- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2008

CONFIDENT CAPITALIST

The chairman of the budget committee of the German parliament is confident that capitalism will survive the frantic government interventions in the marketplace, as he prepared to hold committee hearings on the $540 billion financial rescue package that the German government proposed Monday.

“We will have new ideas. Capitalism means we will have new ideas,” Otto Fricke, a member of Germany’s Free Democratic Party, told guests of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Washington.

“We have to understand that economic and financial markets go up and down, up and down, but mostly up,” he added.

Commenting on a statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who last week said capitalism “is finished,” Mr. Fricke quipped, “Capitalism and France: Two worlds collide.”

He said the French officials whom he has met claim to believe in the free market, but “they always want to keep it under the tight control of government.”

In Germany, the market is not as free as in the United States, but also not as risky. Germans, he said, believe in a social market that promotes entrepreneurs and social-welfare programs. Germans tend to take fewer risks in the marketplace, save more money and pay off their mortgages.

“A lot of things in the German financial market are boring,” he said. “But it looks like boring is not such a bad thing.”

Mr. Fricke, who was in Washington for the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, expects parliament to receive the government proposal by Wednesday and refer it to his committee. He hopes to begin hearings on Thursday.

PALESTINIAN HOPE

The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority says he is committed to building a lasting peace with Israel and instilling hope in his people, who are too often plagued by “defeatism and belligerence.”

However, Salam Fayyad says Israel, too, must show that it is willing to deal seriously with the Palestinians and stop the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank, which is still under the control of the Palestinian Authority.

“Settlements pepper the West Bank and continue to grow,” he told the American Task Force on Palestine at its annual gala dinner on Sunday, citing 170 such settlements with nearly a half-million settlers.

He said those settlers exert an influence over the Israeli government that is greater than their numbers.

“There is nothing dignified in a country [Israel] that prides itself on being a democracy when it allows itself to be held hostage by a group of extremist settlers who forcibly put their own interests ahead of the will of the majority,” Mr. Fayyad said.

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