Monday, November 7, 2016

An Overdose of Pension Reform Talk?

Last night, German state-run ARD gave a fairly big dose of pension-reform talk, with two shows over a two-hour period.

The first show was "Money Check" which picked up the topic of German pensions and gave a pretty in-depth discussion, which could easily be grasped by just about anyone.

For Germans in the 40 to 50 year old range, the bottom line on pensions is that it's not a significant deal unless you really made an upscale income (salary scale that is 40-percent above the average German).  The hint throughout pieces of the 45-minute documentary-like show is that you need to work extra months (at least one year.....maybe even three years).

Course, with extra years of work comes the question if you are healthy enough, or if your job is loaded with stress.

They sat and talked to one guy who was around 55 years old and noted that each year for him was worth 50-Euro more a month.  He hadn't really thought much about this and had a plan to work only to the mandatory point of entry into retirement, and no more.  After the realization of the 50-Euro more?  He was leaning toward more months.

The second show came at 9:00.....Hart Aber Fair, and a live chat panel.  The realization by the panel went in different directions.  The system is broke.  The system is unfair.  The system cannot be fixed without massive tax revenue.  The system needs a rebuild.  On and on.

Two whole hours of pension reform talk.  Why?  Well...here's the thing.  Both the SPD and CDU political parties need some topic other than immigration and refugees (which they'd like to entirely dump because of their failures).  Pension reform?  It's on the minds of just about every single employed German over the age of forty.  It's a safe topic because....well.....it's unfixable but OK to chat about.

The basic failure of German pensions?  With a spiraling birth-rate, you need to keep the current population at 82-million (more or less).....something that is impossible to achieve.  With a strong health program, Germans are living longer, which hurts the general plan that is in place now and makes the pension program weaker as people live longer.  Add onto this the driven feeling by probably a quarter of the German population that would like to retire by age 60 (you can ask a hundred Germans around age fifty and a large segment would like early retirement).

I will admit....it was an awful long two hours, with no commercials, and loaded with tons of information.  How many Germans watched it?  Unknown.  From the under-thirty crowd?  I'd take a bet that fewer than 2-percent of the under-thirty Germans watched the show.  As for the voting public?  They might be enticed to make this a top three issue.....but it's still resting along side immigration and integration issues.

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