Last night, state-run ARD (Channel One) ran a weekly chat forum (Hart Aber Fair). The nature of this live chat forum was to bring in five guests and talk over the fairness of taxation.
Germany has a age-old problem in that people get envious of rich people. Even after you taxed them, their craft, their profits from the year, their homes, etc.....and they still apparently have a significant amount of money left over.....there's a fair amount of greed and negativity in German society over these successful people.
As much as the moderator, the investment banker, and the SPD Party representative on the panel tried to sway public opinion....the three other gentlemen presented the case that successful people take risks that normal people abstain from. And from these risks....there will be profit which is taxed by the various tax codes. There will be money left in the hands of the successful guy, and he'll use the money in some fashion.
Somewhere in the middle of this dialog, Wolfgang Grupp got into the middle of the discussion. Grupp, for those who haven't heard the name.....is a fairly tough and successful business who still makes clothing within Germany. He owns Trigema, the textile company, a company based out of Burladingen....in the heart of Baden-Wurttemberg.
What can be said is that he manages Trigema with social responsibility built into his ways and methods of management (the guy is seventy years old and old-school). For every employee of the company, he has a rule that no one gets laid off (you might get fired for incompetence). He also has a rule that sons and daughters of employees will be given a job if they apply to the company (something that used to exist in German industry a hundred years ago and generally doesn't exist today).
So the discussion came around to Grupp and he noted that recruits and prefers people who start at the bottom level of the company.....stay with the company.....and moves up. He absolutely won't consider some university graduate who walks in and presents some graduate certificate, and talks about helping to change or better his company. As Grupp notes.....the company is successful because the company isn't tinkered with by know-nothing people pretending to be smart, when they aren't.
Grupp is absolutely old-school. This is the guy who spends everyday at the plant and knows employees throughout the whole operation. In three years, they will reach the one-hundred year point with the company, and both of his children have entered the ground level of the operation to work their way up. He anticipates that they will repeat his formula for success.
Grupp isn't ashamed of his wealth....nor does he try to conceal it. As far as he's concerned....he earned every penny.
This taxation issue, where political players continually go back and try to think of other ways to get money.....to level the field because of their frustrations over successful people....almost resembles a personality disorder.
When you go back to the late 1800s and the amount of public frustration with successful Jews within Germany....it was the same way. People resented successful people having money and property.
By the conclusion of the show, it had been a fair representation of the facts, and the slanted views over German taxation. Occasionally, state-run news can deliver a fair view on something.