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That's that same dopey 24% that buys into any whacky left-wing nonsense.

These are the same 24% that complain the "rich" are never paying enough taxes (even though they pay no taxes themselves); that Iraq was somehow fought over "oil" and that believe everything in life should be free and paid for out of the vast federal money orchards of entitlement.

No, all these 24% are saying is "we want more free stuff!". Again.

Americans are so unjust, they don't even know it.

Paraphrase: you don't know what you don't know.

Can you believe it, after incessant soak-the-rich rhetorics, and the Great Recession was caused by Bush's tax cuts and greedy capitalists propaganda, only 24% believe America is unjust?

I love the 76% intransigent Americans sticking their middle fingers to the intelligentia.

Can this be attributed to Germans being 1) more critical than Amis and 2)not as patriotic/nationalistic as Amis?
Amis are more inclined than Germans to say that their country is the greatest in the world etc. etc.

Americans know who their government is, Germans don't know where Germany stops and the EU starts.

Social justice then becomes that which is given by someone else not us. 'Their' system is not as just as ours would be.

What is "social justice"?

The German's sentiments are exactly the same as the Americans: social justice is you've got to keep what you labored for. Ergo, there is no social justice in the German system in which most of your income is confiscated as taxes. Unfortunately, our kick-ass president is trying to wreck our system and replace it with the German's.

I have been told that all Germans are assigned to one of three (3) "classes" sometime before the age of twelve. Class "C" (not what it's called) is set up for vocational training, and (say) a life as a butcher. Class "B" is set onto the college track, and Class "A" is set for graduate studies, Ph.D.'s, and all that. I worked with Germans for a few years before hearing about this, and by that time we had parted company. But I realized that I could look back and figure out which "class" all of my friends and most of my co-workers were in. And I realized why there was such a huge emphasis on people with graduate degrees making that fact known.

While I don't see anything wrong with educational streaming, this seems extraordinarily rigid to me. No chance of escape?

At least in America some people still believe you're supposed to work for a living.

What the hell is wrong with TypePad? This is Pamela. I haven't used 'grayp' since before G-d started making dirt.

@Geoff Puterbaugh

this seems extraordinarily rigid to me. No chance of escape?

Nope. Not just in Germany, either, pretty much all over Europe. Here in the US, you can attend university at any age as long as you've got the academic record and the $$. And apparently, it's been that way forever. My high school German teacher, from Munich, who was born around 1905-10 told me by the time you left high school you were headed for 'gymnasium' or trade school and that was it.

I really would like to know what Germans mean by the term 'social justice'. I don't think they mean it as it is meant here in the states, specifically re: 'oppressed minorities' cough cough

@ GringoTex: Nail, meet hammer.
@ Pamela & Geoff Puterbaugh: My experience in the 1970´s (yes, I am old) was quite different. I went to a Gymnasium (A),and lots of people changed to a Realschule (B) and vice versa. Even at this time, there were schools (Gesamtschulen) which kept all children together until they graduated, and their numbers have been on the increase ever since. Today, parents are fighting to prevent the remaining Gymnasiums from being converted into such schools ...

Once upon a time, there was such system, albeit more flexible, but - alas - no more. It died when Hauptschulen (C) turned into a dumping ground for non-integrated immigrants with minimal language skills and everybody tried to go to a Realschule or Gymnasium, including most immigrants. I use old school books (1900-1950) for tests when hiring, and the decline e.g. of basic math skills among the graduates of Hauptschulen is a disgrace.

Vocational training is generally considered to be one of the strengths of the German educational system, and our ReNo-Gehilfinnen (legal secretary meets paralegal, I suppose) are an example: Graduate Realschule (B), get hired by a law firm and trained partly there and partly at a special school while already being paid.

Indeed the ambition to roll back the sink-or-swim society is differently anchored in the two related cultures. This reflects the fact that a preference to become independent from a failed system will make it make less likely to want to change it, though not necessarily to repeat its mistakes. Nevertheless a deficit nation cannot just twist itself into an export nation or vice versa, nor is this desirable. Instead each of these unbalanced business models have to adapt to the reality that the riches of the Earth were better to be justly distributed among humanity at an individual level than spilled into the oceans.

I'm sure that "social justice" is a loaded word for both Germans and Americans, without a lot of common meaning. Americans believe they have a chance to become more wealthy, while Germans believe and take pride in being a cog in the "Export Nation No.1" system, which provides them with a welfare state but in which they serve as servants for bigger powers in the country, far more than they do as autonomous consumers and citizens. "Team spirit" à la Germany. Americans have a chance to make a lot more of themselves, especially on a material basis; they really expect to make more money and do. Germans have more of this "Untertan" spirit in terms of fitting in well with the German export machine, which they perversely take pride in without having much else from it beside national pride and a guarantee by the state that they will be "taken care of." That's how it seems to me. But I do respect the German work ethic, so don't get me wrong. They are a hard-working people, do a thorough-going job and take pride in their labor. I'm not necessarily knocking that. I just wonder how long the Germans will be satisfied with working for a larger European Union! Plus it must be born in mind that Americans don't expect as much from the state as the Germans--and Europeans generally--do. Mama/Papa State vs. American pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.

Have I mentioned that all these unbalanced business models must adapt, lest be rolled up by bigger players? For all its known disadvantages, one advantage which proliferating one's products certainly has over proliferating one's currency is the smaller psychological complexity of the complaint management. Complaints will be simple technical assertions over things that don't work the way they should, rather than questionable rantings over intransparent monetary powers that work in ways they shouldn't. This makes it much easier for a culture to treat money is just another technology, as opposed to an object of worship.

Hi all. Interesting topic, so I will weigh in.

Americans, by and large, do believe that they have a good life. Average Americans for the most part think they live in a great country where you can have a pretty good life for yourself and your family. The emphasis being on you doing for yourself.

Also, there is still a mindset for most of the American public that deeply resents any government incursion into their lives -- this includes many who are on welfare: they do not like nor trust it; they know that with the dole comes hoops a person has to jump through in the form of nosey social workers, et al. They see it (perhaps quite correctly) as a loss of personal freedom. Most would still prefer to give charitably by themselves as individuals or through mutual aid societies -- through their houses of worship or through their communities/social groups. Many (not all!) would rather rely on the same in times of trouble and only give in to state welfare at the last resort (there is a growing class of habitual welfare recipients however, and this is turning into a societal problem -- it does not mesh well with this society). I think that has a lot to do with how they view the level of "social justice" in the country as a whole. Many average Americans do not see government as a path to "social justice" (in fact, I'd wager that most would find that term silly and something to be suspicious of if it came from some legislative/governmental decree; they would see it as setting the conditions for the exact opposite of justice).

This is perhaps an aspect of American patriotism/nationalism -- but it is nonetheless very much there in many. At least as far as my experience of my country has shown me. Unfortunately, in my opinion at least, these aspects of American social thought are the most under attack at present.

@ Jennifer Ronna - If you see government as something you might add to your life, then you are an exception both historically and numerically. For most people in the world, government is something that has been there before their life was added to it. They know it has always abused humanity as long as anyone can remember and think an appropriate compensation for that was the precondition (to continue) to allow it a right to exist. They do not see individual handouts as alms to be taken with humility but as their rightful share in what government has deprived them of (which is why even in poor countries there is no poor government). I understand that the exceptional circumstances of having a life before having a government make it easier to see that government as just another technology, as opposed to a parasite which requires to be removed before any other choices.

You are perhaps misunderstanding me: I did not mean to imply that people don't take handouts (or even expect them); merely, from my own experience with my countrymen, most Americans, even those on welfare to a great degree, do not trust the governmental oversight that comes with it, and they resent the bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through while on it. Many, if not most, would prefer not to be in a position to need the dole. There are of course, some (and sadly, that number is growing) who see it as a birthright, but most do not see the welfare state as "social justice" -- certainly not the taxpayers and suprisingly many of the recipients. It does not fit into the, perhaps American, concept of "justice".
I see what you are saying about "alms taken with humility", and that is true, but at the bottom of it all, most of the average, workaday Americans that I live amoung would actually prefer they didn't have to resort to alms from the government in the first place; in fact, if given their druthers if asked they would tell you the ideal situation would be government out of the picture for the most part and they allowed to be self reliant (lack of jobs and/or lack of jobs that keep up with the standard of living is the most common complaint I hear from many people on the dole, believe it or not -- many curse the government for the circumstances that make their situation; "welfare plantation" is not an uncommon term here).

But perhaps this is a condition only germaine to my area of America -- I don't know what other parts of the country are like, on a personal level, only what I see and hear where I am at.

@Jennifer Ronna - I do not believe it, since saying that what you needed most was a job is, at least in this place, to put it in your metaphors, the very first bureaucratic hoop you are required to jump through. Hence people say it even if what they really need most is time for doing what they do for free, or to take a sabbatical, or whatever that should be no matter of interest to any form of government. Although cynical, the metaphor of the "welfare plantation" is not so far off, as interviewing the slave workers on a plantation in the presence of their overseers over their needs would probably produce likewise reliable results resp. lack thereof.

Economic self-reliancy might be an ideal worth trying, but if I was in a situation to keep house entirely independent from the worlds markets I probably wouldn't get involved into blog debates on the internet. And once the market is part of the picuture, the government is as well, so reclaiming the birthright against both sides of the coin is only logical. My impression is that the shoe pinches elsewhere: Everything that government hands out, it has to take somewhere. Even with qualitative tax reform, when the money comes from energy taxation it comes with a CO2 budget. On the other hand the unconditional basic income is the most likely demographic instrument to produce an exit strategy from the current energy crisis other than snowballing plantations.

How could calling the entitlements programs "welfare plantations" be cynical if that's what the people really think they are?

I'm not trying to argue the foolish notion that anyone is ever completely and truly free (that's never been the case, and only a child or fool would ever think otherwise). What I am trying to explain is the notion of some small semblance of individual freedom (having a job does give you money, which gives you some choice in things you can purchase for yourself -- home, food, clothes, health care, transportation) that doesn't leave you totally at the mercy of some government bureaucracy -emphasis on "totally". This results in feeling obliged to vote for those who would continue the entitlement programs, so you aren't homeless and destitute (if you are a recipient).
Most Americans -- even the ones on the programs -- are aware of this, and no, they do not care for it; they resent it actually. If you were to ask, there are many who would, in candor, admit to you that they see no "justice" in it whatsoever, quite the reverse.
As for "what they really need" -- I don't quite know how to address that, but that's just...I don't know...everybody knows that you never get everything you think you need in life, or to get the things you need you need to work for them...right? I mean...the government can give you things you need, but then it really isn't yours, it's the government's (which means they can take it away from you a lot more easily than if you owned it in the first place). Clear as mud?

@Jennifer Ronna - It is cynical since it implies if you take away the welfare then the people would be liberated. But in reality, liberty requires taking away the government bureaucracy and making the welfare reliable. These ill-indended programs deform the taking of welfare into a job like any other which puts you at the whims of a boss (and transforms the welfare bureaucrat into a caricature of a businessman) who can kick you into homelessness and all the rest of it. On the other hand, if you work on the basis of a welfare flatrate, your boss doesn't have that existential power over you, because in case of an unexpected loss of your additional income you always have the possibility to use your welfare for yourself rather than pass it on as a donation for the sake of a public issue of your choice. So what I am trying to convince you of is not to settle for some small semblance of liberty only because some other perspective seems worse, but to permanently raise your expectations to the purpose of markets and governments. And the people - there is no obscurity as to "what they really need" - to make their own decisions, instead of someone, and be it out of such paradox motivations as a cultivated resentment against any creeping withdrawal of sovereignty, framing them for them. Hence the question answered by the proposal is how can technologies such as market and government be modified to properly serve that purpose?

[meta] @Ray - Have you thought about enforcing your stated comment policy against link whores recently? The commercial bots bumping your threads as we write appear like a deliberate spoofing attack against any culture of reliable debate among human users. [/meta]

"But in reality, liberty requires taking away the government bureaucracy and making the welfare reliable."

Well, wouldn't one way to go about doing that be getting rid of state subsidized welfare and putting it back into the hands of individuals or individual groups? Get the government out of the "social justice" (as the term has come to be defined)business altogether. In fact, as an American (an American who has been extremely socially/economicaly "mobile") I have a hard time taking the term "social justice" very seriously. Maybe because risks have always worked out for me in the long run; outside of the soup kitchen at the local Catholic Worker's house, I really don't want my government shackling me down (which the government welfare business is wont to do, and don't really see that changing anytime soon for a variety of reasons), and I really don't want to be paying out excessively (and more importantly, with no choice to do otherwise) for people who won't take a risk or two (or just get their butt off the sofa) when I am doing well for myself -- a hand up is one thing, but it isn't really just to make people carry around a bunch of lazy bones who won't work either (and this does play into the concept of equality -- equal treatment by the law, but not equality of outcome -- where's the incentive for a person if that's the end result? that's "justice"?). There are a lot of very average people like me who think much the same -- at least in my part of the country.

@Jennifer Ronna - So you are that isolated that you really cannot see the Right to be Lazy, and its proper balance against the practical necessity to keep the planetary resources for the future? Don't take it too personal though, it may well be a typical symptom of a deficit nation with most of its currency circulating outside of itself.

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