SUVs (Sports Utility Vehicles) are becoming increasingly popular – a paradox!
Before US car companies developed the new car type- the SUV- there were ingenious constructions of cars with fuel consumption of about 1.2 liters per 100 km. This was in line with rising mobility demands, dwindling supplies of oil, and growing concerns about climate change. Although the SUVs required on average 10 times as much fuel, the US government favored the SUV, offered tax incentives and stopped promoting the further development of fuel-efficient and electric cars. The SUV was a triumphal development, still not ending. Moreover, the US government called on its citizens to buy a house outside the city and offered low down payment and interest on the loans. The author of this posting himself acquired a house near Philadelphia, where the bank granted him a 120% loan with a low-interest rate and, also, put a large tax-exempt SUV in front of the garage door. The author lived with the feeling of being able to afford everything in the USA. There were hardly any reasons to pay much attention to “sustainability” and environment. One looked fascinated at global finance capitalism and was annoyed only by the outrageous bonuses to the acrobats of the financial circus. These magicians wrapped the mortgages in Christmas paper and sold them on to banks around the world to reduce the risk of US state-owned mortgage lenders (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). In 2007 and 2008, the mortgage bank crisis broke out, which in turn disrupted the global financial system. The investment banks, which were commissioned by the US government, bet for themselves that the mortgages become worthless. Back to SUV! The aforementioned urban sprawl and the tax-subsidized fuel-cutting SUV combined with the shock of crude oil prices in 2007 and 2008 and mortgage interest rates triggered the crisis, which can be outlined as follows (Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Factor Five, The Formula One sustained growth, 2009): 2007: world oil prices go crazy -> long-distance commuting becomes a nightmare in the US -> the pumped-up houses lose value -> subordinate mortgages turn into financial junk -> mortgage banks crash. This triggers an avalanche, many car stocks are scrap. Over the next 20 years, the shift to electric motors and digitization will lead to further economic upheavals that require a transformation of capitalism (destructive innovation, Joseph Schumpeter).
Roland Leithenmayr VfV
Applying to Muslim refugees: The values and morals of Muslim men do not change so quickly, it takes time. Muslim men should not treat women as “invisible” human, and Muslim women should fight for their gender rights. The Sharia shall not be equal to the “Rules of Law”: state and religion must remain separate. Politicians must strictly demand our values and morals: no false tolerance, not multiculturalism, no parallel society! The burqa must be prohibited, and headscarves and clothing should only be tolerated insofar its not perceived as a segregation against our open society. The refugees are obliged to attend ethics lessons, educational and vocational training, and German language courses. The policy should execute orderly and quickly the application for asylum and provide newcomers support and a network. Regardless of the status of asylum, the refugees shall receive work permits and perform non-profit work as long as they are not integrated into the labor market, they should get a guaranteed minimum payment for any (social) work including for their commitment learning a craft or other profession and German. The refugees (whether war- or poverty-refugee) should follow a meaningful daily structure. They should unite with their family as soon as possible. Deconstructive are asylum on time, the restitution of the family after five years, no work permit, etc. The policy should be illuminated by proper political framing that refugees could bring mid- and long-term benefits to Austria. By worse political framing citizens get unsettled: “border fence” is regarded as a protection against unwanted visitors, “upper limit” a narrow space with no place to others. Negation like “a door with something in it” evokes the frame “border fence” in the minds of citizens (listeners). A better political (but polemical) framing is to compare the “border fence” with a “garden fence”. Georg Kapsch, a successful industrialist, and COE of the Austrian Industry Association supports the slogan (and political frame) of Angela Merkl “We can do it”. He trusts that taking 5 million refugees shouldn’t be a problem for 500 million Europeans; and furthermore, the refugees should obtain work permit immediately? Many Syrian refugees and others may return to their home countries with new (democratic) values and experiences and want to contribute to the reconstruction of infrastructure, assisting to establish political institutions and NGOs, and to improve the economy. Nations which treated the refugees well will get a better chance for orders to reconstruct the country. By global political and economic disputes and opportunities, former refugees will address Austria as a friend. The author of this posting participates in the program “Mentoring for Migrants” of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, which is very successful. I experienced that young refugee from Afghanistan, although with more inferior education, are well skilled with their hands and after a short training are excellent welders, – currently Europe lacks about 20,000 welders looked for projects worldwide. Neo-liberals see the refugees as a chance and trust that we should master it. It is unfair that social people (Gutmenschen) accuse the neo-liberalism (capitalism) to be the cause of global refugee crises. They forget the history that the “social market economy” brought, contrary to socialism in the former Eastern Bloc countries -, in Germany and Austria great prosperity. Likewise, that former communist nations (in their mind still some communism) are those who are not taking any refugees. I agree with this social people that the wave of refugees could be a windfall for the future demographic gap in Austria. But there is a lack of integration concepts: the refugees who come to us belong to a different religion and culture, – the integration is harder than it was for Hungarian refugees; transfer payments are too high: all facts which could create a menacing social stress potential. It is the intention of the author to portray the refugee crisis positively even if that sounds unrealistic. Financing is not a problem. Funding of the Development Assistance should increase to the agreed 0.7% of GDP and 0.1% of it should be put in a European Common Fund available to master the cost of the refugee crisis. The closing of European boundaries would, according to experts, create an economic loss of more than 100 billion EURO, comparatively to master the refugee crisis would cost less.
Roland Leithenmayr VfV