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The Pension Problem (February 13, 1996)

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Redistribution from the bottom up leads to devastating asymmetries in the distribution of demand and purchasing power, thus weakening mass demand and ultimately worsening mass unemployment. Contrary to its critics’ intentions, criticism [of this system of redistribution] should by no means be directed at the blatant abuses alone but rather at the pension system as a whole. In a society in which mass poverty is growing at an explosive rate, can we still afford systems with such antisocial distribution effects?

The politicians responsible for these issues have already acknowledged – though not to the general public – that the present debate will never do justice to the magnitude of the problem. In an article published in a professional journal Minister [Norbert] Blüm described the welfare state as a tanker lodged in pack ice with no prospect of rescue. Even towing the system into the next century would be nothing short of a political tour de force. His Social Democrat counterpart, Rudolf Dressler, sees things in a similarly dramatic light: two years ago Dressler accused Kurt Biedenkopf of lighting a fuse under the social security system with his pension-critical theses. Biedenkopf’s dry and pithy response: with that, Dressler merely confirmed that we’re sitting on a powder keg!

The author is a judge at the Hessian Social Court in Darmstadt.

Source: Jürgen Borchert, “Junge Menschen ausbilden, nicht alte zum Sonnen nach Mallorca schicken” [“Train Young People Instead of Sending the Elderly to Sunbathe in Mallorca], Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 13, 1996.

Translation: Allison Brown

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