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Saturday, May 21, 2022

There is no right to cheap gasoline

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The state must respond to high fuel prices by specifically helping those who need it. A one-size-fits-all tank discount is the wrong approach.

Some drivers should federal government aid in view of the sharp rise in fuel prices. Those who earn little or nothing but need their car to go to work, the supermarket or the doctor because the distance is too far for a bicycle and public transport connections are very poor. Sooner or later, sky-high fuel prices will become a big problem for them.

But basically giving all motorists a state discount at the gas station, as Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) intends, is clearly going too far. You don’t have to ask the oft-quoted Porsche driver to realize how absurd that is. Just look at the statistics. The more people earn, the more cars they have and the more miles they drive. Thus, those who need it least often benefit more from a discount per liter of gasoline or diesel.

And this gives the impression that Christian Lindner not only does it take into account the existential concerns of those with low incomes, but it also wants to absorb the general outrage over expensive fuel. But where is it stipulated that every German citizen has the right to affordable car use?

Such a move would cost billions in tax dollars. And this at a time when millions of refugees from Ukraine need help and the energy transition needs to be promoted to become more independent from Russia. At the same time, the Bundeswehr will be modernized and brought up to date.

Better and more specific help

Oh, and wasn’t there also something about climate protection? The last federal government decided that it should be more expensive to generate CO₂. It introduced an ever-increasing CO₂ tax so that the incentive to live and do business in a more climate-friendly way grows over time. The semaphore also wanted to follow this principle of direction.

But now that the war in Ukraine is making fossil energy more expensive, the government apparently wants to do everything it can to make sure citizens are not harmed. According to polls, a clear majority of the population is ready to support the price increase as a result of the sanctions against Russia. Does solidarity end with the price of fuel? At least that’s what Christian Lindner seems to think.

The federal government must direct its help to the people who really need it right now. The traffic light has already shown how this could work with the measures decided in February. Poor families will soon receive a supplement of 20 euros a month for their children, and recipients of social benefits will receive a one-time payment of 100 euros. That is not enough, but it is a step in the right direction.

Especially since gasoline is not the only product that will become significantly more expensive in the coming months. The energy crisis is also affecting heating. And food prices have also risen sharply. In this situation, the federal government should specifically help people with little money instead of giving in to general whining at Germany’s gas stations.


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