Beyond the World news headlines
Steinbrueck admits long meetings hurt his rear end
It took only a few disarmingly pointed questions from four 7th grade Berlin students to get German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck to loosen up and deviate from the usual stock answers he – and fellow political leaders – serve up.
In perhaps his most candid public comments since taking office three years ago, Steinbrueck admitted long meetings cause his rear end to get sore and also compared deficit-spending just for consumption purposes to spending money on chocolate bars. He also said he doesn’t forget the names of journalists who write nasty comments about him. Here are a few of the more choice morsels from Steinbrueck’s interview in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper published on Sunday:
Question: Do you get tired in your job?
Steinbrueck: Do you mean if I fall asleep at my desk?
Question: No, I mean do you sometimes get sick and tired of your job?
Steinbrueck: That’s a dangerous question because some people might draw the wrong conclusion if I said what really brews inside me. But yes, sometimes I get really shirty. There are some meetings that are so incredibly long that at some point your rear end starts to hurt.
Question: Is that the reason you didn’t go to important meeting of G7 finance ministers in Washington?
Steinbrueck: You mean the trip in 2007? No, the reason for that is my wife had planned a trip to Namibia for the whole family many months before that and paid for it with an inheritance she got from her mother. And then the date for the Washington meeting came up. I had to make a decision: fly to Washington, where I go three or four times a year anyhow, or leave my family in the lurch. It was an easy decision for me. But some journalists then criticised me as ‘Safari Steinbrueck’. I’ll be honest with you guys. I’ve made a note of their names.”
Question: No, we meant the trip this weekend, another one that you cancelled on.
Steinbrueck: Oh that one. That’s because I’m going to an SPD party congress in my state to be nominated for the next parliament. That’s important in a democracy. I wrote a letter to the other finance ministers and they all understood my reasons.
Question: Is it possible that Germany could one day go bankrupt?
Steinbrueck: No, you must have heard about that in a horror film! Germany is one of the strongest countries in the world. We’ll master this crisis.
Question: What will happen if we keep going further into debt?
Steinbrueck: You can take on debt if the money is going to be used for sensible things – when you invest it in people and things that will bring us progress or advantages down the road. If that’s the case, borrowing money is totally sensible. But it’s bad if you borrow money just for spending on consumption, like for example buying chocolate bars.