Germany: A Leading Economy? Half the Population Try to Make Ends Meet

by DR. SAMI ALRABAA September 14, 2012

Believe it or not; while the German economy is thriving, almost half the German population struggle to make ends meet. They work very hard, but do not earn enough money to lead a decent life.

Jochen, 46 years old, works for a mail company. He earns 5.75 € per hour. He works for ten hours daily and gets at the end of the month, net 848 € (1,086$). He pays around 400 € (512 $) for the rent of his apartment. What is left for living is meagre of 448 € (574.11 $). 

12 million Germans get monthly this kind of wage.

Sabine, 69 years old, worked in a public kitchen for more than 40 years. Now she gets a pension of 850 € (1000 $). She lives in a little apartment and pays a monthly rent of more than 300 € (384 $). Left to live is about 500 € (640 $).

About 9 million retirees (out of 20 million) do not get more than that.

Seven million German citizens live on state benefits, called Hartz IV. For one reason or another, these people do not work. Either they are sick or pretend to be so. Each of these beneficiaries gets 361 € (462 $) a month. He/she also gets their apartment rent and all service charges including heating and transport paid by Hartz IV. Many of Hartz IV beneficiaries abuse the system and work somewhere clandestinely.

In other words, half of the work force in Germany and half of Germany's pensioners are underpaid. Germany has a workforce of 40 million people and 20 million pensioners.

Most Germans hate their local tax offices (Finanzamt). Hans, who owns a couple of houses and rents them out, expresses his frustration with the Finanzamt by saying, "You have to fill out a mountain of forms which usually use an archaic language that an average citizen doesn't really understand. And at the end of the day, the finance officials decide whatever they like. They are so arrogant. You cannot discuss things with them. They allegedly have no time."

"Why don't you take a tax adviser, a tax aide?" I asked Hans. "Oh well, it is futile." Hans replied. "Tax advisers tell you different and sometimes contradictory things." Hans added. 

All German governments have promised to simplify tax application forms, but so far nothing has happened. Helmut Schmidt, the former chancellor blasted drastically the tax language. He said it is vague and in some cases it is extremely difficult to understand. All this is said by a finance expert, Schmidt himself.

In conclusion, many well-off Germans try to evade taxes.

This income and tax situation is guarded by a socio-economic system which the Germans (including all political parties) call: "social market economy". The system implies taxes collected by the state at every corner and on every single financial transaction including purchase and sale of any dimension. If you buy a house, for instance, you have to pay taxes, and the one who sells the house has also got to pay taxes on the money he/she gets from you.

This state of affairs is actually accepted by the majority of German politicians and the mainstream media. Once in a while the Social Democrats and the Linke (a mall leftist party) demand a minimum wage of € 8 ($ 10) or more per hour. 

Frank-Jürgen Weise, head of the federal employment agency (Agentur für Arbeit), a state-controlled organization, has demanded most recently a minimum wage of € 7 ($ 8,97) Merkel has rejected the idea of fixing a minimum wage several times.

Merkel's Labour Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, came up recently with a proposal to solve the problem of poverty among retirees. She was told off by Merkel, who reportedly said, "the proposal must be carefully and thoroughly discussed."

In addition to a ruthless tax system, Germany has got a health care system which Barack Obama has been trying to introduce in the USA. There are obligatory public health care insurance organisations and private free ones. Most of the Germans are customers of the public system and pay monthly a contribution of 14% of their income. These organisations scored last year a surplus of  € 21 billion ($ 26). Yet these insurance enterprises have adamantly refused to reduce their members' contributions.

On the other hand, the German export industry is booming. German products, at a state of art quality are competitive worldwide. Why is that? Wages in Germany are comparatively quite low. Chrsitne Lagarde, former French financial minister and current Head of the IMF, (the International Monetary Fund) blasted that as "unfair".

Consequently, the state's tax revenues are at a record level compared to previous fiscal years. In the first and second quarters of this year the German state recorded a tax revenue increase of more than € 8 billion. The same is expected for the rest of the year.

Therefore, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel is urging the euro-zone member states to follow the German fiscal and economic systems: high taxes plus low wages.

Merkel can also afford feeding the euro-zone's bail-out fund with additional contributions. Very soon the German share in this fund will rise to 50%. 

How about the German president, Joachim Gauck, (72 years old) regarding poverty in both sectors: in the labour-force and among pensioners? He seems not to be interested in all this debate. Why should he? Mr. Gauck gets a yearly salary of more than 200,000 € (256,000 $). Besides, he seems to be enjoying life with his girl friend, Daniela Schadt. In the Bellevue Palace, in Berlin.

Gauck is by profession an evangelical pastor. Before the collapse of the communist regime in East Berlin in 1989, he used to live in East Germany. But unlike many dissidents, he never openly criticised the communist despotic regime in Eastern Germany. Some even say he collaborated with the rulers of East Berlin.

However, after the fall down of the communist regime in Eastern Germany, and all of a sudden,, Gauck and Merkel, became human rights activists. Later unified Germany entrusted him with the Stasi Department (the central intelligence agency of the communist regime).

Since then, the German mainstream media has been polishing Gauck's image and presented him as a "free thinker".

Many true thinkers believe that the German Assembly should have elected one of those brave men and women who opposed the communist regime in East Germany and consequently had to spend years behind bars.

Of course it's Gauck's private life to live with who ever he wishes. But as a Christian pastor people expect him to practise what he preaches.

Pastor Gauck is still married to his wife Gerlinde whom he got married to in 1959.The couple separated in 1991 but officially and religiously Gerlinde is still Gauck's wife. He has never divorced her. Since 2000 Gauck has been a close friend of the journalist Daniela Schadt (born in 1960).

A pastor living - and most probably having sex with his lover - ? This is shier adultery in Christianity. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." [the seventh commandment from the King James Version].

All this qualifies Gauck to be one of the „best" hypocritical and opportunists in our modern life.

The only German politician who criticised Gauck, though mildly, was Norbert Geis, a member of the Christian Social Union Party in Bavaria. Geis urged Gauck to "order his personal affairs as quickly as possible so as not to leave himself open to attack." Gauck turned a deaf ear to all that.

Jus imagine how the Americans would react if their president, whether it's Obama or Romney, had a girl friend living with him in the White House and their wives lived somewhere else?!

Gauck and Merkel are lucky and happy to have a complacent media.

A complacent media and a silent popular opposition are keeping the poor, poor and morality is placed at one of those back benches. That is what is happening in Germany these days.

To add insult to injury both Gauck and Merkel blast the Hungarian government for passing laws aimed at controlling and muzzling critics in the media.

In Germany there is no need for such laws. They are already and implicitly in place. The media in Germany are "self-restrained". And critics are not welcomed.

On applying the German financial and economic system on America, if you like the German system then vote for Obama. But if you don't want the German system then vote for Romney. But the truth of the matte, too much state is damaging the life of millions of families.

Last but not least, would you believe it, the chair of the Evangelical Church in Germany, bishop Margot Kaessmann was caught drunk while driving her car two years ago. On the other hand, this woman kept blasting the German troops and the NATO in her public preaches and newspaper articles for being in Afghanistan fighting a war against the Taliban. She urged these troops to immediately leave Afghanistan in "peace".

While endangering the life of motorists and pedestrians, completely drunk behind her steering wheel, this "Christian" woman wants those terrorists to be left alone.

Margot Kaessmann can safely be added to the list of hypocritical Germans.

By the way, the German state also collects taxes for both the Catholic and the Protestant Church staff from members of these churches. Each tax payer of these churches pays monthly 3,5% from their own incomes. Margot Kaessmann and her ilk get a monthly salary of € 5-6 thousand.

Dr. Sami Alrabaa, an ex-Muslim, is a professor of Sociology and an Arab-Muslim culture specialist. He has taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University. He also writes for the Jerusalem Post and is the author of the book: “Veiled Atrocities”, published by Prometheus, New York 2010 .

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