What do property tax, rent cover and negative interest ban have in common? Perhaps this is the essence of all three measures, the question of what contribution private wealth should make to the common good. The problem is that hardly any question in Germany is as ideologically charged as this one. One side equates any form of state access to private wealth with the introduction of socialism, while the other side would like to ban the accumulation of capital altogether.
Who has the better arguments?
Let's start with the facts. According to Bundesbank data, the richest ten percent of Germans own 55 percent of their assets. There are other numbers, but they are less reliable. One thing is for certain: in hardly any other Member State of the European Monetary Union are private assets so unequally distributed as here in Germany.
However, private property ownership also has its advantages. A mid-sized family-owned business statistically increases asset concentration. However, the company also creates jobs and pays taxes, and SMEs in particular often feel obliged to their region. This benefits the general public. And at least it is unlikely that the company's employees would be better off if the company did not belong to a family but to shareholders.
Property owners were relieved of life
Interestingly, the Scandinavian welfare states in particular have a high asset concentration. This is because the social safety net is so well developed there that as a citizen you do not necessarily have to accumulate large fortunes to live a financially secure life. Through a variety of regulations and high tax rates, the state effectively ensures that private wealth actually serves the common good.
If you as a tenant can rest assured that the rent is not increased arbitrarily, you do not necessarily have to buy a condominium - with all the risks associated with the ownership of the property. Therefore, a strong rent regulation is the necessary condition for the acceptance of private real estate, even if the Berlin Mietdeckel overshoots the target.
But it is also true that in recent years, politics has done much to make life easier for wealth owners. The top tax rate was lowered, the property tax was suspended, the business assets in the inheritance tax were spared. Meanwhile, the state has been gaining more and more access to people with little money: for example, by raising VAT, which primarily affects people who spend their entire income on consumption. Or by higher energy taxes.
The state could compensate small savers
One can therefore argue for a long time about whether the wealth control concept of the SPD is the last word of wisdom. What has been presented to plans to date is abundantly unconcrete and the problem remains that the collection of wealth tax is relatively expensive and expensive. But that a social democratic party wants to correct a development that tends to relieve the rich and burden the poor, is quite understandable. Otherwise she can merge with the FDP immediately. At any rate, it is striking that those who use Scandinavian asset concentration as an argument against wealth tax are unwilling to accept Scandinavian welfare state levels. Both belong together.
From this point of view, measures to protect savers from low interest rates would also be part of an agenda that could balance the financial situation. Eventually, there are increasing signs that low interest rates are not invented central bankers, but are due to structural adjustment processes in the global economy. It simply saves too much and too little invested, which is why the price of money - the interest rate - decreases. This has many advantages, for example for the state, which has less and less to spend on debt service. But it hits savers who deposit their money on the bank because they mistrust the stock market.
Now there is no fundamental right to a positive interest. But what speaks against it, if the state takes part of its interest savings to compensate the small savers? This could be done, for example, with a guaranteed bond with a guaranteed interest rate, as suggested by Alexander Dobrindt. In order not to subsidize large investors, ceilings could be set for each household in the allocation of the loan. One could also imagine a citizen fund, as the Greens have suggested. He would invest in stocks and savers could benefit from the profits by buying shares.
After all, the debate on a meaningful asset policy has begun. That's good news.