the downside of the Greens

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Thu Oct 1 08:27:39 PDT 1998

>Just a little bit on the positions of the german Greens and in what respect
they are to the right of the SPD:
>- Pensions: The outgoing government decided on a cut in future pensions.
The Greens agreed their should be some cuts. The SPD promised to reverse the already decided cuts.>

Here in the U.S. you can find some lefts and liberals who want to cut Social Security, they say, for the sake of anti-poverty spending. This has a centrist source, and a radical one that bad-mouths the program because of the payroll tax.

>- Taxes: The Greens want to reduce the tax rate on the higest incomes to
45% percent. The SPD is somewhat unclear om this issue, but it seems Lafontaine is more in favour of a 49% rate. This issue is a highly symbolic one, because every percent of reduction serves as an indicator how far the specific party one to make concessions to huge income earners and the bosses.>

I met with a green German politician who shall go nameless who told me that upper- income persons don't pay tax in the first place in Germany. Of course, if this is so, then nobody should care what happens to the top rate.

In the U.S. you can find people who ignore or discount the extent to which our tax system actually does tax the rich for the sake of embellishing their more- radical-than-thou alternative.

>Tax on property ( Vermoegenssteuer ). The election platforms of both SPD
and Greens proposed to reintroduce it. But in an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the spokesperson on fiscal issues argued against a reintroduction. (Source FAZ oct. 1st).>

This could be taken either way. In the U.S. the left thinks the property tax is regressive. I'm doubtful of this myself but there is room for argument.

If one seeks to restrain development of undeveloped land, one would want to tax improvements to land (or extraction of resources from it) as the U.S. property tax does to a limited extent, and not tax the land itself. By contrast, in the U.S. there is a fledgling movement to go in the other direction in cities-- tax land but not improvements--and thus encourage reconcentration of jobs and homes in urban areas, which would also tend to shield undeveloped land outside of cities.

>Tax on petrol: The Greens want to increase this tax considerably. I doubt
whether this is a progressive measure, because it will hit primarily woking-class people, who need a car to get to work. In the end it means the Greens are arguing the consumption of working class people is too high. Any comments on this one from others on the list?>

I'm with Louis on the gas tax, but not on consumption in general. The idea should be to get people out of their cars (then I could get to work quicker). The distributional effects could be offset by relief from other taxes.

Somewhere in Germany there is some dude named Ludwig or Ludovic who is saying, yeah, but those aren't the *real* greens. We are the real red-greens, the three of us.


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