Germans usually spend over €100 million on fireworks in the three days leading up to the New Year. Although there are no statistics on how much of this cash is unemployment benefit, two Berlin politicians decided to give those on welfare some end-of-year advice.
"Unemployment benefit, which is paid by the state, should not be blown on rockets and bangers," Cornelia Seibeld of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told Berlin newspaper B.Z..
This came in reaction to reports from shopkeepers that some welfare recipients were spending up to €150 on fireworks, nearly half of the monthly Hartz IV payment of €359.
Björn Jotzo of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) told the spendthrifts, "It would make more sense if they invested in a balanced diet, instead of bangers," before adding, "But some Hartz IV recipients are spending a lot of money on fireworks, even though they should be more frugal."
But the pair stopped short of calling for a ban on unemployed people buying fireworks. "Such a ban would not be enforceable, the bureaucratic complexity would be too big," said Seibeld. "A voluntary abstention would make more sense."
Benefit recipients interviewed by the paper were unimpressed by the suggestion they should let those with a job have all the fun. "I saved the money ahead of time," said 18-year-old Mostafa Khodr, who spent €80 on fireworks this year. "And I'm not going to let anyone tell me what to spend it on."
Single mum Sylvia Demski agreed, "My sons deserve a bit of New Year's fun, and they shouldn't have to go without just because I'm unemployed."