Thursday, October 9, 2014

On the Subject of Taxation

This got brought up in Germany last year, and again here this week.  I think it's kinda interesting, at least by German standards.

German government folks (especially at the local and state level) are continually looking for ways to spend money....taxpayer revenue.

In north Germany (Pulheim), it's fairly flat.  You could ride around for an hour and probably not advance more than ten meters (thirty foot) up or down from the starting point.

Some German bureaucrat got this idea for a viewing stand, out on a public walking trail.  Basically, you would step up five steps, and have an elevated view that was two feet higher than you were originally.

Naturally, an American would look at this and ask what it costs.  The price?  Roughly eight thousand Euro ($9,500). I'm guessing that includes the whole stainless steel structure, transport, and setting it up.  Now, I must admit.....I'm not sure it rests on concrete or not.....nor am I sure about any warranty attached to it, or a state-fee for an inspector to come out and note it's "safe".

Maybe the original plan was a 10-meter (30 foot) tower, and the quote was just too far above their spending limit of ten-thousand Euro.  You just don't know.

Americans would question this from a different angle.  If you are going to waste state do it big-time.  Not some lousy two-foot elevation deal.....but put up a real tower.....maybe sixty feet tall.....stainless steel....maybe an elevator for disabled folks to get up to the top....covered roof....with a picnic area.  Total cost for an American project?  Around $1.2 million.  Naturally, an audit would occur, and someone would find out that the government guy bought this from his cousin, and someone would be going to jail.  In Germany, even for a wasteful eight thousand one ever goes to jail for crap like this.

Germany takes in something like 540-odd billion Euro a year in taxes.  It comes from the VAT, the gas tax, the income tax, etc.  Germans whine just like Americans about the extent of taxes.  Blame?  Elections come and go in Germany, and rarely will taxation be held over the head of anyone because the winner of the tax blame deal would only get his or her own share of blame in four years over ever-increasing taxation.

The thing just don't ever hand the money back to the consumers or's gotta be way or another.  And it takes a lot of thinking and spend 540-billion Euro.

The guy who makes these stainless steel platforms?  It's hard to imagine a private citizen coming up and wanting to spend eight-thousand Euro of his own personal money for some platform like this in his backyard or on the backside of his farm.  So, it ends up being mostly government money handlers who buy these such platforms.  Who can stop a spending project like this?  Few Germans attend city hall matters or get into the planning efforts of a city/county parks team.  Things like this just happen.  Months later, it gets installed.  Then some idiot walks down the trail and notes this change.  By the end of the week.....sixty people have discussed the new stainless steel platform and magnificent view from the two feet of elevation (sarcastically spoken of course), and then they start to ask....who approved this.  Rarely if you find this part of the episode out.

Yeah, there's too much funding out there, and something needs to happen.  But the guys in the German stainless steel platform business know it'll never happen.

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