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ALLIANCE FO§ DEMOCRACY
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Constitutional judges believe that Hartz-IV is enough

The Karlsruhe Constitutional judges have spoken: Hartz IV is enough, they have decided. Our Constitutional judges are theorists. They have not taken the practical test. And so, the judgment is also not practical. But nevertheless all the more suitable party-politically: It protects the budgets from stress due to higher social security payments.
Everything started well: In 2010, the Federal Constitutional Court prescribed to politics that the Constitution included a right to a minimum physical and socio-cultural standard of living. In addition to the minimum living standard, there is also the right to participation in social and cultural life. The problem however is how one breaks down these noble constitutional principles into concrete figures (i.e. the Hartz-IV rate). The Federal Constitutional Court has set no concrete figures - that is the task of politics - but it has pointed the way to the figures: a transparent and realistic process.
What was it all about in 2010? A retrospective view is essential in order to understand the current verdict. The calculation of the Hartz-IV rates is based on the so-called “statistical method”, meaning that the minimum living standard is defined statistically. The minimum living standard is therefore that amount which the lower stratum of the population (in concrete terms the lower 20%) has or spends. This method is a conceivable approach for determining the minimum living standard, and no objection was raised to it by the Constitutional judges. The legislature however has made deductions from the statistical result, and actually to the level of 28%. It has simply deleted or curtailed certain items of expenditure quite freely according to the motto: a Hartz-IV recipient does not need so much. And this is where the Federal Constitutional Court is mistaken: these deductions are unjustified and unconstitutional.
The problem with the deductions is as follows: Statistics represent an average. If the recipient concerned spends more on a particular item, he can compensate for this by savings on other items (“internal compensation”). This then gives the statistical mean. The internal compensation however is endangered if expense items are simply curtailed or deleted, contrary to the statistics - the balance is then lacking. The statistical method is therefore nothing more than a suitable starting point in determining the minimum living standard; if this method is undermined by deletions however, it falls short of its objective. It then no longer provides the minimum living standard, but the figures that fit into the budget concept of party-politics.
The Federal Constitutional judges were also concerned with a further problem in 2010. The so-called updating. It would perhaps be too complicated to apply corresponding statistical rises every year. In the interim years (between one and the next statistical rise), the Hartz-IV rate would be increased according to the pension value. The pension value gives the current value income points under the German pension insurance system. The pension value is a complicated matter. It is calculated on the basis of gross salaries and the so-called sustainability factor. The Federal Constitutional Court saw in this method of updating a breach in the system: the pension value has no reference to the minimum living standard. The updating should be based instead on price developments and net salaries.
The Federal Constitutional Court therefore gave legislation some homework to do on the reform of Hartz IV. How did politics react? It changed the laws of course. And it of course specified in great detail how to carry out this constitutional homework like a model pupil.
But a more rational comparison of the figures before and after the reform gives a different picture:
Standard rate 2008 € 351,00
Pension value 2008 € 26,56
Pension value 2011 € 27,47
Standard rate 2011 € 363,03

The reformed standard rate for 2011 is based numerically (with rounding) on the updating of the (unconstitutional) rate received at that time with the current pension value. That means: In the end effect, nothing has changed at all. Politics simply continues as before. Only the justification has been upgraded. To put it another way: The product itself has not become any better, but only the marketing. And the Federal Constitutional Court is satisfied with this! That is quite incredible. But perhaps the Federal Constitutional Court is subject to the general market economy trend: It is not quality which counts, but good marketing. With malice, it can be established that several legal proceedings by bodies at all levels have plundered the tax coffers, but without managing to pass judgements in the name of the people, and protect the taxpayer if he is forced to rely on Hartz IV. Party-politics, the waste of money for highly dubious party-political ambitions and the Federal Constitutional Court itself, which as the highest court in the land should pronounce judgement within the sense of a Constitution which should protect the citizen has led only to the arousing of expectations which complied neither with policy nor with jurisdiction.
The computational tricks of the Bundestag are thereby simple and easy to understand:
  • The statistical framework has been curtailed. It no longer refers to 20%, but to 15%! If one simply curtails the statistical frame in this way, it has a lower level of statistical output. It is no longer necessary to make so many deletions / cuts in individual expenditure items, which would be difficult to justify and open to attack.

  • Other expenditure items have simply been deleted with different justifications.

The Federal Constitutional Court has allowed this to happen. The deletions make this inevitable. For example tobacco, alcohol, mobile phones. As if Hartz-IV recipients never drank alcohol, never smoked or communicated by mobile phone! These deletions were conceived either out of thin air, or they have the bitter taste of authoritarian Government paternalism. Such deletions have in any event nothing to do with a realistic means of determining the minimum living standard - as called for by the Federal Constitutional Court in 2010. Apparently this has been “nodded through” by party-politics with the aid of a Federal Constitutional Court consisting of judges and even chief judges amenable to the party, and has thrown overboard the good approaches of the year 2010.
Once again, party-political injustice has been transformed into supposed and unfortunately valid law. This is how jurisdiction works on the basis of party-political and politicised regulations. Where then is right in the sense of the law? And the sense of justice of people who have studied law, and who pronounce judgement not in the sense of the law, but so as not to endanger their own existence? And then pronounce judgement in the name of the people, but by no means in the interests of the people. What legal expert would like to become the recipient of state aid, because these views are known and seem less desirable than to follow the wishes of party politics and to transform right into supposed law. Those judges who since the foundation of the state have set aside popular co-determination, and yet prescribed it by means of a basic law as the Constitution have rendered themselves dependent on inhuman politics. It is this immorality which characterises German democracy today, and which must be therefore be destined to be replaced by directly democratically elected democracy.
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