Saturday, November 27, 2004

German economics

Germans call it "Hartz vier," but it's appropriately pronounced "Hartz fear." Exec Peter Hartz has been drafted to bolster Germany's economic foundation in terms of the social safety net.

Hartz is in his fourth ("vier" in German) round of cutting back on the country's extensive entitlements. For example, he wants to limit unemployment benefits to one year.

The resulting outcry is reminiscent of Clinton era welfare reform. During my recent tour of Germany, "Hartz vier" was on the minds of many. We're sure German politicians are more than happy to let a private citizen take all the heat of welfare reform.

In Friday's New York Times, Mark Landler
writes: "To shake loose the country's hidebound labor market, Mr. Hartz went after its rigid work rules, implacable labor unions and, most controversially, its generous unemployment compensation, which makes life on the dole a reasonable alternative for millions of Germans."