Unemployment – My story

After my graduation at the Advertising Academy U5 in Munich I did the next logical thing. I went looking for an Internship as a copywriter and got a very good offer from Saatchi & Saatchi Germany. A company I hold in high esteem to this day. So I moved to Frankfurt and worked there for six fun months on internship pay and lots of support by my parents. My then Girlfriend (now wife) found some decent work as a temp. We could pay the bills, afford a night out every month or so and had a cozy place to live. Life was good.

Sadly things then weren’t going so smoothly for the Publicis Group and therefore for Saatchi & Saatchi. So after My Internship ended things changed drastically. I lost my job and learned firsthand what it means to be unemployed in Germany.

People who have worked up to one year first receive 6o % of their previous paycheck for up to a year. Since my internship was my first payed job and only lasted for 6 months I was out of luck and fell into the category that receives “unemployment pay two”, now what exactly is that? For a household of two people you get rent, water, heating and electricity for an apartment of 60 square meters and a little more than 600 Euros for food, drink, clothing, insurances, fuel and doctors bills. It isn’t a life of luxury, but it is a decent life if you don’t have debts to pay. Now how do you get this unemployment pay 2?

First you have to find out which “Jobcenter” (Sounds like Orwellian newspeak, doesn’t it?) is the one you have to go to. Then you call that Jobcenter and ask for an interview appointment. Usually you get an appointment within the same month. At the interview you have to answer all sorts of questions aiming at finding out which jobs you are (also) qualified for. Then you get a questionnaire to fill out, and a list of things you need to hand in with that questionnaire. It is assumed, that everything is in the green and you get the unemployment pay retroactively beginning from the Time you where last employed. Now the what is that questionnaire about?

Here you have to tell the German authorities exactly how much money you have. If you have any insurances, you have to cash them in. if you have property, you have to live on it, or sell it. if you have something saved up for your old age, you have to spend that first, and you need to bring in documentation for it all. Also you have to prove what you have earned and spent in the last half year, so they want copies of all your account statements of the last 6 months. Which I did.

The whole experience was harrowing and humiliating but at least we did not go hungry.

Thank you Germany!


Keep tolling the bell.


Learning and Education – Part 5: Thoughts for the future

What did I learn from the Interview? Maybe the most important thing is, that the education currently does not fit the requirements of the job market. With the implementation of Masters and Bachelors Germany is forcing people who are deemed unfit on unwilling employers. Then we are offering to few positions for advancement to masters, wihich would have been unnecessary if the employers had been duly prepared.

What can be done to improve the situation? Businesses could hire people with bachelor degrees and see if it works out. Why shouldn’t it? Then universities need to use the money they have better to offer more paths to usable degrees, or they really need to stop asking for money. Maybe we should return to the old ways of Magisters and Diploms. Sure they are less international, but at least students could find jobs in Germany with both degrees.

We need a usable Education for everyone, and either students can pay money and expect an education that will make them some more money in return, or education can remain and return to being free and you have the luxuries to make some mistakes but have to put up with one or the other full auditorium.
But an education that costs you money and years of your time and leaves you unable to support yourself, that is unacceptable and has to stop right now!

Path out of a Global Crisis

August 2011: For all my current readers: I probably do not have to tell you in what kind of predicament the world is right now. For everyone in the future,  here is the short version of it:

Europes nations, the USA and a whole lot of African Nations seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle of debt. Unhappiness is up, unemployment is up and in this post peak oil economy everyting else seems to be going down.

How can we overcome this situation? I have some proposals to the world, ranging from mild to radical, that I want to share with you now. I will start with the mild ones:

1. Tax the Rich! Now, I am not implying, that there is no tax on rich people and corporations, but it really needs to be cranked up. Why? Because one measure of wealth in an economy is how easily money flows from top to bottom and vice versa. And that wealth is not only measured in money, but also in quality of infrastructure, education and public health. in the end everyone will benefit. The poor will have jobs building rails and roads, policing our streets and caring for the injured sick and elderly. The rich will drive on better roads, will live in safer neighborhoods with friendlier police officers, and have more experienced and relaxed medical staff when they need care. And everyone does.

2. Think of the bare necessities. There are four things every citizen of a free state should have if he wishes so: shelter, food and drink, healthcare and education. Here some people will yell “Socialism!” but bear with me. It is good and right that the quality of life of any individual depend on her or his will to work. After all, awarding lazyness is no good. I am not talking about handing over money to people to pay their rent, buy their food and pay their doctors. This bears the danger of people depriving themselves or their kids for luxuries like a new cellphone or alcohol. Give them a home, not money for it, give them meals, not money or food stamps and take away their worries about how they wil survive tomorrow.
How will the rich benefit from this? They will get employees who love their job more, employees that view their employment more as an opportunity and not a necessity. People will come forward in companies and share their wealth of knowledge and their opinions, rather than keeping them secret out of fear of getting fired and being deprived of their livelyhood.

3. Energy independence. Oil, coal, gas and even fission materials are finite resources. it will not help if we drill baby drill, and then drill some more. Finite resources will become increasingly difficult to obtain and will rise in cost. So we should use them now to build a society that is independent of fossil fuels. Clean and practicable fusion reactors might still be a century or two away, and in fact may never be acheived, but let us do what we can do now. So what if photovoltaics do not return well on the energy investment, we can use solar convection to bridge the gap. How will the poor benefit from this? In the long run, energy could get a lot cheaper. That is a big deal when you consider the cost for heating, driving and running all your appliances. How will the rich benefit from this? Company owners will see a cost reversal on the energy market. While daytime solar power will become cheaper, nighttime energy will be at a premium. so it will become cheaper to run their computers and factories during working hours. How will employees benefit from THAT? companies will be mor reluctant to have you working overtime, because it is expensive to run large businesses at night. How does everyone benefit? The economy will gain stability by not being dependent on the changing cost of energy.

These where my mild proposals, ready for the radical ones?

1. Take the bus, do it now! Why is this radical? Because it is not something the government will do for you. It will be uncomfortable, it will be something you will have to do as of now but it is also a step in the right direction. How will I benefit from this? You can read a Book on the bus, you will pay less for gas and will not have to find a parking space. How will the poor benefit? You are helping fund public transportation and encourage companies and politicians to invest more. How will the rich benefit? Better roads and better transportation will benefit everyone.

2. Forget gender, religion sexual orientation and race! If we do not do this, there will be always someone who looks down on you for the wrong reasons.

Before I stray into the realm of utopian fiction, I would like to bring this to an end. I will be looking forward to your comments and your criticism.

Keep tolling the bell.