The debate about a compulsory year that Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier started is correct. Only the head of state acted extremely clumsy. For two years, young people were not just ignored. They were called “pandemic drivers” who shouldn’t behave like that. This policy owes something to the youth and not the other way around.

A completely different approach would now make sense: a six to nine-month trial period that benefits both sides. It could not only be about old people’s homes, but also about the use in companies of the classic training occupations. Many young people no longer come into contact with them at all.

The country already has too few craftsmen and too many loitering students looking for meaning – a kind of community service in the sense of the shortage of skilled workers could show many a way that they would not have considered before. Of course, such a service would have to be worthwhile. Tax and pension benefits should beckon in the compulsory year. Then it’s worth it for everyone.

The author was spared military service – he was suspended shortly before he came of age.

Can a compulsory social year strengthen community spirit and open up new perspectives? Without a doubt. But for those who wish to do so, all conceivable options are already open to you with honorary posts, NGOs, exchange programs and a flourishing club system. Such a commitment is meaningful for millions of people – precisely because it is voluntary.

When it becomes a duty, it is no longer an expression of cohesion, but simply forced work. This is exactly what the Federal President is obviously interested in when he promotes the notoriously underpaid care sector as an application.

The fact that this proposal is being made in the country with the world’s highest tax ratio is an expression of the landlord’s way with which the state in this country believes it can access the wealth and freedom of its citizens.

The fact that it is aimed at the generation that was disproportionately burdened in the pandemic in favor of the elderly is an outrage that young voters will certainly not forget until the next federal election.

The author (born 1985) has neither served nor done a year of community service.