GERMAN vs. US SOCIAL SYSTEM: WHICH is BROKEN?

Jun 21, 2008 at 1:56 pm Leave a comment

America may not be the only Western first-world country with a broken social system. According to a handful of German professors, the German social system requires citizens to pay so much to the state without getting enough in return.

According to Professors Gerd Habermann and Guenther von Lojewski, the major reason for the broken system is the high rate of unemployment in Germany. However according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, Germany’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in April 2008, one of the country’s lowest levels.

Besides just the rate of unemployment, part of the “Arbeitslosigkeit” problem lies in the many benefits that the unemployed receive. Each unemployed person receives 60 percent of his or her last paycheck. If that person has children, he or she will receive 67 percent. This is per month. According to Habermann it is fairly easy for a person to simply not have a job and ride on the system.

Unemployment compensation is just one of many social help programs that Germans receive; others include monetary support for raising children, in which each person receives money per month for until the child is grown, and health insurance. All of these Sozialehilfe are financed primarily through taxes, so they become a burden on ordinary taxpayers. The amount a person pays in taxes is based on that person’s salary. The more one makes, the more taxes they pay. But everyone pays more than 50 percent of his or her salary to the state. The employer then matches and raises the amount of taxes that each employee pays.

Though unemployment contributes the problem, the largest factor seems to be that the younger generations are shrinking, while older generations are living longer. This results in an increasing need from a shrinking pool of money, a similar situation that the U.S. is facing with social security. So the “Grosse Frage” becomes should taxes or the amount of social help the government provides be shrunk?

No one knows the answer, but many Germans seem to believe that they pay too much into the system and receive too little. Professor Habermann said the U.S. had a better system because people can choose how to spend their money. However, he failed to recognize the social problems that are inherent in the American system. Though the majority of Americans live fairly well, fewer and fewer can afford everyday needs, such as health care and college-level education. When such necessities become a majority of one’s expenses, it leads to a society that will continually look for shortcuts or that will completely bypass the expense altogether. In terms of education and health, this would be disastrous for society as a whole.

On another level, the German social system is about helping everyone within society, so that those in need get a decent standard of living, something that not everyone in the U.S. is guaranteed. Anyone can see this in any American city ghetto. The German system allows everyone to be an equal competitor, especially in education and work, something the U.S. claims to do, but in reality completely ignores. Additionally, the German system will never let too large of an income gap occur between the rich and poor, a gap that is huge in the U.S.

Such a social system may put a large burden on citizens, but at least Germany’s citizens see results with free health care, great public transportation systems throughout the entire country, extremely low crime rates and low poverty rates. Germany’s social system takes care of its people while the U.S. preaches individualism which becomes an excuse to allow large corporations to reap profit off of citizens’ basic needs and a large percent of American citizens to live in poverty.

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Entry filed under: U.S..

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