Society: Berlin’s “cyber-bohemians” don’t want to work

14 August 2012
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Frankfurt

People working on their laptops at the Sankt Oberholz café, a popular hangout for Berlin's "cyber-bohemians"
People working on their laptops at the Sankt Oberholz café, a popular hangout for Berlin's "cyber-bohemians"

"Poor but sexy"; the German capital is a creative, forward-thinking centre, but only survives on subsidies paid by other states. There, lives a population for whom money is tight, and universal handouts are expected. Blogger Don Alphonso pulls no punches in his portrait of Berlin. Excerpts.

My friend H. is afraid, because he is at a critical age and nearing the point where in the real economy one would call him an “older worker”.

In Berlin, however, with a little muddling through, you can reach your mid-forties without ever having held down a regular job. H. himself is not one of those professional adolescents who have struggled along by working as project volunteers. He worked in the media. When I first met him eight years ago in Berlin, he lived for the day and splurged money hand over fist.

Today, he owns some real estate and is catching up on his studies, but is scared. It is this fear, that is driving him to back calls for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). A UBI, he says, would set him free, and would free everyone else from the need to submit to the oppression of a job and the salary rat-race. The UBI would be his psychological liberation. He would continue to work his guts out, but would not have the continual anxiety.

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