Sun Dec 12 02:13:53 2004 Internet Taxation in Germany
Posted by BigDumbDinosaur
Search Keys: Internet,Taxation,Arrogance,Regulation,Government
Those of us who are in locations where the cost and availability of Internet access is largely controlled by free market conditions might not realize just how good we have it. In case you're not entirely sure, perhaps you might wish to consider relocating to Germany, where the art of keeping the citizenry under the government's thumb apparently did not die in Hitler's bunker along with Der Fürher and his bride. Heavy-handed laws are already the norm there, so it may be that the average German has been conditioned to meekly accept whatever crap is dished out by government Neanderthals. I'm inclined to think that this must be the case, as Germany has regulations in place that seem to be a product of the Third Reich rather than a representative government. Severe regulation and taxation of computer and cell phone usage - complete with Draconian penalties for non-compliance - is one such example, and things are about to take a turn for the worse if "Minister of Culture" Christiane Weiss has her way.
You may already know that Germany's telecommunications, radio and television industries are administered - controlled, actually - by the Radio and Television Licensing Authority (RTLA), a bureaucracy with an incredible amount of power, even by the standards of the former Soviet Union. In fact, the RTLA's authority, which is so great it makes the U.S. Federal Communications Commission look like an old ladies' tea party in comparison, is extremely intrusive and completely at odds with the apparently erroneous assumption that modern Germany is a democratic republic run by enlightened officials, not a Fourth Reich controlled by Hitler's ghost. Why Germans tolerate the existence of this bunch of Gestapo clones, whose behavior almost makes the original brownshirts seem benign in comparison, is something that defies explanation.
Now, you may think that I'm just another anti-authoritarian who is over-reacting like certain well-known paranoid types. Not so, my friend! In this story by a British journalist who has resided in Germany for more than a decade, you can read about a nightmare that even George Orwell overlooked, one that goes beyond merely taxing the bejesus out of hard-working folks. What is described appears to be nothing less than the actions of a government intent on stifling free thought and the exchange of ideas with others. If any regulatory body in the USA were to try to pull these tactics it would be sued to death with charges of violating the First Amendment.
I certainly hope that some of Germany's less-regimented citizens will rise up against the RTLA and demand that the market react to free enterprise, not a bunch of jack-booted, techno-terrorists lead by the astonishingly arrogant Ms. Weiss, who has apparently confused Mein Kampf with the German Constitution. Oops! Wait a minute! I completely forgot: there is no legal German Constitution. Evidently, the lack of such an august document has infused Ms. Weiss with the thought that she can do whatever she chooses to do, just like her mustachioed predecessor did in the 1930's. When a number of Germans threatened to take up the matter with that other bastion of heavy-handed bureaucracy, the European Union, she asserted, "Cultural sovereignty is not to be interfered with," an apparent implication that the Nazi way is also the German way. To me that sounds like a gross insult to those whom her government is allegedly representing.
Not being completely conversant with how laws are enacted and enforced over there, I don't know what, if any, action concerned Germans might be able to take to stop Ms. Weiss and her storm troopers. However, I do know this: the notion of "government by the people, for the people" still doesn't seem to have taken hold in Berlin—even some 60 years after the head storm trooper met his maker.
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