Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Strange Parallels

Strange Parallels

Yesterday one of my favorite blogs, Gates of Vienna, ran an important piece. It is mostly translated from the original Flemish (it comes from a Dutch blog, after all) and it is titled "The Hitler Myth." It is about some little known facts about Hitler's rise to power and how present day Germans (and others) promote a myth about how they were not culpable. But the really interesting thing I found in this piece is the close parallel to Obama's rise, and his plan for "Change."

I know that comparing anyone to Hitler is supposed to be verboten, but please bear with me, and read on. The parallel is not about slavery and death camps, it is more about politics and economics, and how Hitler became so beloved by his people. His people were the young and less well off. The "rich" and less favored minorities were sacrificed on the altar of the better good for all. A sample:
* The Nazis brought the automobile within reach of the people.
* They doubled the number of holidays for workers.
* They introduced agricultural subsidies for farmers to protect them against the risks of weather and a fickle world market.
* Prices of food were set by the government
* The Nazis introduced the progressive income tax (still a “sacred” item for the leftist parties).
* The Nazis were not just leftists, they were green as well: they were the first to make care for the environment a government responsibility.
* Landlords were required to charge their tenants affordable rents.
* The legal position of tenants was strengthened.
* Child benefits were introduced.
* Pensions were increased.
* The cost of health care was paid for by the government. [2]
* The only tax increase that hurt “the common man” was a 50% increase on the duty on tobacco and alcohol.
* And in the war a “special social benefit” was introduced: benefits for the cost of rent, insurance, coal, potatoes and other essential goods.

And the great industrialists? How did they do under Hitler? Companies had to pay 98% tax under Hitler. In some cases even 104% of profits had to be paid. And the weapons industry? The Nazis seized all “war-related” profits. Or, in the words of Hitler himself: “As long as there are soldiers fighting at the front, nobody will be allowed to make profits from the war.”

Investors had to hand in all dividends above 6% to the State. In 1941 this was followed by a special profit tax. In that year homeowners suddenly had to pay property tax in advance over the years ahead. An increase of residential rents was not allowed.

How socialist was Hitler? Let us look at the government contributions to social security between 1938 and 1943 (in millions of Reichsmarks)

1938 640
1939 749 +16%
1940 940 +26%
1941 1395 +48%
1942 963 -31%
1943 1119 +16%

This is how socialist Hitler was. He commanded a solidarity and social justice policy the current Social Democrats can only dream about.
This is all well documented in the piece, and then goes on with an explanation of how the Shoah was concocted to pay for all the benefits the state was giving to the "workers." Other than that detail, the Obama parallel holds true, at least it does to me. Another bon mot:
The inherent problem of democracy is “the dictatorship of the majority”. In order to come to power, the politicians have to forge a majority coalition. This majority will only vote for them when there is something to gain. But where should that money come from? That can only be taken away from the minority.

In they era before Hitler, Socialism was seen as weird, intellectual, and unsuccessful. Hitler made two innovations that were crucial for the practical success. And finally Hitler succeeded in transferring money from a minority to a majority.
Of course, to get it all you should read the whole thing. But if your time is short, at least read Part IV, at the end of the post.