Commentary: Lessons for the well-to-do urban citizen – economy

It exists, the engine room of this country, although many do not want to see it anymore. And therefore there are also the people who work there. They do what is done in the engine rooms, reliably and unobtrusively. Bus and truck drivers, for example, assemblers and factory workers, cashiers in supermarkets and journeymen, or clerks in offices. Their number runs into the millions and, to put it succinctly, they keep the business going. They are essential for the establishment of companies and guarantors of the society of abundance. In the past, they were called disrespectfully “the little people” in everyday parlance.

In Germany, however, it is like being on a cruise ship with respect to these people. Those who appreciate their ease in luxurious cabins and stylish onboard restaurants or stand on the carefully polished navigation deck forget about those who make sure the ship’s turbines are running. This shrinking perception is a growing problem. In the face of more intense debates on climate protection and gender language, the crown and diversity, politics and parts of society lose sight of millions of people.

They are plagued by growing existential problems. For example, the fact that they can barely live on their wages and salaries despite their full-time jobs. Because rents in metropolitan areas are increasing exorbitantly and faster than incomes. Because real estate prices and energy costs are skyrocketing. Because car journeys, but also public transport, are becoming more and more expensive, while real incomes are falling at the same time. Last year, the average monthly salary in this country was 2,084 euros net. In the ten largest cities, a 100 square meter apartment, suitable for a family of four, costs on average 1,240 euros in rent. Cold, at no additional cost. There is no more room for maneuver.

Those affected are increasingly frustrated and feel neglected by politics and society. Exactly. The general debate on climate protection reveals this particular dilemma. There is no doubt that it is more environmentally friendly to eat (er) without meat and, ideally, also to eat organic. Making fuel oil, gasoline and plane tickets more expensive and therefore less attractive is a proven way to fight against global warming. But what does it do to families when parents work hard in the engine rooms so that they can afford a two-week vacation with the children at least once a year in the three-star all-inclusive hotel in Mallorca? What does it mean for them – and above all: how is it received by them – when politicians and, yes, journalists too, keep teaching them that a plane ticket to the Balearic Islands must cost 100 euros more, and that it would be even better, not to fly on vacation at all?

For the better-off, it is not a problem if the plane ticket becomes more expensive.

Especially since the teachers are often wealthy urban citizens who argue from wealthy university districts. This also explains why the Greens, who have long since mutated into the Schickeria party, enjoy disproportionate popularity there. Only: Those who have earned very well or inherited themselves can easily ask from their comfort zone to buy from the organic market instead of the discount. For the better-off, it is also not a problem if the plane ticket becomes more expensive or if a liter of fuel suddenly costs 16 cents more. But for those who leave the factory with 1,500 euros net per month, or as hairdressers and parcel deliverers, earn just above the minimum wage. Not even to talk about retirees.

But politicians and columnists are now going over the heads of these people with casual generosity. In the party election manifestos, there are simple slogans and general phrases, but hardly any concrete approach to solving the dilemma. Simple top-to-bottom redistribution is not a solution either. We need a change of perspective. For too long, socio-political debates have been limited to the subject of Hartz IV. The people in the engine rooms need broad political and social support. Otherwise, they turn away in frustration – and in the worst case, to the political piper.

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