Conveniences prevent necessary social changes and prevent opportunities from being taken

The examples I will provide today are mainly taken from Europe, but they could take place anywhere. I will focus today on a social political discrepancy. We are living in a time full of developments that ultimately impact the structure of our society. To act on the opportunities of some developments, it is necessary to also adapt the social political framework.
I will provide three examples. All of them represent big opportunities for most countries, in my opinion. These opportunities can be taken only if society makes the necessary changes. Thus we come to a weakness of democratic systems, which are already developed over the long term. Societies are not ready to change unless there is pressure on all people or everyone has a deep understanding of the necessity for change. In democratic systems, elections take place every four to five years, and the politicians have only one interest: to keep the lobbyists quiet and maintain the status quo as much as possible, so as not to inconvenience people.
Let me take as the first example the energy transition in Germany. A fast reduction of CO2 is necessary to fight against climate change, and Germany was ahead of all countries in implementing renewable energies. This took place as long as the utility companies were not directly influenced. About two years ago, the utility companies recognized that they cannot hinder a further change toward renewable energies, and their old power plants will become more and more obsolete. Renewable energy sources are already the cheapest forms of energy one can produce. Last year the utility companies divided their business into a renewable part and a conventional part. They are now struggling more and more with the profitability of the conventional energy sources. Environmental activists are requiring a clearer scenario of how to end dependence on coal energy. Last week the German utility companies attended a conference, where the German minister of economy and energy affairs announced:” I will never agree to a scenario to get completely away from coal energy, if no one gives me a solution for the workplaces of the coal mine workers.”
There is a clear urgency to reduce CO2 emissions to keep our climate in balance. The minister also knows this. It is his duty to develop conditions to promote a solution for coal mine workers. It is clear to everyone that this has to be done, but the minister has announced the opposite to assure the coal mine workers not to fear and instruct the utility companies not to start with their change processes.
This is nothing other than purposeful propaganda to survive the next election. This hinders the necessary progress in energy transition. The society has to change to make the necessary changes in our energy system, and the politicians have to provide the framework. The above-mentioned statement of the German minister of economy and energy affairs shows that he is neglecting his duties to ensure that the utility lobby and the coal mine workers will further promote him.
The second example I will mention is TTIP, the free trade agreement between Europe and the US. US President Barack Obama and former EU President Barroso announced the beginning of TTIP negotiations at the G8 summit on June 17, 2013. The first of 11 rounds of negotiations so far was from October 19 to 23, 2015, in Miami. A 12th round of negotiations is scheduled for early 2016. There are a lot of lobbyists fighting to keep their areas protected. TTIP is mandatory, especially for Europe if it wants to strengthen its economic position. Some politicians have discussed that the European Union needs this free trade area, but the voices of the lobbies are louder. TTIP could be a good tool to finally overcome the European financial crisis. But because of political hesitation, this has not taken place.
My third example is the refugee crisis in Europe. After World War II, a lot of refugees came from the eastern part of Germany to the western part. There were skeptics and critics, but the refugees after World War II heavily contributed to what was called the “German economic miracle.” To finalize the economic growth in Germany, companies were asking for Italian, Spanish, Greek and Turkish workers. The additional workforce produced additional GDP and drove growth rates.
Why should this be different with the refugees who are coming now? I agree, there cannot be a never-ending stream of people coming to Germany, but the people who have arrived so far are not killing this country. This takes us back to the idle politicians, who are not actively building up the conditions for integration and who are not intervening early enough in the crisis regions of the world. They are only discussing how to protect the present situation by building up the borders again.
To summarize: Necessary developments that would bring the world to a sustainable future are blocked due to pending political decisions. Politicians are not making these decisions because they are not responding to needs; they are following the interests of lobbyists and trying to prevent societal change. If they did so, they would risk failure in the next election.
One reason for the economic strength of Germany is that Germany cleaned up its social security system. This was done under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s “Agenda 2010.” It brought a lot of changes for society, but it made Germany stronger. After implementing these changes, he was not elected again. For this I very much appreciate him: He did what was necessary, even if it was clear to him that he would jeopardize his next election.
I wish Germany had more of this kind of politician to overcome the present problems. . Politicians must be clear: The problems like climate change, trade limitations and refugees will not disappear, and a late decision is even harder to make. In a mature democracy we need politicians who take responsibility and do not think only of the next election. Otherwise these societies will not change like necessary and the countries becoming weaker and weaker.

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