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Comments

I wonder if they mention that the unemployment rate for the County that Kannapolis is in, Cabarrus County is 4.9%

Naw they would never dare!

PS EMPLOYMENT has risen almost 9% in that County since 2000

http://eslmi40.esc.state.nc.us/ThematicLAUS/clfasp/CLFSAAYResults.asp

One would like to believe that the German public is also beginning to find such articles "extremely tiresome." I do not, however, have the impression that this is the case. On the contrary, as the anti-American propaganda gets shriller and more outrageous the German public seems to clamour for even more of it.

This is not just a German phenomenon of course. Even a cursory look at a site like “Watching America” reveals the worldwide nature of the problem. These sorts of gratuitous attacks on America are global, relentless and, unfortunately, quite effective. That this nonsense has been so successful in Germany is, however, exceptionally disappointing. I grew up believing that Germany and America had built a special relationship after WWII, an impression that seemed to be confirmed when I first arrived in Germany in the mid-eighties. That this relationship could be so quickly and severely damaged by propaganda perpetrated by the German media and actively encouraged by the current German government has been a deep disappointment to me. I have little doubt that anti-Americanism played a significant role in the poor performance of the CDU in the latest German election – not that they didn’t try their best to lose outright.

Now I know that some people might counter that it is the actions of the current American administration that has led to the problem. Well, I have been living here for twenty years, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what any American administration has done during that time that should so anger the Germans. But I do know what I read, see and hear in the German news every day, and it is ugly, ugly, ugly.

It should be obvious to anyone with a lick of intelligence that it makes little sense for a German publication to run stories on the unemployed in some obscure American town when worse conditions exist in almost every German municipality, unless of course, the story actually has nothing to do with unemployment, but rather with demonizing one’s enemies. SPIEGEL doesn’t have a reason to do a story on unemployment in Chemitz, because Chemitz is not the enemy.

@Dan Kauffman
That was timely and on target.

Very sorry but the link I gave won't work direct.

Try

http://eslmi40.esc.state.nc.us/ThematicLAUS/clfasp/startCLFSAAY.asp

The select for

Counties and hit the List Areas button

Then select for Carrabus County and you can

View Data or Download.

You WILL notice Unemployment peaking in July and August of 2003 at 9.2 9.6 and then a gradual decrease to todays present level with a total employment today higher than before the layoff.

"Instead of running a large, four-part documentary on unemployment in a German city like Chemnitz, "

"Instead of" ?!?!?! It's "In addition to", e.g.

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,375643,00.html

ok, it's about Soest, not Chemnitz, and it is only one page, not four - but as in any other German news magazine, there's reporting on unemployment in Germany almost everyday in SpOn even though there are typically no real news.. I don't blame you for not reading the Spiegel from cover to cover, but try to be fair.


"..it is clear to me that Mr. Osang's assessment represents a massive oversimplification and is far from accurate."

Ray, Ray... It is your translation which is far from accurate: the original of the passage you were citing above this quote reads "Der Staat spielt im sozialen Leben des Amerikaners *eigentlich* nur eine Rolle, wenn er krank wird oder alt oder verrückt..."(emphasis added by me). The word "eigentlich" - which you omit in your translation - is a clear signal to the reader that this is statement is *meant* to be an oversimplification and should be understood as such.

I concede that you are more often right than not about the SpOn's tendency to cater to the hurt German Ego, but I also find it strange that you continue to insist on "completeness" of the picture and "representativeness" of reported stories even where the average German reader (like myself) can clearly be expected to fill in the blanks you are objecting to. I assure you and the readers of your blog that a German audience does not have to be reminded that unemployment is an issue even in Germany ;-)

I suspect the popularity of such articles has more to do with the rate of unemployment in Koln than Kannapolis. Germany having stalled makes a pretty pathetic, and unsympathetic, picture. We were down in the '70s but I don't recall a lot of looking down our noses at Japanese and German success. I recall trying to figure out what they were doing right that we were doing wrong as well as looking at how we had departed from our former formula for success. Then we cleaned up our act in the '80s, not without a little pain and grumbling. Instead of cleaning up their act, the Germans want to blame their problems on locusts. Like an eternal adolescent. But they never leave home for college.

@ Konrad,

I agree about the translation. In fact, I noticed that earlier and added the word "really" but forgot to hit save. So I added it and saved, but I don't think it changes the meaning quite as much as you imply. Speaking of omission, you ought to be quite upset with Mr. Osang as his omissions with regard to the complexity of the American social state are quite enormous.

And let me be clear: My point was not to say that SPON has never reported on unemployment in Germany. That would be absurd and I'm sure you can find many examples, including some recent ones, of that sort of article. My point was to ask: Why this article and why now and why such a long piece that is so inaccurate? Furthermore, why did this piece get such big play on the homepage for days instead of a piece on a city like Chemnitz? I think those are highly valid points that need to be made and I think that ultimately we agree on the core of the matter...ie that this is the result of German ego issues and populist attitudes towards the USA.

One more thing. Notice the contrast in the way the German unemployed lady in the article you link is portrayed (dynamic, flexible, educated) versus the way the American unemployed are portrayed (exploited, hopeless, uneducated). Just look at the photo of the old man in Osang's piece. Those aspects speak volumes.

Ray,

First of all, the objections I've read so far on this thread were, strictly speaking, not about the piece being inaccurate with the facts, but about its not being "representative" or "comprehensive", which I think is what the report is definitely not supposed to be anyway.

I don't read this piece as a cheap shot against America, but Osang wants to present a case (and he may have had a hard time finding it) that parallels the situation of many (not only East) German workers who are now asked by every politician, policy expert, and random commentator to become more "flexible" and "enterpreneurial". Osang's point is, as I read him, that even in a society that represents those ideals like no other on this planet, there will always be people who are vulnerable, helpless or simply overwhelmed and deserve more support than blame for their situation.

I put the link to that Spiegel article on an unemployed woman from Soest because I think it is very close in spirit to the piece on Kannapolis. Even though I have been living abroad for two years know, I still know many persons like her back in Germany who are no less serious than unsuccessful with finding a new job.

KOnrad


PS: I also have trouble coming up with a better translation, but I don't think that "really" for "eigentlich" captures the original tone of the passage at all which IMHO makes clear that what follows is not an accurate description of what the American welfare system *does*, but rather a widespread attitude about what it *should* look like.

@ Konrad:

"but about its not being "representative" or "comprehensive", which I think is what the report is definitely not supposed to be anyway."

I respectfully disagree. It is supposed to be representative. Just read the article's first paragraph: "Wie es ist, als Amerikaner arbeitslos zu sein, erzählt das Beispiel von Arbeitern einer Spinerei in North Carolina."

Because this article is attempting to show "what it is like to be unemployed in America," I think it is perfectly fair to criticize that it is making omissions and fails to be representative about what it means to be unemployed in America. Why don't they even mention the low level of unemployment in the county in which Kannapolis is located? Why don't they mention the fact that it has been falling significantly the past two years? These are fair questions.

As far as the translation, there is usually no "pefect" translation, but I think the one provided conveys the meaning as well as any other.

The Ancient Greek rhetoricians spoke of the three fundamental aspects of any good work designed to convince - the ethos, the pathos, and the logos.

Well, at least Spiegel can console itself in the fact that 1 for 3 isn't a bad average in baseball.

There was a time when I would have felt sympathy for unemployed Germans, but no longer. Congratulations Deutschland, you've alienated your best friends.

"Why don't they even mention the low level of unemployment in the county in which Kannapolis is located? Why don't they mention the fact that it has been falling significantly the past two years? These are fair questions."

Those are VERY good questions which I am going to ask the local newspaper, in Kannapolis, I just LOVE the internet. ;-)

I find it hard to believe that it was not a result of actions by the entire community on all levels and it would be highly instructional to understand how they got from where they were the sumemr of 2003 to today,

If I get an answer I will fwd to to here.

I have been looking at the Carrabus County Area
Chamber of Commerce Website.
I mean it is IMPRESSIVE

http://www.cabarrusregionalcoc.org/index.php

@Konrad: "I don't read this piece as a cheap shot against America,..."

I don't know, but has SPON published articles about being unemployed (or employed) in Putin's Russia? In China? In France? Why choose some obscure spot in America?


"...but Osang wants to present a case (and he may have had a hard time finding it) that parallels the situation of many (not only East) German workers who are now asked by every politician, policy expert, and random commentator to become more "flexible" and "enterpreneurial". Osang's point is, as I read him, that even in a society that represents those ideals like no other on this planet, there will always be people who are vulnerable, helpless or simply overwhelmed and deserve more support than blame for their situation."

The difference is that the America spirit is "can do". Yes, your mill closes down, it happens. No one is going to have a lifetime job in a dynamic economy anymore. That period of history opened 60 years ago and is now closed. Americans expect to and expect other Americans to do what the have to do to make it. We don't expect people to "be overwhelmed".

And yes, America may represent the ideals of "flexibility and entrepeneurship", but government does so much to get in the way. Don't make the mistake that the ideal is the reality. The Federal Government alone takes $2 trillion out of a $9 trillion economy. State and local governments add on all kinds of taxes, regulations and restrictions. It's amazing the economy still grows inspite of all of this. And the vast majority of that taxation is transfer payments to the poor, old and sick. America is a social State, very similar to the Europeans. The major difference is that we haven't made the mistake to go full bore into nationalized healthcare. The American people have rejected this repeatedly since 1948, most recently in 1994. That was the issue that cost the Democrats control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1954 and this happened under a Democrat President.

The US just hasn't gone as far as the Europeans, leaving our economy comparatively advantaged.

I am not so sure these hit pieces are effective. These hit pieces are not new. They have existed for years. Yet go to http://www.migrationinformation.org/, which has lots of statistical information on immigration rates. There we learn that from the period of 1995-2002, 164 Americans applied for German citizenship, while at the same time 26,504 Germans applied for US citizenship. Not to pick on Germany; Residents of other EU countries also immigrate to the US in far greater numbers. Which leads to the obvious question: If America is such a horrible place, why do so many Germans want to move here and become citizens? Note that this figure is only for Germans who actually apply for citizenship. Far more come here on work visas.

Let's say the recent ChimpyMcBushHalliburton charges coming from the left have been effective, and Germans are 50% less interested in applying for US citizenship. The numbers are still enormously skewed in America's favor, and shows how pathetic the German government has been in solving Germany's economic problems.

This is the "brain drain", where Europe's best and brightest are leaving for better opportunities.

Blog whore alert. I summarized the data here: http://louminatti.blogspot.com/2005/02/european-stampede-to-america.html

Personally, I think we should open the doors to all skilled workers from EU countries who want a piece of the pie. Doctors, engineers, scientists, businessmen. People adept at creating businesses and inventing things. There are still people in the EU capable of doing these things. Any EU citizen who wants to come here. Perhaps it will help balance out the 4 million or so unskilled illegal migrants here.

I am not so sure these hit pieces are effective. These hit pieces are not new. They have existed for years. Yet go to http://www.migrationinformation.org/, which has lots of statistical information on immigration rates. There we learn that from the period of 1995-2002, 164 Americans applied for German citizenship, while at the same time 26,504 Germans applied for US citizenship. Not to pick on Germany; Residents of other EU countries also immigrate to the US in far greater numbers. Which leads to the obvious question: If America is such a horrible place, why do so many Germans want to move here and become citizens? Note that this figure is only for Germans who actually apply for citizenship. Far more come here on work visas.

Let's say the recent ChimpyMcBushHalliburton charges coming from the left have been effective, and Germans are 50% less interested in applying for US citizenship. The numbers are still enormously skewed in America's favor, and shows how pathetic the German government has been in solving Germany's economic problems.

This is the "brain drain", where Europe's best and brightest are leaving for better opportunities.

Blog whore alert. I summarized the data here: http://louminatti.blogspot.com/2005/02/european-stampede-to-america.html

Personally, I think we should open the doors to all skilled workers from EU countries who want a piece of the pie. Doctors, engineers, scientists, businessmen. People adept at creating businesses and inventing things. There are still people in the EU capable of doing these things. Any EU citizen who wants to come here. Perhaps it will help balance out the 4 million or so unskilled illegal migrants here.

For a little perspective, I have created a graphic comparing the unemployment rates of Germany, the U.S. and Cabarrus County. I posted it at http://www.beimami.com, a little-used blog that will likely remain that way.

That's an excellent graph you put together, beimami. Ray should post it.

Via Lucianne:

BRUSSELS, Belgium - European Union competition chief Neelie Kroes questioned the need for long summer vacations by workers in Europe, saying Thursday that breaks should be spread out in order to boost productivity amid continuing sluggish economic growth. "We can't permit in Europe a situation where for three months in the summertime we don't function because of the summer holidays,...."

-- 4 million or so unskilled illegal migrants here.--

I'll bet than number's kinda low, Lou.

beimami: "For a little perspective, I have created a graphic comparing the unemployment rates of Germany, the U.S. and Cabarrus County. I posted it at http://www.beimami.com, a little-used blog that will likely remain that way."

LouMinatti: "That's an excellent graph you put together, beimami. Ray should post it."

I agree, the graph says it all. David/ Ray should really post it here.

Good work, beimami.

My german is poor at best, the result of not using it in 20 years, but I find it interesting that this article isn't online in the english language edition of Spiegel.

Ignore the man behind the curtain!
--The Wizard of Oz

Hmm. A couple of observations:

This article about a textile mill closing down might have been interesting, say, twenty years ago. As it is, the only thing that might be interesting in the story is not that the mill closed, but that it stayed open this long. America's economy passed the Soviet-style, unskilled industrial labor phase decades ago. That work has long since all gone overseas. That mill must have been a living museum.

Another observation: Kannapolis is the home of the auto racing Earnhardt family. If Dale Earnhardt were still alive today, the assets of his estate would easily put him in the Fortune 1000. Further, Kannapolis is about an hour's drive from the booming metropolis of Charlotte. There are plenty of jobs to be had. The only thing that might be a story is that there are relatively few jobs for unskilled, un-educated laborers. But that's pretty much true everywhere in the information society these days. That train left the station a long time ago, and it isn't coming back.

This article's weltschmerz over the shattered illusion of lifelong employment in a business older than oneself clearly mirrors the career ideal that the SPD has been promoting all along its failed reforms. Your employer is your church, and losing your job is just like losing your meaning of life, so when the government saves your job it also saves your soul. Der Spiegel peppers up the actual facts with the assumption that every single Kannapolis citizen had just as much believed into the SPD career ideal as the average reader.

As the outgoing economy minister Wolfgang Clement just addressed his farewell "campaign against abuse, rip-off and selfservice" to the welfare clients rather than to the entrenched bureaucrats, stories such as that of Kannapolis certainly have a damping effect on the number of Germans who wonder how to pay for their heating in the upcoming winter if even the Bund cannot agree with the Kommunen over the responsibility for these costs. When it's going to be cold, it can be a quite effective opium to the people to "know" that, despite the generous scaremongering, Germany still was not as bad as the Mother of all sink-or-swim societies! ;-/

@LouMinetti and Toby (and Pamela, who used to post here, but whose Typekey account apparently no longer works with the site):

Thanks for the positive input. "beimami" was not drowning in other responsibilities today (a very rare occurence), so he took a little time and had some fun. Anyone who wants to use it is welcome to the graphic.

The ones who should really be thanked of course are David and Ray who clearly work very hard maintaining this very important blog.

Note from David: Beimami, thanks for the excellent graph and the kind words. I have alerted Ray and I'm sure he will do a posting on this as soon as he reads my mail.

OT - Tagesschau has statistics on the election and coalition poker which repeal some apalling facts:

- In the Ex-DDR conservatives and communists have achieved closer results that Black and Red have nationwide, and yet there is no doubt who won leadership
- While a majority of voters favors a Grand Coalition over a Jamaica Coalition, among conservatives both are traded at nearly equal value
- The Greens are the only party of which nobody believes it had won in any way, not even among its own followers
- Among Greens and even among communists there is a significantly higher recognition that Angela Merkel has won leadership than among the SPD
- Merkel does have a majority among her own supporters that only the other candidate should retreat, but Schröder does not, i.e. anybody who believes that both candidates should retreat is more likely to be a supporter of Schröder than one of Merkel

Couple of points here

1 Excellent graph Beimami
2 Germany hasn't created a single job in the privat sector in 15 years
3 Any loosers who won't move to find work in the USA violate the country's culture of self sufficienty and avoidance of burdoning others. We see them as failures and not victims as Germany would like to portray them.
4 The American economy is growing today at rates that exceed the Clinton admin and match 1986.
5 The German economy grows but a meager 1 pct annually.

Given these points, I don't see the article providing any enlightening material other than to justify the greater need for more social justice - Gerhard style.

Since the larger part of Germany hasn't the courage to adopt a more efficient model like the US, they choose instead to mock the US for political gain and profit. Anyone with an education can see that social justice is just a sham for the weak minded and the faint hearted.

i have a question about this "soziale gerechtigkeit" (social equity)
this looks like communism to me.
i really have a problem hearing this in germany.
could someone in germany explain this term to me?

@neocon: It's simple. Soziale Gerechtigkeit is the Left's buzzword to justify taxing the rich, the productive, and the successful allegedly to give to the poor and downtrodden. It's the excuse to not reform labour laws, tax structures, health insurance, and a number of other chronically ill conditions. Unfortunately, as it normally is with government, little makes it out of the government machinery to actually do any good, and where they spend the money is often counterproductive. Moreover, the application of this concept has led to the absurd situation in modern Germany whereby success, initiative, work, and wealth are punitively taxed whilst failure, inaction, unemployment and destruction of capital are subsidized. You don't need the brains of an Archbishop to conclude that under these conditions, you get less and less of the former, and more and more of the latter. But the Left still doesn't get it (on either side of the Atlantic). They just promise the world the utopian "soziale Gerechtigkeit" and unfortunately, there are enough sheep out there that fall for it. A large number of Germans think that nothing worthwhile can be done without government involvement and government assurance of people's livelihoods.

RayD wrote: "One more thing. Notice the contrast in the way the German unemployed lady in the article you link is portrayed (dynamic, flexible, educated) versus the way the American unemployed are portrayed (exploited, hopeless, uneducated)."

It seems to me that both Speigel and you are missing a critically important point here. In the US the unemployment rate among dynamic, flexible, educated women is probably just over 1%, with those being between jobs. In Eastern Germany it must be much higher.

Then ask the question of who is more likely to be employed a year from now: the dynamic German lady or the 'uneducated' American clods.

When a country has large numbers of the 'dynamic, flexible, and educated' unemployed it is indicative of deep economic disease. I think they know that by now. But most of the doctors reject palliatives and cures because 'that would be Reaganism'.

PS: Typeface is an utter pain in the arse, Ray! I just hit the Post button and was told to re-register.

thanks, scout ;)
that's what i think, too
i was expecting to hear some decent explanation from a welfare state supporter, too

@ Konrad:

"Ray, Ray... It is your translation which is far from accurate: the original of the passage you were citing above this quote reads "Der Staat spielt im sozialen Leben des Amerikaners *eigentlich* nur eine Rolle, wenn er krank wird oder alt oder verrückt..."(emphasis added by me). The word "eigentlich" - which you omit in your translation - is a clear signal to the reader that this is statement is *meant* to be an oversimplification and should be understood as such."

In an ironic twist, SPIEGEL ONLINE's English translation is missing the "eigentlich." Here is there translation:

"When it comes to social issues, the government only plays a role in the life of an American when he falls ill, becomes old or loses his mind -- or when a catastrophe occurs, like the one that struck New Orleans a few weeks ago."

Guess the "eigentlich" wasn't that important after all...was it?

Whoever thinks German and US unemployment rates can be compared - dream on. Not even the German 10% are realistic but 5% in the US is pure fiction.

"Put another way, SPIEGEL ONLINE is providing emotional comfort and satisfaction in the perception that, as bad as things might be in Germany, the system (i.e. the German social-welfare state) is still superior to that of the Americans, a group whose more neo-liberal, laissez-faire approach to the world deeply threatens the left-leaning worldview of SPON readers. And this false sense of comfort is effectively delivered by articles like the one on Kannapolis that inaccurately present America as an uncaring, desolate social wasteland. Not surprisingly, it is far more emotionally satisfying to read about the perceived misery of others with an attitude of pseudo-superiority than it is to confront the misery of one's own nation."

That is so funny! Well, actually it is sad because it means the author is either absolutely clueless about the media in Germany or he wants to stir up hate against Germany. Considering the content of this site I think both is correct. If there is ONE neoliberal magazine in Germany it is DER SPIEGEL. It is so PRO "reform"/tax cuts etc and ANTI "welfare" state/red-green coalition etc even Finacial Times Deutschland seems to be less business-friendly compared to them. It LOVES to describe how "miserable" the situation in Germany is. They have been talking down Germany FOR YEARS as anyone that reads ONE edition will soon figure out (but not the authors of this website). Again: clueless or hate-mongering.

I wish you more honesty and less hate against Germany for 2006. Happy new year! Frohes neues Jahr!

I'm starting to think that these articles that focus on the brutal "Social Darwinism" in America have positive effects for the US, even if they are full of inaccuracies and nothing but a foolish distraction for Germany.

4 million + unskilled immigrants come to America and BUST THEIR ASSESS working at sometimes 2 and 3 jobs and only discover after living here a while that there are various forms of community assistance for health care, education, legal problems, etc.
(I, myself, have volunteered time at the public library, assisting immigrants to file their taxes, learn or improve their english and apply for college.)

Perhaps so many immigrants are successful transplants in America because they also read der Spiegel on-line, and have no expectation that they will get anything in the USA except work, work and more work and consistantly show up "on our shores" with so much drive.

I'm starting to think that these articles that focus on the brutal "Social Darwinism" in America have positive effects for the US, even if they are full of inaccuracies and nothing but a foolish distraction for Germany.

4 million + unskilled immigrants come to America and BUST THEIR ASSESS working at sometimes 2 and 3 jobs and only discover after living here a while that there are various forms of community assistance for health care, education, legal problems, etc.
(I, myself, have volunteered time at the public library, assisting immigrants to file their taxes, learn or improve their english and apply for college.)

Perhaps so many immigrants are successful transplants in America because they also read der Spiegel on-line, and have no expectation that they will get anything in the USA except work, work and more work and consistantly show up "on our shores" with so much drive.

Keep up the good work Der Spiegel!

I'm starting to think that these articles that focus on the brutal "Social Darwinism" in America have positive effects for the US, even if they are full of inaccuracies and nothing but a foolish distraction for Germany.

4 million + unskilled immigrants come to America and BUST THEIR ASSESS working at sometimes 2 and 3 jobs and only discover after living here a while that there are various forms of community assistance for health care, education, legal problems, etc.
(I, myself, have volunteered time at the public library, assisting immigrants to file their taxes, learn or improve their english and apply for college.)

Perhaps so many immigrants are successful transplants in America because they also read der Spiegel on-line, and have no expectation that they will get anything in the USA except work, work and more work and consistantly show up "on our shores" with so much drive.

Keep up the good work Der Spiegel!

Well, the example of Kannapolis may not be a significant one but the truth is there are people out there who are jobless and who are skilled and educated.

Ami, you have volunteer to help help immigrants learn English and go to college, which means they have more expectations than just work since they show up at the library to learn and they go to college, so I don't see your point at all. I think you ventured away from the core issue here.

Wedding Speech

There is an interesting debate in the blogosphere exploring the reasons for the persistent high unemployment rates in the US and elsewhere. Conservatives lay the blame on the structural skills mismatch and argue that this cannot be resolved through any stimulus spending measures. Liberals claim that the massive slump in aggregate demand from the boom, means that there are massive idling resources which can be brought to work with an appropriately structured stimulus program.


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