The pension discussion did not want to end in the past weeks. From the perspective of the Young Liberals (JuLis), however, the young generation was completely lost sight of. Again, a “massive expansion of pension benefits” is considered, whose funding is shifted to the future and thus at the expense of young people.
Reform of the company pension, minimum pension, east-west pension adjustment, double stop line at the pension level, pension provision for the self-employed – most recently in Germany much talked about the pension. Here are some concepts on the table, how to improve the pension system. But the bottom line in most of the proposals is funding . For example, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labor are currently negotiating whether they are to be paid out of tax revenue, ie by all citizens, or from the pension fund, and thus only by persons who are covered by statutory old-age insurance.
The ongoing debate over the financing of new pensions threatens to create a struggle between the old generation , who will benefit from the changes, and the new generation , which will have to shoulder financial responsibility. Florian Philipp Ott, Deputy Federal Chairman and Federal Press Spokesman of the Young Liberals, warns not to lose sight of the big picture. It must not be “that politics discusses new pension benefits year after year, but always simply outsources their financing to the future,” he says in an interview with finanzen.de.
Since no representative of the younger generation was invited to the coalition’s last pension summit, your federal chairman, Konstantin Kuhle, criticizes pension policy as one that does not value intergenerational justice. So how do you rate the compromise reached by the Grand Coalition on East-West pension adjustment, strengthening the company pension and improving the disability pension?
Florian Philipp Ott: Our criticism that at the pension summit no representative of the younger generation sat at the table, of course, was symbolic. Because with regard to the voting behavior of the younger members of the Union and the SPD, we have long since stated that in most cases the faction or coalition discipline is more important than the interests of their own generation . As a young liberal, that makes us angry. For after the billion-dollar pension package that launched the Grand Coalition shortly after the last general election, she is now discussing for the second time on a massive expansion of pension benefits – and always go one-sidedly at the expense of our generation.
The pension system is already shaky today. The federal government has to pay almost 100 billion euros a year from tax revenue because the employees’ pension contributions are no longer sufficient to finance all benefits. This corresponds to one third of the total federal budget. Due to demographic change, the situation is foreseeably worse, because fewer and fewer workers have to pay for more and more retirees. Anyone who only spent an afternoon on the pension system knows this.
Anyone who discusses additional pension benefits against this background is therefore attacking the young and our future prospects head-on. Of course, good arguments can be found for every single measure and, of course, there are many injustices in the pension system which everyone can understand. But at the same time we have to keep an eye on the big picture. Therefore, it must not be that politics discusses new pension benefits year after year, but always simply shifts their financing into the future.
Could a minimum pension, as currently proposed by Labor Minister Andrea Nahles , be a suitable means of protecting the younger generation from poverty in old age?
Florian Philipp Ott: To protect people from poverty, our welfare state has a whole repertoire of instruments. However, the pension does not belong to it according to its principle. Because as insurance benefits, it depends on the contributions paid in the course of working life. For that reason alone, there will always be people who have not worked, not permanently or only part-time and therefore receive a pension that is below the basic state security. That will not be unavoidable, because not everyone participates equally in working life.
But compensating for this can not be the task of the pension insurance. If, in the end, the minimum pension means that we guarantee basic public security to people even when they are older, if their pension is lower than that, that is correct, but it must be financed by tax revenue. If, however, minimum pensions mean that the employees’ pension contributions finance additional pension insurance benefits for which there are actually no entitlements, we see this as very critical.
In addition, with a view to impending old-age poverty, politicians should finally stop referring to the state pension system alone. Because anyone who wants to prevent old-age poverty for themselves, must provide additional private. That is clearly stated.
Nahles says goodbye to life benefits
For a long time, Minister of Labor Nahles has been campaigning for the so-called Lebensleistungsrente, but this has now been rejected. Instead, she strives for a minimum or solidarity, which should be unbureaucratic and fairer than the Lebensleistungsrent.
What do you think should be done in terms of pension policy to protect the rights and future of boys?
Florian Philipp Ott: We Young Liberals call for a clear commitment and adherence to the pension compromises of recent years. The grand coalition must finally stop talking about new pension benefits and compromise unilaterally . After all, the deal was as follows: Despite the demographic change, the boys agreed to do justice to the intergenerational contract and to pay for the pensions of the elderly. However, as it is foreseeable that due to the aging of society, they will no longer be able to benefit from the pension system to the same extent, they will have to make private provision in parallel. In order to make this possible, the pension contribution should again be capped and the retirement age increased in the long term . For all actually a fair compromise .
But what we are experiencing in recent years is its slow erosion . We do not want to put up with that anymore. For we younger ones have a right to make provision for our old age. But for that we need the necessary financial scope. With a pension contribution of up to 25 percent, as Andrea Nahles is aiming for, this will not be the case. Politicians should therefore finally discuss reforms that will make the pension system more sustainable and more flexible , rather than trying desperately to give people the impression that everything will be the same.
Not only in terms of pension but also health policy, the JuLis represent a clear line. At its 53rd Federal Congress, for example, the party opposed the ban on the sale of prescription medicines by the Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe (CDU). In your opinion, what speaks in favor of not restricting the distribution of medicines in Germany?
Florian Philipp Ott: For many people, the mail order business has long been part of everyday life. In times of Amazon, Ebay and Co., they are used to getting a wide range of products delivered quickly and conveniently to their homes. Many also wish that for their supply of medicines. Meanwhile, more than a third of Germans prefer the purchase of medicines on the Internet. The mail-order business of prescription medicines is therefore not only an expression of technical innovation and digitization, but simply meets the wishes of many patients . And it is the patient with his needs who is at the heart of our health policy for us liberals. That’s why we want to enable the mail order business with prescription medicines without at the same time lowering the high standard of advice that we have in Germany. This is possible with modern technical solutions.
At the same time, however, we know that many elderly or critically ill people are dependent on the nationwide care provided by local pharmacies. We also do not lose sight of these patients. To enable the mail order business therefore does not mean that local pharmacies fight , but to allow additional options. The introduction of the mail order business should therefore be accompanied by fundamental reforms in the pharmacy market . Many of today’s regulations are outdated . We have to take that step to make the system of local pharmacies fit for the future and at the same time make it possible to supply prescription medicines by mail order. Both must go hand in hand.