German Greens See Red Over Autobahn Sale
Stuttgart, December 29, 2008 -- German environmentalists are up in arms after the disclosure today of the sale by Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Autobahn, the country's famed high-speed highway network, to an investment coalition headed by several prominent OPEC nations including the Republic of Saudi Arabia.
The step is one of many moves toward privatization by the fragile coalition government headed by Merkel that is now being hotly disputed by members of the more liberal Social Democrat coalition members due to what have been termed the "insane conditions" of the sale.
Privatization of many of Germany's public holdings as a means of paying down crushing national debt and restoring fiscal viability to Germany's public finances has long been a priority of Angela Merkel's government, but the Social Democrat coalition members, who have backed, if skeptically, many of Merkel's recent measures, characterize this latest move in torturous Teutonic syntax as "the Straw, she that the Camel's back is having been breaking".
The primary causes of dissent are the choice of purchaser and the conditions of the purchase. Social Democrats, Greens, and Merkel's Christian Social Union had all reached a loose compromise agreement for the sale of the Autobahn during the last session of Germany's Bundeschlabenfefferhauseriffleberg, the meeting of Parliament that concludes the traditional six-month Oktoberfest between the spring and autumnal equinoxes. However, former chancellor Gerhard Schröder's SDU party and the Greens are now outraged by what they term a "Stab in der Rückseite", a stab in the back by Merkel.
According to the terms of the sale, the new owner of Germany's Autobahn, which is to be renamed the OPECbahn, will be a small coalition of OPEC members including Saudi Arabia (51%), United Arab Emirates (23%), Qatar (12%) and Kuwait (14%). The primary cause of disagreement is a clause written into the sale contract which reads "All German and international vehicular traffic will be permitted to traverse the OPECbahn without any change, hinder, delay, or interruption, with the exception of any vehicle operating with the aide of any non-petroleum-based fuel."
According to the terms of this clause, hybrid and alternative-fueled vehicles, with no exceptions, would not be permitted to use the roughly 7,500 miles of high-velocity roadway, but will be relegated to smaller side roads and mule paths. Vehicles of this kind have been growing rapidly in popularity in Germany, which as a nation has been groundbreaking in its commitment to combating global warming. In several regions of the country, vehicular transport by hybrid, ethanol and biogas-fueled, electric, and other non-petrol vehicles will now be rendered virtually impossible by the clause.
Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Acting Secretary-General of OPEC, explains:
"We are in business for a purpose, and that purpose is as simple as it is beautiful: we like to drill for the beautiful oil, we like to refine the beautiful oil, and we like to sell the beautiful oil to beautiful customers who want to buy the oil, and most of those customers are drivers who want to drive the beautiful cars with the oil. Then we like to take the beautiful money and rub it all over our bodies and use it buy the ugly American politicians, yes, yes. The prosperity of all of our member nations relies to the utmost on the production and exchange of that delicious commodity, the beautiful oil. With the recent hideous rise in non-oil-based transportation modes, like the hideous hybrid and ethanol vehicular traffic, our beautiful livelihoods are now threatened, as by a disfiguring disease. This purchasing of the OPECbahn and its logical attendant regulations will ensure a strong continued customer base in one of the most widely trafficked and advanced western industrial democracies. I do not know. What do you think? It all makes perfectly good sense to all of us."
Former chancellor Schröder's SDU and members of the opposition Greens party, which has yet to elect a viable leader following the loss of Joschka Fischer in 2005, plan to call for a no-confidence vote in the next few weeks in the hope that they will successfully topple Merkel, thus providing an opportunity to reverse the agreement. Barring that, a movement is already underway to build a new "green highway" next to the existing OPECbahn, from which gasoline and diesel-based vehicles would then be barred.
"It may seem like a stopgap measure, but we're serious about it," said Schröder. "Anyway, it's about time that last vestige of fascism were rendered obsolete."
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
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