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People and Politics Forum 25. 02. 2008

"Have the rich lost all sense of proportion?"

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More information:

Raids on Germany's Business Elite - Management under Fire

The recent arrest of Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel on allegations of tax evasion took many Germans by surprise. But very soon it became clear that it wasn't just a case of one bad apple. Officials are now investigating hundreds of leading German business figures. The investigation started after authorities paid an informant in Liechtenstein for a CD-ROM containing bank details of German clients. The scandal has rocked the country. Prior to this affair, there had already been complaints that salaries for top executives were rising out of control, while average earners saw their income fall. Some business leaders say they are not surprised by these developments. A number of leading politicians are now calling for the perpetrators to experience the full force of the law. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to the economic elite to play fair, and expressed concern about the potential damage to Germany's international business image.

Our Question is:

"Have the rich lost all sense of proportion?"

Herbert Fuchs, Finland, writes:

"The superrich say we are only taking what belongs to us. They don’t feel guilty. They don’t care what ordinary people say or think. Unfortunately the ugly face of capitalism is even more present at the start of the 21st century than it was in the past century. That is a great pity for our joint future and global peace."

Helge Wulf, Argentina:

"Exporters write two invoices here in Argentina. A low one, payable to Argentina and a second one payable to a foreign bank account. Governments have been cheating us for years so morale is at an all-time low. Misconduct is only criticised when it is carried out by opponents to the government."

John Fengler, Canada:

"This could be stopped by setting a good example and by taking more effective measures. A moral decay seems to be an everyday occurrence. Things are the same here and I have lived in Canada since 1956."

Martin Burmeister, Venezuela:

"You cannot generalise but it seems some rich people are helping themselves more and more without thinking about others. But if the rich earned less it wouldn’t mean the poor were much better off."

Martin Henzen, Colombia:

"It is only human nature. Almost everyone want more, not just the rich."

Wolfgang Hoebler, Mexico:

"If a large proportion of the workers in Germany have seen a loss in real earnings in recent years and managers’ pay has rocketed and a large number of managers are guilty of tax evasion then "There is something rotten in the state of Germany."

Gerhard Seeger, Philippines:

"The rich always wanted more. Now the media have made it public. Even if they pay taxes they try to cheat. Greed can make you addicted. They are losing more and more a sense of decency. The rich keep out of the limelight here in the Philippines. Many live in gated communities and have dollar accounts. They have the nerve to tell the poor to pray a lot, as if that would help. Amen!"

Walter Autschbach, Canada:

"Yes, in families, schools and at university we learn little about the ten commandments or moral values, let alone do we see them observed. Cheating and lying are 'in', just look at the cases of doping in sports. Politicians don't keep their word and egoism is rampant. Only a complete turn around to openness, honesty and truthfulness can create new trust."

Claus Stauffenberg, Australia:

"It may be said, that it is not only the rich who would be guilty of this type of activity. Our society has moved from a communal social ideal, to one of personal need and gratification, something which American corporate culture has helped influenced. Transparency, ethics, and social responsibility should be the values held by all companies and governments, as it is only the legacy we leave behind that we can truly hold as having value."

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