I bought a double-cheeseburger meal at McDonald’s today. It cost me €5.09. As I was devouring the thick, salty-sugary goodness, pausing only to scrape off the lovely bits of plastic cheese from the inside of the wrapper with my lower incisors, it occurred to me that Germany’s long-term unemployed would now be able to enjoy the very same experience once a month, thanks to a brilliant idea by the German government, presented by Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Sure, people living on the unemployment benefit known as Hartz IV would have to chip in nine cents of their usual budget themselves, but then, life is full of sacrifices. Plus, you can usually find nine cents in dusty corners of your home, like underneath sofa cushions. I often look in the lining of the rubber seal in the door of the washing machine if I need nine cents. Little tip there.
What else can you do with €5? You can buy two rides on the U-Bahn (€2.10 each way) with 80 cents left over, which you could spend on a packet of M&M’s. They probably wouldn’t last both journeys. In fact, you’d do well to make them last one journey, as M&M’s come in fairly small packets. You could suck them a bit.
It’s not quite clear what the government thinks you should do with the extra cash, though a budget has apparently been meticulously worked out, as per the requirements of the Constitutional Court. But yesterday, an SPD politician noticed inconsistencies in the figures, suggesting that my ideas are as good as any. Just don’t spend it all at once.