Germans should wear two sweaters, work more, and drop vacation to deal with crisis, says former finance minister

Germany's former Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble is calling on Germans to wear two sweaters if they get cold this winter. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
By John Cody
4 Min Read

Another German politician is calling on citizens to make sacrifices and prepare for a loss in prosperity. This time, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU), Germany’s finance minister for eight years under Chancellor Merkel and former president of the German Bundestag, is calling on Germans to put in more effort and complain less.

Regarding the energy shortage that is crippling German industry and threatening Germans with cold homes this winter, he said, “Then you just put on a sweater, or maybe a second sweater. One should not moan about it, but one must recognize: Many things are not self-evident.” In addition, citizens should prepare for power outages with candles, matches, and flashlights.

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Regarding inflation and high energy prices, Schäuble, who has an estimated net worth of between €1 million and €5 million, said that the state could only support those who are in serious need.

“To the others, one must also say: In times of need, you cannot take a vacation trip. The danger I see is that we believe the state is something that merely has to supply more and more to its citizens,” he told Bild newspaper. He added that the state is not a supermarket and the citizens are not bargain hunters.

Considering Schäuble spent nearly his entire career working in the realm of public administration, he has never really held a job in the private sector or been subjected to market forces that could cripple his standard of living, such as surging energy prices. He always received his salary regardless of where the economy was going. Critics also pointed out that it was under his party, the CDU, and his stewardship, that Germany pursued its cheap energy policy that led the nation to rely on Russian gas.

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Schäuble also criticized that Germans want to work less, mostly part-time, and never on weekends. “That won’t work. Because there is a shortage of workers everywhere! My experience is: Always having fun – that’s not life fulfillment,” he said to Bild.

Although there is a worker shortage in Germany that needs to be addressed, many Germans are already working full-time and yet are facing bankruptcy along with fears that their jobs may soon be gone; and putting on a sweater is not necessarily going to fix the situation, writes Bild journalist Johannes Bockenheimer.

Schäuble joins a wave of politicians across Europe working in tandem to prepare citizens for a loss of prosperity due to the very policies they have championed. Many of these same wealthy politicians will not have to worry about heating their homes, having enough money to buy groceries, or having any reduction in their vacation time. In fact, EU politicians in Brussels just gave themselves a 7 percent raise on top of their already large salaries. Other German politicians have also called on Germans to make “sacrifices” to support Ukraine, including the chairwoman of the German parliament’s influential defense committee, liberal-democrat Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP). She sits on millions of euros worth of assets and earns a substantial salary.

Last week, former German Interior Minister Gerhart Baum (FDP) also called for young people to adapt to the economic crisis. “I would like to ask you to adapt a little more, to change your lifestyle, to reduce your expectations of prosperity.”

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