The Hartz IV laws and their successor, citizen income, which was passed in the mediation committee on Wednesday evening, are intended to help the poorest of the poor in Germany. In fact, both laws also serve two primal fears of the middle class.
Both concerns are not really justified, such cases are rare. This is shown by the statistics and also by the experiences of local practitioners. In the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, the head of the Frankfurt job center reports that “between one and three percent” of Hartz IV recipients are subject to sanctions – mostly because they have missed appointments. Cases with their own assets only occur in isolated cases: “The majority of our clients don’t even have that much money in their accounts.”
Anyone who has managed to build up relevant assets for their own retirement provision usually also has enough social capital to avoid ending up in Hartz IV or citizen benefits. Most of the people who have been customers of the job center for several years always struggle with the same problems: no professional qualifications, poor knowledge of German, mental illnesses, drug problems. If you just had to put pressure on these people to make them feel, the job at the job center would be easy.
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Viewed through a technocratic lens, one could say that the whole debate about the ability to be tolerant and trust time is based on the irrational fears of the middle class. Then the citizen money compromise that Union and Ampel concluded on Tuesday in the run-up to the mediation committee would be worse than the original.
>> Read here: Mediation committee agrees on citizens’ income – fast adoption expected
Finally, the Union has managed to emphasize “demanding” more than “promoting”, for example by eliminating the planned sanction-free “period of trust” in the first six months of receiving citizen benefit. In fact, these compromises make citizen income stronger because it takes into account the middle class’ fears of social decline and exploitation.
Citizens’ income has good chances in society
For example, the protective assets are to be attacked more and more quickly than originally planned, but the old-age provision of the self-employed, for example, remains untouched. In its current form, citizen income has a good chance of being accepted as fair by broad sections of society. Also because the Union, as the strongest opposition force, now has to support the compromise regulation and even sells the changes as its victory.
But the most important thing: The non-performance additional income rules from the Hartz IV system are at least somewhat relaxed for adult line recipients. And minors who grow up in households on citizen income are now allowed to keep more money from holiday jobs or training allowances and are no longer suggested from a young age: working isn’t worth it anyway.
One basic problem cannot be solved by the basic income: Low earners who work full-time and support partners or children with their income continue to slide far too quickly below the basic income limit and thus become social cases. But changing that is the stuff of another law.
More: Debate about citizen income – how work would be even more worthwhile