Monday, 23 August 2010


Unfortuneately, I think, the German government is buying more and more into gimmickery.  Despite arguments against initiating the program, the counterpart to the US Health and Human Services Secretary, Ursula von der Leyen (Minister of Families, Seniors, Women and Children and interested in other things as well, thank you very much) seems rather hell-bent on launching Germany-wide programs that certain communities have pieced together that would issue a credit-card to children of welfare (Hartz IV) that they can use instead of entry fees for museums, cultural events and sports centers.  Opponents maintain, like H said when it was first introduced, that it will be an affront to many parents, sending the message that they can't be relied on to provide enriching things for their own kids, and there is the prohibitive expense of issuing cards and card-readers to all these venues, especially little museums and sites that only charge nominal fees in the first place.  I imagine that carrying around a poor family's credit card would be a little sygmatizing as well.  I hope von der Leyen has good intentions with this program, but I suspect rather one can just follow the money and find who stands to see a profit off of this rather unnecessary installation.  It reminds me of the full body airport scanners that the EU was pressured into buying or to be later mothballed. 
Further, it is just like with the fancy transaction authorization number (TAN) generator calculators, which are meant to phase out mailing bank customers lists when they ran out of secure numbers.  The calculator works out a supposedly unbreakable random number by reading the magnetic stripe on one's bank cards.  This sounds to me like the algorithm that solves every Sudoku puzzle and takes the fun out of it.  Some banks are forcing this on their clients, but these gadgets were a bit premature, since Germany is now moving, maybe as a result of more outside influences and in response to the wishes of the US to monitor transactions for terrorist activity, to adopt standardized SWIFT banking parameters for their accounts and banking identification numbers (Bankleitzahlen--BLZ).  If the numbers can that drastically, I am sure those calculators will be useless and the banks will be obligated to buy a whole new batch of them.