The Effects of the Lockdown
People in Germany have seen massive restrictions of their personal freedom unseen in West Germany since the end of World War II. Businesses were closed, factories shut down, and meeting people outside your household was banned for a while and limited later. How could the government enforce such drastic measures? Etienne de la Boetie (“The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude”) has argued that all governments rest on the consent of their citizens. In this case, the government has bought this consent by promising to save lives and save the economy with huge spending financed by public debt so that no one will have to pay more taxes. A key group of supporters of the government is public employees. In September 2019, before covid-19, 45.28 million people in Germany were employed. The state (all levels) employed 4.8 million, or 10.6 percent. In addition to that, there were around 18 million retirees (18.2 million in 2017). They also receive their income from the state. This means that there is a very large group of people whose financial well-being was not sacrificed during the lockdowns. But who did not get this payoff? According to the union of public employees, only 2.7 percent of public employees are under the age of 25.
Young people did not get these massive handouts from the state. On the contrary, they are the ones who will have to pay back the €156 billion public debt that the state has taken on to provide “relief.” Their schools and universities have been closed, lectures are mainly online now, which can decrease the quality of teaching. Beyond that, they are the ones who will then have to pay the pensions of the older generation that did receive the handouts. In Germany, the currently employed pay the pensions of the retired. Demographic development will increase the amount that the employed generation has to pay. Right now there are 2.1 employed people for every person who is retired. The younger generation faces economic distress right now and in the future.
This situation is aggravated by banning social contact and closing places where younger people meet with their peers. Third places outside the home and the workplace are essential for communicating values and boundaries. For several months, there have been no outlets for the prevention violence in young men through boxing gyms, etc. They were locked up for weeks, which leads to aggression and is especially bad for young men who would naturally be rebellious. If testosterone-laden boys cannot meet with their friends (and, probably more important, their girlfriends), cannot release energy at the gym, and are not receiving any value-oriented education, there are solid conditions for escalating violence.
The Way Forward
The violence against the police is an outbreak of anger against the state, a state that has continuously interfered with their personal liberty and property. A group of mayors from the green party, the Social Democrats, and the Christian conservatives in an open letter appealed to the government to support a policy in which all young people in Germany would be forced to work for one year in what they called “basic social service” (gesellschaftlicher Grunddienst), similar to the mandatory “social year” we had before. Some media commentators enthusiastically embraced this idea. This is the wrong way forward. One really wonders about the sensibility of these politicians, who write in the same letter:
Young people do not learn respect, acceptance, tolerance on Wikipedia, Facebook, and Instagram, but in the interaction with others. At the place of apprenticeship. In the [sports] club. During everyday life. Here one practices the discourse and contact with others….These social training places are becoming less and less.
The way forward is not in complaining about such social places becoming less, because that is not the problem. The way forward is to stop threatening further restrictions, to stop advocating “a new normal” without social interaction, and to stop harassing young people for every decision they want to make for themselves. The federal police already implicitly recognizes drug offenses as victimless crimes (it collects statistics only on offenders, not victims, in contrast to their data for violent crimes). They should stop treating them as crimes outright. After all, 60 percent of the drug offenses are related to cannabis alone. Leave the young people alone. Let them make friends. Let them learn. End the government intrusion in their lives.
Source: Maurus Adam – MISES INSTITUTE