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Monday, October 04, 2010

"not necessary for survival"

The nanny state puts away the smokes:

On Sunday, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen made the official announcement. "Following the Federal Statistical Office's calculation, there will be a slight rise in the standard [monthly welfare payment] for adults of five euros, to 364 euros," she told reporters. "Expenditures for tobacco and alcohol are not factored in, as they are not necessary for survival." 

Tell that to a smoker. The $364 Euros a month welfare figure was arrived it with, as you would expect, the usual Teutonic efficiency and precision:

Also out: houseplants, non-motor-powered garden equipment, and orthopedic shoes. Newly added: Internet access (although factored in at just 2.28 euros a month), jewelry and watches (0.59 euros), and extracurricular lessons and hobby classes (1.61 euros). The government arrived at the numbers by looking at the average expenditures of the lowest-earning 20 percent of the German population. 

"Germans are very precise," said Michael Burda, a professor of economics at Humboldt University in Berlin, "so they took a basket of goods and figured out what it would cost. It's a pretty meager basket."

Sure, but people got rights:

"Article 20 of the constitution states that Germany is a welfare state, and the definition of what is a welfare state is made by the highest court. And the highest courts have decided that every person in the country must be provided for in a decent manner."

That, in a nutshell, is why Europe is going broke. The Germans are just more parsimonious in their definition of "decent."

Posted by Richard Anderson on October 4, 2010 | Permalink


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