Demagoguery Dangers in Deutschland

Originally published at The Washington Times

It is common for politicians in trouble to seek scapegoats for their own incompetence and wrong-headedness, but when this begins getting widespread popular support, both the people’s liberties and pocketbooks are in danger.

Given its history, one would think Germany’s people would be particularly resistant to demagogy. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Recently, Franz Muntefering, head of Germany’s left-wing Social Democratic Party (the SPD), which also is the lead party in the governing coalition, accused business leaders of being “anti-social” and like “swarms of locusts.” Rather than denounce him for attacking businesspeople and “international capital,” other SPD leaders joined in the denunciations.

Attacks on a despised minority or class in all societies tend to gain support during times of economic stress. Germany has gone from being the economic miracle of Europe to a poster child of what not to do. In the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Germany grew much faster rate than the U.S., and by 1980 had almost caught the U.S. in terms of real per capita income. But with the Reagan revolution in the early 1980s, U.S. economic growth soared, while Germany’s slid to less that half the U.S. rate.

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Richard Rahn

Richard W. Rahn is an economist, syndicated columnist, and entrepreneur. He was a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute. Currently, he is Chairman of Improbable Success Productions and the Institute for Global Economic Growth. He was the Vice President and Chief Economist of the United States Chamber of Commerce during the Reagan Administration and remains a staunch advocate of supply-side economics, small government, and classical liberalism.