Wednesday, January 25, 2012

gegen den Multi-Millionär..."you can call this class warfare..."

 For the most part, the Germans love Obama.  Last week we were at a Turkish restaurant and the waiter effusively expressed his support for our president. Wow, you never got that five years ago. :) It's not the worst time to be an American. But anyways, it might be interesting to share some of today's headlines after the State of the Union speech (trying not to get too political...). Notice how in the US the term "class warrior" is negatively connoted, and in Germany it's portrayed positively:

"Obama verspricht gerechteres Amerika" [Obama promises a more just America] (ARD)
"Mit Gerechtigkeit gegen den Multi-Millionär" [justice against the multi-millionaires] (Spiegel Online)
"Obama fordert Fairness" [Obama promotes equality] (Berliner Morgenpost)
"'Amerika ist wieder da!' In seiner wichtigsten Rede vor der Wahl greift Obama die Reichen an" ["America is back!" In his most important speech before the elections Obama attacks the rich] (BILD)
"Wahlkämpfer Obama - populistisch und offensiv" [Campaigner Obama - populist and on the offensive] (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

not even commenting on this fascinating image they chose...
In this article in the Süddeutsche (above), entitled "In the Land of the Unequal", they say that Obama is a different man than four years ago, a "class-warrior [Klassenkämpfer, here in the positive sense] who stands for justice. They write, "Das ist eigentlich unamerikanisch, aber trotzdem nötig" [That is actually un-American, but still necessary.] "Denn angesichts eines extrem ungerechten Steuersystems, das schamlos die Reichen bevorzugt, haben viele US-Bürger das Grundvertrauen verloren: dass jeder die Chance habe, sein Glück zu machen." [Because in the face of an extremely unjust tax system, that shamelessly favors the rich, many US citizens have lost their fundamental belief: that everyone has the chance to make his fortune." 

Needless to say, the American press was not quite so positive. This Washington Post article does a good job "fact checking" empty rhetoric and statistical claims.

The discussion of taxes--which seems to be a huge part of this year's election as well--was brought up in most of the Ameircan articles I read, and the German press also focused on Obama's "attack on millionaires."  In Germany, individuals earning above EUR 250,731 pay 45% income tax. Additionally, there is a "Solidarity tax" (Solidaritätszuschlag) up to 5.5% in top brackets to help the costs from German reunification, and is paid in both (former) East and West. Also...if you belong to a religion, you pay 8-9% Kirchensteuer, church tax. So it's maybe not completely surprising that they find Obama's proposals fair and "socially just."

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