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Discovering Injustice . . . -IUF Comment 29/2006

Sascha Tamm, IUF

is a profitable business in the social welfare state, as the philosopher Wolfgang Kersting stated. Now the Minister-President from North Rhine-Westphalia has discovered a new injustice: The elder unemployed would have paid into the unemployment insurance system much longer and consequently would have drawn benefits for a longer period of time. Of course, this argument contains a deliberate error in reasoning. Unemployment insurance is by no means an insurance plan. Furthermore, it has certainly never been stated in any private insurance plan that the elder unemployed would receive benefits for a longer period of time. This would cause an increase in the individual contribution amount. In a health insurance plan, the individual who has paid longer into the system does not receive superior benefits. There certainly would be many different rates with differing contribution and benefit structures. And, as in every insurance plan, there also would be many participants who never received benefits. Without these structures, the insurance model, in which the risk is shared, would be counterproductive. Incidentally, private insurance is a collaborative form of voluntary solidarity whose effectiveness and its ethical quality can never be matched by public redistribution schemes, even though they are portrayed as "solidarity."  


In particular, Kersting refers to groups who define themselves as victims and take advantage of others who have not been as successful at attaining "auto-victimization" status. For politicians, however, the business of discovering injustices is at least just as profitable because it creates a need for action. Politicians provide for some by distributing privileges at the expense of others -- especially from future generations. A certain group of the electorate feels well provided for and then says "thank you" at the election polls. At least that is the calculated risk taken by Rüttgers and his colleagues. They do exactly that what the neo-liberals always accuse them of: They completely economize human relations.  


The terms "auto-victimization" and "discovering injustice" originated from Wolfgang Kersting: The Liberal Liberalism, Tübingen 2006 - a highly recommendable pamphlet that is based on his lecture given in Freiburg in 2005.  





  • Sascha Tamm, IUF


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