On the development of the Thuringian state budget 30 Individually completely rational behavior of citizens to make demands on the state for themselves or their own group, and the equally rational tendency of politicians to satisfy these demands in the sense of their electoral calculus, lead in sum to the collective irrationality that future needs can be met all the less.
It is easy to see what these considerations mean for the policy of Keynesian economic smoothing. The first part of the program, stimulation of the economy, is generally easy to implement politically, since it involves the distribution of benefits in many forms. The second part, which boils down to the silencing of existing and public purchasing power that everyone knows about, is usually met with fierce resistance with warnings of so-called capitated saving. The statistics, with their rapid increase in public debt, partly due to stimulus programs, speak eloquently in this regard.
What do these considerations mean for the Thuringian state budget?? The constant (non-cyclical) incentives to expand the budget, if necessary through debt, are unquestionably present here as well. As far as a policy of stimulating the economy is concerned, the Free State is integrated into the larger alliance of the Federal Republic and the European Union.
There is no such thing as an independent Thuringian business cycle. This means that the state is called upon to act in unison with corresponding plans by the federal government and the other states.
Thus, the two main arguments in favor of government debt prove to have little merit upon closer analysis.
Thus, to considerations explicitly contradictory to government debt. That we were living at the expense of our children, who would have to shoulder the consequences of excessive public debt, is one of the arguments commonly used here. Is it justified?
There are two cases to distinguish here, domestic debt and foreign debt. For domestic debt, it was classically argued that in a closed economy, apart from changes in inventories and the capital stock, only what is produced in that period can be consumed in that period. Seen in this light, the claim of a burden on future generations is insubstantial. Recent thinking compares the loss of benefit to those who initially raise the capital and to taxpayers who have to make the later payments for interest and redemption. To the extent that the first group consists of the wealthy, their loss of utility from temporarily giving up their capital is likely to be less than that of the less wealthy taxpayers on average. The result is that a small loss of benefit in the present is offset by a larger loss in the future. According to this, we would indeed be living at the expense of future generations by incurring public debt. This is especially true if the debt is used to finance government consumption, so later generations do not even receive the return on an investment.
The burden on future generations is even more pronounced than in the case of domestic debt in the second case, foreign debt. It means, after all, that foreign creditors acquire a claim to a future reverse (and, because of interest, even higher) transfer in exchange for a current transfer of purchasing power to the domestic market.
This means that a portion of future domestic economic output is transferred to foreign countries. This places a direct burden on the generation then living. Here, even more clearly than in the first case, the current generation is living at the expense of its children
On the development of the Thuringian state budget 31 and grandchildren before difficult to reconcile with the demands for intergenerational equity and sustainability.
Debt also raises equity issues in the relationship between people of different wealth levels. As just discussed, government bonds are primarily purchased directly or indirectly by capital owners, with repayment and interest to be paid by taxpayers as a whole, who on average are less affluent. On balance, this can lead to a redistribution from the bottom to the top in the amount of the interest payment, at least to a mitigation (in extreme cases even to a reversal) of the tax progression and thus to a result that runs directly counter to the politically intended greater equalization of incomes.
Another consideration in evaluating debt asks about the functioning of social institutions, first, but not exclusively, the state. If one understands its main task to be the production of public goods, or if one sees it as a kind of public good itself, then debt service necessarily means an impairment of this role: Its room for maneuver becomes narrower as debt grows, up to the point of complete fiscal immobility or even national bankruptcy. The previous subsection does indeed contain some warning signs in this regard, from increasing interest payments to growing pension burdens for state officials. 12
The fact that only two percent of Thuringia's budget is already freely disposable is also alarming. (Interest payments, for comparison, seven percent; in other words, the freely disposable income would be four and a half times as high without interest payments.) The state of the country's inability to move in budgetary matters would then already have been reached, even if only to a lesser extent caused by debt. This may also put pressure on government legitimacy: Polities do not justify themselves in the eyes of citizens only and probably not even primarily through due process or adherence to democratic principles, but also through positive outcomes of public policy. These are threatened by a financial blockage.
If, after the preceding considerations, we exclude tax increases and further indebtedness (and, in addition, state bankruptcy and galloping inflation as means of debt repayment), the conclusion is: there is no way around saving in the old-fashioned bourgeois sense and the underlying reduction of the Thuringians' claims on public services. For both citizens and economists, saving means not spending some of the money one has (i.e., using it to pay off debt), not just incurring less debt than originally planned such a policy did not deserve the popular label of austerity. As will be shown, the majority of Thuringians agree or disagree with the options for budget consolidation at least in principle of the same opinion.
11 According to a well-known definition of the World Bank, sustainability means that each generation behaves in such a way that future generations are enabled to live at least at the same level. Cf. World Bank 1992; Norgaard 1992.
12 These can be viewed as implicit indebtedness. See below Chapter IV.2.4.
IV. Government tasks and spending in the opinion of Thuringians
Anyone who wants to determine the acceptance of more or less drastic measures for budget consolidation must record the population's opinion of the individual budgetary options under discussion. In this context, however, it will be impossible to avoid considering the yardsticks that play a role in the evaluation of budgetary decisions. This is because decisions about revenues and expenditures presuppose perceptions about the nature and scope of the tasks that the state is expected to perform. Finally, perceptions about the tasks of the state and about the division of roles between the state and its citizens are themselves dependent on general value preferences that shape the way individuals live their lives.
Therefore, this chapter approaches its subject matter in two steps. In the first section, based on basic value preferences, Thuringians' perceptions of the tasks of the state and of its limits are examined, with particular attention paid to the role of the state in the economy. The second section analyzes the degree of approval or disapproval that the Thuringians (resp. (e.g., the preferences of individual groups among them) for certain budgetary options.
1. Tasks and scope of the state
Two different dimensions of basic values have been examined for the THuRINGEN-MONITOR 2011: (1) the preference for the value of freedom13 , which constitutes democracies, in tension with equality and security on the one hand; (2) the preference for one of the three values that are essential for shaping one's personal life, namely a sense of duty Development of one's own abilities Enjoyment of life on the other hand.
(1) Freedom Equality Security
The importance of the answers to the questions about preferences for freedom over equality and for freedom over security results from the well-founded assumption that basic patterns of evaluating social and governmental structures as well as developments in general can be traced back to these preferences (cf. TM 2004, P. 36). For example, leading members of the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research (Noelle-Neumann / Kocher 2002, p. 602f.The Institute for Public Opinion Research (Institut fur Demoskopie 2004) emphatically supports the thesis that there is a clear difference in this respect between the old and the new federal states and interprets the greater emphasis on equality in eastern Germany, as determined in numerous surveys, as a mortgage of pre-Mundi socialization13 Freedom (or liberties) may exist outside democracies, but lack of freedom excludes democracy conceptually. A tyranny of the majority is also incompatible with democracy as modernly understood.