Photo by John Ramspott (Flickr CC)
All this week, the German media has been admiring Angela Merkel's handsome new balls. No one knows exactly where or how she got them, but one thing is for sure, Angela Merkel's glistening balls look nice. Eight years into her tenure, and five years into an economic crisis that has left millions of people in less happy European countries scratching a living together, and – oh – with weeks to go before a general election, the head of the German government has realized what's wrong with Europe – there are too many unemployed people.
"When things start to become dysfunctional, it is the job of politicians to remedy the situation," she said to a group of major European newspapers earlier this week. "Youth unemployment has been much too high in some countries for many years and now the crisis has driven it even higher."
Now, she says? After Greece and Cyprus and Spain and Portugal have been brought to their knees by five years of protests and general strikes and unemployment, and Greece has been downgraded so far it now counts as an "emerging market."
"No shit," replied the assembled correspondents. "And who pushes the wheelbarrow for those big metallic testicles?"
But then, before their eyes, those large orbs expanded even more. For the chancellor had identified where all those other countries had gone wrong – they weren't Germany: "We in Germany have learned a lot from successfully reducing unemployment by means of structural reform since reunification and we can now bring that experience to bear."
"Gosh," the reporters exclaimed. "Those gonads are a marvel of evolution."
And that was not all. Merkel's big balls had a trick up their sleeve. They'd been souped up. At Wednesday's conference of all 28 EU labour ministers, they sprouted what German Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen described as a "a colourful bunch" of measures to combat youth unemployment – €6 billion would be invested in training young people, and providing more apprenticeships, and expanding student exchange programmes. None of these measures, you might notice, are actually aimed at creating the jobs that the young people are meant to occupy once their apprenticeships are over. There was even talk of deregulating the labour market – making it easier to sack people – one of the reasons why positions with temporary contracts had become so widespread in the first place.
Wednesday's spectacle was rightly denounced as an election campaign event - even, quietly, by the Spanish government that took part in it. It was a well-worn conservative government ploy: after years of "austerity," suddenly coming over all generous when there's an election coming up.