What use are riches if the nation stands at the abyss? In times of debt crisis, the super-rich like Warren Buffett surprise with their willingness to make sacrifices: They want to voluntarily pay higher taxes. That would contribute to social peace — but politics is not responsive to it. They are lacking the courage.

Times of crisis demand sacrifices. They are times of mistrust and sour grapes: If it’s going poorly for me, then everyone should be doing poorly. If debts beleaguer and savings are necessary, then those who have more should certainly pay more.

The crisis is so severe that astonishingly many of the well-to-do are offering a sort of special sacrifice of their own accord. Billionaire Warren Buffett urges for a tax on the rich in the U.S.; in France, a whole chorus of the rich elite have demanded an emergency sacrifice. In Germany, there is also a private initiative for raising the maximum tax rate from the milieu of the super-rich.

The appeals are based on the awareness that even the societies in Europe can no longer withstand the tensions between poor and rich. London burning serves as the writing on the wall. What use is all the money when the democratic and free model of society is wrenched into the abyss? A sacrifice of the rich for the benefit of the system — that bears witness to a noteworthy sense of responsibility.

Politics Without Courage

However, while the number of volunteers at the sacrificial altar is easily understandable, among the political herd drivers no one is apparently to be found who will receive the cry of the sacrificial animals and summon the courage to set higher taxes. On the contrary: In fear of the tax dossiers of the rich, politics abandons courage.