that its policy in fact encourages the demise of Germany’s own solar industry. The development bank of the government-owned KfW group of banks supports China’s green industry with low-interest loans. Ironically, the German Investment and Development Company (DEG), also a subsidiary of KfW, is one of the financial backers of Chinese industry giant Yingli Solar.