Should Five Per Cent Appear Too Small

I was surprised to discover some weeks ago that Germans pay out the most in taxes among rich countries in the OECD (at least in terms of income tax and social security payments):

Perhaps my surprise was unwarranted, however, since my own pay stubs provide all the evidence I need. Currently I pay about 22 percent of my monthly earnings in taxes, a tremendously high rate considering how little I earn. What’s more, about half of my taxes (≈10 percent of my income) goes toward social security. I tend to disagree with a government forcing me to save at all, but I find it especially laughable when I’m forced to pay for benefits I will never receive (I’m not planning on retiring in Germany, after all).

To be fair, I can make a claim for a refund when I return to the US, but even that is the equivalent of providing the German government with an interest free loan. One wonders how this practice could be considered anything but unethical in view of the fact that I am coerced—ultimately upon threat of violence—to contribute. Alas, that is simply the nature of the beast.

More worrisome for me at the moment, though, is that my taxes went mysteriously up by about 1.5 percent between February and March. Something pernicious is undoubtedly afoot…