Sunday, June 17, 2007

Whatever world politicians inhabit

... it surely isn't the same world you and I live in, that much is for sure.

I was reminded of this when I watched another of those numerous political discussions on TV. The politicians participating in it obviously had no idea how life is for the average person on the streets these days.

For example they always state that we need to work much longer throughout our life, starting earlier and working a couple of years longer than at the moment, too. The whole idea does have merit, I have to admit it. If, and really just if, there were enough work for everyone, we should all at least work longer in our lives, because today we get a lot older than in the past. The problem, as you might have guessed already, is that currently we're missing about 4,000,000 jobs, so what I'd like to know from the politicians is how we are going to be able to work those five or ten or fifteen years longer.

Another example is pensions. In Germany we have - as I've already pointed out in past posts - a pension from the state that is financed by the working population paying and the older generation getting the money. On the whole that principle works - or rather, it would work if everyone could currently work -, but calculations by the European Union show that even if it works out and even if by miracle we manage to work longer without having months or even years of unemployment in between, the future will only bring each of us about 39% of our last income before we switch to pensions. The argument of a politician against that problem: The calculation does not take company pension plans into account.

Pardon me, but which company pension plan? In my case it's highly unlikely that I will ever get such a company pension plan, even though, in the future, I will not work as a telemarketer forever (but become a web-master in about a year). Small- and middle-sized companies can't afford such pension plans any longer - and even if they did, people do not spent a long time at one workplace any longer. Low-paying jobs like telemarketer, cleaner or waiter don't have pension plans as a rule, so especially those who don't earn much anyway will be left with next to no money after a long, hard life of work. When did those politicians last check over the reality in German companies? Surely not after the late 70ies or early 80ies.

And then one argument against minimal wage (another thing politicians argue a lot about at the moment): all the call-centers could go to India! Oh, please, yes, make them all go to India! Fact is, those call-centers working for a special company, only doing stuff for that company, surely won't go to India - and we'd all be better off without those call-centers who exploit their workforce and cheat their customers. Yes, let them leave for India immediately - it will at least give some people a short-time job, helping them pack.

I know we Germans have a very special problem that stunts the development of our economy. We don't like to serve - which is bad, given the fact that most new jobs will be created in the service-sector. This probably also is the reason why jobs in service usually aren't paid well, too - together with the fact that most jobs in service are done by women.

Apart from that I really doubt we'll have enough work for everyone soon (meaning sometime in the next 35 years while I might still be working). And that's a problem, because Germans tend to define them over their work (as I've already posted before).

Massive unemployment and the problem this brings for our pensions is something the politicians should lean to deal with, instead of denying it does exist.

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