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Comments

After this last presidential election in the United States, I was pretty much convinced that the Democrats were insane.

But the German left/trade unions...they are more than insane. Is there even a word for 'more than insane'?

Kaum zu fassen....

@lemmy

In terms of economic policies, people like John Kerry and and Bill Clinton (even Tony Blair) would have a lot of difficulties in Germany as they are way too positive about the market economy. About a year ago I was able to go to a lecture by Paul Krugman who is very much opposed to virtually all Republican policies. He said that in mainland Europe he would probably be very unpopular on the grounds of liking the free market too much. Sounds ridiculous but that's the sad truth.

The solution is simple: American firms should withdraw all investments in Germany. Let them keep their "blood."

Incredible, isn't it? We have a post on that (and German hate-legislation, which appearantly no one bothers to apply to trade unions) at Brushfires at http://brushfiresoffreedom.blogspot.com/2005/05/eine-gute-karikatur.html (in German).

I have just writen them a lengthy email. Translated excerpts:

"To whom it may concern:

As a young German, I am disturbed and deeply angered by your depiction of Ameriucan Investors as bloodsucking mosquitoes.

(...)

Even though [today's Germans] do no longer bear direct responsibility for what happened decades ago, they have full responsibility for their current actions. Therefore I am appalled that in times of unrest, change, and economic crisis, old depictions of scapegoats are revived in a form that would make Joseph Goebbels' or Julius Streicher's day. The identity of the scapegoat - "Wall Street plutocrats" - happens to have remeined remarkably unchanged since the days of national socialism as well.

(...)

If you have been following international media coverage on the German anti-capitalism debatem, you should be aware of the infamy your publkication has earned you. At the same time it is clear that those making the decisions in the world have been conveyed an extremely negative, unsetting, and - even worse - not completely inaccurate picture of Germany and the German mindset in these times.

Thus you are creating inestimable, but in any case tremendous, damage for the German economy, but also for the German people's reputation as a sensible member of the community of nations.

(...)

You are only worsening the situation - and ironically confirming Mr Westerwelle's other complaints about your union - by rebuking him for bis criticism of the xenophobic sentiment expressed in your drawings and by calling your depiction of foreign businessmen as vermin "a good caricature". Would you equally defend the NPD [the major neo-Nazi party in Germany] for caricaturing foreign investors as insects and parasites?

In my eyes you have lost the last bit of credibility and respectability once and for all. In recent years and decades, your opposition to market-oriented reforms has kept Germany from adjusting to a more dynamic world and thus created tremendous economic damage; but your economic views could be interpreted as an honest mistake and were partially compensated for by [the stand you have taken against xenophobia]

But in the present days of hysterical scapegoating you have squandered any respect you deserved for the latter. In order to smugly and narrow-mindedly advance your agenda you have chosen to foster and utilize the hatred of large portions of the population towards Americans and, concerning European integration, Eastern Europeans - thus accepting the spread of xenophobic prejudice. For that, you have earned nothing but my contempt.

(...)"

@ AS:

Much respect, your blog is the first place I read about this. Hat-tip.

BTW: How the stats looking?

---Ray D.

Who does IG Metall think they are fooling? Anyone with a half-functional brain can see what they are doing.

These guys know exactly which buttons to push, and unfortunately many Germans respond to it. But they are doing great damage to the long-term economic health of Germany by doing this. Why should anyone invest in Germany when this is the reaction to those with the cash to create jobs? It's not just evil blood-sucking Americans (Jews?) warning about this, German businessmen are warning about this as well.

I hope Germany steps back from the abyss!

@Ray: Thanks! The stats are still way up, now it's up to us to keep that audience!

@Everyone Excuse the typos in my above post, it was just a quick translation. Hate-legislation should be hate-*crime* legislation, the rest should be clear anyway.

AS, great response. Thanks for sharing it with us.

The position of Metall is absolutely crazy. Anyone with eyes can see that it is the Unions who are sucking the blood from the German economy. How is it possible that the German machinery can find a way to blame Americans for absolutely everything?

Is Germany a Democracy or not? Democracies can blame no one but themselves for their own circumstances. Do Germans not vote for the men that run Germany? In a Democracy the response is usually to hold your elected leadership to account for the results of their policies.

It is not the fault of any American that GERMAN leaders colluding with GERMAN Unions have driven the GERMAN economy into a GERMAN ditch resulting in high GERMAN unemployment. I can't believe that even the America haters would buy into this flavor of tripe.

What is it about the Germans that they refuse to take any responsibility for themselves? I am so incredibly sick and tired of them riding on my back while kicking me in the ass all the while and bitching at me for every damn problem on the planet. Stand on your own two feet like a man, for a change, Germany.

Let's not over-react; the article is not meant to dehumanise Americans and their businesses, but merely to point out how inveterately evil, cruel, bloodthirsty, heartless and vicious they all are.

I know Bob Dob is being facetious, but really, one shouldn't over-react to a article in an in-house magazine published by a trade union. The United Auto Workers, the steel unions, the ___ unions in the U.S. would probably run a similar cartoon. In fact, look for just this kind of attack when Toyota begins its attempts to take over General Motors in the coming weeks, now that GM's market cap has plummeted. It's going to be ugly. When Sony bought Columbia Studios 15 years ago, the same sentiment was heard in Hollywood. It happens in the U.S. too, sadly.

Labor unions in the developed world are by and large a vestige, albeit one with enormous power to suck the life out of their respective industries. If Detroit or the U.S. airlines collapse, it won't just be because of decades of incredibly bad management. The unions will share in the fall.

The similarity to anti-Jewish propaganda, however, is startling, and shameful. And yet...it may simply be that German critique of 'that which is foreign' often assumes a similar Gestalt. Surely no one at IG Metall is suggesting that anyone at Kolberg Kravis Roberts or Goldman Sachs or any other American firm is...Jewish????

Whoops, the obvious example is the Daimler-Benz takeover of Chrysler. No one in Detroit was particularly pleased about that one.

@ EComplex:

I'd love to see comparable examples from US unions. I doubt you'll find anything nearly this bad though.

One needs to consider just what IG Metall, the spd, the french and many others in Europe are fighting for. They are fighting to retain the welfare state. This is the European economic/social “model” some times also referred to as European values. This European “model” is nothing more than a system of generous welfare benefits, high taxes and harsh restrictions on hiring and firing. It is the results of a collection of ill conceived polices having a predictable effect on economy and job creation. It depresses both.

The welfare state and it associate concept of social justice worked well in Europe for over two decades. The reason it worked so well is so few people actually needed it. Economic growth was strong, employment was high and the actually benefits paid were low.

This all changed in the early 70’s. Since then GDP has been decreasing and unemployment has been increasing in Europe.

As spending goes up by the various national governments, higher taxes must be collected to pay for those benefits. Those taxes, usually payroll taxes, must be collected from a shrinking number of workers as jobs are cut. This in turn increases the cost of labor and decreases the benefit of working rather than collecting unemployment. This can lead to a continuous spiral of tax increases to support government spending drawing from a smaller and smaller work force. As more jobs are lost, the tax base shrinks, and taxes in some form must go up even further to pay for more welfare benefits. This makes work even less attractive and not working more attractive.

What we are seeing in Germany and in much of Europe is permanent higher unemployment and higher taxes. At some point this will result in a noticeable decrease in the standard of living.

In the US and the UK a combination of tax cuts, labor market reforms, and deregulation broke this downward spiral in which Germany now finds itself. Later in the US welfare reform was added. Many of those changes have now been in effect for more than 25 years.

The European economic/social “model”, if one can actually call it a model is doomed.

The left, naturally, supports this “model”. It has the support of the majority of the citizens of Europe and especially in Germany. A recent poll by ZDF Television shows a solid majority of Germans agree with Franz Muntefering that capitalism is inherently evil and that the pursuit of profit "threatens German democracy,"

The so-called right or conservative parties either support this “model” or are not willing to engage in debate. They want to avoid being identified too closely with business or "economic liberals," anathema even to conservative voters. So one must admire even more the stand taken by the FPD.

Without debate on the real issues, but instead on protecting the European model, the prospects for Germany and much of Europe are not particularly bright right now. The real risk is this group of socialists and leftist are raising expectations that Germany can “stop” capitalism and globalization and revert back to a kinder gentler time. This will not happen and will only result in Germany declining even faster.

I shall save for another post my comments on how this debate is anti American and has anti-Semitic overtones and is part of a grand strategy by the spd to win the next national election

@ Ray D.

Okay, Ray, you got me! I don't have any actual examples. I guess I mean the sentiment is similar. The graphic (in several senses) display by IG Metall is disgraceful.

But again, we see the similar seeds of anarchy sown by unions and left activits here. Auto manufacturing continues to flee Detroit to escape the UAW. Because of the U.S. federal structure, laws vary from state to state. In some places, unions are weaker or nonexistent and the automakers set up shop there. In a more centrally regulated country as I believe Germany to be, there's no South Carolina or Tennessee to run to. So the business will ultimately leave the country entirely.

Similarly, we also have our anti-globalization protestors. They agitate against the very economic movement that has raised standards of living in the developing world more effectively--and more substantially--than any other. Cerainly more than any U.N. anti-poverty program. It's far better to make shoes for Nike than to be a child prostitute, but don't tell that to the hippies in Seattle or in D.C. (many of which, of course, were hired to protest)

Okay....I'll stop!

Labor unions...[sigh]...They're the same everywhere.

The world is changing with, or without, Germany's participation. This reminds me of a line Danny DeVito spoke in the movie "Other People's Money," when he was trying to get the shareholders to approve a restucturing of a wire and cable company. This was back in the 80's or early 90's, mind you, and fiber optics was the hot new technology. On the subject of why the company couldn't survive on a strategy of being the "best damn wire and cable company in the world" he said, "I'm sure the last buggy whip manufacturer made the best buggy whips in the world...right up to the day they went bankrupt."

I know everyone loves to cling to their traditions, but change is inevitable. You either adapt to the changes and survive...or you don't.

There are some good news about the German Unions:
11.8 million members in 1991.
7.01 million members in 2004.

http://www.mz-web.de/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=ksta/mdsBild/popup&aid=1115202134293

Not much to add of substance, but a couple of notes on perspective occurred to me.

Back in the late '80s, Japan and the Japanese economic model were ascendant. Anti-Japanese sentiment in the US wasn't far below the surface (Michael Crichton, for example, built it into his plot for 'Rising Sun', and the Japanese purchase of the Rockefeller Center generated plenty of allusive commentary). Nothing came close to the IG Metall tripe, of course, but holier than thou doesn't get much traction.

Second, Joe might be interested to know that Germany reduced personal tax rates recently (effective 1 January 2005, in fact). The cuts were relatively modest and IMHO just a move in the right direction, but when lumped together with Hartz IV, etc. it all gets plenty of criticism (from the left) for being too much.

Politicians being politicians, even reformers read these signs and understand what they're up against vis-a-vis a campaign fight. It takes a brave man to state what needs to be done, knowing full well that it might cost him the election. And when push comes to shove, if you don't get elected you don't get to reform diddly. A conundrum.

Cheers,


@Rofe

And discussions are going on in Berlin about raising (again) the VAT tax. 1 step forward, 1 step backwards I guess.

So, you can earn money here, but be penalised to spend it in Germany.

@ Joe
It's not only the left who supports the European social(ist) model, i.e. the welfare state. It first and foremost the US.
There is a big, not openly outspoken deal behind this. It works like this:
America pays for international security and international order. Thanks to these public goods, Europeans can buy cheap raw material and export their products to the global markets.
A lot of the money Europe gets by doing so it spends for welfare programs. That is a means to pacify people and make them happy voters of the politicians who love to spend the money. Europe can spend this money for welfare because it doesn't need to invest in global order and security.
Is this an unfair deal?
Not for the Europeans. Many of them get money from the state - for doing nothing. That's the old dream of aristocrats and socialists alike. At the same time they are not responsible for what is going on on a global scale. They can blame the US for everything. This may not be healthy, but it makes you feel good. Morally superior.
Unfair for the US? Neither. As long as Europe spends it's money for welfare and not for weapons, the Europeans will not be able to challenge American supremacy. Americans get the blame for everything, sure, but they got the power too.

Rofe,

I am aware of the tax cut for individuals just as I am aware of the pending cut in corporate taxes.

I am also aware that spending by Berlin continues to grow in real terms and as a percentage of GDP. This means once again Germany will break the 3% limit. Together this spending means there must be new sources of income for Berlin.

As James pointed out, an increase in VAT is one of the options being considered.

These most recent steps by the spd appear to be a bit of too little and too late.

One can only ask where has the leadership been for the past 30 years. The situation in Germany did not happen last year or the year before or in 1998. It has been a problem for more than 20 years. It has just become rather apparent in the last few years, as Germany has been forced to face the realities of the world as it is and not as it wishes it to be.

Rofe, I note with interest the only comment you could make was about these late occurring actions. I would say I was disappointed but I have come to accept this as a normal German reaction to hard decisions which require hard choices and then action other than just words. Germans as most Europeans confuse words with actions. They actually think words are actions.

There are some people in Germany who realize this is too little. These people include both leaders of business, a small number of the members of academia and the FDP. None of these are really considered to be part of any solution at the monent.

Going forward the promised benefits of the welfare state will continue to grow at an every increasing rate as Germans age. The self feeding cycle of tax and spend will continue as more benefits must be paid by a smaller tax base.

It will be interesting to see how the Germans handle this and the solutions the develop. Blaming America, the Jews, business, etc, makes good headlines, enhances M$M and makes for good party issues to run campagins but at the end of the day it changes nothing.

Joe - "What we are seeing in Germany and in much of Europe is permanent higher unemployment and higher taxes."

Joe - "I am aware of the tax cut for individuals just as I am aware of the pending cut in corporate taxes."

Joe,

Sorry, but your argument isn't particularly coherent.

Aside from the contradiction in your own words, I understand you to be saying that Germany needs tax cuts. Not just talk about tax cuts, but real tax cuts. And not the real tax cuts that went into effect this year (however limited they may be), and certainly not proposed tax cuts. What Germany needs (like the US and the UK) are tax cuts that went into effect 25 years ago.

Joe, German reform has to start somewhere. And if it didn't start 25 years ago (I think we can all agree that it didn't, so that's water under the bridge), then maybe - if Germany's lucky and its politicians become resolute - in 25 years someone can talk about recent tax cuts in the context of the history of German economic reform.

I'm guessing you won't think that's possible. But 25 years ago, who would have thought that Germany would be in the shape it's in today ? (Or that George W. Bush could be president ?)

Cheers,

Rofe,

The tax is still too high to promote growth and employment. There is a lack of deregulation and competition. Repressive labor laws are still in effect and there are too generous social welfare benefits.

By your comment it would seem you are taking the position because of the changes to the German tax code that are less the 6 months old enough has been done to change the economy in Germany. I am talking of decades of under performance by the German economy and the growth of the welfare state or the European “model”.

Germamy remains a high tax, high unemployment low growth nation. There is not contridiction in my statement. As I do not believe the minor changes which have taken place are sufficant enough to have any meaningful effect on future economic results.

Did you too get a UN oil voucher and fry your brain just as niko appears to have done?

Some facts.

In 1965, government spending as a percentage of GDP averaged 28% in Western Europe, just slightly above the U.S. level of 25%.

In 2002, U.S. taxes ate 26% of the economy, but in Europe spending has climbed to 42%. Do the math 28% + 14% = 42%. That is a 50% increase. This 50% increase represents new government spending.This spending repersents more social benefits in some form to some group or segement of the German population.

Over the same period of time, unemployment in Western Europe has risen from less than 3% to 8% today, and to nearly 9% for the 12 countries in the euro zone. These two phenomena are related; in a country with generous welfare benefits, rising unemployment increases government spending rapidly.

The economies of Western Europe have basically not grown since the late 70’s except in the public sector, which is actually consumption by the state. Today in france, one in every four workers is a civil servants or state employee.

Do you actually believe the current debate as it is now taking place by the unions and the left in Germany are going to lead to reforms necessary to pull Germany and the rest of Western Europe out of the malaise it has created? I do not.

At the current rate of change and debate, in 25 years you might be able to recognize what the real problems are. Hint – they are not globalization or capitalism. So it is not at all hard to believe that Germany will be in worse shape than it is today because of many factors. These include the attitude of the German people, the lack of leadership and of course, and the pending demographic changes. To this you could add even more factors as to why this is a more likely outcome. These would include education, investment in R&D, etc. But we all know these as they have be discussed many times before.

As for GWB becoming president, I did not know he would be president but I knew someone who was like him, a man of principles, moral courage and leadership would be. Just as I am sure the US will go through another period of weak leadership and wavering principles before another man of character becomes president. We tend to do this in cycles.

This may have come as a shock to most Europeans and their elites but it was not a shock at all to Americans.

Joe,

I see you're all het up by your own arguments. If you want to redirect that pent-up aggression against me, go ahead and have at it. Seems like you just can't take yes for an answer, but that doesn't change my point.

Reform (real, substantial reform) has to start somewhere. Since I've lived in Germany (5+ years), the conversation on reform has moved forward glacially, and actions have lagged behind the words. Not enough progress, but you can't deny (well, you can and will deny, but 'one' can't deny) the process hasn't started. And, hopefully, 25 years from now the process will have long since picked up steam in the direction of substantive change. Anything that's happened recently will be part of the early stages of the movement.

Rant and rave all you want, but the currrent dialog is the only thing that's out there. You don't think it's sufficient ? Why don't you tell us your scenario ?

Regarding GWB, 25 years ago he was (by his own admission) hardly a man of principles, moral courage or leadership. My point, however, isn't to rag on GWB. To his credit, he straightened himself out.

My point is that big things often come from modest beginnings. The GWB of 25 years ago compared to the GWB of today proves the point (ironically, since he was blessed at the outset with just about every advantage possible in America). And I figure Germany will figure out a way to get back on track, too.

Cheers,

PS - Actually, I've been having a hard time figuring out what to do with my oil voucher money. I was thinking a nice, big sailboat would be pretty sweet in the Greek isles, but I was worried the Arbeitsamt wouldn't be able to track me down for my monthly check. Maybe I'll just roll it over into Euro-futures and cash out big when the dollar tanks.

@rofe: "Back in the late '80s, Japan and the Japanese economic model were ascendant. Anti-Japanese sentiment in the US wasn't far below the surface (Michael Crichton, for example, built it into his plot for 'Rising Sun', and the Japanese purchase of the Rockefeller Center generated plenty of allusive commentary)."

I remember those days very vividly. My boss at the time held a district meeting at her house up in the hills. From her back yard you could see downtown Los Angeles [on a clear day;^)] 20 miles away. It was the late 80's, conversation turned towards the Japanese buying up America. The Imperial Palace in Tokyo had a real estate value higher than the entire State of California. It was obviously a nonsensical valuation, the result of a huge investment bubble. I pointed to LA's highrises and asked, okay, they buy them, but where are they going to take them. People were emotional about it then. I bet they don't even remember their opinions about it today.

It's funny, but the Japanese bid up the value of US real estate, then the market dropped and they lost their pants. The Japanese haven't recovered from that bubble, because they refuse to clean up the bad loans in their banking system. The US cleaned up the Savings & Loan mess in the late 80's and early 90's. The Japanese Stock Market is still way before where it was 20 years ago. Oh, Sony got creamed in the movie business and lost their shirts.

But there were never any 'slanty-eyed Jap' charicatures in the respectable press or union publications. There wasn't talk of the Japs as 'blood-suckers' outside of bars. And there was equal or greater opposition to the Jap-bashing that was going on in the papers, radio and magazines, not massive support for xenophobia. And that's the point that David and Ray D are making with this blog. They're trying to be the voices of reason and point out the Hetzkampagnen, the 'respectable' foreigner hatred and how it damages Germany, the German People and the German economy to go down the 'easy path' of blaming others. It's a dead end.

Oops, I hit the 'post' button, before putting my name in. I wrote the above post: Posted by: | May 12, 2005 02:50 PM.

@Joe: "They are fighting to retain the welfare state. This is the European economic/social “model” some times also referred to as European values. This European “model” is nothing more than a system of generous welfare benefits, high taxes and harsh restrictions on hiring and firing. It is the results of a collection of ill conceived polices having a predictable effect on economy and job creation. It depresses both."

Bingo! You've nailed it. Now, the only way to keep such a system going is to make it worldwide or close the borders, if the rest of the world doesn't go along.

This explains alot of European foreign policy. Why does Europe support Kyoto? It slows down the US and burdens the US economy. Why does Europe support all of the idiotic international treaties? They don't plan on following them, but they believe the US will or they will pound the US with propaganda [er, even more propaganda] for not following "International Law".

Autarky, closed borders, State-to-State economic deals [can you say German arms sales to Saudis, Russia, China], welfare state, restrictions on hiring and firing... hmmmm... this sounds so familiar. It sounds just like the Soviet Union. Obviously, unless you can get the entire world to go along with the European Model, it's doomed. The end can be delayed, but that will only make it worse. The European Model is doomed, the American version is even doomed. Bush is trying to get some action on reforming Social Security and getting nowhere. US Government spending on healthcare is an even bigger timebomb and no one's even gotten around to talking about forming a committee to start a commission to fund a study on the possibility of thinking about reforming Medi-Caid. The Welfare State will be seen as a crazed idea of the 20th Century in 100 years, kind of like people look at John Calvin's Geneva. In the meantime, the Welfare State isn't going to die a painless death, we're going to be in for upheaval like you can't imagine. Of course, the US will lead the way and take the arrows, like pioneers always do. Welfare was never in the American character like it was in Europe, we never had big socialist (commie, fascist or nazi) movements here, like Europe did and still does.

Rofe,

Gee you seem a bit touchy today. Don’t like the facts or the observations?

Please understand my position on Germany and the EU has always been the same, you can do and should do whatever is in your best interests. Realize of course other nations will do the same. As they say in my part of the world… I have no dog in this fight. That is not totally correct as I do have some friends who live in Germany and in Europe that I care about and care about what happens to them and their families.

The Western Europeans just don’t get it. Part of the problem is restrictive labor laws. So what is going on at the EU, the passage of more restrictive labor laws this time more directly aimed at the UK. I guess it is much easier to drag someone down to your own level of malaise than it is to take the necessary action to compete.

Yesterday, the Socialist, Labor and Green members of the European Parliament decided they would no longer tolerate the aberration that the British work almost as many hours as Americans. They voted in favor of scrapping an opt-out clause that exempts the U.K. from an EU law limiting the average working week to 48 hours. More precisely, the clause allows British workers to opt out from this EU law.

The Socialist lawmakers are engaged in the time-honored practice of raising their competitors' costs. In this case, the competitor is the U.K., whose more liberal employment policies make it an attractive destination for investment and jobs within the EU. This in turn puts pressure on Europe's more-socialist countries to reform or lose jobs. But the socialists have found a third way -- make the U.K. less competitive by making its labor market less flexible.

This is just a continuation of efforts by paris and Berlin to “harmonize” the economies of Europe so the European “model” can be saved.

So Rofe, as I have stated in other posts, it might not really matter what Germany does or does not do, because the EU is going to be doing a lot of things to effect the economic future of Germany.

Remember this is a fight about the European “model” and European values.

You asked earlier about who could have thought. . . I would present to you an equal possible future outcome for Germany. That outcome is Germany, as a part of the EU becomes a self-contained economy sphere divorced from the world economy.

@Rofe

"Back in the late '80s, Japan and the Japanese economic model were ascendant. Anti-Japanese sentiment in the US wasn't far below the surface (Michael Crichton, for example, built it into his plot for 'Rising Sun', and the Japanese purchase of the Rockefeller Center generated plenty of allusive commentary)."

But I can't recall any similar characterisation of the Japanese as we see demonstrated in this magazine. Furthermore, I remember an valid complaint about the Japanese aquisitions was that the opposite could never happen: American companies buying controlling interest in Japanese companies. Just google for T Boone Pickens and Japan and you'll see what I'm on about.

To further this point, that over this real estate bubble in the '80s & '90s the British were buying up more than the Japanese. But there was less complaint about that as, at least, American companies were able to do the same in London...

Rolf, yes Germany has started minor adjustements in it's economy. But I find them far too anemic. With the aging population and pension squeeze coming in and the inflexibily of the labor force here, I really wonder if it can get done. This isn't meant as an insult to Germans, but the argument can be made, and fairly well, that since Americans expect far less from the government they are more self-reliant and are better capable to weather a storm. In fact, the whole infrastructure of the US economy is far more dynamic that any other economy in the world except Singapore and Hong Kong. I think that "peoples attidudes and expectations" are going to be the most formidable to change here in GY...

By the way, if the USD "tanks" as you say, then the whole world is screwed...

Sorry to bore everyone with my comment on a closed economic model but I had not read Jabba the Tutt's comment.

I find it interesting we both had the same thought. This makes me wonder how many European elites are thinking the same thing. I am sure there many more than we would realize.

@joe

I don't find your comment boring at all, if fact it's quite insightful. In fact, I'm sure that you may not be able to get many Germans to understand their system until put arguments like these into these terms.

For many Germans to belive that their system is "more human, better, friendlier, etc" they have to be convinced that they are the best in the world at this. They need to vilafy other competative systems in the world like the USA, in part as a distraction, but also as a means to elevate themselves. All the while ignoring basic facts like 50% of unemployed Germans have been so for 1 year and in the USA it's only 11%.

Ironically, you may also get poorer people in the USA to agree with simliar misguided (ill informed) sentiments. This is due to the human nature: Americans who are poorer than others feel "poor" because they define themselves vis-a-vis other Americans. The truth is that the poverty level in America is far higher than in most other European countries... If the USA were to use European poverty standards, there would be far fewer Americans in poverty.

As another poster also wrote: "will Munterführing also go to bat for American job loses in Detriot?" It's clear that Munterführing only cares about getting votes and not in finding an economic model that delilvers: jobs, money, employment, wealth and opportunities....

German elite = politician

American elitist is someone who is successful and/or well educated.

It's the female mosquito that sucks blood. Maybe the illustrator needs to put some big knockers on those suckers or something. Yes, I know that mosquitos don't lactate.

Another big point here. Americans don't carry large amounts of cash. One does not genrate any interest income with cash. It's better to have money generating income and then wire transfer the down payment for purchase only when needed. If one is trying to avoid tax liabilities... then why do you think they have Cayman Islands off shore banking?

It always amazes me about German politicians that they want to give something under pressure ( decreasing corporate tax), however, immediately look for another way to get more money from their citizens.

It reminds me of a person with 10 pockets, each containing $ 10 . This politician moves money from one pocket to another based on public sentiment to ensure votes.
At the end of the day, he/she still has $100 as a whole and if they get paid for their efforts, even less.

All those moves may in the short term endear them to segments of the population but it will always be reactionary and has no effect on long term solutions.

Let me toss a question out here. I'm not asking to be sarcastic; I'm asking because I don't know the answer. The question is: To what extent does the IG Metall article represent the opinion of the rank and file? I ask because in the U.S., many union leaders are actively opposing the opinions of their own members. They can do this because U.S. law guarantees that the union members cannot challenge what their dues go for. (Well, sort of... it doesn't "guarantee" it, but it makes it all but impossible, in terms of money and lawyers and personal safety, for the rank and file to challenge the actions of their leadership.) For instance, my wife's stepfather (whom I'll call Rusty) is a member of the United Rubber Workers. Last month, their union magazine consisted entirely of a 30-page rant against President Bush's Social Security Plan. Rusty expressed that the entire magazine was trash, and that most of the people at the plant where he works feel that way. And they are all frustrated that part of their dues go towards publishing this trash. But there is absolutely nothing they can do about it.

Fascinating discussion. And I too have a question; Are there no German venture capital companies? Or is that not a concept in German financial sectors?

Pamela, there are German venture capital companies, and indeed the SPD included some of them on their blacklist (ironically, SPD politicians oversaw the sale of some formerly government-owned companies to investors on that list as ministers).

But it's true that this concept is not nearly as widespread here as in Britain or America - that's why entrepreneurs with promising but crazy ideas have so little chances here, it's a real issue. One major reason migt be the lack of large private pensions funds.

I don't like to keep revisiting Germany's Nazi past. The vast majority of Germans had nothing to do with supporting the Third Reich, and a large majority of those that did have sincerely repudiated their past associations.

However, I would have much preferred that IG Metall choose to portray American investors as pirates, pillaging barbarians or wild west bandits. They could have got their point across without the uncomfortable similarity to the iconography of the old Nazi propaganda machine. IG Metall's caricature would probably have been page-worthy back in 1942.

I don't expect IG Metall to be pro-management, but at least they could have made their point without dehumanizing their targets.

As for the European social welfare state model, I have nothing against the Europeans supporting it. I personally don't think it is sustainable, but I sincerely hope that I am wrong in that assumption. I don't take pleasure in seeing the majority of the German people have their political/social hopes dashed. At the same time, the prospect of a bunch of angry Germans looking for someone to blame for the failure of their welfare state doesn't offer anything worthwhile to me.

Thanks you AS. Because my next question was going to be about privatization. A friend of mine moved to Germany (Essen) to work for a German telecom that had been privatized and they were looking for American know-how.
Suffice to say, although she met some people she thought a great deal of and has remained friends with, it did not work out. She found a need for group consensus that precluded anything from being accomplished.

And that, Steve, brings me to your post.
>>As for the European social welfare state model, I have nothing against the Europeans supporting it.

Well, you should. What they are supporting - and what my friend found in her German work experience - and what the Unions are trying to defend via their scurrilous portrayals is collectivism. It is the bedrock of every '-ism' out of Europe in the 19th & 20th centuries, of the EU, of the anti-globalization movement, of the anti-capital meme (Gunter Grass's tirade in the NYT this past weekend was a classic). The only collectivism that has nurtured human aspirations that I can think of is tribalism on a very local scale. Expand it beyond its boundaries and you end up with the Islamic Middle East.

This is just a cut and paste of an article in today’s FT. I pulled up the more interesting points as they relate to this discussion. Link provided.

What is interesting is Germany is going backward in being competitive. In 2004 it ranked number 21 out of 60 nations. This year it has slipped to 23.

“High levels of taxation and public spending are not necessarily barriers to economic success, and simply lowering taxes does not make countries competitive, according to new rankings published today.”

The latest World Competitiveness Yearbook compiled by the IMD management school in Lausanne, Switzerland, says both high and low-tax countries performed well last year.”

“The real engines of competitiveness are science, technology, entrepreneurship, finance, logistics and education," Prof Garelli says”

“The level and type of taxation can enhance or hinder competitiveness but cannot create it."

“Combined with low labour costs, low corporate taxes may serve to attract foreign investors but successful countries, such as Ireland, tend quickly to lose their cost advantage as they become more affluent, he says.”

Competitiveness is defined as the ability of countries "to create and maintain an environment that sustains the competitiveness of enterprises".

http://news.ft.com/cms/s/09abb21e-c282-11d9-866a-00000e2511c8.html


http://www02.imd.ch/documents/wcc/content/overallgraph.pdf


The real question is in the definition. Is Germany creating such an environment?

Joe,

Very nice points. Seriously.

I think the point "High levels of taxation and public spending are not necessarily barriers to economic success . . ." contradicts some of what you said yesterday, and essentially that is what I took issue with. I probably just misunderstood you.

Otherwise, I think we're on the same page. And I'd add that I don't think Germany is creating such an environment.

Where we might part ways, however, is whether this situation can be attributed to bad intentions and whether the situation can be rectified. (I'd answer no and yes, respectively.)

In my experience Germany will face difficulties on the entrepreneurship, finance and education fronts. Logistics is the only other element that I've had direct contact with and, at least in the auto sector, that seems to be very highly developed.

Thank you for doing the spade work.

I'd concur with Steve as well. If the Germans want to build something that works and that's different from the American model, more power to them. I don't think the current situation is sustainable, but I'm hopeful that there are enough sober thinkers who can shift the country to a workable solution.

By definition, therefore, I disagree with Pamela. Collectivism can be a loaded word (shades of Soviet collectivization), but assuming that's not the image we're after, I do think that there are admirable examples of collectivism doing well.

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States . . ."

Maybe it's a matter of semantics, but "in the Name, and by Authority of" seems to me to be collectivism. I'd say it's worked out okay, too.

Cheers,

I didn´t want to and haven´t till yet, but now I cannot resist.

Guys, how come you haven´t done a report on the most ridiculous of all Foreign Ministers getting a prize ?
Why is someone so impressed with his "Lindenstrasse" career to give him a prize ?
Is it enough that he makes his sad, grimley face when he visits Israel , where everybody knows the harm his Leftist friends have done to Israel ?

Westerwelle's critique was "grotesque and ridiculous?" Grotesque?

Wow! Someone really threw a hissy fit on that!

Rofe!
>>Maybe it's a matter of semantics, but "in the Name, and by Authority of" seems to me to be collectivism.

Good lord, child, I expected better of you! Go ye forth and read "Road to Serfdom".

sheesh.

Collectivism isn't always bad. Socialist/Communist collectivism has been shown to lead to a bad end almost everytime. Well bad for everyone but the political elites.

Voluntary collectivism which one is free to leave or not accept is not harmful to the human condition. Forced colectivism, government mandated colectivism is pure evil.


Sock Puppet
>>Voluntary collectivism which one is free to leave or not accept is not harmful to the human condition.

Your punishment is even worse. Go ye forth and read Aquinas.

@ Rofe

...Of right ought to be FREE and INDEPENDENT states...

To add my 2 cents. I'd say a church is an example of a collective. There are big and small contributors. Some churches have perks for thoughs with deep pockets other churches don't. But always the member is free to contribute as he pleases, to decide for himself if he is being served and to desolve the association when he wishes.

OK Pamela what's my reading assignment?

Nobody interested ?

"Ich mag diesen Mann"
..snip... Leo-Baeck-Preis - Laudatio von Amos Oz


snip...
Berlin - Es konnte aus der Sicht des Bundesaußenministers gar keinen besseren Zeitpunkt geben: Am selben Tag, an dem das zentrale Holocaust-Mahnmal in Berlin eingeweiht wurde, erhielt Joschka Fischer vom Zentralrat der Juden den mit 10 000 Euro dotierten Leo-Baeck-Preis 2004. Natürlich kam der Termin auch noch aus einem anderen Grund zupaß, den Paul Spiegel, der Vorsitzende des Zentralrats, auch nicht unerwähnt ließ: So besonders viele erfreuliche öffentliche Auftritte hat der Minister dieser Tage wohl nicht. Ausdrücklich stärkte Spiegel dem wegen der Visa-Affäre und dem Streit mit seinen Diplomaten unter Beschuß stehenden Minister den Rücken. Fischers Entscheidung, ehemaligen NSDAP-Mitgliedern unter den verstorbenen Diplomaten ein ehrendes Angedenken zu verweigern, unterstütze man ebenso wie seine Absicht, die Geschichte des Auswärtigen Amtes während der NS-Zeit aufzuarbeiten. Die öffentlichen Debatten zu diesen Fragen, so Spiegel, "zeugen von einem teilweise beängstigenden Geschichtsverständnis". Auffällig sei die Neigung, "einstige NSDAP-Mitglieder zu bloßen Karteileichen zu stilisieren", eine Rechtfertigungsstrategie, die schon unmittelbar nach dem Krieg eingesetzt habe. "Damals wie heute zeugt sie von dem Versuch, jede Mitverantwortung zu leugnen und die Rolle des unschuldigen, von den Nazis mißbrauchten Opfers einzunehmen." Dankbar zeigten sich Spiegel wie auch Fischer über die friedlichen Demonstrationen der letzten Tage, in denen Deutsche ein Bekenntnis gegen Antisemitismus und Rechtsextremismus abgelegt hätten.
Die gesamte Prominenz der Grünen, von Katrin Göring-Eckart bis Jerzy Montag, hatte sich im Ballsaal des Hotels "Adlon" eingefunden, um der Ehrung ihres Ministers beizuwohnen. Aber niemand hätte ihn so fundamental exkulpieren können wie sein Laudator, der vielfach ausgezeichnete israelische Schriftsteller Amos Oz, der sich nun seinerseits revanchieren konnte für die Rede, die Fischer bei der Verleihung des Literaturpreises der WELT auf ihn gehalten hatte. "Ich mag diesen Mann", bekannte Oz; er fühle sich ihm nah "als Friedensaktivist gegenüber einem anderen Friedensaktivisten, als geläuterter militanter Rechter zu einem geläuterten radikalen Linken, als ein Gymnasialabbrecher zu einem Gymnasialabbrecher und als ehemaliger Traktorfahrer zu einem ehemaligen Taxifahrer". Oz sah Fischer gereift vom "radikalen Idealisten zu einer Art aufopferndem Familiendoktor" - eine Zuschreibung, die man im Visa-Ausschuß mit Interesse lesen wird - und bestätigte eine Einschätzung, die auch der ehemalige israelische Botschafter Avi Primor tags zuvor vertreten hatte: Daß Joschka Fischer in Israel nicht trotz, sondern gerade wegen seines Verständnisses für beide Seiten des Konflikts, seiner offenen, aber immer verbindlichen Kritik an einzelnen Maßnahmen der israelischen Regierung der beliebteste deutsche Politiker sei.
Und dann kam der Moment, als Oz, der große Teile seine Familie im Holocaust verloren hat, auch noch einmal auf die Visa-Affäre zu sprechen kam: "Erlauben Sie mir, lieber Freund", sagte er zu Fischer gewandt, "Ihnen zu sagen, daß es mir viel besser erscheint, wenn jemand beschuldigt wird, die Tore für Immigranten und Flüchtlinge weit offenzuhalten, als sich dadurch schuldig zu machen, daß man die Tore zu fest vor ihnen verschließt. Ich sage das als Sohn und Enkel von Menschen, denen man vor 70 Jahren fast alle Tore der Welt vor der Nase zugeschlagen hat."

Amos Oz is supporting the idea that "land for peace" is the solution to solve the conflict. Land for peace works together with the people who say that terror against occupation is a reasonable method or a method which they can understand. Many people in Germany have this opinion. That is why so many Anti-Israel people like Uri Avnery get a voice in Germany. So this laudatio is as sad as the German support for the palestinian propaganda.

I am tired of Fischer's tears about the holocaust. He should look at the Yellow Star he got and should help to stop the terror with actions.

and his actual actions are zero

You're deviating from the subject. And I don't believe that Fischer , Oz and the strange Avneri have the same view on the Middle East.

Interesting about this concept of land for peace.

I thought some where in German history that was tried. It did not stop the coming war.

Are you telling me the Germans of today think it might given there own history?

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