Ah, the Germans. Probably the closest analogue to Americans that exist on the European continent. They have all the arrogance and swagger we possess, a strong military history, a feeling that they’re better than their neighbors, a capitalist economic system and a strong democracy.
However, they are quite barking mad. I mean, they have universal health care, a strong social safety net and, here’s the really insane part, rich people who want to pay more in taxes!
Yes, you read that right. According to an article on the BBC’s website a group of extremely wealthy Germans have petitioned the government to make them pay more in taxes. They say they have more money than they really need, so why not pay more as a way of helping out others who are less fortunate?
This reminds me of something I ran into, oh, back around 1992 or 1993. I was working at a college kitchen as a dishwasher. One of my coworkers was a German man who told me about how different labor issues were in Germany. He said that once he’d worked at a factory where they were looking at having to fire someone. Instead, the workers got together and agreed to a minor pay cut for each of them so that the would-be fired employee could keep his job. Like many Europeans and more enlightened people, they had the belief that they were all in it together, and helping one another, even if it meant a small amount less in their pay, was a good thing.
Generally I don’t look back in history at Germany and say, “Hey, we could learn something good from this!” but here I do. We can and should be paying higher taxes, especially if we want things like Medicare, Social Security, a military, roads, police, fire departments, schools, libraries and all those other things we like that the government provides.
Oh, and for the record, I’d be willing to pay more in taxes myself.