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June 11, 2010

…if all the people blessed with wealth had as much enlightenment as these German millionaires.

A group of 51 German millionaires and billionaires founded a Club of the Wealthy and wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel proposing to give up 10 percent of their income in the form of a “Rich Tax” for 10 years to consolidate the budget.

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With an estimated 800,000 millionaires (in dollars) — about 1 percent of the total population — Germany is eye-to-eye with the USA and has long overtaken the UK as Europe’s number one “millionaire-land”, both in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population.

But traditionally, the Germans don’t dare to feel good about their riches. A German would — by and large — never display his wealth too publicly. Being rich, one might think, is not necessarily viewed as a sign of success, but more as a flaw, something to be hidden rather than displayed.

Post-war Germany created its very own brand of capitalism — the “Soziale Marktwirtschaft”, which literally translated means “social market economy”, but in essence it understands itself as capitalism with a strong social conscience; an economic blueprint that is built on a consensus society, rather than one of social conflict.

Continue here.

Do we have a better model?   The communist model for all its noble aims is one big failure.  On the other hand, while capitalism works much more effectively in creating wealth, it tends to concentrate more and more wealth in the hands of a few which in turn results in great imbalances in many sectors of society.

To be sure, this series of global financial meltdowns is serious warning that capitalism, as we know it, is in big trouble.  Maybe we should have more of these wised up millionaires if we want to keep this model working.

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