Answer the following questions to see how your political beliefs match your political parties and candidates.
Australia currently has a progressive tax system whereby high income earners pay a higher percentage of tax than low income tax. A more progressive income tax system has been proposed as a tool towards reducing wealth inequality.
A Universal Basic Income program is social security program where all citizens of a country receive a regular, unconditional sum of money from the government. The funding for Universal Basic Income comes from taxation and government owned entities including income from endowments, real estate and natural resources. Several countries, including Finland, India and Brazil, have experimented with a UBI system but have not implemented a permanent program. The longest running UBI system in the world is the Alaska Permanent Fund in the U.S. state of Alaska. In the Alaska Permanent Fund each individual and family receives a monthly sum that is funded by dividends from the state’s oil revenues. Proponents of UBI argue that it will reduce or eliminate poverty by providing everyone with a basic income to cover housing and food. Opponents argue that a UBI would be detrimental to economies by encouraging people to either work less or drop out of the workforce entirely.
In 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that a 2009 law exempting corporate successions from inheritance tax was unconstitutional. Corporations obtained nearly €40 billion in tax exemptions while tax authorities collected €4.3 billion in inheritance tax revenue. Proponents of raising the tax argue that the tax breaks concentrate wealth in the hands of a few large industrial dynasties. Opponents argue the tax causes liquidity problems for small and medium size companies when faced by a sudden tax debt following a succession.
In 2014, Angela Merkel set Germany’s first ever minimum wage at €8.50 per hour. Proponents believe this wage is necessary to protect the poor and working class. Business leaders have warned that the wage will threaten employment and cause companies to move their operations to countries with cheaper labor. Of the 28 countries in the EU, 6 do not currently have a minimum wage.
In 2011 the level of public spending on the welfare state by the British Government accounted for £113.1 billion, or 16% of government. By 2020 welfare spending will rise to 1/3rd of all spending making it the largest expense followed by housing benefit, council tax benefit, benefits to the unemployed, and benefits to people with low incomes.
5 U.S. states have passed laws requiring welfare recipients to be tested for drugs. Germany does not currently test welfare recipients for drugs. Proponents argue that testing will prevent public funds from being used to subsidize drugs habits and help get treatment for those that are addicted to drugs. Opponents argue that it is a waste of money since the tests will cost more money than they save.
Proponents of deficit reduction argue that governments who do not control budget deficits and debt are at risk of losing their ability to borrow money at affordable rates. Opponents of deficit reduction argue that government spending would increase demand for goods and services and help avert a dangerous fall into deflation, a downward spiral in wages and prices that can cripple an economy for years.
A church tax is a tax imposed on members of some religious congregations in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Sweden, some parts of Switzerland and several other countries.
In 2015, the European Union proposed a three year €86b bailout package for Greece. In order to receive the bailout, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to budget cuts including pension reforms. Opponents argue that the Greek government cannot be trusted to live up to the terms of the bailout, since they recently pledged to oppose any budget cuts. Proponents argue that the Euro will lose value if the Greek economy fails.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, with the aim of promoting trade and multilateral economic growth. The agreement is opposed by unions, charities, NGOs, and environmentalists in Europe who criticize the agreement for reducing regulations on food safety and environmental legislation.
In 2014, the EU passed legislation that capped bankers' bonuses at 100% of their pay or 200% with shareholder approval. In Germany 4 of the 15 major banks have instituted caps. Several banks avoided the cap by classifying manager as non-risk takers. Of the 87 bank managers in Germany that earned bonuses of more than 1 million euros ($1.37 million) in 2012, only 40 had been identified as being risk-takers. Proponents of the cap say that it will reduce incentives for bankers to take excessive risk similar to what led to the 2008 financial crisis. Opponents say that any cap on bankers' pay will push up non-bonus pay and cause bank's costs to rise.
In 2015 the German Cabinet Thursday approved a draft labour relations law that would simplify negotiations between corporations and unions. The draft law specified that for any corporation, only a single union would be recognised as the official wage-bargaining partner, and the resulting agreement would hold for all the company's employees. The law restricts union representation in a company and just one union will be allowed to represent a group of employees.
Germany currently levies a 15% tax on all businesses. The average corporate tax rate worldwide is 22.6%. Opponents of argue that raising the rate will discourage foreign investment and hurt the economy. Proponents argue that the profits corporations generate should be taxed just like citizen's taxes.
A tariff is a tax on imports or exports between countries.
In 2019 the European Union and U.S. Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren issued proposals that would regulate Facebook, Google and Amazon. Senator Warren proposed that the U.S. government should designate tech companies who have global revenue of over $25 billion as “platform utilities" and break them up into smaller companies. Senator Warren argues that the companies have “bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else.” Lawmakers in the European Union proposed a set of rules which include a blacklist of unfair trading practices, requirements that companies set up an internal system to handle complaints and allow businesses to group together to sue platforms. Opponents argue that these companies have benefited consumers by providing free online tools and bring more competition into commerce. Opponents also point out that history has shown that dominance in technology is a revolving door and that many companies (including IBM in the 1980’s) have cycled through it with little to no help from the government.
A farm subsidy is a form of financial aid paid to farmers by the government. Farmers in the European Union receive 35% of their incomes in subsidies and farmers in the U.S. receive 28%. Proponents of higher subsidies argue that they are necessary to compete with agriculture exports from other western countries. Opponents argue that the farmers should fend for themselves and point out that 2,300 farmers who do not grow crops receive annual subsidies.
Countries including Ireland, Scotland, Japan, and Sweden are experimenting with a four-day workweek, which requires employers to provide overtime pay to employees working more than 32 hours per week.
Global warming, or climate change, is an increase in the earth's atmospheric temperature since the late nineteenth century. In politics, the debate over global warming is centered on whether this increase in temperature is due to greenhouse gas emissions or is the result of a natural pattern in the earth's temperature.
In 2016, France became the first country to ban the sale of plastic disposable products that contain less than 50% of biodegradable material and in 2017, India passed a law banning all plastic disposable plastic products.
Fracking is the process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to flow out to a well. In 2016 Angela Merkel passed legislation which banned fracking in Germany. While fracking has significantly boosted oil production, there are environmental concerns that the process is contaminating groundwater. Critics of fracking say it pollutes underground water supplies with chemicals, releases methane gas into the atmosphere, and can cause seismic activity. Proponents of fracking say it will drop oil and gas prices in Spain and lead to energy independence.
Genetically modified foods (or GM foods) are foods produced from organisms that have had specific changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. In 2015, the EU passed a law giving individual countries the right to ban GMO crops. In October, European countries including Germany used the EU rules to ban the use of genetically modified crops.
In November 2018 the online e-commerce company Amazon announced it would be building a second headquarters in New York City and Arlington, VA. The announcement came a year after the company announced it would accept proposals from any North American city who wanted to host the headquarters. Amazon said the company could invest over $5 billion and the offices would create up to 50,000 high paying jobs. More than 200 cities applied and offered Amazon millions of dollars in economic incentives and tax breaks. For the New York City headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $2.8 billion in tax credits and construction grants. For the Arlington, VA headquarters the city and state governments gave Amazon $500 million in tax breaks. Opponents argue that governments should spend the tax revenue on public projects instead and that the federal government should pass laws banning tax incentives. The European Union has strict laws which prevent member cities from bidding against each other with state aid (tax incentives) in an effort to lure private companies. Proponents argue that the jobs and tax revenue created by the companies eventually offset the cost of any awarded incentives.
German drug policies are considered among the strictest in Europe. Although serious penalties are attached to the sale or possession of large quantities of drugs, there is no criminal action taken for small-scale possession or the use of many narcotics including marijuana. The German government has even gone so far as to allow for supervised "drug rooms" like those found in the Netherlands, where individuals can safely use their drug of choice and receive counseling when needed. In 1994 the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that drug addiction was not a crime, as was the possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. In 2000 the German narcotic law ("BtmG") was changed to allow for supervised drug-injection rooms. In 2002, a pilot study was started in seven German cities to evaluate the effects of heroin-assisted treatment on addicts, compared to methadone-assisted treatment. The positive results of the study led to the inclusion of heroin-assisted treatment into the services of the mandatory health insurance in 2009.
In August 2015, the German weekly Die Zeit disclosed reported that BND completed a deal with the NSA to get access to the surveillance platform XKeyscore. Internal documents show that Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), received the software program XKeyscore from the NSA in return of data from Germany.
In January 2018 Germany passed the NetzDG law which required platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to take down perceived illegal content within 24 hours or seven days, depending on the charge, or risk a fine of €50 million ($60 million) fines. In July 2018 representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter denied to the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary committee that they censor content for political reasons. During the hearing Republican members of Congress criticized the social media companies for politically motivated practices in removing some content, a charge the companies rejected. In April 2018 the European Union issued a series of proposals that would crack down on “online misinformation and fake news.” In June 2018 President Emmanuel Macron of France proposed a law which would give French authorities the power to immediately halt “the publication of information deemed to be false ahead of elections.”
Flag desecration is any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a national flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.
A term limit is a law which limits the length of time a person may serve in an elected office. There are no term limits in Germany. If Chancellor Angela Merkel is re-elected in 2017 and serves her full four-year term, she will tie with Helmut as the longest-serving chancellor in the history of the Bundesrepublik. Members of the Bundestag must be re-elected every five years.
At a 2014 Vodafone conference, German chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that telecoms should be allowed to offer faster internet to higher paying customers. Proponents argue that the additional revenue made by telecoms on these packages would enable them to invest in their infrastructure and take on dominant companies like Netflix and Google. Opponents argue that the government should regulate the internet like a public utility and capping speeds for lower paying customers will limit their choices.
In September 2015, Martin Winterkorn stepped down as chief executive of Volkswagen AG after it was revealed that the company rigged millions of vehicles to cheat on emissions tests. Mr. Winterkorn could receive severance compensation of up to €60 million. German prosecutors recently opened a probe to determine if Mr. Winterkorn was criminally negligible.
In October 2019 Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social media company would ban all political advertising. He stated that political messages on the platform should reach users through the recommendation of other users – not through paid reach. Proponents argue that social media companies don’t have the tools to stop the spread of false information since their advertising platforms aren’t moderated by human beings. Opponents argue that the ban will disenfranchise candidates and campaigns who rely on social media for grassroots organizing and fundraising.
Prison overcrowding is a social phenomenon occurring when the demand for space in prisons in a jurisdiction exceeds the capacity for prisoners.The issues associated with prison overcrowding are not new, and have been brewing for many years. During the United States’ War on Drugs, the states were left responsible for solving the prison overcrowding issue with a limited amount of money. Moreover, federal prison populations may increase if states adhere to federal policies, such as mandatory minimum sentences. On the other hand, the Justice Department provides billions of dollars a year for state and local law enforcement to ensure they follow the policies set forth by the federal government concerning U.S. prisons. Prison overcrowding has affected some states more than others, but overall, the risks of overcrowding are substantial and there are solutions to this problem.
Since 1999, the executions of drug smugglers have become more common in Indonesia, Iran, China and Pakistan. In March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed executing drug traffickers to fight his country’s opioid epidemic. 32 countries impose the death penalty for drug smuggling. Seven of these countries (China, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore) routinely execute drug offenders. Asia and the Middle East’s tough approach contrasts with many Western countries who have legalized cannabis in recent years (selling cannabis in Saudi Arabia is punished by beheading).
Felony disenfranchisement is the exclusion from voting of people otherwise eligible to vote due to conviction of a criminal offense, usually restricted to the more serious class of crimes deemed felonies. Prisoners and those convicted of felonies have full voting rights in Germany unless they receive a court order banning them from voting.
Militarization of police refers to the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored vehicles, assault rifles, flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and SWAT teams. Proponents argue that this equipment increases officers’ safety and enables them to better protect the public and other first responders. Opponents argue that police forces which received military equipment were more likely to have violent encounters with the public.
“Defund the police” is a slogan that supports divesting funds from police departments and reallocating them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support, such as social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources.
Private prisons are incarceration centers that are run by a for-profit company instead of a government agency. The companies that operate private prisons are paid a per-diem or monthly rate for each prisoner they keep in their facilities. There are currently no private prisons in Germany. Opponents of private prisons argue that incarceration is a social responsibility and that entrusting it to for-profit companies is inhumane. Proponents argue that prisons run by private companies are consistently more cost effective than those run by government agencies.
The European Union is a politico-economic union of 28 countries with a combined population of over 510 million. The purpose of the EU was to promote free trade and immigration within its internal market. Each member country would also enact similar laws regarding agriculture and development. Germany has been a member of the EU since January 1958. Proponents leaving the EU argue that membership undermines Germany's sovereignty and leaving would help Germany control immigration. Opponents of leaving the EU argue would damage trade, cause unemployment and harm foreign investment.
Military Service is currently not required in Germany. Between 1956 and 2011 service men were required to serve at least 6 months in the service.
Germany has been under pressure from its allies and other countries to accept refugees from Syria by the end of 2015. Proponents argue that Germany has a duty to join its allies in Europe and accept at least 800,000 refugees. Opponents argue that Germany should stay out of this crisis and accepting refugees from the Middle East leads to a risk of letting terrorists into its borders.
In 2015, the German government announced it was raising its defense spending in order to meet a NATO requirement that all members budgets be at least 2% of GDP. Germany’s current military budget is 1.2% of GDP or €33 billion. The additional funding will allow the defense ministry to expand its armed forces and support NATO engagement in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
In November 2018 German chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France announced that they would support the creation of a European army. Ms. Merkel said that the EU should rely less on the U.S. for military support and that “Europeans should take our fate more into our own hands if we want to survive as a European community.” Ms. Merkley said the army would not oppose NATO. President Marcon said the army is needed to protect the EU against China, Russia and the United States. Proponents argue that the EU lacks a united defence force to handle sudden conflicts outside of NATO. Opponents question how the army would fund itself since many EU countries spend less than 2% of their GDP on defence.
The UK and Northern Ireland are scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019. Under a transition agreement all trade and economic relations between the UK and the EU will remain the same until the end of 2022. In 2018 members of parliament and Prime Minister Theresa May proposed a “backstop” which would allow the UK and Northern Ireland to remain inside the EU’s single market for goods and farm products. Proponents argue that keeping the UK in the EU’s customers area will boost the economy by streamlining trade and tourism. Opponents, including anti-EU lawmakers, argue that the backstop would lock the UK inside the EU’s customs area permanently and prevent it from signing trade deals on its own.
After the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021 the Taliban seized control of the country. In response the International Monetary Fund and major international donors to the country blocked the Taliban’s access to billions of dollars in charitable bank accounts. More than half of Afghanistan’s annual $5 billion budget is from foreign aid. Despite its puritanical brand of Islam, the Taliban controls the world’s largest opium operation, earning about $460 million a year from taxes on the sale of heroin moving through their territories alone, the U.N. says. Proponents of aid argue that without the charitable funds, families and children in Afghanistan will face an “avalanche of hunger and destitution.” Opponents argue that the Taliban government is a ruthless dictatorship and should not be recognized by foreign governments.
On February 24 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that began in 2014. The invasion caused Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II, with around 7.1 million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. It has also caused global food shortages.
The UN. is an organization of governments founded in 1945 after World War II. The organization’s objectives include promoting peace and security, protecting human rights and the environment and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster, and armed conflict. Recent U.N. interventions include the Sri Lankan civil war in 2009 and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In 1955 West Germany was admitted into the UN. East Germany was admitted into the UN in as a non-voting observer in 1972. In 1990 the Federal Republic of Germany was formally recognized by the UN. Germany is the third largest financial contributor to the UN and contributes $140 million annually.