Alpine Summit

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Schroeder: "You Vill Let Me Keep My Power, NOW!"

So Gerhard Schroeder lost the elections and is crying like a little baby.

BERLIN - A belligerent performance by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in a TV talk show after German elections, which his party narrowly lost, has drawn widespread criticism and fuelled alarm the country could be lurching into a political crisis.

Despite coming in behind conservative challenger Angela Merkel, the Chancellor - in an interview with all leading candidates after Sunday's elections - insisted he had won and should remain German leader.

This means Schroeder is locked in battle with Merkel who insists she should head the next German government. With both sides digging in their heels the impasse is likely to remain for weeks and could even force new elections - which some analysts say is Schroeder's secret goal.

"I wanted to win!!! Waaaa!!!" Talk about disgraceful. As if he were actually taking a page from the Democrats here in America, he's trying to cast doubt on a close, but obviously decisive, election for the sake of getting a second chance of keeping his power outside of the construct of law.

I'm really not surprised that he lost this election considering the train wreck that used to be the German economy. While Germans are at least pragmatic enough to recognize that Schroeder's socialist plans for the country have been a bad thing, they still haven't learned their lesson, apparently.

But those images tell only part of the story. Laden with huge welfare costs and rigid labor rules, the world's fifth-largest economy has been sputtering for years -- and seems worse than ever. Growth is negligible, and the official unemployment rate this year hit 12.6 percent, a postwar record.

Counting those parked in make-work schemes or forced to retire early, economists put the real jobless rate as high as 22 percent -- a staggering 18 million people.


In a recent poll conducted for Der Spiegel magazine, 56 percent of West Germans and 66 percent of East Germans agreed that "socialism is a good idea that has so far been poorly implemented." In another survey for Stern magazine, 79 percent said the government was not sufficiently protecting the country from the "excesses" of capitalism and globalization.

In the end, one big problem facing a potential Merkel government is that Germans have utterly lost faith in the ability of politicians to solve their country's problems, pollster Reinhardt Schlinkert of Infratest-Dimap said.

At least they're on the right track. Perhaps in another 20-or-so years, they'll realize that socialism is an intellectually and pragmatically bankrupt economic system. One thing that has really hurt Germany in recent years is its entrance into the EU. They've been bankrolling French (and other EU members) debt and even more socialist policies for years now. Since Germany is the economic powerhouse of the EU, they get all the bills. Another interesting point is that Schroeder, as a last ditch effort to win over the voters, tried moving away from his socialist agenda.

Opinion polls suggest that Schroeder, 61, will lose. His government cut taxes and curbed parts of Germany's lavish welfare state, but the changes either did not go far enough or have not worked fast enough to help him. Schroeder's Social Democratic Party suffered a huge defeat in a May state election, prompting him to call an early national vote.

Capitalism has been the bedrock economic system since human history began that has worked the best for societies. It's the only system that equitably rewards hard work, and negatively reinforces sloth. It's a meritocracy where those who deserve more of a limited supply of goods and services actually get them. Sure it has its problems, and sure it doesn't feel good to say "too bad" to homeless people, but that's how it works. One thing that counters this flaw in capitalism is the generosity of successful people. This isn't socialism, though, because the people aren't being forced to give up their wealth- they're choosing to share it with the less fortunate.

It seems that Schroeder, as well as the German public, are learning capitalism is the best economic system to run a country the hard way. Hopefully
Angela Merkel will earn the "Margaret Thatcher" title given to her when she takes over Schroeder's job.