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People and Politics Forum 22. 10. 2010

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This Edition:

Germany's coalition government is one year old; its track record is far from spectacular. A German university has introduced a course for imams. More benefits for children of families on welfare. The trial of Verena Becker: what role did she play in the killing of attorney general Siegfried Buback in 1977?

Gerhard Seeger in the Philippines thinks that no amount of profile management can take care of the problems posed by the Free Democrats:

"In the preview you said that the liberals and conservatives are trying to find their profile. In fact, parties and politicians are usually more often concerned with their profiles than with making good policy for all. They only ever do enough to get re-elected, with the usual promises. If they had been more concerned with policy, their decline wouldn’t have been so great and they wouldn’t need to look for a profile. Good policies that were fair to the little people – i.e. a fair distribution of burdens - would fix their profile without any problem. (On the other hand, things are different for the wealthy: they get policies tailored-made, especially from the FDP (…), whose chairman even impudently dubs himself the "Statue of Liberty.") The Christian parties could still manage it if they could bring themselves to advocate social justice (...). Although I am an absolute non-believer, I am familiar enough with the Bible to know that it’s totally in line with the Christian values the Chancellor so loves to talk about. But with the FDP around her neck, it will be hard to push through changes to the social system. The veteran CDU politician and former minister Heiner Geissler may be right when he says (with the wisdom of age) that we should dissolve the FDP. Unfortunate it’s wishful thinking, hardly possible in a state based on the rule of law."

Writing from Brazil, René Junghans thinks financial support for children from deprived families makes long-term economic sense

"It would most definitely help to provide more money for children from families living on social security, because the currently pitiful levels are leaving children to starve and lose interest in going to school and, because as future prospects are so poor, possibly even in their own lives. If you want a society to be successful in the long term, you have to invest in children. You can see youth violence and a lack of interest in education and vocational training every day in Germany."

Hannelore Krause in Germany thinks deprived families aren’t spending their welfare benefits properly

"Children have no influence on who their parents are and what their situation is. If parents aren’t able to enable their kids to enjoy games and activities and get them acquainted with some culture then the state should step in. But not by handing out more money. Sports clubs and music schools should be open to all children, but these are few and far between and the waiting lists very long. When people say that children dependent on welfare are deprived I don’t believe that children should have to go hungry in our society because their parents aren’t given enough money. It’s just not spent properly because temptation is so great today. And so many young people don’t even know how to prepare a healthy meal with a limited budget. What they lack is not only the knowledge but also the initiative."

The editors of "People and Politics" reserve the right to abridge viewers’ letters.