The Ideas Lab:Die Frau ist verrücht?

ofppeepySo 2016 Democratic Presidential inevitable Hillary Rodham Clinton was part of a panel that talked about ideas for America’s economy. She spoke on the German concept of Kurzarbeit. This is a system that has companies keep workers in lean times instead of laying them off. The government pays for the employees staying on the job. When things improve the skilled employees are still in place and the company doesn’t skip a beat. The public funds that go to the company for the employee are seen as a tradeoff for funds that ,as in America, would otherwise be disbursed via unemployment payments.

This system is totally unlikely to fly in the USA for a number of reasons and Shrillary readily concedes this. Monies coming from the federal treasuries to pay outright or subsidize employees would present a book-keeping nightmare let alone the other regulatory and electoral nightmares tied to its implementation.

There is something to be said though about it being an idea though and ideas are often in short supply in American political circles. Of course ideas get their start and nurturing from specific entities and the event that featured this one is one of Americas big unions.afscam

Although I appreciate the plight of the American workforce I don’t know if the cures we need are to be found in such concepts as Kurzarbeit.

The US economy is undeniably sliding in a very specific direction and I don’t see the slide abating any time soon. Ironically two reasons this is happening is 1) the deterioration of labor unions and 2) the interference of government regulations.

With this truth you can understand how I find it ironic that the two parties involved in the problem are tossing out a cure that represents another example of the problem. Wash-Rinse-Repeat?

Still outside the box ideas will be needed in America and very soon. I personally like the idea of portable pension and health care plans. I am also a huge fan of job sharing and tele-commuting. Could I buy into Kurzarbeit too? I think something like it could potentially play a role but I think only in very unique and very German settings. I think the private manufacturing sector whether its unionized or not is the only place that makes sense,and then only on a very defined short-term. I don’t see how it could be appropriate amongst the service sector. Ultimately I think if we do some other things to improve the economy we won’t have to worry about unique ways around unemployment security schemes.

All in all I say this idea is interesting but Kaput.



  1. Rutherford says:

    Sorry I didn’t see this till now; catching up in my reading. Never heard of Kurzarbeit but I think it is brilliant. Would love to know how the Germans pull it off as I agree with you that American implementation would be a nightmare. But then we, as a country can’t even wipe our own ass lately.

    Three thoughts:
    1) It cannot be overestimated how badly a layoff degrades self esteem. I believe it particularly true for men. Kurzarbeit not only preserves the family income, it preserves personal dignity.
    2) Companies are no longer forced to make do and product quality is maintained. IBM lays off regularly and the shitty quality of their service organization is the result.
    3) Who would ever have thought Germany was the go-to place for compassionate solutions?

  2. Alfie says:

    Germany has a very comprehensive labor folder. Unions of course are bigger there than here but benefits and guarantees is the other area that it shows.
    Thanks for stopping by and by all means check out the New Blues. I concede there is one line you’ll hate but overall I’m proud of it.

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