Screening Paradoxon

In the field of public health the screening paradoxon is a well-known feature of large scale programs to check for and contain the large increases in cancer among populations. A recent medical study underscores the necessity to curtail the screening paradox in Europe. The screening paradoxon is defined as “the underuse of screening by those with unhealthy lifestyles and high risks”. The opposite cases, “the overuse of screening by those with healthy lifestyles and low risks” only cause a problem for the costs of the health system as those unlikely of attaining a form of cancer make extensive use of screening. In terms of social inequality we have to be concerned about both ends of these distributions. The publicly available screening programs are skewed towards the higher educated with risk awareness as well as healthy life styles. More of them participate in screening. The other distribution of actual risks and detection of cancer is skewed towards the other end of the risk distribution. The 2 probability distributions overlap to an extent that is most likely co-determined by cultural factors like general attitudes towards prevention.
With the increase in cancer rates generally and due to demographic aging of societies, we shall need to target our resources devoted to health more precisely rather than spending too much on screening of people with very low risks. Increasing the duration between screenings might not impede detection rates of those with healthy lifestyles, but could allow to devote more resources to those people who are hard to reach by screening programs so far. Evaluations of such programs are necessary to judge the need for more targeted programs.(Image own representation inspired by Ola et al. 2024)

Comparative Advantage

In economics all students go through the calculus of comparative advantage. People, regions or whole countries tend to apply comparative advantage to their production systems and ensuing internal or external trade. The basic  rationale developed by David Ricardo has not changed that much over 200 years. The fields of application, however, are continuously expanded. Lindsay and Gartzke (2020) have applied the comparative advantage rationale to military strategy. The paper quotes 26 times Clausewitz and demonstrates the links of strategy to the basic economic and social rationale of comparative advantage. It is the politics of production that even the presence of trade may override the rationale of comparative advantage to favour local production of “operational domains” or military equipment.
In Russia’s aggression and war against Ukraine own production and trading of weapons has returned to the forefront of the concerns. In addition to the production of ammunition, the provision of drones has dominated the international arms trade related to the Russian aggression. Resources and time for production are additional factors that have an impact on availability of weapons at the right time at the right place and with the sufficiently trained persons to operate them.
The strategies that cross domains or combine domains seem the most promising. The careful analysis of your own comparative advantages or disadvantages needs to be the basis of any strategic decisions. This has been known for 2 centuries at least and is still valid in many fields of application. Additional considerations for “home production” might add to the complexity of the issue. Sustainability has also found its way into the field of comparative advantage at last. This may alter the analysis of comparative advantage of operational domains as well. Lots of unresolved puzzles still around. It will need years to sort this out despite the urgency of the Russian aggression on Ukraine.(Image: AI Copilot.2024-4-30 2 political leaders deal weapons. One has a comparative advantage in ships. The other one has a comparative advantage in aircrafts. they deal together)

Russian Angst

The title of a book “Russian Angst” by Thomas Franke summarizes the state of Russian society under Putin. It dates back to 2017, but the underlying process of Angst in the Russian society is increasing rather than diminishing due to the already 2 years long intensive hot war of Russia against Ukraine. The Russian Angst is a fear of a continued roll back of its authoritarian rule in Eastern parts of the world and its internal threat that its own people will claim more rights like freedom of speech, freedom of the press and effective democratic voting rights. In a dictatorship the “Angst” is a pervasive phenomenon which creeps into all spheres of live. Franke and Dornblüth (2023) describe the toxic society in Russia. Intoxication and torture of opponents are used by the Putin regime as a threat to suppress critical voices in Russia. Through this a climate of “Angst” is spread so that any internal opposition has to face very high risks to utter any discontent. The experience of a barbarian, totalitarian regime is well known. The threat to life and the presence of intimidation to any disobedient behaviour are strictly persecuted. Nevertheless, the need to think beyond the Putin regime is well under way. The more external and internal, real or imagined threats are countered with brutal force, the more the regime reveals its true kind of governance by force. This invites and leads to the strengthening of counter forces both internally and externally. It seems like box fight in the before last round of a very vulnerable, weakened and isolated boxer. Not many will bet on the likely loser and more countries who previously supported Putin will stop their erroneous policy. Russian Angst and loneliness will further increase.

Personal Health

Most people would agree, health is a personal issue. From the onset of life, we have package of genes that predetermine a number of factors of our personal health. Epigenetics has taught us there are many factors to take into account additionally. Environmental factors have huge impacts as well. Improvements in the availability of medical devices in the hands of individuals as well as AI systems on portable devices like smartphones facilitate the monitoring of personal health. Several indicators of early-onset of illness can be retrieved from such devices. Dunn et al. (2024) show that prior to the onset of symptoms of Covid-19 or influenza portable devices can indicate the presence of infections through indicators of resting body temperature, heart rate/min, heart rate variability/millisecond or respiratory rate/min. Combined with the indicators of air quality, indoors as well as outdoors, the presence of allergens a much more personalized data set emerges which can easily be part of an AI-assisted diagnosis. More abundant personal health data and analytical power allows remote and digital health applications to inform patients, medical doctors and the public at large. Digital health technologies are only at the beginning to unfold their potential. Prevention becomes more feasible using such devices, medical professionals should be allowed to focus on interpretation of data and treatment rather than simple data gathering. Thinking about digital health technologies points in the direction of dealing with climate and environmental hazards as sickening causes more forcefully. Personal medicine and personal health are, after all, still heavily dependent on health and safety at work, commuting practices and all sorts of pollution. Personal health, however, is a good starting point to raise awareness of the potentials of digital health technologies to better our lives.
(Image: AI MS-Copilot: 2 robots run in a city. They sweat. The air is full of smog. 2 other robots rest near pool. All look at their wrist watch showing heart beats)

Opportunity Costs

Skiing in winter is a pleasure that has become more elitist. The downhill skiing has always been an expensive sport, but affordable school holidays gave the sport a more accessible touch. The cheaper version of long distance skiing or skating on larger trails involves much more endurance. The report of the French Cour des Comptes in 2024 questions the sense of the huge investment that is still devoted to save the pleasure of the few. Instead of investment to the benefit of the many this investment could put the money to a more sustainable, socially and ecological productive purpose. Installations could be used all year round rather than in the few weeks at best months with snow. It is remarkable that the court has highlighted this kind opportunity costs of such installations. Instead of investing in soon to be obsolete infrastructure at lower altitudes like water reservoirs and water canons, this money could already start the eventually necessary transition process. Each € spend is not only lost for the transition but might create additional environmental liabilities and damage. From economists it is to be expected that they mention competition in their arguments. Not all stations os skiing will survive. Put more dramatically, in the process of closing skiing at lower and middle level altitude, competition intensifies of who can survive. Public funds should not be misused in this endeavor. Lobbying is strong and political incumbents tend to favor the merit and legacy of digging for the white gold. Change of mind sets, investment narratives and decisions is tough. From much downhill skiing we might soon remember only the downward slope before the healthy aspects of climbing a slope takes the upper hand.


With new channels of publishing online the publishing world continues to change. Scientific research  moves also online and the reach of audiences has become a much more important factor in evaluation of success. Elite circles of in-groups publishing and quoting each other have a harder time to survive. It is a form of democratising the world of research which is by very large amounts financed by public budgets. Public radio and television now start to feel the heat as so-called influencers, some working independently, challenge the world of traditional journalism. The good news is that there are many more people active to produce news and entertainment and the two separate worlds become more and more integrated. Young people who have left the “official” media world, engage with their own peer groups and make their voices heard and more influential.  The quality of the provision of information is, however, a matter of concern. Audiences will have to check even more carefully than before which sources can be trusted. This is not an easy task. Speed of spreading information becomes an additional factor. It has always been like that, but the rhythm of a daily or weekly newspaper was very different from the publishing and consumption of news and information today.
The second factor that has drastically changed is the influence of “external” influences and information as well as disinformation campaigns that have an impact on “internal” reporting and commenting. What used to be the world of professional journalists has become an accessible possibility for many more than journalists. Publishing has become a very different world from the printing days and yet printing remains one important channel of publishing. (Link to own edited volumes of blog post for printing here).
Previously, we prepared the manuscript in paper, nowadays this seems to move online and the edited and sometimes corrected versions will be published in print later on. The challenge to science and journalism is ticking. Not accepting that there is a serious challenge is no solution either. (Image from Exposition “Books that made Europe”, 2016)


The teaching of economics and socioeconomic policies has to deal with the topics around inflation and economic inequality for centuries. Greedflation has become a newly coined term for the rise of inflation due to greedy firms who use a window of opportunity to achieve extra profit margins or windfall profits. At a time of perceived price rises in many sectors, sectors that have no cost increases might still try to push prices higher simply because almost everybody else does so. Higher profits then show up in the reporting season of enterprises quoted at the stock exchange and the increase in inequality between wage earners and shareholders will rise. Greedflation is a summary term for it. The ECB European Central Bank has mentioned this and Reuters has reported on it as well end of June 2023. Since then a wait and see strategy has been adopted. Now in February 2024 we witness the wider spread of extraordinary profits of big firms not only in the fossil energy sector but also bog banks. The economies and societies suffer huge losses and a massive redistribution of capital. Subsidies introduced to lower the shock of the coronavirus crisis and the Russian aggression are unpopular to be scaled back. Employees and their trade unions have a hard time negotiating adequate wage increases whereas most companies use the momentum of seemingly general price rises to push profit margins. The translation of this mechanism to the political economy risks to jeopardize the support for capitalism and market forces in general. Another wave of increasing inequality endangers the survival of democratic societies. Countries with only a short experience of the functioning of market economies are at a particular risk. Germany’s decline into dictatorship in the 1930s after the severe economic crisis should be remembered as a major threat. Greedflation is a very serious and very real threat which we have to address with economic and social policies rather than waiting until the European elections have passed. Time to act, the thinking has been done. Evidence accumulates to make the political case.

Adolf von Menzel, The Petition, Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin

Force of dependency

Drugs have their particular strength in creating dependency. This is well known for tobacco or alcohol. Helping people to overcome the forces of dependency has its merits. At the same time it is big business. Vaping instead of smoking might be a way out one dependence but into another one. In the end it is an empirical question how many persons can escape the force of dependency of both types. Important to test the probability to get rid of the dependency altogether. With respect to hard, life-threatening drugs like Nitazene the death toll keeps rising in the UK. In the latter case changing the dependency is already a success. The sustainable deflection from drug dependency has to address underlying issues and health hazards. It is a rather individual issue. Society wide evaluation studies need to inform the debate also about placebo effects. The force of dependency might not only be physiological but psychological or linked to the social environment. All these potential effects have to be carefully sorted out before simple pseudo-solutions are implemented. Even the price and availability of drugs is part of the overall equation to solve the force of dependency.

Arthur Sapeck 1887 Illustration, BNF Pastiche 2023-4


Flooding after abundant rain fall is an almost worldwide phenomenon. This is why research has taken up the issue for some time now. 2 recently published papers hint at direct and indirect consequences of excessive rain and flooding which usually are not taken into account. The Lancet respiratory medicine has highlighted the second round effects of flooding which consists in the latent danger of mould creeping into buildings even after the immediate effect of the flood has vanished. It is the mould with its longer duration that causes major respiratory health and safety hazards on top of the instantaneous casualties and epidemic health risks (Link to study 2024).
The second study focuses on “the need for more systematic understanding of how societal structures and vulnerabilities moderate disaster risk” (Link to study). In wealthy countries the flood mortality is substantially lower than in comparatively poor countries. More sophisticated anticipation systems play a major role in reducing casualties. Flood-induced displacements remain hard to predict despite a reasonable explanatory power of the statistical model as the authors point out. Additionally it remains an important question to estimate the share of people who (want to) return after being displaced due to flooding. The frequency of flooding plays a role in combination with the severity of flooding. Climate change might be an additional hazard in the sense that more frequent flooding will change the propensity of people to permanently relocate rather than returning after displacement. Social networks, support and solidarity with the victims of flooding as well as reconstruction efforts will play a crucial role in dealing with these environmental hazards.
Building higher dikes is a worthwhile solution in regions that can afford them (Rotterdam example). It is hardly a solution for countries with little resources to invest in protection in face of an already suffering and displaced population. Dealing with mould after the flooding only adds yet another health hazard to an already difficult situation.

Urban Living

Each time I pass by the closed airport in the middle of Berlin I am amazed by the crazy idea to have built this and maintained throughout the 20th century. Paris is desperately trying to re-naturalize small areas and roads, while in Berlin there is now still the huge park to enjoy for all. Sports activities benefit the most. What an amazing asset in the neighborhoods for so many in need to walk, run or cycle a bit to keep their exercise level up throughout their life course. It has still a huge potential to activate people. It just needs a bit more organizations and volunteers to embrace the opportunities. Only in comparison to other cities you realize what an asset this is now. It will remain a challenge to preserve this centrally located treasure for the benefit of all. In Paris the deconstruction of concrete is taking shape and 300 new sites have been identified for re-naturalization, as reported in LeMonde. In Zurich green spaces in the center have been saved and renovated with a lot of money to allow more people to enjoy the benefits of a green environment near the city center. The house and park by architect Le Corbusier is a fine example of this. Image below. The garden around the house is publicly accessible. As air pollution is threatening more and more and heating in cities is a serious health threat we would really like to welcome more preservation and re-naturalization in inner cities.

Le Corbusier house Zurich 2023

Sectoral Change

The long-term view of sectoral change in France, for example, from 1800-2022 (Cagé and Piketty, 2023 p. 128) allows us to zoom out of our narrow focus of the last few years of economic change. The decline of agriculture is the most remarkable. The reduction of employment in industry and construction has been an ongoing trend as well. Banking, insurances, property and consulting have seen remarkable expansion over these years. Public services, security and legal affairs are still on a moderate rise. Other sectors like education, health, commerce and transport manage to grow equally.
The merit of the comprehensive volume by Cagé and Piketty (2023) is that it is thoroughly data driven and based on quite unique long data series. The data on structural change and just the employment trends depicted below refocus our attention on likely consequences of these changes.
For the 2 authors we should redirect our attention much more to the implications of these trends (like rising inequality) on political conflicts and power struggles. Democracies are at risk, if we continue to ignore these seminal changes of industrial structures and shifts in employment. The traditional strongholds of trade unions and progressive forces in the manufacturing and construction industries as well as in public transport seem to have unaccounted implications for our political systems as well. The volume by Cagé and Piketty (2023) will soon be available in English and reach broader audiences just-in-time for the European Parliament elections in June 2024. Particularly the spatial implications and how the neglect to take into account the fundamental differences between the rural development and structural change needs urgent reconsideration. After the time for reading and working with the data (LINK) is the time for action to preserve our European Dream of peace and social development.

Civil Protection

A lot of important activities do not receive the attention they deserve. During a humanitarian crisis, Europe frequently acts with varying involvement of Member States. This holds true in droughts, inundations, earth quakes, civil wars or imperialist state conflicts. The extent and time of commitment are an additional and differentiating element. Coordination of such activities is important for those wanting to help and those asking or receiving assistance. Efforts, equipment and political support vary enormously as well. There is a need to approach this topic more strategically. The Union Civil Protection Knowledge Network (UCPKN) goes a long way to attempt to find a common language, data infrastructure and responses in this respect. It surely is important to go beyond the piecemeal approach of the past to be able to address emergencies in multiple kinds more effectively. It is, however, also in some instances a highly controversial issue as well. For each term in this old (Tschernobyl nuclear disaster) and still novel field (Fukushima) for joint activities, we have to come up with compromises of definitions.
For example, what constitutes an emergency? Does the climate crisis and disasters related to it already constitute an emergency now? Some say yes, we have to act now to avoid bigger floods and wild fires as of next year. Others, do not want to tackle the root causes, but rather focus on curing actual devastating effects of disasters.
We are back to a well-known topic of preventive rather than curative approaches. In the meantime, we are convinced that we have to commit more resources to both approaches: immediate relief and structural change to prevent an otherwise never-ending sequence of disasters in varying places.
Most important probably is the keeping of address books and fast digital networking facilities to react and communicate with the competent institutions and civil organisations. Beyond the involvement and linking of experts in the field, the larger public and volunteers make up for additional invaluable resources to act.
It is crucial to make it possible for decentral links between cities like in city partnerships to be involved. Building on existing human to human links motivates and mobilises huge additional resources. Of course, continuous training is a very important element in all those efforts. We should embrace it in the private and public sector, at school and in retirement even. (Image: Extrait de Peter Paul Rubens La chute des géants MRBAB, Brussels)


Jeder kennt den Sonnengruß aus dem Yoga. Jetzt gibt es eine neue Variante des Sonnengrußes. Nach vielen anderen Bundesländern hat sich Berlin an seine Mieterinnen, Pächterinnen und Eigentümerinnen gewandt, damit sie sich an der Ernte der Sonnenenergie beteiligen. Mit € 500 wurden kleine Steckersolarkraftwerke gefördert, die jede/jeder beantragen konnte der den Hauptwohnsitz in Berlin hat. Interessant war die erweiterte Interpretation des Balkons. Es wurden Kleinanlagen für Balkon, Terrasse, Gartenzaun oder auch für die Gartenlaube in die Förderung einbezogen. Alles digital zu erledigen, bitte.
Die öffentliche Förderung wird wohl die 2-3 fache Summe an privaten Investitionen anreizen. Das kann dann schon ein Anfang sein. Die Aussicht auf mehr Balkon- und Laubenpieper, die Strom für den Eigenbedarf erzeugen, kann hoffentlich mehr Personen bewegen, derartige Investitionen rasch umzusetzen. Viele Beispiele zeigen die Wirtschaftlichkeit solcher kleiner Investitionen, aber einige Jahre des Betriebs sollten schon einkalkuliert werden. Viel hängt dabei von dem allgemeinen Strompreis ab. Seit der Aggression Russlands in der Ukraine wissen wir, dass es noch viele weitere Gründe für die Beteiligung an der Energiewende gibt. Mehr Energiesouveränität fängt im Kleinen an, eine dezentrale Erzeugung und Verbrauch vor Ort kann sogar eine Netzausfall oder Notfallreserve darstellen.
Zu dem morgendlichen Sonnengruß reiht sich dann bald der tägliche Sonnendank ein. Mit dem entsprechenden Messgerät lässt sich die Sonnenernte leicht in Zahlen fassen und wir hören es buchstäblich im Geldbeutel klingeln. So werden gleichzeitig Steuergelder mit einer Hebelwirkung durch zusätzliche private Investitionen sinnvoll eingesetzt. Ein Digitalisierungsschub der privaten Antragsstellenden, Betreibende der Anlagen und öffentlichen Stellen ist ein zusätzlich sinnvolles Nebenprodukt. Papierlose Verwaltung ist ein Megaprojekt. Jetzt danken wir aber erst einmal der Sonne als großzügigem, selbstlosen Energielieferanten. (Image: IBB Webseite 2023).


Staatspropaganda kann viele Wege gehen. Die von Christof Krieger ausführlich beschriebene Propaganda mittels Wein, für das nationalsozialistische Regime Werbung zu betreiben, ist ein gelungenes Beispiel für eine bisher wenig beleuchtete Propaganda. Im Sinne einer populären Strategie, Wein für die Massen zu produzieren, konnte die günstigem Wetter geschuldete Überproduktion bei Abnahmegarantie zu Festpreisen in den ersten Jahren der Nazidiktatur dem Volk, das als Luxus geltende Weinsaufen, nahegebracht werden. Ansonsten wäre eben Industriealkohol entstanden. Wir kennen die Thematik aus der EU-Agrarpolitik. Die von den Nazis organisierten Weinpatenschaften bestehen vielfach als „Städtepartnerschaften“ fort. So war beispielsweise das reiche Düsseldorf mit dem kleinen Winzerdorf Graach bei Bernkastel-Kues verbunden. In Berlin finden sich eine ganze Reihe von Plätzen und Straßen, die nach kleinen Weinorten benannt sind inklusive der alljährlichen stattfindenden Weinfeste.
Die Veröffentlichung der Dissertation im Rhein-Mosel-Verlag ist vorerst vergriffen, aber sicherlich bald wieder erhältlich. Das Interesse an diesen Verbindungen ist groß, da damit viele Familiengeschichten eventuell neu aufgearbeitet werden müssen. Plötzliche große Nachfrage schaffte Begünstigte und neue Abhängigkeiten. Wie sich später herausstellen sollte, führte das politische Eingreifen in den Markt zu erheblichen Verstrickungen. Also einfach nur Saufen ist auch nicht mehr wie früher, war es eigentlich nie. Bier saufen für die lokale Landwirtschaft ist ja auch nicht wirklich nachhaltig.


In the middle of October 2023 we witness the unexpected and unwanted rise of the geo-political importance of the European Union. First, after the aggression of Russia to realise a huge land grab on Ukrainian territory, the European Union managed to define its new geo-political role in supporting the Ukrainian struggle of independence and freedom versus Russian oppression. This means continuous support of several forms: humanitarian, supporting infrastructure like energy and food supplies as well as military equipment for defensive purposes. Achieving our own strategic autonomy means decoupling from energy supply from Russia despite huge investments to build interdependence particularly by Germany or Finland. Additionally, strategic autonomy means relying on international partners that share our values and quest for sovereignty. Supply chains for production systems have to be re-organised to ensure independence even in military conflicts.
A new role has become evident also in the attack from Hamas on the state of Israel. Historic links and responsibilities to the creation of the state of Israel have led the European Union to make its voice heard in the Middle East to limit escalating confrontations.
These changes in the geo-political role of the European Union have far-reaching implications internally as well as in its external relations. Some have been spelt out by Luuk van Middelaar (2022, adviser to Herman van Rompuy) in his lectures “Le réveil géopolitique de l’Europe”. In the introduction he makes clear what are the 3 major elements of the geo-political wake-up for Europe: (1) power, (2) territory and (3) narrative. Europe has shunned away from its geo-political role as a powerful player. (1) Believing more in a peaceful role, a moderator, deviating from its colonial past, upholding the primary role of international law and justice, the European Union has been forced by external powers disrespecting these premises to enter into various international border conflicts as a power in its own right. (2) Questions of territory matters most if they are challenged by powerful neighbours who are not inclined to respect international law. Even uncontrolled migration is part of this disrespect of territorial integrity. (3) Speaking in the name of a whole community of countries who share the same values gives a convincing force to be able to overcome national particularities and predilections.
However, the European Union’s new geo-political role has to be carefully communicated not only to the outside world (it is in no way thought to be offensive), but also internally. For example, the budgetary implications of the geo-political role need to be communicated to the electorate and public opinion(s) in Europe. Do not forget to take carefully prepare the whole population on this new role. Donald Tusk held steady to counter claims from the PIS-leaders in Poland to reduce the geo-political role of the European Union. Many countries and people sharing our values are eager to see the European Union to accept this new geo-political role to defend human rights, internal law and justice. (Background reading: Middelaar, L. v. 2022. Le réveil géopolitique de l’Europe. Paris : Collège de France. doi :10.4000/books.cdf.12770 ). Image: Extrait  LeMonde diplomatique 2019-11) for discussion.

Human Rights

At times of war it is even more important to highlight the importance of respect of human rights. Russia continues to bombard civilians and destroys infrastructure that heats and feeds millions of people. Hamas in the Middle-East has killed more than a thousand civilians in Israel. Pushing violence beyond limits without respect of basic human rights is a very dangerous path for all human beings. Structures within each society need to take care of respect of these limits. The rule of law is fragile in authoritarian states or outright discarded. This makes human rights violations especially in wars or warlike conflict even more likely. The Human Rights Film Festival Berlin attempts to raise awareness to the facts of human rights violation wherever they occur across the globe. Following the link you have a chance to view some of the films online. The online flipbook allows to turn the pages of the magazine, which accompanies the film festival and provides a lot of additional information on the various categories. The section on the deep fakes is demonstrating how the use of fake news and fake images have an influence on us. The intensity of such fake news usually rises when elections approach in democracies. European elections will be seriously endangered through this kind of interference by Russian computerized disinformation networks and China is catching up on such misuse and systematic blocking of free information to its citizens. We shall have to be even more attentive to details in information and misinformation campaigns. Trusted websites and information channels of mass media have to step up their cybersecurity defences. Even small sites like this one have a responsibility to guard against abuses. In opening up the comments on the blog entries only for some time had the consequences of deleting “hundreds” of spam entries and undercover advertisements offering links to malicious sites. Filtering such spam is a professional task and has relatively high costs involved. A potential threat to the freedom of opinion and freedom of speech. Support for film makers and documentalists is important to strengthen the support of human rights.(Image: Human Rights Festival Magizine p.18 by Jenny Brunner, HateAid)


Bayern und Hessen haben am 8.10.2023 ihre Landtage gewählt. Hessen erreichte eine Wahlbeteiligung von 66%, Bayern 73%. Das ist ein erheblicher Unterschied. 7 Prozentpunkte als Differenz warten auf Erläuterungen. Ein stark polarisierender Wahlkampf mobilisiert Wählende aus allen politischen Lagern. Positionierung dafür oder dagegen lassen mehr Leute zu den Wahlurnen gehen. Selbstverständlich gibt es auch diejenigen, die sich etwas angewidert von dem Spektakel abwenden. In Bayern war mehr deftiges Schenkelklopfen und öffentliches Abwatschen zu beobachten. Das hat wohl das Wahlvolk ermuntert, mit dem Wahlzettel an dem Wahlkampf aktiver teilzunehmen. Das gehört zum demokratischen Wettstreit dazu. Bedenklich sind jedoch Abstimmungsergebnisse, die nur noch wenig pluralistische Meinungsvielfalt aufzeigen.
Relativ einmalig und erschreckend zugleich ist das Ergebnis im Wahlkreis Kelheim. CDU, AFD und FW gemeinsam vereinen ca 80% der abgegebenen Zweitstimmen auf sich. Da sollten wir öfters genauer hinsehen, was da los ist. Einzelne Provinzen in Bundesländern haben mittlerweile diametral entgegengesetzte politische Tendenzen. Die Debatte verschärft sich. Dabei brauchen wir doch angesichts der vielfältigen internationalen Krisen mehr denn je Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit, aber eben auch Meinungsvielfalt. Historisch waren tragische politische Fehler nicht mehr weit weg, wenn das Spektrum der Parteien allzu eingeschränkt daherkommt. Es braucht schon wieder Mut, um in einigen Regionen für eine vom allzu dominierenden Meinungsbild und für eine abweichende Meinung einzustehen. 


Ein Bauer im Schachspiel kann spielentscheidend sein. Ist der Bauer erst einmal jenseits der gegnerischen Angriffs- und Verteidigungslinien am Ende des Schachbretts angekommen, kann er in die Figur seiner Wahl eingetauscht werden. Wir sollten den Bauer also nicht in seiner Bedeutung unterschätzen. Das trifft auch auf Fritz Bauer zu. Der hessische Generalstaatsanwalt Fritz Bauer, Mitbegründer der Zeitschrift Kritische Justiz, hat die deutsche Justiz in besonderem Maße herausgefordert. Durch seine Anklagen hat er viele der aus der NS-Zeit belasteten Richter angeklagt und entschieden an der Verfolgung und Verurteilung von Adolf Eichmann mitgewirkt.
Dieter Schenk hat in seiner Dokumentation und einem fiktiven Interview eines Journalisten mit Fritz Bauer die Persönlichkeit anhand seiner Schriften und Interviews lebendig als Theaterstück inszeniert. Bereits 2x in Polen aufgeführt, hat die Deutsch-Polnische Gesellschaft Berlin e.V. zu ihrem 50. Jubiläum zusammen mit dem Bund ehrenamtlicher Richterinnen und Richter, Landesverband Brandenburg und Berlin dieses Werk im Oberverwaltungsgericht Berlin Brandenburg zur Aufführung gebracht. Frank-Walter Steinmeier hat die Arbeit von Fritz Bauer mit folgenden Worten gewürdigt: … vielmehr ging es Fritz Bauer darum, die Deutschen zu immunisieren, sie vor einem erneuten Rückfall in die Barbarei zu schützen.“ Das ist heute noch genauso wichtig wie in der Vergangenheit. Der historische Gerichtssaal des OVG BB in der Hardenbergstraße in Berlin bot dafür eine eindrucksvolle Kulisse. So voll war der Saal noch selten, betonte der Hausherr.  Den Besuchenden viel sicherlich auch die Gedenktafel mit den Namen der von den Nazis entlassenen Richter auf dem Weg zum Plenarsaal im Treppenhaus auf.
Eine stille Anklage richtete sich in dieser Veranstaltung eben auch in Richtung Polen, die Rechtsstaatlichkeit und unabhängige Richterinnen und Richter zu gewährleisten. Deutschland hat sich historisch viel Schuld aufgeladen, umso mehr Verantwortung haben wir jetzt, uns für diese wichtigen Grundrechtsprinzipien einzusetzen. Der Verein „Gegen Vergessen, Für Demokratie e.V.“ soll als Ko-Organisator unbedingt mitgenannt werden. Hans-Josef Schöneberger und Uwe Neumann als Schauspieler und Ian Melrose mit seinen Intermezzi auf der Gitarre haben eine tief beeindruckende Atmosphäre geschaffen. Es wurde klar, dass Recht, selbst Verwaltungsrecht viel mit Streitigkeiten verbunden ist. Die Befriedungsfunktion des Rechts wirkt oft erst über Generationen hinweg.
Ich wäre gespannt zu wissen, in welche Schachfigur sich Fritz Bauer am anderen Ende des Schachbretts hätte eintauschen lassen. Mein Tipp, vielleicht als Turm wichtige horizontale und vertikale Linien besetzen oder doch ein Springer, der nicht einfach zu berechnende Sprünge leisten kann. Von einigen seiner Verehrenden wird er auch als König gehandelt, der allerdings, wegen seiner Verwundbarkeit, oft anscheinend ohnmächtig im Zusammenspiel mit den anderen starken Figuren agierte.

Digital Egal

In den deutschen Amtsstuben geht es Ende 2023 oft noch erschreckend analog zu. Für einen Grundbuchauszug, beispielsweise, hatte ich das außerordentliche Vergnügen das Grundbuchamt am Amtsgericht in Berlin Ringstraße aufzusuchen. Sonst nimmt man sich ja nicht die Zeit, solche Sehenswürdigkeiten von innen zu besuchen. Die Überraschungen waren vielfältiger Art. 3 Personen Wachpersonal und Metalldetektor, wie bei der Flugabfertigung. Für den Auszug aus dem Grundbuch ist selbstverständlich eine Gebühr fällig, die nur bar entrichtet werden kann. Auf zur Zahlstelle, immerhin auf dem gleichen Flur. Die nächste Amtsstube hat zwar noch einen richtig historischen Tresor, aber die Erfassung der Zahlung läuft wohl noch auf alten Geräten. Vielleicht per relativ unsicherem WLAN verbunden. Das LAN-Kabel ist jedoch schon mitgeliefert, das dann irgendwann einmal eine sicherere Netzanbindung ermöglichen wird.
Über einen Dienstleister lässt sich der Verwaltungsakt auch online erledigen unter Herausgabe der Kreditkartendaten und sonstiger Daten (Cookies) samt Unterschrift per Maus (!). Das ganze für die doppelte Verwaltungsgebühr. Dank des 49 € Tickets wollte ich mir diesen Spaß jedoch live gönnen. Wahrscheinlich werde ich das nochmals mit den Enkelkindern so als lebendigen Museumsbesuch nachvollziehen. Wer weiß, wie lange das noch möglich sein wird. Das Personal trägt es mit Fassung und dem nötigen Humor.
Bisher kannte ich die Diskussion über die Digitalisierung der Verwaltungen mehr aus wissenschaftlichen und technischen Diskursen. Jetzt kann ich so richtig in das Jammern darüber einstimmen. Produktivitätsfortschritte lassen sich hier in ungeahntem Maße erzielen. Einer geht noch: Was ist das längste Wort in dem Amtsvorgang und wie viele Buchstaben hat es?
Gerichtskassenstemplerabdruck (auf der Quittung).

Aging Challenge

Several countries face an aging challenge now and in the near future. The OECD provides some basic data, figures and projections. All data to calculate the aging challenge are more subject to change than they used to. The Covid-19 rise in mortality rates has implications as the number of premature deaths of the elderly (65+) has risen even in the economically advanced countries. The so-called old-age dependency ratio is a widely used indicator to assess the charge or pressure on the working-age population (20 to 64) to finance those in retirement (65+). demographic ratio is defined as the number of individuals aged 65 and over per 100 people of working age defined as those at ages.
Major factors that have an impact on the ratio are mortality and fertility rates as well as migration, but also participation rates in employment for those younger than 20 or older than 65 years of age. Seminal shifts in participation of women in the labour force contribute also to reduce the old-age dependency ratio. An influx of about 1 million of refugees who have immediately a work permit like Ukrainians in Germany have a substantial impact as well. Life expectancy is expected to rise again after the years of reduction due to Covid-19. In 2024 and 2027 these ratios do not move too much. Extending the time horizon to 2050, when people born in 1985 would start to retire shows more reason for concern. Whereas in 2024 France, Germany and Italy are still fairly close to each other (2.4 percentage points), the gap starts to widen as of 2027 (5.5 percentage points). In 2050 Italy is projected to have an old-age dependency ratio of 74.4%, about 20 percentage points higher than France.
Okay, in the long-run we are all dead, says an economist joke, but changes to increase fertility or allowing more migrants in are not in sight for Italy. Therefore, the urge to react is increasing there. Younger generations might not be able or willing to foot the bill of high pension expenditure in Italy. Compared to Italy or even Japan the pressure on France is much less pressing, contrary to the national government’s opinion and policy initiatives to increase retirement age without parliamentary majority.
Source for projections and figures: OECD (2023), Old-age dependency ratio (indicator). doi: 10.1787/e0255c98-en (Accessed on 04 October 2023).

Marathon Prep

Most people, including many sociologists, believe preparation for a marathon is a rather lonely exercise. During hot summers you get up early and run alone across the streets in your neighbourhood or in a green area. Even on weekends you tend to put on your running gear at least once to chip in a few extra miles or once or twice before the marathon a longer distance test run of 20, 25 or 30 kilometers. Just for the sake of testing to withstand more pain, like in the real event. Running guides in form of books, apps reach “cult status”. In sociology we teach students about the social trends of individualisation ever since the book by Putnam “Bowling alone”, which depicted the new kind of lonesome person going alone to the bowling hall for exercise, as social life seems to evolve towards “individualised” leisure time and social life. Social capital seems to get lost on the way.
The New York Times International” published an article and photo by Lauren Jackson on September, 27 (2023) page 17 in the sports section, which states the not so new phenomenon of “run clubs” (see extract on image below). These clubs bring runners from all walks of life together on a regular basis to train jointly and add a social function to the club as well. Just like previous sport clubs or socialising bowling groups did before, they meet and greet as well as party and celebrate together. Even travelling thousands of miles to distant events occurs in groups. Berlin seems to be a very attractive location for such clubs to go to. For some the sport stays in front of the activities, but for quite a few the social and party-like atmosphere is just as important. Even a local Berlin newspaper portrayed an older runner who stops in-between to have a small glass of alcohol-free beer on a terrace 2 steps from the official track with friends and family. Most people take their time record rather seriously, but the event is to enjoy community and celebration. Lauren Jackson even equates this to some forms of religious practice. I’s rather call this the other side of the same coin. Lone practice and meditation like running prepares a person to enjoy community (again). Extremes in both directions are part of the bell-shaped probability distribution of runners across the lonely-crowded spectrum of running experiences. The Marathon 42km 195m certainly has some historical even mystical connotation. While watching the finishing line at 42 km, just after the hypothetical run from Marathon to Athens in ancient Greece, you see many worn out persons, but also the many happy faces. After the run you meet your peers to exchange on stories and anecdotes around the track. Success and failure, just as in other team sports become a topic of conversation and shared experiences. These are community building events as wheel chairs and hand-driven bikes are part of the Berlin event as well as the in-line skaters the day before. In Berlin you get a feeling that running world records (women 2023, men 2022) can go hand in hand with the running fun for many. From “bowling alone” to “running together”. Sounds good to me.


In political science the stability- instability paradox is much discussed (paper with game-theoretic analyses). The reliance on nuclear weapons, supposed to enhance stability in the world order, is rather driving the instability making conventional wars even more likely. Michael Beckley argues that containment of China’s expansionary policies is needed to avoid even more disastrous confrontations (Foreign Affairs, 2023 Nr.5).
Different from the German cold war doctrine “Wandel durch Annäherung” Beckley argues that commerce has not brought US and China closer together, but it is actually driving them further apart. After decades of trade imbalances with China the economic power of China can be felt as overwhelming. But there are multiple risks to its economic model and strategic interests to secure raw materials from across the world. Aging of China is another economic and social fallacy difficult to overcome with short-term measures.
We are about to witness another couple, triangular or more relationship to establish as “enduring rivals”. This may last for centuries rather than decades, although the French- German couple has managed quite successfully to turn such rivalry into an “entente” relationship of importance to the whole European continent. The shift in emphasis of US foreign policy is going to be significant. Containment with Russia has worked, so why should it not work with China as well. The likely answer is demographics again. The size of the internal market of China is sufficiently large to continue a splendid isolation after heavy one-sides trading is over. State control of the internet and social scoring of the population is also a powerful tool to suppress the formation of free will and independent opinions. After all, instability in external relations might even be used to ensure internal stability. Such strategies are common to all political systems. The stability- instability paradox is staying with us and this is rather stable even if the discussion changes continents. (Image: Comical battlefield Map 1854, by Berendsohn shown at Waterloo, Museum 2018)

Politicians and Literature

Biographies as well as autobiographies of politicians receive a lot of attention. Even spouses of politicians or artists benefit from this sensational effect (Obama). But beyond these ex-post or after-office effects, it is more interesting to look at what literature or authors have had an impact on the life and, maybe, office of presidents. So-called literary couples or specific relationships between artists or authors can reveal interesting additional information to understand “what made these personalities”.
In “Le Monde” there is a series of articles devoted to such relationships. It is a kind of romantic summer reading satisfying nosy looks into the private lives of politicians and other celebrities of a more intellectual kind. On the 25th of August 2023 it was the turn of the relationship between Francois Mitterrand and Marguerite Duras entitled … “menteurs sublimes, forcément”.
Their long-standing relationship had in common to cover-up some of their failures in the Nazi-occupied France.
Post-war each person had more than just sympathy for the other person’s accomplishments. The interesting feature to accept advice and criticism from the other person is rare for highly exposed persons. Relationships between artists and presidents are somehow tricky for both. As artist you can get instrumentalised by power rather quickly. As politician you run the risk to open-up too much, as they are rarely unobserved. Paparazzi or other agents go a long way to get or make up a good story. “Tell me what you read, and I tell you who you are”. The relationship between literature, politics and politicians will never be easy. It remains good stuff for literature and cinema.


Die Reformation vor 500 Jahren war fantastisch. Die schweizer Stadt Chur hat dabei ihre eigene 500 Jahr Gedenken und Geschichte der Reformation. Jetzt steht uns die Reformation der Reformation bevor. Wie wird die aussehen? In einer kleinen Kirche im Kanton Graubünden, nein diese Geschichte beginnt mal nicht im Stall, steht bereits eine Orgel im Zentrum des kirchlichen Geschehens hinter dem Taufbecken. Vor 7 Jahren spielte selbst ein Mitglied der Berliner Philharmoniker, Albrecht Mayer, ein Kammerkonzert dort. Musikalische Aufführungen oder kleine Theaterstücke,wie Krippenspiele zu Weihnachten kennen die meisten, aber wer kann die historischen Kulturgüter innerhalb einer Kirche noch erkennen und ihre Bedeutung im historischen Kontext erklären. Ein Taufbecken ist schon eine krasse Idee, umrahmt von diesen finsteren Bildern und oft Fenstern.

Die Reformation der Reformation beginnt vielleicht mit dem Öffnen und der musealen oder musikalischen Verwendung, das heißt Erfahren und Erläutern der Architektur sowie des Licht-, Klang- und Raumerlebnisses im historischen Ort. Die angebotenen Weiterbildungen zum Kirchenführer mit Denkmalschutzkomponente sind ein innovatives und zukunftsweisendes Konzept. Es könnte viel kirchliches Personal auf die Reformation der Reformation vorbereiten und weitere Interessierte ansprechen. Die Banken haben zuerst ihre Filialen brutal aus dem ländlichen Raum abgezogen. Bei den kirchlichen Vertretern hoffen wir auf eine menschenwürdigere Reformation der Reformation.

Flims CH 2023
Chur 2023

Checks and balances

The principle of checks and balances refers back to the separation of powers introduced by the French political theorist Montesquieu in his writings “De l’esprit des loix” in 1748. 40 years later in 1788 James Madison wrote as §51 in “The Federalists Papers” explicitly about the system of checks and balances as part of the constitution of the USA. For maintaining the principle of separation of powers it is necessary to install a system of checks and balances between the powers to prevent one power dominating the others. These well-known principles of democracy face, nevertheless, continuous challenges as to the balance of the powers (legislative, executive, judiciary). In order to safeguard democracy a basic scepticism towards the exercise of power is warranted. “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.” (Federalist Papers, 1788, p. 239).
The necessity of auxiliary precautions has led modern democracies to a multiplicity additional checks and balances. Independent Anti-fraud offices, disciplinary committees within the separate powers as well as the checks and balances between the separate powers play a role in the survival of democracy. Recently, in July 2023 services like the internal service of the police to overlook the adequate execution of the force applied by police have been much in the headlines. Checks and balances apply to each branch of separate powers internally, and if they prove inadequate, they have to be corrected by other powers. This is the procedural as well as fundamental interaction within the separation of power. Presidential systems, where this system of checks and balances has major deficiencies, are very likely to fail its people through an overpowering executive. Neither the country of Montesquieu, nor of the Federalists is free of these dangers. Freedom of speech, freedom of movement and to meet with people, all contribute to strengthen checks and balances in a democracy. “A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control of the government” (p.239).