Germans — upholders of moral standards

Deutsche Post’s Ex-CEO Klaus Zumwinkel has been picked up early in the morn­ing by tax inves­ti­ga­tors — staged live with TV cams. In the fol­low­ing days Mr Zumwinkel’s tax eva­sion was the No 1 con­tent in Ger­man media. He was­n’t alone — the BND — the Ger­man spies — has bought a CD with thou­sands of address­es of Ger­man clients of the LGT Bank in Liecht­en­stein, a tax haven.

A deer-hunt fol­lowed. Peer Stein­brück, the finance min­is­ter, threat­ened to close all tax loop­holes refer­ring to Liecht­en­stein. Ger­man media start­ed a moral cru­sade with the one invest­ing his money in Switzer­land or Liecht­en­stein being the bad guy. Politi­cians joined the wolves and exceled in sug­ges­tions of pun­ish­ment. All that under the pre­tence of moral stan­dards.

Were it the typ­i­cal out­break after some breach­es of reg­u­la­tions — fine: every­body would move on with his daily busi­ness. This time it feels dif­fer­ent. Even peo­ple with­out accounts in tax havens feel uncom­fort­able fac­ing this aggres­sive reac­tion of offi­cials. On the same day we read that more and more high­ly qual­i­fied skilled work­ers are miss­ing in Ger­many. They do not immi­grate. Why should they? There is no incen­tive for liv­ing and work­ing in Ger­many, a coun­try with the high­est tax bur­den in West­ern Europe, a gov­ern­ment still increas­ing this bur­den (prob­a­bly think­ing of the Laf­fer curve as race­track) and try­ing to squeeze money out of the hard­est work­ing cit­i­zens. Per­haps it’s time for a change.

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