Are you looking for a sign of how Western civilization is faring? Consider Germany’s new policy for those seeking unemployment benefits. Citing an article from The Daily Telegraph, Stefan Beck reported on our weblog that in an effort to address its high unemployment, Germany is now requiring those receiving benefits to take any job available—even in the so-called “sexual services” sector. And why not? Prostitution is legal in Germany. Ergo, if you’re out of work and the local brothel has an opening, you are obliged to take the job. “The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds,” the Telegraph wrote, “but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars.” Now, it turns out that this particular report may have been an exaggeration. But everyone rushed to believe it because it was rooted in an alarming set of truths. Yes, there is a comic element to bureaucratic idiocy, real or imagined. But beneath the comedy is a somber point that Mark Steyn summed up in a recent column:

The waitress forced into prostitution by the government pimp is, at one level, merely an example of the unintended consequences that follow every legislative initiative. But, at another, it’s the logical reductio of the modern secular welfare state… . When you cede to the state the responsibility for feeding, clothing, housing yourself, for your parents’ retirement, and your own health care, it’s hardly surprising they can’t see what the big deal is about annexing your sex life as well.
The real issue is the state of a culture that can no longer manage the most elementary moral discriminations. It expects emancipation from civilizing civilization. What it gets is decadence.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 7, on page 3
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