Ideas for a stimulus package (German edition)
All over the planet government are throwing (more or less) money into their economies to get them back on track. Throwing money is easy, everybody does it. In the US president elect Obama thinks a little ahead: he realizes that a working infrastructure is bitterly needed. After all rolling power outages are an indicator of a 3rd world country. Looking towards Germany that won't work. The infrastructure is pretty good and Germany surely won't need Japanese bridges going nowhere. Some more creativity is needed. Home ownership im Germany is still low. One reason are the cost of building a house which are much higher than in countries with similar climate like Denmark or the Netherlands. A major reason are the myriads of laws, regulations and bylaws. Same applies to starting a business. So here comes my unsolicited advice:
- Take the German tax code, pile it high and put a match to it (what a bonfire that would be). Visit smaller countries like Slovenia, Switzerland or Singapore and buy their tax laws (allow for some adjustment to fit the German federal structure, the Swiss approach looks appealing). Set the tax rates so this would be result neutral. A strong signal is send to all Citizens that this is serious, borrowing a line from the US: Change is possible. (Unfortunately public servants and tax consultants have a strong lobby and are over-represented in parliament, so it is a pipe dream)
- Take all the public servants you don't need anymore in the ministry of finance and redeploy them. Part would take the building code and eliminate all regulations that don't have a proven track record or equivalents in other countries. Stop only once 95% of the regulations are gone. Retrain the rest to become teachers and trainers and boost the education level of just everyone who has any single of the five senses still working. After all Germans value education very highly (at least it used to be so).
- Once the building code is cleansed take on the business regulations. Wear your Teflon underwear and carry a big stick, there are many fiefdoms who will resist you.
- While you are on it: clean out the rest of over-regulations and re-establish a firm rule of the principle of subsidiarity (German Version)
- In a little deviation from simplifying the tax code: give a tax break to anybody who participated in education or health improving activities (Yoga, Tai Chi and Sports in General)
- Make it mandatory that at the end of each visit to a doctor the patient gets handed out a printed bill. While here in Singapore you have to settle the bill immediately (mayor credit cards accepted) you could still keep the settlement system you have in place. Just make it 100% clear in black and white to the patient
- Publish all public finances on a website with business analysis tools, so they can be scrutinized for efficiency. Put a process in place for review (you have all the surplus people from the ministry of finance).