Article 6 of the German Constitution

I was about to write a more complex post, tried to quote the constitution, translated the relevant section, which Germans call article 6, and here is the result. Sorry, but does that constitution sound smart to you?

  1. Marriage and Family are under special protection of the state.
  2. Child care is a natural right of parents & their duty. The state ensures that it will be provided.
  3. A child may only be taken from his/her caretakers on the basis of a law and only if they have failed or a child’s neglect is to be feared for other reasons.
  4. Every mother may ask for protection and care provided by the community.
  5. Children born out of wedlock are granted the same conditions for physical and emotional development and standing in society as a child born into a marriage.

It was used to fend off gay marriage or to let the Supreme Court decree how much tax breaks you get for a child. I just can’t stop shaking my head. Sorry.

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The Ills of the German Constitution

To begin with there are naturally so many ills of the constitution, the Grundgesetz, that I just come down with the most important shortfalls.

It is a Book

That sounds silly, particularly for people who don’t live in the English speaking world, but there is a problem in itself when a constitution is not concise. The reality of the thought out and crisp US American constitution is that everybody read it and is constantly talking about it. Only a people that knows what needs to be defended when it matters will defend it.

It is already Outdated

First it sounded like a good idea to restrict government power by defining exactly what the government can do and would allow for nothing else. However, that did not only lead to the oversized text, but required the writers to know everything about the future. Debates whether the writers had thought of the internet, gay marriage and so on haunt Germans forever more.

It is treated like a Religious Book

Like any religious book the Grundgesetz is never read, always believed to say what the individual basing his argument on it wants it to say and must not be contested, not even amended beyond some petty left-wing policy goals.  To leave ‘the ground of the Grundgesetz’ is a phrase uttered whenever somebody is accused of apostasy. The name Grundgesetz replaces the words democracy, human rights and so forth, leaving the populace wildly uninformed. Germans regard their constitution as an embodyment of their values, which are actually the zeitgeist of the day. They see it less as a document to restrict the powers of the government. The saints of that ‘religion’ are called the ‘Fathers of the Grundgesetz’ and nobody can say who they are and why they are always right.

It doesn’t do what it says it does

Church and state are seperated. Problem is that churches are legally organs of the German state and even school indoctination is commanded by the Grundgesetz. The contradictions go on and on, hardly mentioned, hardly discussed. Who would? Nobody reads it! And doesn’t government and media put out ‘legal constitution experts’ to safeguard the people against government overreach? Isn’t that good enough? For Germans it is.

It doesn’t enforce Democratic Principles

The government is elected in a way that the majority party leadership, the government and the leading functions of the parliament are in the hands of the same people. These small circles of power don’t even change much over the course of multiple elections. The Supreme Court is hardly explaining on what legal section they base their judements on. Only G-d knows how they manage to demand law changes to set government payments to the penny.

That is just a quick overview of what is wrong with both the text and the practice.

Disclaimer: Since the government is a tad nervous at the moment, I confirm that the constitution must be respected. Changes are applied by the channels that the constitution itself sets and must not result in the removal of our freedoms.