Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

Labour markets and theory



1. Studies of Labour economics at Carleton U. (1966-69)

Library of Carleton University, Ottawa Nov. 2009            @hf


When studying economics at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada (1966-69), one problem perplexed me all the time: unemployment.

Whatever theories and economic principles were discussed, they did not add up to providing a solution. Each semester there were offered seminars about micro- and macro-economics, statistics, econometrics and international economics. The Economics department at Carleton offered even further studies on how labor markets function. However, upon closer examination it turned out to be a simple supply-demand model. That was not sufficient even if it made partially sense to speak about the capital / labor ratio. Naturally in terms of capital investments needed, it was useful to determine a path of development along certain scales of economies but the odd thing borne out by reality is while wages went down, prices and profits went up on the capital side. Once firms caught on that money can be made not be investing in production but in shares, then less investment meant a prize had to be paid by those not finding jobs.

Certainly sophisticated models have been developed and the Professors Lithwick and Paquet devoted their time to write an anti-poverty report when the Royal Commission came out with its report. Also the two prompted us students to venture into urban economics, and this at a time when cities like Detroit were burning and which became a focus of the Boggs Centre with Grace and James Boggs writing about the plight of the Blacks in those cities. For unemployment can also mean discrimination and therefore amounts to a social issue which goes well over the neutral econometic models offered in due course.

A whiff of a possible partial solution offered Keynes. He had the idea that the state should increase demand and thereby create jobs. It meant governmental responsibility there where the free market did not work. When listening to the professor explaining how public works demanded by the state would increase demand for labor, it seemed more like the pipe had gone cold a long time ago despite knowing from selling pipes down town as part time job that he was an avid smoker. He still would enjoy discussions with students while looking out the window to see Rideau canal down below but somehow the steam had gone out of the Keynesian idea.

The history of economic ideas stood apart from the rest of the knowledge corpus as did some exceptional studies which did cut across all disciplines such as Myrdal's 'Asian Drama'. The latter had undertaken it to study the complexities of the Indian and other Asian economies from as many angles as possible. It was an interdisciplinary approach which included an analysis of how the institutions work. Labor might mitigate across borders but surely Indria Ghandi's identification with the poor farmers meant a first attempt to break out of the colonial system and its specific forms of exploitation. Hunger, poverty and lack of education meant certain people would never make it outside their castes. It should be remembered that was 1969 with Sweden taking a lead in international efforts to follow up a critical conscience based on sensing this huge discrepancy between the developed Western world and the developing nations in Asia and elsewhere in the world.

2. The influx of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economic theory / Critical theory of the Frankfurt School - in search of an alternative to Neo-Liberalism and Marxism


Studies at London School of Economics 1969 – 70

Research into the Positivism Dispute between Karl Popper and Th.W. Adorno

Studies at Heidelberg University: Philosophy 1972 - 75

By 1969 it had become clear to many students of economics that Milton Friedman had pushed the Keynesian concept of governmental responsibility aside. His theory was very simple: consumers depend upon a life time income, supply and demand depend therefore on interest rates and money flow. The governments must not do anything more but regulate the flow of money, in reality a task of banks. By throwing out the Keynesian theory governmental responsibility for both the employed and the unemployed had been rejected as well.

In terms of development the dispute was of a different nature. Always the technical factor overdominated as the aim was to lift developing countries or else to let them catch up. Technology meant introducing a kind of speeding up factor. Practically instead of 100 men building the road, technology made sure a small crew consisting of one bulldozer driver, several truck drivers and then the crew to pave the road was needed, at most five. Gone was the notion of labour intensive work forms with everyone having a share of the pie. Naturally inefficiency of large enterprises with thousands of workers as was then the case in Socialist countries was exemplified to demonstrate in which direction the state controlled economy were heading and this definitely not to the benefit of the overall population whose consumption level remained low with products of only poor quality. In praise of competition and technical efficiency everyone had to praise an economic model which put profts first and employment opportunities second.

In the years that followed the outbreak of the student movement in 1968 which coincided with the squashing of the Prague Spring discussion about the economy relied on such Marxian concepts as the 'Asiatic Mode of Production'. Here Rudi Dutschke was one of the most prominent believers in this concept. He was of the opinion this was the problem of the future, namely a highly centralized state due to the high costs of technology and therefore due to the exchange of land for money the creation of a new land owing class or financial aristocracy as the case with Bill Gates and Microsoft technology overdominating the computer based economy. For this reason Dutschke did not like at all the French philosophers discussed then in terms of Post-Modernism and Deconstructionism. Unfortunately this confusion at philosophical level and political economy being taken to mean classical studies of Marx meant to deal with Capitalism and the economy in general terms in order to remain the Critical Left.

As a result countless discussions and studies concentrated on capital accummulation and the alienation of the worker rather than on what Marx had discovered in terms of loss of a human language and of memory within the exchange principle. One step further and it would have explained the repeated failures of political movements to grasping complexity and still come up with proposals for governance. In this spectrum of discussions figures someone like Ralph Miliband who upheld the scientific rigor despite being a Marxist at London School of Economics while students were more in the end more affected by Lakatosh talking about his opposition to Karl Popper or Gellner why he believed a revolutionary would not stop at the bedroom door i.e. had no moral guilty feelings if sleeping with his friend's wife.

Literally speaking, economic theory was a sort of happy confusion what Radicalism meant in a political reality marked by the betrayal of the Left through the established parties like Labour in the UK and the Social Democrats in Germany. But in Germany Willy Brandt at that time made possible a break through with his East-West Agreement for it meant on the ground alleviating the plights of truck drivers when bringing goods to Berlin West as he encouraged everyone to risk more for democracy.

1972 - 1975 Studies in Heidelberg

At the level of work, people understood this that they have more potentials and values in them than to be satisfied with a job the father, grandfather and great grandfather had done. Rather than succumbing a priori to a determination for what job one was good for, a quiet revolution in education prompted people without having completed their schooling to take up studies again in order to qualify for a job at a much more self fulfilling level. The revolutionary parole for the individual was to strip off the image of being ugly, not worth anything, save for the rubbish collection job and thus to become a person with self respect. Work meant getting out of false dependencies and into jobs which made also political sense. The trade unions along with theories of autosuggestion, co-determination in Germany (West) and 'Philosophy of Praxis' in former Yugoslavia undertook several efforts to bring workers at par with the decision making level determining how a company works and what it takes to balance demands on the workers with alternative forms of production so that other capital forms could sustain work. These were the first signs of cooperatives on farms and which started to produce the cantine wines which everyone enjoyed for a while in huge quantities as cheap and good. It meant almost a merge of 'bread and wine' Hölderlin had never imagined would be possible. These were happy moments in the period following the student uprising and stretched into the eighties.

During that period, or more precisely around 1972-73 a first economic crisis hit West Germany which had exploded literally with steady economic growth rates after the initial take off following the depressing post war years. The economic growth making the D-Mark a hallmark had an interesting component. Rebuilding a house is a visible target. That is the easy part. Once the houses stand, then comes the more difficult part, namely how to keep the economy going while new infrastructural changes affected how companies operate. It was the time for the introduction of the computer into first the administration of a company. Automation and computer steered productions came only later. What happened was that firms started to split their financial assets. While they paid for the new offices equipped with computer in cash, they kept producing with old machines many on loans. Repeatedly workers put in a weekend to repair the machines while more and more contracts kept the firm busy, but due to the old equipment not able to keep up. The economic crisis and subsequent first wave of unemployment was the result of a false investment policy by many companies but also it indicated the difference between real and borrowed times. While the machines grinded often to a halt and workers took hours over the weekend to repair them, the real money went towards the new IT sector and to the managers along with their secretaries all involved in a kind of public relations game on behalf of their company. When the machines broke down and could not be repaired anymore, the firm was unable to fulfill its contracts and thus things grinded to a halt. It was a breakdown more than a lack of demand which created the first wave of unemployment in Germany after the war.

The UK in the meantime was suffering under other restrictions. It was always said Germany (West) had the advantage of the war since it destroyed all factories. By having to build up new ones, they were more efficient (this myth held for a long time despite the example given above). By contrast, the UK struggled because everything was old as it bore the signs of the first industrial revolution by now outdated in terms of modernisation but also scale. Everything was small in the UK, even the trains had a reduced size when it came to transport goods. The conversion from old forms of industrial production to high tech driven enterprises had just began and there are countless stories to be told. Alone what Jim Dunn, trade unionist at Massey Furgeson had to account, these stories can easily link up with Orwell's description of the coal miners up in Sheffield and to an economy determined as much by a class society with management always belonging to the upper class, if not to the aristocratic elite with relationships to the crown. There is a price to be paid whenever anarchronistic social structures are to be upheld while the economy is as inefficient as it strives towards a kind of overrated managerial driven efficiency producing a particular brand of culture.

3. Port of Genoa and technical change - 1975-77 (Gurvitch)

Technical changes - from bulk carriers to cargo ships - have altered the organization of ports and with it the long standing culture linked to dock workers. Where before thousands of gangs loaded and unloaded ships, the container traffic does away with all of these jobs. Instead there is needed only one crane operator and one person on the ground to guide the hook-up of the containers and their storage or loading.

The port of Genoa offered a deep insight into what this transition means when a study was undertaken by myself as to what would be the economic conditions of the port in future. Of interest was already that over time a pattern emerged with regards to capital investments. Once a crisis hit the economy, the investment flow was into ships or floating wealth while a return of that money onto land and real estate speculation was resumed once the economy was out of the crisis.

Of interest was the destruction of culture in this process of adaptation to technical change. It was Gurvitch who developed this insight into what happens when societies begin to develop. He wrote that the social structure which brings forth the new technology is then destroyed by that technology. It meant in Genoa that the persons once ashore or not working changed their clothes insofar as no one could recognize when in the street what form of existence they were pursueing to make a living. This neutralization of people's identities linked to designs of work meant clothes used for recognizing what the person was doing became a kind of general mask. If left everyone unknown as to how that person could idle all day long for it was a puzzle on how that person could manage to exist. As if those with wealth could mix easier among the common people and go unrecognized as the ones with a steady income or wealth off which they could live. Jean Paul Sartre had said already intellectuals are like that and can be distinguished from a chemin sweeper who can be recognized already by his work clothes and blackened face as to what his doing for earning his living. Intellectuals have no such visible and therefore recognizable identification possibilities safe glasses, a pipe and a book under the arm. But that would only uphold some stereotypical image and not come close to someone showing through his working clothes the link to a concrete form of existence.

4. Theories and facts about Unemployment in the EU - West Berlin (1980 - 85)

Studies of theories about Unemployment e.g. Altvater, Bolle at Otto Suhr Institute, FU Berlin (1980 - 1985)

One interesting aspect the political scientist Bolle emphasized is the legal leverage people had in Germany in comparison to other countries. If they had qualified through a certain apprenticeship or training program for a special category within the work structure, they could demand a job and be paid for what they been trained for.

At that time, West Berlin was facing the difficulties of economic survival due to the loss of many industrial productions after the end of Second World War. Big companies like SIEMENS had moved to Munich. The question was whether project related jobs linked to an entire movement interested in starting an alternative economy consisting of bicycle repair shops, alternative bakeries, training centres like the Werkschule for youngsters who had quit school without having taken the final exams etc. could generate different types of jobs. For they linked work to the political concept based on concerns for the environment and for work relationships with the others as being preferrable non hierarchical. Work experience was linked to making experiences in community flats often created in houses which were occupied as part of the squatter movement and this meant in turn to renovate houses oneself rather than giving these jobs to over expensive construction companies. The undercutting of high prices was a direct outcome of linking new social structures to this alternative mode of working together. Networks were created.

By 2010 these models have become well established with still a diversity of interests in upholding a collectivity of NGOs working for non profit within civil society rather than strictly adhering to the business rules of companies organised strictly to make a profit. Pfefferwerk in Berlin is a huge organisation requiring just as much managerial skills, but the individual NGOs housed in this entire arsenal of land and historical buildings opened up for reuse all function like bottom-up PPPs. They all obtain money by entering a partnership with all kinds of political authorities or derivates thereof made possible through the branching out of governmental agencies into semi social organisations e.g. responsible for housing, old aged people, housing etc.

5. Unemployment in the USA - the example of Detroit (1987 - ongoing)

Cities in America started to burn in the 1960'ies. Detroit appears to have been especially hard hit. The unrest about living permanently in areas of downgraded housing and no job perspectives especially amongst the black population of the city began to manifest itself around that time. Either through riots which left the entire inner core of the city devastated or else through the slow time of sheer neglect, local communities fell apart. To this have to be added decisions which lead to further devastations like the closing of the neighborhood school. A typical explanation was those with higher incomes either moved out or else never moved in. It left those fragmented urban areas exposed to everything from crime to abandoned children by their fathers.

Stefan Faigenbaum in Paris

Stefan Faigenbaum in Paris is preparing a movie about the destruction of Detroit. He tries to trace through the film the destruction as it has taken place since his childhood. He grew up in a certain street which is no longer recognizable today. The transformation of Detroit has also been described by Dan Georgakakas in 'My Detroit'. To date Detroit has not recovered even though the Boggs Centre has initiated many actions to rebuild the community. This includes urban agriculture, Detroit summer for youth stranded in the city during the holiday times, a school for unwed mothers to prevent them getting pregnant a second time before they had a chance to complete their education etc.

Unemployment comes at a scale so huge that it goes beyond the horizon one can make out when looking down one of these endless streets coming from nowhere and leading nowhere. The endless freeways with car after car rolling by does not alleviate this lack lustre life in a city hardly able to get up on its feet.

Ever since then community building has been connected with not only the unemployed, but the socially deprived, the teenage mothers before they turn eighteen, the drunken fathers, sons and brothers who leave behind wife, sisters and cousins so that still in 2010 President Barack Obama could address in one of his famous speeches the responsibilities of a father for his kids.

James Boggs predicted the outcome of the massive unemployment was due to automation and overproduction. While many are made superfluous in the process others never get a job inside those factories with their robot systems and outdated stewardmanship allowing classical managers still to yell at their subordinates and get away with it. If anything can communicate that book by Rich Feldman, then "at the end of the Line" means every worker in the factory expects some respect, some recognition for only that makes it worthwhile to work under humiliating conditions. The unemployed rationalise their dire condition by saying to themselves and to anyone who cares to listen at least they are not being humiliated by a boss. They are, however, humiliated by the condition Eldrige Cleaver coined to be 'soul on ice'.

Rich Feldman who works together with Grace Boggs at the Boggs Centreto rebuild Detroit, announced in 2008 the new introduction to Revolution and Evolution in the 21 century that will be published by Monthly Review Press. He wrote following thoughts on how difficult it is to find a language which will put their intentions into true words:

"We just had a gathering in Detroit , Transformational Conversations in Detroit, that continues to show both the hunger to rethink concepts of revolution of the 20th century and the difficulty to create language for our vision, our concept of movement and our present practice which needs to be  based upon the two sided simultaneous transformation of ourselves and all our institutions.

Responding to the economic meltdown and the foreclosures provides an opportunity to essentially speak out against the credit card economy and the bank credit, casino multinational consolidation of banks and investment companies.  At the same time as we build and truly create the new society within the old.  Detroit communities are being consciously established in neighbourhoods through the commitment to grow food (planting trees will provide fruit in 6-8 years), gardens at public high schools (Catherine Ferguson) that clearly show in a mutually respectful manner the respect of people for the school and the involvement of community folks who see that today's grocery store an be a new farm in their neighbourhood or the establishment of community houses for education, leadership and transformation that supports former prisoners re-gain their humanity and redefine their identity as leaders for a new society (Hush House).

While I demonstrated my anger at the bailout of the banks, we needed to burn our credit cards and declare and demonstrate our commitment to creating local economies based upon new principles and ethics of work.

A revolution that advances our humanity in the era of the rapidly declining empire and in the middle of a national election as well as the continued advances of a counter-revolution provides such a demand for reflection, self-criticism and risk.  And maybe it all does come down to our commitment and love for each other, our globe and the deep belief that we truly can become more human in our struggle to create the new.

This week-end was another example of the preciousness of each human being who makes a commitment to this journey of a 21 century revolution."


6. EU Economy and member states: competences for measures to fight unemployment

Since employment policy falls within the competences of the member states, the European Union can only use indirect methods such as the open method of coordination to introduce in this field such things as common measures, statistics and proposals on how to advance together. Since these open methods of coordination are committees functioning at a non commital level but close to the Ministers responsible for employment, it is not clear how a structured dialogue with Civil Society shall bring about desired policy measures. The process is complicated and often many discourses run parallel to each other without any interconnection. This explains already the cumbersome way the EU arrives at any common decision. The interests and willingness of the EU member states to go along with it have to be taken into consideration at all times.

At EU member state level, and even at regional and local levels, a lot of work is reproduced. Many civil servants complain about the endless need to report to the EU all the time while little or no direct work with projects can feed into the discursive practice.

Some of these practices seeking to do away with unemployment are linked to such aspirational goals as equality of opportunities, but which is, of course, far fetched from reality. Next to job equality there exists as well gender equality as main orientation.

As to the dialogue between social partners, this presumes an industrial sector vis a vis organised workers i.e. trade unions. That means a lot of these structured dialogues are contingent on what are considered to be 'social partners'. They are defined in both an economic and institutional way.


Fifth Seminar ’Cultural actions for Europe’: Workshop 4 Employment and Training

For a first premise to further debate on this subject matter see Workshop 4: Unemployment and Enterprises as Learning Organisations in the Fifth Seminar 'Cultural Actions for Europe' held in Athens 1994 with Peter Gut from the Berlin Senate as chairperson of the workshop.



1995 - 2000

It had been thought in Europe the labor market would be different. There was for a long time 'zero tolerance' for any sign of unemployment. Work was the way to integrate oneself into society. Without such a chance a person would quickly be considered an outcast, if not worse a thief who was taking away time and money from other people. The American influence was felt more and more through the argument due to mobility of people there will always be some who leave jobs in search of a new one. In the USA a figure of 4% was considered to be the real threshold of a difference between stable economic growth bringing about so much employment and an indication that investments combined with the creation of new jobs was not enough to absord those who wanted to enter the labor market. By 2010 the European employment rate has climbed to over 10%.

Once given in to this kind of statistical adjustment and relying on some interpretations of the statistical data to make the situation appear less disasterous, governments after governments compromised the labor market against a technology induced economic development leaving out of consideration the need to keep the economy so diversified that many niches would provide jobs for everyone. Like the petrol station either you have the customers fill the tanks of their cars by themselves or there are people employed to do that job of servicing the cars. Thanos Contargyris, manager of DIALOGOS, would argue the latter is a formula for retaining a humane economy. This would mean integrating as well the one with disabilities since there would be plenty of jobs around to get things done. Only with automation and rationalisation the labor intensive mode of production was considered too big a cost factor for companies to retain that equation.

1989 - ongoing - the collapse of the Soviet Union, German and European unification

When East Germany collapsed and the former DDR joined West Germany, factories with 9 000 people closed down and put all of them out on the streets. The recovery from that shock therapy starting in 1989 has been slow and it is doubtful if things can get really back to normal. In former East Germany the cities are shrinking with many people immigrating to the West as they wanted to do so already before the fall of the wall. And the risk factor of falling below existential minimum is steadily rising for those who stay behind. It is a thinning out what is left.


In Athens during the crisis many feel they cannot make out a sign thereof. The cafes are filled with people and everyone keeps up apparently their normal pace of life. Still outsiders would be shown the many shops which have closed and the numerous signs outside of houses that an apartment is either up for sale or else available for rent. Civil servants have to shoulder a cut in their salaries up to 30% or a loss of around 600 Euros per month in the case of senior civil servants who would in good days not earn more than 2100 Euros netto. There is wide spread fear the lowering of their incomes will decrease consumption even more as the civil servants were a potent class when it came to purchasing items or services.

A common sense is aside from a youth struggling to find jobs for the first time in their lives with entry into professional life not at all that easy, there are the long term unemployed which poses even in Germany a huge problem despite making headways in lowering as sole exception amongst all EU member states the number of unemployed.

Man begging at cafe 'nice & easy'


By this time the austerity measures imposed upon a country like Greece have created a youth unemployment around 47%. The figures are similar high in Portugal, Spain, and just a bit less in other EU countries. Many know what it means to just scrape through. As one student of art puts it, the choices are becoming less and less, and one gets the feeling of standing with the back to the wall.

In this critical situation the Informal Council of the European Union attempt at its meeting at the end of January 2012 to reverse the trend, or at least in some parts of Europe (with the exception, so it seems, with regards to Greece). It is said in a rhetorical skilled language that the European Union no longer wishes to reinforce only austerity measures. The latter are linked to the important priority of reducing state deficits. Thus, there is a wish to create at least the impression that the Council wishes to alter the European agenda a tiny bit. It does so by giving emphasis once more to growth (and this despite all the controversies surrounding 'growth' orientated policy in the past, for it has led to over consumption, destruction of nature and environmental problems which augmented so much that no sustainable development was achieved in the long run). No mention is made here of the 'zero growth' discussion as if the pendulum is going to swing again from one extreme to the other.

Man sleeping on the pavement near Kolonaki Square in Athens


Record high unemployment

The European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg announced Oct. 31, 2012


That’s the highest since the data series started in 1995. The data also showed that youth unemployment is at 23.3 percent, with Spain’s rate more than double that, at 54.2 percent. A separate report showed inflation cooled to 2.5 percent in October from 2.6 percent.

That means that 18.5 million people (EUGNEMUQ) were unemployed in the euro area in September, up 146,000 from the previous month. At 25.8 percent, Spain had the highest jobless rate in the currency bloc. Portugal’s unemployment rate was at 15.7 percent, while Ireland reported a jobless rate of 15.1 percent. France’s jobless rate was at 10.8 percent, while Austria had the lowest rate at 4.4 percent.

In Greece, it is said that one out of four is without a job.



All this accounts for economies on the down turn. The expression used to describe this is 'recession hit' and the explanation offered is that companies are forced to cut costs, and therefore massive unemployment. Lately Ford Motor Company had to close some of its branches while Investment Bank UBS is said to release many as the investment business is turning out to be no longer as lucrative as it was during peak time.

Basically the policies by local and regional governments, federal or central governments and the European Union in combination with what are international factors such as trade, oil prices but also wars and conflicts, environmental disasters etc. all add up to some overriding principles: how to bring back jobs into the local economy after a wave of outsourcing had become a firm drain while everyone realizes a return to the old form of production is no longer feasible as robots and modern technology alter production.

Exactly in this situation it is interesting to see how educational reform, including practical qualification courses or on job training programmes, is making communal schools become popular again. The relationship between home, school and job in a modern society was torn apart and as demonstrated in Detroit once the last communal school closes those who can afford it move out at the latest from the local community. And without any social cohesion other problems ranging from juvenile delinquency to long term unemployed begin to overburden the social networks and institutions set up to help those in need. Even civil society with extra energy for those out at the periphery cannot cope with this extra burden. In political terms, it means that those belonging to the socalled middle class are taking a hit as well. Most of all as job prospects for the youth diminish, they begin to orientate themselves towards other than classical jobs within the global economy. In Greece, the district assemblies lead on to further models of existence linked to the return to the land. And once those experiences have been made and a new phase of disenchantment has set in, four to eight years have been lost in terms of real investments in a viable future.

Naturally there should not be forgotten what James Boggs, author of 'the American Revolution' has called the work ethics, or what it takes to find not just any job which brings in a wage, but which does mean the person is fulfilled insofar as the work being done has a meaning for life. It would include working on oneself to become a more mature and responsible human being. In the past this meant developing a resistance against the need to fit into a pre-existing frame allowing for only certain work to be done under very specific conditions, and that meant often hierarchy and acceptance of bullying at the job place, in order to find and to give space to one's own creativity.

But now that creativity is being tapped into by the socalled Cultural and Creative Industries, that free outlet is also being occupied by forces seeking new forms of exploitation. That means the smart operators combine many factors and learn to work in flexible teams which can stage multi media and mega events. But they are exceptions when it comes to exploiting creativity at levels nearly identical with media design, fashion and advertisement. It takes the slogan of the media being the message one step further and makes it into a show case as to what is possible. But again it means an elite way of showing to the masses of people what can be done to shock and to heal. The nasty and the good message are combined to ensure the pretense of being still realistic when in fact the luxurious class upholds a taste that makes marketing into a niche for only the privileged.

All others who seek to imitate that ran very quickly aground as something as big as making an exhibition in Shanghai is not necessarily the product of one genius but again a combination of factors which evoke the illusion of success as being based now on the one who is not merely creative and original, but also diversified enough to work under all conditions even if that means dictatorship. The West has been good on that score as shown in how long Mubarak was supported till finally the Arab Spring could demand his removal.

In the meantime, Germany serves as a model for enjoying economic growth and therefore a rise in tax returns, but the Hartz IV reform has become a system which grinds away merciless at those who are unemployed and forced to undergo a specific treatment. It means weekly lessons have to be attended even while searching for a job becomes a matter of writing applications. The question is how can those perceived as parasites and just lazy people can gain in self esteem to bring about a more courageous campaign for themselves, in order to obtain a job which is suitable to their abilities and which corresponds to societal needs not in a superficial, but structured and real way?

Definitely the economic policy being pursued at the moment has all the short comings when it comes to creating jobs. Since 'creativity' in that sense is never easy to come by, a more progressive policy would have to mean a shift in focus and resources so that people start working together with everyone benefitting. Some solution has to be found to overcome at the same time the dichotomy of private-public since working together cuts across both sides. There are wrong presumptions in both the private and public sector with regards to the hierarchy geared towards establishing some kind of authority, may that be the CEO or the elected Prime Minister of a country. For when it comes to these two spheres of influence for future jobs, it is fore most a matter of a blame game going on with claims by the private sector of being more efficient just as overstated as is the negation of public administration efficiency. The real problem is to separate and make distinct commercial and public accountability. They cannot be mixed nor brought together in Public Private Partnerships since these are the most intransparent forms of accounting when it comes to monitoring flow of payments in order to get certain jobs done e.g. building of a new international airport. Unfortunately in reality public works is just another cut out of the overall pie and most of the time there are not even left some crumbs for the rest of the unemployed. Even more ridiculous is the high wages paid in the one direction while at the other end of the scale whole families with children to bring up cannot even cope, that is afford a bicycle once the old one has been stolen. The latter aspect is just a hint at the many hidden costs incurred by the most vulnerable once social cohesion is no longer holding together a society based on the equality of every human being.

Hatto Fischer

Athens 31.10.2012

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