Thursday, January 15, 2004

Doug Merrill of Fistful of Euros pointed out that a Minister for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth seems to have inadvertently advertised the German government's intention to phase out the draft. This is because the German draft is near-universal, and thus tends to sweep up enormous numbers of conscientious objectors, who do their time in various social-work and hospital settings instead of in the military. The Minister was warning those social-work and health-care institutions under her care to get ready to do without their indentured servants, as they will be going away.

I have to wonder how important this "Zivildienst" is to the German economy. Is it a short-cut through the intimidating thicket of labor-controls that make the German labor market seem like a veritable Gibraltar of privilege? I mean, we're talking about a country that still relies heavily on apprenticeship, here.

Hrm, according to a random paper I found on Google,
Zivildienst has become indispensable for voluntary welfare work because it is no longer possible to finance professional staff members in place of COs. The Future. One can imagine what troubles welfare organizations would encounter if Zivildienst had to be discontinued together with compulsory military service. Persons entrusted to the care of young men performing Zivildienst would no longer be served. Critics suspect that compulsory military service must be maintained -- although there are no conclusive military, economic, and social reasons to continue it -- to supply an adequate number of young men for Zivildienst in order to make up for the shortages of workers in nursing and welfare work.

It sounds as if we're talking about labor market segments that have been priced out of full-time existence by the distorting pressure of the Zivildienst. Interesting.

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