More than one in five children in Germany lives in poverty and what is the traffic light government doing? It is ruining the basic child welfare system.

Baby with torn socks

The poor of this country do not have an effective lobby Photo: Ute Grabowsky/imago

Finally, you can read again about basic child welfare, the “biggest traffic light social policy reform project” (Family Minister Lisa Paus). It is not obvious that in these turbulent times, with fears of a world war and debates over the DFB's equipment suppliers, a social issue receives the title of “central controversial issue of the traffic light coalition” (“Tagesschau”). But that's all the good thing about this topic.

In the case of basic child security, services such as child benefit, citizen child benefit and child benefit should be provided by a single authority in a simple and bureaucratic way. The benefits should also reach families who have not previously received them. That the project now threatens to be crushed between partisan opportunism (FDP), indifference (SPD) and incompetence (Greens) is a scandal at least as big as the budget annulled by the Federal Constitutional Court.

And this scandal becomes even greater when you look at the Joint Partnership's latest poverty report: Child poverty has reached “a sad new record,” it says. More than one in five children are affected by poverty (21.8 percent), as are 43.2 percent of single parents. Families with older children are also mentioned as a group especially affected.

On the surface, once again it's all about numbers. Last summer, Family Minister Lisa Paus and Finance Minister Christian Lindner were still arguing over financing, so the initially requested €12 billion turned into a paltry €2.4 billion. This time the figure 5,000 is emotional: it is the number of new full-time jobs needed to proactively implement the basic child support provided to those in need, according to the responsible ministry. Of course, the four to five percent FDP party once again shouts “bureaucracy monster” on principle and writes such original phrases as “Make the welfare state fitter, not fatter.”

The Chancellor is hiding

The SPD and its chancellor are once again hiding from an important conflict. And the Greens are once again failing because of their hasty willingness to reach a deal. “I am sure that the total number of jobs can still be reduced through synergy effects and constant digitalization,” Family Minister Paus now awkwardly concludes.

But it is only superficially about numbers. The objective is “to move from the obligation of citizens to collect to the obligation of the State to deliver”, is the phrase of the Minister of Family, which in reality triggers liberal hysteria (“disturbing”, Christian Lindner). For once, the Family Minister got straight to the point: of course, a welfare state worthy of the name has the task of compensating for unequal initial conditions for children.

If the State does not have a responsibility here, who does? The fact that the FDP continues to deny the most important premise of its vaunted meritocracy is expected to cause outrage: there is simply no equality of opportunity that allows one to improve one's situation through hard work alone.

What should be shocking is that those in this coalition who recognize this do not have the guts to act on it. And that the poor of this country still do not have an effective lobby.

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