German Outrage At 'Tag
The Jobless' Proposal

By Hannah Cleaver in Berlin
The Telegraph - UK
Germany's soul-searching over its high unemployment took a bizarre turn yesterday when a minister was forced to disown his apparent support for giving the jobless electronic tags.
Christean Wagner, justice minister for the state of Hesse, provoked outrage by suggesting on his website last month that electronic tagging would offer the long-term unemployed "the chance to return to a regulated daily schedule and be found a job".
After newspapers were alerted last week, Mr Wagner's office initially accused critics of malign distortion. It later blamed "an unfortunate mis-wording", saying that the proposal should have applied to "criminals on probation who were also unemployed or drug addicts in therapy".
However, his opponents said the Christian Democrat's gaffe was typical of his patronising, not to say hostile, attitude to Germany's almost five million jobless. One, J¸rgen Walter, said Wagner thought "unemployed people are lazy riff-raff who don't get out of bed in the morning and by eleven have already drunk five beers".
Germany's unemployed have a reputation for being unwilling to travel far for work or take low-paid or unskilled jobs. Recent measures aimed at increasing the incentives to find work have provoked huge ill feeling with, so far, very little success.
The regulations have even given birth to a powerful, if totally apocryphal, urban myth that women have been threatened with benefit loss for refusing to work in brothels.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.



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