working poor Viewminder/Flickr

Mindestlohn oder Mindesteinkommen?

LONDON – In den meisten reichen Ländern gibt es inzwischen Millionen von Menschen, die mit ihrer Arbeit nicht einmal das Existenzminimum verdienen und deren Löhne daher vom Staat über Aufstockungsleistungen subventioniert werden müssen.

Die Idee ist sehr alt. So wurde etwa in England das „Speenhamland-System“ bereits während der napoleonischen Kriege umgesetzt. Dabei handelte es sich um eine Art Sozialhilfe, die die steigenden Brotpreise ausgleichen sollte. 1795 führten die Behörden in Speenhamland, einem Dorf in Berkshire, einen bedürfnisabhängigen gleitenden Lohnzuschuss ein. Der Betrag, den Familien erhielten, schwankte entsprechend der Anzahl der Kinder und dem jeweiligen Brotpreis.

Das Programm stieß jedoch auf Kritik, weil es den Arbeitgebern gestattete, Löhne unterhalb des Existenzminimums zu zahlen: Der Steuerzahler kam ja für die Differenz auf. 1834 wurde das Speenhamland-System durch das neue Armengesetz abgelöst, das die soziale Unterstützung auf die sogenannten Arbeitshäuser beschränkte – unter Bedingungen, die ausreichend schlimm sein sollten, um die Menschen wieder auf den Arbeitsmarkt zu zwingen.

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