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Volker Pispers: Capitalism + . . .     07.02.2011

[Social insurance lies]

Name any of the areas I mentioned in which an improvement has taken place over the past 40 years. Have the endless reforms improved anything in the health sector? Hospitals, care homes - anything better? The pension gap4 - that's a huge topic: we all know that the levy-financed scheme has become unaffordable. That's what we were persuaded into believing. That's why today you have an [additional] capital-based pension. Which you can lose completely, as you notice right now. Everything you have set aside by today can be worthless tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen. Your house can lose its value completely. Your house is worth as much as someone is prepared to pay if you have to sell it. If you have bad luck, you live in a neighbourhood in which the jobs are gone and no-one wants to move there. In that case you can only eat up your house. You have to be flexible and may need to move somewhere else. Then you can leave your house behind. It's of no value whatsoever. The only thing that cannot go broke is the levy-financed pension that they have talked us out of. This scheme cannot break down, it has survived all crash tests of the last century.
You need to understand this pension model. Levy-financed does not mean you pay for 30 years into the pension fund and get the money paid out with interest. Levy-based means: the revenue that people earned this year is apportioned, distributed. We can only distribute what exists. That's sensible housekeeping. The earnings can vary from year to year, but they can never be zero. And during any future crisis something will still be earned. And we distribute this yearly sum-total amongst those whose work created it, and those who are too young to work, and those who are too old. And if you reach the age of 80 you will have profited for 20 years, have paid in for 40 years, and have profited for a further 20 years.

You can't have it any fairer. And it would work perfectly if all those in society with earnings would participate. In Germany the system isn't working because the doctors have their own pension scheme, the architects have their own scheme, the lawyers have their own scheme, the public functionaries have no [contribution-based] scheme, and the politicians have no [contribution-based] pension scheme either. All those who earn a bit more than the average have decoupled themselves from the levy-based pension scheme. In Germany only 27% of the population pays into the levy-based scheme. But 70% expect a pension from that scheme. That can't work of course. If the GNP rises and the proportion of people who earn wages and salaries dwindles, then everything that is earned in the country has to be included in the calculation. And this works.

[Switzerland does it better]

Switzerland has such a system. Of course the Swiss only have it because they didn't pay attention in arithmetic at school - they have a levy-based pension scheme because they're a trifle dense! In Switzerland you contribute from all your sorts of income. From rent, interest, dividends, speculation gains, and from wages/salaries. A smaller percentage as here, but from all sources. And this guarantees everyone in Switzerland a basic pension high enough that he can live from it. Of course that's only possible because Switzerland is a prime example of a socialist country ☺ You will have guessed this. In case you've never been there, you should be aware that the Swiss border is secured by means of spring guns [Selbstschussanlagen]. At the borders the rich always have to be caught with a lasso to prevent them from escaping.

[Distributing the load fairly]

In our country this system couldn't be implemented at all. If Westerwelle [German foreign minister, FDP] had to pay into the same fund as his charwoman he would get so many pimples you couldn't recognize him any more, ladies and gentlemen. ☺ And better still is people getting told: our pension system is socially just because everyone pays the same percentage. The SPD always says: strong shoulders must bear more [of the burden]. Levies for the healthcare fund, pension fund, unemployment fund and nursing fund amount to 20% of the gross wage/salary income. Do you imagine for everyone? Mmh.. better stay with the Easter Bunny. If you earn €2000 a month you pay 20% ~ €400 in social insurance levies. Should you earn €4000 gross, you pay 20% ~ €800. If you earn €8000 what do you suppose you pay? 20% ~ €1600? Not quite. You pay €889.93. It doesn't get any more. Amazing, isn't it? What the strong shoulders have to bear. If your salary is €20,000 monthly you still pay only €889.93. It doesn't rise further. You can earn as much as you like. It's the so-called contribution-assessment-ceiling [Beitragsbemessungsgrenze]. You can also call it a protection fence for the rich. Above a gross salary of €5500 you cease to pay more into the pension fund. Above €4800 your healthcare fund contribution stops rising. Someone earning €20,000 pays the same sum for healthcare insurance as someone with a salary of €5000. Only, the person earning €5000 pays 20%, and the one earning €20,000 pays only 5% of his income. That is the fairness of our systems. The strong shoulders must bear more. Yes, on their way home more caviar in their pockets. ☺☺ The healthcare system is more batty still, ladies and gentlemen. If your monthly income is permanently over €5000 you are entitled private insurance. You earn €200-300 more than your colleague, and as reward you are allowed a cheaper insurance. Because you earn more. As compensation you get a better medical care. Because you pay less. Try explaining the fairness of that to a person whose IQ is at least slightly above his body temperature.

4) "Pension gap" [Rentenlücke] = the difference between what you get and what you need, supposing you need more than you get, and however your need is defined

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