Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bar for Unemployed Alcoholics

(Kiel, Germany) Check out this European-style nanny-state experiment. A place for unemployed alcoholics to get hammered has opened to positive reviews in the northern city of Kiel. It's called the Sofa Bar and die-hard drinkers can be found all liquored-up by mid-morning.
The men sitting at the table on the left, in the front of the room, have already had their first four rounds of beer, the radio is blasting loud guitar riffs, and a young girl hops onto a patron's lap and asks him for a sip. A glass bottle is rolling back and forth on the floor, and the air is thick with cigarette smoke. Atze and Dirk sit at the bar, coughing, rolling unfiltered cigarettes and asking if anyone wants a drink.

The bar is the latest addition to Germany's social welfare state. […]

It has roughly 70 regulars, aged from 18 to 70, football pennants hang on the walls, and a TV set above the bar, on the left side, is always on -- but usually with the sound turned down. However, there is one critical difference between the Sofa and other bars.

In this bar, some of the costs are covered by taxpayer money from the city treasury.
For some unexplained reason, the homeless don't frequent the drinking room. On the contrary, all the regulars have permanent residences. They simply don't have jobs, largely because they are considered unemployable.

The Sofa Bar is run by a social worker, Reinhard Böttner, who disputes the contention that social workers have given up on the alcoholic crowd and they no longer are attempting to rehabilitate them. Böttner insists the bar is one of few ways to gain access to the city's drinkers.

In a nutshell, the German welfare state picks up the tab for the unemployed to get booze and also pays for an establishment, including heat, lights, television and jukebox, to drink the booze. It's not known who pays for the cab ride home but it's a good guess that it's also the state which, of course, means actual German taxpayers.

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