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Deadbeats should have dole benefits docked, Westerwelle says

DDP/The Local · 19 Feb 2010, 15:46

Published: 19 Feb 2010 15:46 GMT+01:00

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“The basic principle applies: no benefits without willingness for service in return,” said Westerwelle, who is foreign minister and vice chancellor in Germany's ruling centre-right coalition.

Westerwelle’s comments signalled support for his party’s deputy chairman Andreas Pinkwart, who recently demanded harsher consequences and lower benefits for those who receive Hartz IV welfare but aren’t willing to find work.

The country must take action against such people who effectively take the social system’s money from people who actually need it, Westerwelle said.

In these cases, there must be “rather pragmatically a cut in benefits” as a result, he said.

Westerwelle, dogged by weeks of criticism that his party had been ineffective in pushing its tax-cutting agenda as junior coalition party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, has gone on the offensive in recent days. He has attacked Germany’s welfare system and accused his critics of acting like socialists.

Meanwhile the foreign minister rejected criticism that his fiery rhetoric over welfare is cold-hearted. Instead, he said he has been speaking “in the interest of the tax payers,” and pointed to polls that show two-thirds of respondents believe their concerns are not adequately addressed in the welfare debate.

But earlier this week a poll by news magazine Stern showed Westerwelle’s attempts to stir this debate have not stopped a precipitous slide in support for his party.

Story continues below…

The dismal result came amid grumbling within Westerwelle’s own party about his performance and suggestions that a poor result in an upcoming state election in North Rhine-Westphalia could even be a death knell for his leadership.

The party has lost half the 14.6 percent support it enjoyed during its triumphant performance in the federal election last September.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:23 February 19, 2010 by ChussKeDweele
I mean, I dislike Westerwave just like the next guy. This point, however, is the only one I can agree with in his whole political agenda.
17:09 February 19, 2010 by berlinski
And I think all public service programs should have a welfare component.
19:50 February 19, 2010 by angry
Hartz4 was enacted for two reasons: 1. to fake the number of unemployed people by pushing them into senseless programms like application or computer courses even for well-educated people OR letting them do so-called 1€-jobs which often replace formerly regular paid jobs. 2. to force jobless people into low-paid jobs which the sponsors of the free democrats demanded for so long (e.g. the Lambsdorf-paper from the 1980s).

Westerwelle always demands that employed people should earn more than unemployed. But he only thinks of lowering the income of Hartz4-benefitters. It´s so obvious that another way would be to rise the wages - but that´s not what Westerwelles sponsors want!
19:59 February 19, 2010 by frankiep
"Westerwelle always demands that employed people should earn more than unemployed. But he only thinks of lowering the income of Hartz4-benefitters. It´s so obvious that another way would be to rise the wages - but that´s not what Westerwelles sponsors want!"

Maybe he could do that if Germany was a communist state which could control the wages of all companies. Thankfully it isn't, and he can't.
22:43 February 19, 2010 by freechoice
Ok when do they plan to collect back the hundreds of millions of taxes stashed away in secret Swiss accounts?
01:19 February 20, 2010 by peter douglas
The security the majority of us have is because unemployed people have some security in form of hartz Iv: I would rather be taxed but be secure.
03:44 February 20, 2010 by Davey-jo
I'm a deadbeat and I agree with this particular man. I think my benefits should be cut. I have no willingness to return anything to German society whatsoever. No cut my money to about a quarter, I could live on that and you would all sleep well at night.

But; and there is always a but, before you cut my benefit by 75 % perhaps you would like to cut the bankers bonuses by 100% because they have done less work than I have to benefit Germany; especially as live in Hull ,UK
10:38 February 20, 2010 by mixxim
Benefit scroungers should be required to do some work for their money. Sweeping up rubbish or for those with skills they could be given other suitable work, turning up late or not pulling their weight should result in loss of money. I wonder how many would quickly find jobs more to their liking.
13:02 February 20, 2010 by berlinski
maxxim. And what suitable work do you think those with skills should be given then? By following your doctrine, employers would not need to employ anybody. They could just get all the work done from Hartz IV labour for cheap.
13:36 February 20, 2010 by Bushdiver
The are life-long unemployed and welfare receipients in this country unfortunately. Those they do work are the ones that are penalized. The lazy bastards who do nothing and have no intention of ever doing anything wind up in a better position than those who work. I don't understand why so many are on Westerwelle's butt. He's basically saying what others are afraid to say.
14:11 February 20, 2010 by Geneviere
Westerwelle wants to make us think that benefits for welfare recepients are too high and not that wages are too low. The benefits for people without work in Germany are just average inside Europe (OECD in a recent report tells) - certainly lower than you would imagine in the country that is proud of being the leader in economic force not in the world but certainly in Europe. There is a discussion to cut even that...

If the distance between the incomes of low paid jobs and welfare is too little the problem is certainly not the income of the welfare recepients but the wage of the low paid jobs. The jobs I did during my school holidays in the end of the 80s were better paid than some of this jobs today.

And - why is it of any importance that any of the welfare recepients does not really like to work if we do not have jobs for all the others that want to. After we have gotten them decent work it is time to discuss that problem - right now it is just stupid...
16:29 February 20, 2010 by mixxim
Berlinski, Seems OK. I suspect they would soon find better employment or more likely find it before they take the work necessary to claim benefits?

'suitable work' would be the jobs no one wants to do at present.
16:44 February 20, 2010 by angry
About 500.000 open jobs and more than 6 million unemployed (plus those in 1€-jobs or useless educational programms) - how does this fit together?

@ Bushdiver: Westerwelle is currently repeating a lot of US-republican pre-electioal cheap propaganda - only Joe-the-plummer is still missing.

And his reference to late-roman decadence was wrong: It wasn´t the lower class living in decadence - just like today!
18:05 February 20, 2010 by Talonx
The more Westerwelle speaks the more obvious it becomes that he is ideologically alligned to a sort of economic interpretation that should have (and did for a short while) died off after the Great Depression. This man is an idiot.
18:49 February 20, 2010 by angry
He is the ventriloquist dummy of the "the bosses".

He promissed tax-lowering before the election and now he´s in trouble to fulfil.

So why not take it from the lowest class?
20:49 February 20, 2010 by Talonx
Ultimately, the thing that Westerwelle is really leaving out here is that the estimated number of system malingerers is microscopic (fractions of a percent, fact), I wouldn't be surprised if it was even smaller than the number of people that game the system at the rich end of the spectrum by dodging taxes and the like, though when the rich game the system it's far worse. If it wasn't for his ideological allignments and he was really just worried about money, he would try and do more to crack down on the rich that take advantage.
20:57 February 20, 2010 by old blue eyes
How about bringing back border controls?I have lived and worked here and payed my taxes but due to my age (52) and a medical problem I will probably never be given work again so my wife and I have to live on Hartz IV.

There are those who come to this country,bring all their relatives with them and abuse the system by claiming everything they can,without ever having done a days work or paid any taxes in this country.They then send what money they can back to their own country where they own land and houses and then go and spend up to 3 months of the year there whilst still claiming benefits from here!!!!!

This I know because I have been told by these people themselves and they were laughing at the stupid,ignorant German benefits system!!!!!!

I thinks its because of people like these,and I am sure there are thousands like them all over Germany,that the honest and hard working people who can no longer find work (not that the jobs exist) are going to be punished and forced into poverty that they do not deserve.

Rigorous and proper background checks should be made into all applicants applying for benefits in this country then maybe we wouldnt be in this predicament.

I was once offered a 1 euro job and told them that slavery had been abolished years ago.I am still trying to find myself a job that my health allows so I can get off this benefit system but even my local job centre told me to apply for early retirement.

Hartz IV is a system that is not and never has worked.

Its just the government has never opened its eyes to the fact and have no alternatives.
05:17 February 21, 2010 by Talonx
Old Blue Eyes, that sounds really aweful and certainly the 1 Euro jobs are a monsterous component of Hartz IV, unfortunately this is not the thing Westerwelle is even thinking about. He'll reduce benefits across the board if he gets what he wants (which would include you). As for people that game the system, like I said they are a fraction of a percent, I'm sorry if you've met one of them, but your subjective experience, meeting one of them, is not a significant tendency. Westerwelle's base constituency is more responsible for any economic plight Germany or yourself experiences right now.

Robinson et al., he's just antisocialism, pro-big-business, and against the poor. What's more, he just doesn't have his facts straight. There is no way that Germany is severly affected by those gaming Hartz IV, there aren't enough of them to make an impact. Westerwelle is a simpleton.
15:35 February 21, 2010 by Talonx
Westerwelle is a talking head that somehow got into the position where it gets to try to make decisions. fortunately only 7% of the country are idiots. A great deal less than the 30% we had in the U.S. at the end of Bush.
16:19 February 21, 2010 by old blue eyes
It is not just one I have met,but at least 5 and that is just here in a small town,and they know of many others doing the same thing,so just imagine how many state wide are taking money from the social system to better their own lives in their own land and not giving anything back to this country.

To me ALL politicians are the same,self-centered and have no idea what goes on in the real world or are to afraid of upsetting certain minorities to say what they really mean.

We need politicians with backbones to stand up for the people and who are not afraid to make decisions even though it might upset a few,but as long as it benefits everyone in the long run and not just themselves.

The whole benefits system should be overhauled and changed with tighter restrictions and more control.
00:30 February 22, 2010 by Talonx
Old blue eyes, you don't seem to get it, that's not how stats work. If they did work that way I could talk about you as representing every single German. Because, you know, 'I know this one guy' or 'these five guys'. SAME THING

Keefe and Conquistador, sensible!
14:59 February 22, 2010 by J-Dub
how to solve this:

1. Border patrol

2. Refusing to learn German as a second language, gets you no benefits, no excuses! All outlanders must be tested each year for proficiency, there is no 'fail' here, just a test to see where you stand.

3. If you want children, pay for them yourself! Stop raping government money to have your children! If you can't afford children without raping the government, move somewhere else or get some education to find more suitable employment!

4. Eliminate €1 jobs and make all non-working lazy 'spongers' do public service 4 hours daily (M-F) to earn Hartz IV. Only handicapped or edlerly over the age of 50 are exempt. (Sweep streets, shovel snow)

01:53 February 23, 2010 by Fredfeldman
Doesn't anyone here really get it? Unemployment is BUILT INTO every western country's economic model. And the numbers are going to get worse as society continually becomes more automated in the future. Even for the well educated a good job will increasingly become a lucky bonus rather than a guaranteed reward for getting thru school. People who end up with good careers OWE society the maintenance of the poor slobs who didn't win the jobs lottery.
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