The main bank cheated, the artists hit up kids, but ...
Germany calls up last conscripts as army is shrunk
While the US spends itself into ruin by financing militarism and engorging the military/industrial complex, a more rational nation -- albeit flawed -- heads the other way. We trim, blend, and append two 2010 and one 2011 articles from: (1) BBC, Dec 21, on tax dodging; (2) Deutsche Welle, Dec 28, on copyrights by Catherine Bolsover; and (3) BBC, Jan 3, on conscription.
by BBC, by Catherine Bolsover, and by BBC
Deutsche Bank to pay over $554m in tax shelter probe
Deutsche Bank will pay $554m (£360m) after admitting criminal wrongdoing in helping rich people shelter from US taxes.
The payment includes a civil penalty of more than $149m. The sum includes the amount of taxes and interest that the Internal Revenue Service was unable to collect.
Deutsche's tax evasion took place between 1996 to 2002. A non-prosecution agreement required the bank to allow an outside expert to make sure it does not do it again.
Its payment to US authorities follows a settlement prosecutors reached with the Swiss bank, UBS, which paid $780m in fines for helping clients hide their accounts from the IRS.
The bank said it had already set aside the money and the settlement would not have any impact on current net income.
Third quarter, Deutsche Bank reported a pre-tax loss of 1.2bn euros ($1.66bn; £1.05bn), hit by a 2.3bn-euro charge linked to its planned purchase of Deutsche Postbank.
Excluding the Postbank costs, net profit for the quarter was 1.1bn euros.
JJS: Who’s the real criminal? The earners dodging taxes, or the politicians levying taxes? Or neither? Perhaps such cases should not be tried as criminal cases but as civil cases, as are most other business-related disputes.
And remember, while the IRS mulcts some millions from Deutsche Bank, the US Federal Reserve bailed them out with many billions that dwarf the fine.
And who’s an earner of taxable income? While original composers deserve compensation, can they truly, fairly, keep little kids from singing the sheet music of their songs? Composers got to eat and pay rent, but can kids pay for licenses?
German kindergartens ordered to pay copyright for songs
Up until this year, preschools could teach and produce any kind of song they wanted. But now they have to pay for a license if they want children to perform certain songs.
A tightening of copyright rules means kindergartens now have to pay fees to Germany's music licensing agency, GEMA, to use songs that they reproduce and perform. The organization has begun notifying creches and other daycare facilities that if they reproduce music to be sung or performed, they must pay for a license.
"If a preschool wants to make its own copy of certain music -- if the words of a song or the musical score is copied -- then they need to buy a license," GEMA spokesperson Peter Hempel told Deutsche Welle.
The new rules came into power at the beginning of this year, but have only recently drawn attention as daycare centers have received letters reminding them that they need to sign contracts with GEMA before distributing sheet music to children to sing.
GEMA’s Peter Hempel said, "If a school does not make any copies of music, then of course they don't need to pay anything."
The copyright rules only concern the rights for modern songs. Songs written by an author who has been dead for over 70 years are automatically in the public domain.
Fees start at 56 euros ($74) for 500 copies of a song, a rate charged annually, not per child.
GEMA -- the German abbreviation stands for the Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights -- exists to make sure that the intellectual property of musicians is protected. It is the collection agent for another group, VG MusikEdition, which monitors copyright for musicians and distributes the profits from the licensing fees back to its members.
JJS: Following the rules when the rules are fair seems rational. It also seems rational to let militarism slide into the past. Maybe former soldiers could become composers, or honest bankers.
Germany calls up last conscripts as army is reformed
Germany has called up some 12,000 recruits -- the last batch before conscription ends altogether on July 1.
The German government is seeking to make the the army, or Bundeswehr, smaller and more focussed, with professional soldiers. The changes are the biggest since the German military was reformed after World War II.
Conscription was introduced after Germany's defeat in 1945 in an attempt to ensure the military would never again become an elitist force with its own political power. The idea was that an army drawn from wider society would be less likely to serve any future dictator.
But with Germany becoming involved in international operations in the Balkans and Afghanistan, critics have complained that compulsory military service has been helping to prevent its modernization.
That process would see the size of the standing army reduced from 240,000 to around 185,000 soldiers. Volunteers will still be able to serve for up to 23 months. The changes are also expected to cut costs by reducing the bureaucratic apparatus.
JJS: Cutting costs means the state won’t need as much money from citizens. Taxes could be reduced. And if the state recovers all the “rents” for land, then citizens could even receive a dividend. Fewer and lower taxes translates into less tax dodging, while getting a dividend results in no more starving artists.
Coincidentally, before World War I in Germany, the public recovery of money paid for land was spreading from town to town, but like many good ideas, war wiped it out. Now while peace reigns, perhaps geonomic policy could regain its footing and spread from nation to nation.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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