For the last few years - and most especially the last few months - all eyes have been focused on Greece. From record poverty rates to record suicide rates and levels of youth unemployment, post-election emboldened hopes for a phoenix-like rebirth of a nation from the flames of Eurogroup repression were seemingly dashed on Friday. However there is another nation, that begins with the letter 'G' and that is at the heart of the EU-Greece talks that is suffering seemingly silently. As Newsweek reports, poverty in Germany is at its highest since the reunification of the country in 1990, with 12.5 million residents now classified as 'poor'...
Poverty in the Federal Republic of Germany is on an all time high, the findings of the Joint Welfare Association in its current poverty report. The Association is calling on the federal government for decisive action to combat poverty, including a significant increase in the standard rate in Hartz IV reforms and the family load balancing and basic old-age security.
"Never before has the poverty in Germany so high and never was the regional turmoil as deep as today. Germany is a deeply political poverty rugged Republic, "said Ulrich Schneider, Executive Director of the Joint General Association. Poverty in Germany has risen within a year almost jumped from 15.0 percent (2012) to 15.5 percent (2013). Purely mathematical terms this represents an increase from 12.1 to 12.5 million people.
The highest risk of poverty among all households were thereafter with 43 percent single parents. Special attention should also be paid to the Association's view, the pensioners, "There is no other group in Germany that had even remotely comparable high poverty increases in recent years. We are dealing with a pro-poor political landslide, "Schneider warns the face of a rise in poverty in this group by 48 percent since 2006. Already this year, the poverty rate for pensioners will first be above the German average, predicts the Association.
As Newsweek reports, "Poverty and regional inequalities are homemade primarily the result of political decisions," criticizes Schneider.
Dr Wolfgang Strengmann-Kuhn, a speaker for the Green parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, agrees. He believes cuts in social security funding are responsible for labour market incomes in the country becoming progressively more unequal, and points the finger at German chancellor Angela Merkel.
“While other countries have introduced tax credits for low income groups, this has not been on the agenda in Germany,” he says. “The fight against poverty is not on the agenda of the present government, neither has it been on the agenda of the preceding governments under Merkel.”
He says he believes that while Germany is profiting from the low value of the euro - which he attributes to the “crisis in southern Europe” - it is purely the upper-income groups who benefit.
“The poor lag behind because they have been neglected by the Merkel government,” he says.
“What is needed in Germany is the introduction of minimum levels in the social security systems, and it is also necessary to make the social insurance system universal.”
However, a spokesperson from the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs refutes the claims that Germany has seen a steep rise in poverty... noting that defining poverty based on median income alone does not reflect quality of life...
“The ‘at risk of poverty’ rate shows the proportion of people with equivalent income below 60% of the median income. It is not to be equated with poverty in the sense of indigence,” she says.
“Other highly important factors such as wealth, health, education, property or other social services are not considered. In addition, the indicator is not very robust due to random fluctuations of the median income. This means that small random fluctuations of the median income may have significant changes in poverty rates.”
In other words - the 'poor' German, we suspect, is considerably better off (in almost every aspect) that the 'poor' Greek.
It appears poverty is contagious among the world's money-printing-beneficiary developed nations...