The German economy is weakening

The economy in Germany has cooled noticeably. Should economic growth be spurred on by spending billions – and should new debt be made for it? The calls are getting louder. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have so far made it clear that they want to stick to their course of “black zero” – a policy without new debt.

In the first half of the year, the German tax authorities achieved a surplus of 45.3 billion euros despite the economic downturn. This awakens desires. “Germany is one foot in recession and Olaf Scholz swims in the money,” says FDP faction vice Christian Dürr. He calls for tax relief “so that companies can take new confidence and invest in the future.”

Long phase of recovery

Left-wing vice-president Fabio De Masi demands that the federal government take advantage of the historically low interest rates and “make urgently needed massive investments.” Investment in public infrastructure would encourage private investment and would secure thousands of jobs.

The recession year 2009 was followed by a long phase of recovery in Germany with booming tax revenues. Since 2014, the federal budget has been achieving a “black zero” every year. But due to the weaker economy, tax revenues are not so strong as the tax estimate showed in May. Scholz had to refinish the Budget 2020 and tighten his belt.

And the prospects are not rosier: The hope for an economic recovery in the second half of the year is dwindling. In the second quarter, gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.1 percent compared to the beginning of the year, weighed down by international trade conflicts and the slowdown in the global economy. In addition, there is Brexit. Industry President Dieter Kempf feared that full-year growth could fall to zero should the British exit the EU at the end of October in a chaos Brexit without agreements. So far, the industry association BDI expects economic growth of no more than 0.5 percent this year.

Germany gets IS children from Syria

After the victory over the so-called IS, they lived in a refugee camp in Syria, and now they are to come to Germany: four children of German IS fighters are on their way to the Federal Republic.

On the border between Syria and Iraq, children from German IS supporters have been handed over to the Federal Republic for the first time. These are three orphans and a six-month-old, sick baby, said Abdel Karim Omar, spokesman for the Kurdish authorities in Syria. The children had lived in the refugee camp Al-Hol after defeating the terrorist militia “Islamic State” in Syria.

The return of IS children in Germany has been discussed for some time. The Federal Government had initially always pointed out that there is currently no German diplomatic representation in Syria. The Berlin administrative court had decided in July that the government must retrieve members of IS fighters.

According to information from the Rojava Information Center, 117 children of German nationality are said to be in northeastern Syria. This would include 21 children of Germans, but who would have no German citizenship, as well as dozens of women and 66 men, of which more than 40 are said to be involved in war crimes.

Central Council of Jews warns of coalition with AfD

So far, all potential governing parties reject a coalition with the AfD. But will they stay with you? The President of the Central Council obviously doubts that. He sees the development of the party with concern.

The President of the Central Council of Jews, Josef Schuster, makes in the AfD a dangerous radicalization and warns in view of the upcoming state elections in some East German states before a coalition with AfD participation. “Parts of the AfD develop according to my impression more and more into the nationalistic one. You only have to follow the debates within the AfD, then it is to be feared: It will not be moderate, rather worse,” Schuster said.

He emphasized, “The AfD, in my opinion, is much more intertwined with right-wing extremism than it is outwardly, fueling fears and promoting a climate of marginalization of minorities.”

Even a minority government would cause Schuster concern

Referring to the state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg on September 1, Schuster said: “I urge all parties to close a coalition with the AfD.” Even a minority government tolerated by the AfD would in his view mean that such a coalition “always had to turn to the right in their decisions in order to survive,” said Schuster. “That would be a harbinger for me that one of the democratic parties would sooner or later close an alliance with the AfD.”

Schuster pointed out that recently more anti-Semitic incidents were registered in Germany. “The AfD combines these events with populist propaganda to generally rush against minorities, thus fueling a climate ultimately against Jews.” In some parts of the AfD – such as the right-wing national “wing” to the controversial Thuringian AFD faction leader Björn Höcke – he wonders if they have already left the ground of the Basic Law. “It is no coincidence that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has declared certain party structures to be a suspicious case and the party as a whole to a test case.”

Höcke resisted the allegations. He described it as “absurd” at the AFD State Party Convention on Sunday in Arnstadt. Instead, it is the Islamic immigration that endangers democracy in Germany, he said.

Every tenth elementary school child goes to school on an empty stomach

According to a survey, ten percent of elementary students leave the house in the morning without breakfast. This is the result of a representative survey by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy among parents commissioned by the discounter Lidl.

Extrapolated to the nearly three million primary school children in Germany, around 300,000 children are affected. Municipalities and countries should intervene to help, say the German teachers’ association and child rights experts of SPD.

In addition to the children who come to school on an empty stomach, there are about as many children (9 percent), who have breakfast alone at home in the morning.

“Unfortunately, the results of this study are in line with the experiences of many local teachers,” said Heinz-Peter Meidinger, teacher association president of the German Press Agency. On the one hand, there is a growing group of helicopter parents, who continue to track their kids over 20 kilometers, and on the other hand, there are more and more parents who hardly care about the well-being of their children.

“If schools, with the support of the rural and local authorities, have an emergency breakfast for such cases, that certainly makes sense,” he continued. In the past, there had been school milk and school fruit everywhere in some federal states.

Susann Rüthrich (SPD), chairwoman of the children’s commission of the Bundestag, told the German press agency: “whatever different reasons it may be that children sit without a healthy breakfast in school – they themselves can not help it.” She demanded basic child protection if parents did not have the money or family counseling if they lacked knowledge. Children should be enabled to grow healthy and eat well at school, especially in old age, according to Rüthrich. More than half of the surveyed parents (53 percent) say that nutrition is more important at school and that their children are taught more about healthy eating.

The green child rights expert Katja Döring told the DPA: “A good and healthy breakfast should be a matter of course for all children.” Most parents would know that. However, it is not always easy to implement in the often hectic everyday life. “Some communities are now funding breakfast in elementary schools, which is also free for children from poor families, and these approaches need to be developed.”

The FDP politician Matthias Seestern-Pauly, also a member of the Children’s Commission, said: “The survey describes an intolerable condition, we need a new cooperation of school, state aid and parents. If children are at risk or unable to learn properly in their health, schools, parents and society must work together to find solutions.” The Children’s Commission is a subcommittee in the Parliament dedicated to the rights of children and young people.

According to the Institute, more than 1000 mothers and fathers were interviewed for the study who have at least one elementary age child. Most (53 percent) of breakfast are the most important meal for elementary school children compared to lunch and dinner.

Social housing is disappearing despite billions in funding

In the past year, significantly more apartments with subsidized rents fell than new ones were built. At the end of 2018, there were almost 42,500 social housing in Germany fewer than a year earlier, a drop of 3.5 percent. This emerges from the response of the Ministry of Interior to a request from the left-wing fraction, which is available to the German Press Agency. All in all, almost 1.18 million social housing units were leased nationwide at the turn of the year.

In these apartments, the rents are regulated by the state and therefore comparatively low. Only people for whom the authorities see a special need may live there. The central criterion is household income. However, the income limits vary greatly from one federal state to another. As a rule, tenants may stay in social housing even if they earn more after a while.

The problem is that social housing does not stay social housing forever. After a certain period of time, usually after 30 years, they fall out of bond and can be leased to the market normally. Because only a few social housing units have been newly built for years since the 1980s, there is no substitute today. In the past 15 years, the number of subsidized apartments has been halved.

In the meantime, government subsidies mean that more social housing is being built again – but that is not enough to keep the total constant. In the past year alone, according to statistics, about 70,000 social housing units fell out of service nationwide, and around 27,000 were newly built.

The left-apartment expert Caren Lay, therefore, calls for a “rescue program for social housing.” Instead of reducing subsidies as planned, ten billion euros would have to be invested and 250,000 new social housing would be built.

In the past year, the federal government had provided the states around 1.5 billion euros for the so-called housing promotion. For 2020 and 2021 stood two billion euros ready, said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Construction. However, this support could only be added to funds of the Länder and municipalities, the countries themselves would have to assume their responsibility and promote social housing.

The trade union IG Bau, on the other hand, sees the federal government and the federal states alike as their duty. “The situation is dramatic,” said federal chairman Robert Feiger.

In large cities, between one third and one-half of households currently have a theoretical right to social housing.