January 31, 2005


'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits' (Clare Chapman, 30/01/2005, Daily Telegraph)

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.

She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit.

...he must have been told it would contain a similar provision.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 31, 2005 4:10 PM

Well, that should clarify matters: the German Welfare State openly admits that it regards its citizens as its whores.

Posted by: Josh Silverman at January 31, 2005 5:04 PM

Would it be ungentlemanly for Schroeder to suggest that she work at the front desk, taking calls from lonely German pensioners?

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 1, 2005 9:10 AM

The SPD looks like they are trying to challenge the British Tories for the title of 'World's Stupidest Political Party.'

Is there anybody, from women's groups to religious organizations to the unemployed themselves, that this regulation doesn't offend? Even people like me, who believe that prostitution should be legal, find the notion of state compulsion to work as a prostitute to be disgusting beyond measure.

When you see something this utterly repellent out of government, the first question to ask is 'Whose idea was this?' Somebody somewhere had to actually sit down and come up with the notion that it was a good thing to make people work in the sex industry as a matter of law. Unless it was the Chancellor himself, and Schroeder is on wife #4, somebody else had to sign off on it. Who are these people? What are they thinking of? Why haven't they hit the road, like yesterday?

Posted by: Bart at February 1, 2005 9:40 AM


It wasn't anyone's idea. It is clearly an emergent property of various laws, each of which seemed like a good idea at the time. The two primary ones were

* People on government unemployment benefits should be pushed to take jobs
* Prostitution should be normalized

If you believe both of these, on what basis can you object to this result? Who in Germany will be able to argue against either?

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at February 1, 2005 10:34 AM

It is one thing to say that something should be legal, it is quite another to compel someone to do it. Those are two separate questions.

One can for example believe that abortions should be legal but that you cannot compel a doctor, who believes them to be immoral, to perform one.

Let us posit an unemployed Orthodox Jew or Muslim and the only job available is to work as a hog butcher. Most people would certainly agree that he should not be compelled to take a job which would violate his deeply-held beliefs. By the same token, even if the sex industry is legal, many if not most people are disgusted by such work for understandable cultural reasons. Those positions should be respected.

All or nothing thinking rarely gets us intelligent results.

Posted by: Bart at February 1, 2005 11:54 AM


If you're taking the State's nickel you dance to its tune.

Posted by: oj at February 1, 2005 12:15 PM

But if the State selects Tiny Tim's 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips,' there will be complaints.

Posted by: Bart at February 1, 2005 12:45 PM

Nope. They just want the nickels.

Posted by: oj at February 1, 2005 1:26 PM

If she stays on welfare, isn't she another kind or whore?

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at February 1, 2005 3:30 PM

Perhaps she would not object to working in a brothel for women.

Posted by: ratbert at February 2, 2005 11:03 AM

Speaking of Tiny Tim, check this out (warning: for safety reasons, cover your eyes with your hand and scroll down to the bottom very quickly once the page loads.)
Worst Album Covers Ever, Part II

Posted by: joe shropshire at February 2, 2005 8:40 PM