The government needs to better distribute wealth - business

Involuntarily, Verena Bahlsen's irritating remarks have turned her attention to the privileges of company heirs – and unjust tax laws.


Comment by Alexander Hailick

How is the wealth distributed in Germany? And how should companies deal with the dark past of the country? The heiress Verena Bahlsen has triggered a debate on these issues, which could still occupy a society that has become more unequal in recent decades. In the end, the federal government could see that it should ensure a fairer distribution of wealth.

After she had left out about her wealth, the young heiress was confronted with the past of the biscuit company in the Nazi era. She countered that Bahlsen had done nothing wrong, "we treated the forced laborers well". This justification was up to the New York Times Attention, because it reminds of the shameful handling of the German economy with the Nazi period. It was not out of concern that it came – 55 years after the war – to a fund for the forced laborers who were still alive. After the protest storm, the biscuit company wants to have their past completely reworked – 75 years after the end of the war.

Company cookie maker has history of his forced laborers work up

Biscuit maker has history of his forced laborers work up

After much criticized statements by the corporate inheritance Verena Bahlsen, the company Bahlsen has its history now examined by scientists.By Veronika Wulf


Involuntarily, Verena Bahlsen ("I want to buy a sailing yacht") has also turned her attention to something else: the privileges for corporate heirs in this country. Now it is said to overly excited critics that ownership in a market economy is self-evident. The family extends the company just further. Not at all self-evident, however, are the current tax laws. While millions of Germans do not inherit anything, a small minority share much of the estate. In the past few years, 90 children were taxed in the lap of companies worth an average of 300 million euros each.

Such gifts cement an inequality that is greater than elsewhere in Europe: 50 rich households is as much as about 40 million Germans, half the population. This creates frustration along with stagnating real wages or skyrocketing rents. The economic boom barely arrives at them, so many citizens feel it. They turn resigned to the established parties – and more populists to.

Serious taxes on entrepreneurial families do not have to cost jobs

Union and SPD do not have to watch. The Federal Government could specifically invest more in education so that social advancement is easier than it is today. It could also better distribute wealth by relieving the bulk of taxes and duties. That would give more citizens what their performance is worth. The money for this can be fetched among other things by a higher burden of capital gains Reicher – and a serious tax on corporate heritage. You would not have to be as radical as the heiress of Schwarz Pharma, which would find 100 percent taxes in order.

The corporate lobby prevents a reform so far with the argument that costs a lot of jobs. But that is advanced. The tax payment of a corporate heir can be stretched for many years.

Thus, the irritating statements of the Bahlsen heiress, for which she now apologizes in a hurry, could have something good in the end. If companies stop believing the bad things in their history. And if consequences are finally drawn from the drastic inequality. Now it will be interesting if and how the Federal Government acts.

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In Upper Bavaria and around Dusseldorf, Stuttgart or Hamburg, people have a lot of money. A new study confirms the familiar, but reveals a new relationship.By Detlef Esslinger


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