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15 December 2000

Latest Issue of Heidelberg University's Research Magazine Showcases the Heidelberg Simple Taxation System

"Ruperto Carola" 3/2000 reports on ongoing research projects at Heidelberg University — Title story by Prof. Dr. Manfred Rose on his Simple Taxation System combining fairness with market-orientation — Other topics: The development of democracy in Latin America — The history of Spanish in the New World — The biology of trypanosomes — Slimming yourself to death — Addiction for kicks


The reform of income and corporation tax planned and already part-implemented by the Federal Government will exacerbate rather than alleviate the detrimental effects of taxation on two of the most important elements in any national economy: savings and company investment. In the latest issue of the University of Heidelberg's research magazine "Ruperto Carola", Prof. Dr. Manfred Rose substantiates this prognosis and describes his own alternative: the Heidelberg Simple Taxation System. Apart from being easy to use, it proposes a scheme for taxing private income and company profits that combines fairness with a concern for the way market economies really work. Other subjects discussed in the magazine range from the development of democracy in Latin America and the history of Spanish in the New World to the biology of trypanosomes. Further, two issues centring around addictive behaviour: "Slimming Yourself to Death" and "Addiction for Kicks".

Editorial: Rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke criticises the idea of time-limited contracts for first-time professors

In the Editorial, Rector Prof. Dr. Jürgen Siebke criticises a new instrument of higher-education policy devised by the state government of Baden-Württemberg: time-limited contracts for first-time professors. The new University Law stipulates that contracts for scholars and scientists taking up their first professorial post should be time-limited. According to Siebke the argument fielded in favour of this new provision (an "incentive for excellence") is flawed for the simple reason "that the basic suitability of an applicant for professorial posts is normally assured by the testing Habilitation procedure he/she has to go through; in addition, the actual appointment process itself is very searching indeed." Is this new démarche, he asks, an aspersion on the universities' use of these two procedures to date and their quality awareness in general?

Siebke: "With this new probation period now in force what probability is there of young scientists and scholars embarking on a university career? Will they not be much more likely to go for attractive, highly-paid jobs outside the academic world?" The Rector then goes on to show why the risks involved in time-limited contracts for first-time professors are much higher than the name appears to suggest.

Of Hope and Despair: the development of democracy in Latin America

The first article in the new issue comes from political scientist and Latin America expert Dieter Nohlen. In the last quarter of the last century democracy finally established itself almost everywhere in Latin America. This political transition aroused hopes of an improvement in the economic and social sectors. Nohlen concedes that a process of economic stabilisation is identifiable in most countries in the area. Also, elections are now more or less the sole means of access to political power. "But the social conditions have not improved." In Nohlen's view, inefficiency and increasingly vociferous criticism of democratic reality mean that, over time, the question of how viable democracy in Latin America really is has yet to be answered.

From Seville to the New World: the history of Spanish

100 years ago the notions guiding linguists in their study of the history of Spanish in America were as follows: the people using this language are African or Indian in appearance and speak in a way similar to the Andalusians in Spain; Christopher Columbus took Spanish to the New World in 1492, so American Spanish comes from Andalusia, displays features imposed on it by black Africans and the Indians of the Spanish colonial empire, and is archaic. These ideas were rehearsed in differing forms until about 20 years ago and some linguists still adhere to them. While they are neither fully correct nor totally erroneous, the main point is that they have not yet been subjected to a genuinely historical examination. Jens Lüdtke of the Department of Romance Studies puts this situation to rights and sketches the intriguing history of Spanish in America.

Achilles heel of a killer: the biology of trypanosomes

Sleeping sickness, an insidious infection affecting humans and animals in large areas of Africa and South America, is caused by a tiny parasite and transmitted by the tsetse fly. Once in the victim's body, the parasite gradually makes its way to the brain, causing the well-known symptoms that give the disease its name. In the next article, Christine Clayton of the Molecular Biology Centre of Heidelberg University (ZMBH) describes how basic research workers set about gaining a better understanding of the biology of this parasite in a bid to achieve their main aim: finding the "Achilles heel" of this implacable killer and thus saving the lives of thousands of victims otherwise doomed to a slow and inevitable death.

Slimming yourself to death

More than 100,000 girls and women in Germany suffer from the most dangerous of all eating disorders: anorexia. Stephan Zipfel and Wolfgang Herzog of University's Department of Internal Medicine describe a hitherto unexampled long-term study demonstrating that anorexia is by no means a temporary condition only affecting girls in puberty. In fact, anorexia is a long-term, highly complex disease frequently ending in death. But the authors have some good news as well. The new therapies that have been devised lead to lasting recovery in more than half of all cases.

Addiction for kicks: a new research field

Addictive behaviour is one of the severest and most frequent forms of psychic disorder. In Germany alone, alcoholism kills off 40,000 people every year. The aim of addiction research is to achieve a better understanding of this cerebral disorder and devise effective means of preventing and curing it. New animal models play a crucial role in finding and improving remedies, reducing the craving for the drug in question and helping to preclude relapse. Karl Mann, professor of addiction research at the University of Heidelberg and incumbent of the first chair of its kind in Germany, and Rainer Spanagel, head of the pharmacology department at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, outline the new research field devoted to the study of addiction.

In the "News and Views", section former vice-rector Prof. Dr. Jörg Hüfner asks whether homo academicus is necessarily also homo oeconomicus: "Money rules the world, or so they say. Is the same true of a university?" His conclusion is that if university reforms are to be successful they must take due account of the specific characteristics of homo academicus.

The permanent column "External Funding" rounds off the magazine.

"Ruperto Carola" is published by Universitätsverlag C. Winter Heidelberg GmbH. Single copies cost DM 10,- plus postage (DM 5,- for students). Like the special support subscription (DM 60,.- for 4 issues) they can be ordered from Pressestelle der Universität Heidelberg, Postfach 105760, D-69047 Heidelberg. Gratis copies of earlier issues are available for inspection in the foyer of the Old University (Grabengasse 1).

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 22.01.2001


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