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"That's all? Germany was looting and enslaving as much of Europe as they could to support their German Socialist welfare state. Your grandparents were slave owners."

Slavery includes buying people and owning them. Those captured ones were not owned though - they were rented by SS for fixed fee.

Also my grandparents acted according to german law.
Thats why you cannot call them criminal at all.

"Nihilism. The engine of European progress. Zyme, you are doomed."

Well that nihilism is around in europe since the age of enlightenment. And that mylady was in the late 18th century.
We are doing pretty well for a 200 years doomed continent dont you agree?

Pamela,

If one is to deny that others can manipulate people, then their actions can only be based on genetics and I guess I should have added culture.

This is more or less what fucher wants us to believe.

He wants us to believe that a fair, unbiased and honest discussion has taken place in Germany about the US and American policy. In this discussion both sides have been treated the same and each German independently arrived at the same conclusion.

If that is so, then everything that David and Ray have posted and the examples they have used are all fake and do not represent what the German public is being exposed too. It would also say that M$M has no impact in the formulation of public opinion.

Pamela, you spent some time there what is?

Zyme
>>We are doing pretty well for a 200 years doomed continent dont you agree?

I think the point, Zyme, is that I don't agree. Superficially, you have all the trappings of a free, democratic, technically advanced western society. But those trappings were initially imposed on a defeated society bombed into the stone age. The society in which they have evolved has yet to give up its love affair with collectivism in whatever guise is currently fashionable - Nazi, socialism, etc. Granted, what binds a nation is shared values, but what those values are is important. Hate for others as a driving force to success - well, haven't you been there before? Nihilism has been around long before the Enlightenment, dear. In great part it was German intellectuals (Neitschze) who gave it the moral credibility to become a cultural force. If your understanding of nihilism is simply another intellectual thread woven into the German fabric of history, I repeat my original conclusion; You are doomed.

Joe
>>Pamela, you spent some time there what is?

Germany? No.

Joe:
>> I guess I should have added culture.
Sorry, I missed that. Yes, please. We're getting perilously close to racist ideology otherwise.

Zyme,
"Also my grandparents acted according to german law.
Thats why you cannot call them criminal at all."

By that standard... Hitler himself acted according to German law as he wrote it. So, obviously, in establishing death camps, he was not a criminal, either. German law makes it right, yes?

Or, if you wish to go to a more modern example, according to the strict interpretation of Muslim law, it is not criminal to kill your daughter, if you think she has been risking your reputation as a moral man. Sharia encourages the "honor killing" of women and girls. Even though the law says it is allowed, is it right?

What is the ultimate (dare I say moral) difference between renting a slave and buying one outright? Do not both acts continue to promote slavery?

Aha, ….the “I was just following orders” or “I was obeying the law” excuse. No one was guilty of anything other than Hitler of course.

This must be the base for the moral high ground the Germans feel they now occupy. They all know how to follow orders. Does not matter if the orders are right or wrong, moral or immoral, logical or illogical - just follow them and you are good.


That makes me feel a lot better to know this.

Being American (not a hyphenated American) I am constantly amazed at the dumb rhetoric abound on most blogs.
It seems that most Germans have a limited knowledge on how our Government works and horrors....how could it ever work since the "new" EU is the cradle of civilization, culture and social delights?
I have used "new" on purpose here. I do believe that the real EU has existed for over 230 years and it has flourished. Despite our problems, we have always managed to overcome those through entrepreneurship and the belief in ourselves and our fellow man. Downtrodden citizens turned their backs on their oppressive regimes, endured hardship and created a constitution and fellowship that embraces all people regardless of their heritage. Once the enslavement of their regimes was over, there seemed to be no limit to the creation of a Union. Now this country has expanded to welcome citizens from all over the world to embrace this freedom of self rule and expression.
I guess it is time now to pass on the time honored title, EU to old Europe and embrace the new name of World Union, because we now have citizens that hail from around the globe. I can only hope that Europe can deal with that challenge as well as America has, judging by history this should prove to be a tremendous task.
That is exactly what has happed in this country and I, for one, am proud of that heritage.
In the last 30 years we have grown from 200 million citizens to 300 million. In another 30 years we are expected to number 500 million. That is without counting over 20 million illegals who are using our system. Despite all that, we still manage to have better economic growth and lower unemployment. Maybe we can contribute all of this to ONE basic difference between Germany and the USA? In the USA we believe in limited Government, whereas in Germany the basic premise remains: As much government as possible?

Something right must be going on, don't you think? :)

"That's all? Germany was looting and enslaving as much of Europe as they could to support their German Socialist welfare state. Your grandparents were slave owners."

Slavery includes buying people and owning them. Those captured ones were not owned though - they were rented by SS for fixed fee.

Which does not refute the central point - which is that the people working for your grandparents were slaves. 'Owned' by the SS rather than your ancestors - does that really take anyone off the hook?

Also my grandparents acted according to german law. Thats why you cannot call them criminal at all.

Sounds like the Nurnberg defense to me. It was 'legal'. I was 'under orders'. Riiggghtttt!

If any of you still want to visit the capital of the evil empire, then I suggest lunch at Old Ebbit Grill. It is just down the street and round the corner from the WH. The food is excellent. They just finished with their speical of Alaskan salmon but the crab cakes are just as good. You will also find the prices to be reasonable almost cheap in fact.

A stop on the way to A&S.


Pamela,

For some reason I thought you have spent some time living in DE.

Pamela,

Using "root causes" of the progressive of why there is terrorism in the world for a minute, I would like to ask your opinion of the greatest potnetial to become a terrorist.

1) Black women.
2) Blacks
3) Women.

The problem I have is the ranking of 2 and 3.

You realize this is why the WOT is so hard. All the time is being wasted focusing on the wrong groups.

If you want to try the Old Ebbit Grill - it is excellent. But make reservations in advance.

Thanks to everyone who got the 'slaves were rented and it was legal' angle. I can't focus on too many things at a given time and do justice to them.

I'd like to propose an experiment (although in practical terms I don't know how it might be implemented); Shared values. I'll bet if you got all the Americans in a virtual room here, we'd come up with a fairly solid (and AI don't mean lengthly) list of values that make us American. If the Germans got in their own virtual room, I wonder what the values they share that they think make them German would be. And I should note that I'm referring to POSITIVE values - not 'hate for those we despise'. But I guess if you think that's a positive value, I can't argue.

JOe
>>All the time is being wasted focusing on the wrong groups.
No, all the time is being wasted on blathering about 'root causes'. What if, in some alternate universe, the Nazis were correct about the racial inferiority of the non-Arayan? (Disclaimer: I distrust the concept of 'race' as a valid biological concept.) Would that 'root cause' justify the extermination practices of the Nazis? Answer in 200 words or less. (Sorry, briefly taught high school).

Pamela,

We have been down this road before. The problem is not so much the words but what is really meant by those words and how they are not only interpreted but how they are acted upon.

Of course, if you want to do this to have a feel good feeling about how we share so much then it is an excellent exercise but at the end of the day it is nothing more than that an excerise. Might I suggest a game of DOOM instead.

Zyme, I'm very, very happy that - as far as I can see it - not all Germans of your and my generation are thinking like you. You'll certainly find militaristic idiots and guys that try to bend history or argue with ridiculos arguments which were discussed and proved wrong in the 1950s. But thank god they are the minority and I can't see any growing tendencies.

Pamela,

You have managed to do it again. You have set up a situation which if you deny the reasons for terrorism are “root causes” BTW which is what the German government believes as well as many euros and the need for social justice then you must look for some other reason.

This makes lots of people very uncomfortable, especially euros. This means you have to make some form of value judgment such as is the blowing up women and children acceptable. It becomes acceptable when all that is done is more speeches. It is much like “we were just obeying the law or following orders”. You are free because you did the right thing. There is no further moral judgment to make. By doing this you are supporting the blowing up of women and children. Now if your moral judgment tells you this is wrong and you act on that judgment then it is unacceptable. This is a concept many people choose to either ignore or to not understand.

If you accept the “root cause” theory then all you have to do is give aid and write checks. If it something more than this, such as a lack of freedom, or standing by when massive numbers of people are being killed then you have to do more than just write checks. The costs to a nation increase drastically once you discard “root causes”.

So for many nations and their citizens it is much easier to believe in “root causes” it requires little of them. Yet, they can feel good about themselves knowing their government is passing out aid to fight the “root causes”.


Zyme said, "Also my grandparents acted according to german law.
Thats why you cannot call them criminal at all."

German law was wrong. German law has been changed. Force was necessary to make the change.

Are you trying to convonce me you are insane?

"Zyme, I'm very, very happy that - as far as I can see it - not all Germans of your and my generation are thinking like you. You'll certainly find militaristic idiots and guys that try to bend history or argue with ridiculos arguments which were discussed and proved wrong in the 1950s. But thank god they are the minority and I can't see any growing tendencies."

There s of course different opinions in a society of 80million.
I was refering to law students mostly - since its them that are in charge traditionally (at least in germany).

"Sounds like the Nurnberg defense to me. It was 'legal'. I was 'under orders'. Riiggghtttt!"
"Aha, ….the “I was just following orders” or “I was obeying the law” excuse. No one was guilty of anything other than Hitler of course."

Isnt it great to have a people that you can rely on?
Its the governments job to decide which direction - you cant make the people responsible for doing what they are expected to do.


"If the Germans got in their own virtual room, I wonder what the values they share that they think make them German would be."

Discipline, structural and rational thinking, industriousness, order, accuracy, timeliness, straightforwardness, efficiency ...
shall i continue?

"German law was wrong. German law has been changed. Force was necessary to make the change.

Are you trying to convonce me you are insane?"

*lol* - How can you charge someone with a crime that was none when "commiting" it, joker

Pamela,

Well an excellent example of your experiment has been posted. I bet you were expecting some thing along the lines of “ we are both democratic nations”.

Well, that is true. It just means two very different things. One means government by the people and of the people. The other means it is the government who is responsible we just follow orders or laws. By doing that our responsibility as citizens ends.


@ Zyme
Discipline, changed to whatever you can get away with.
structural and rational thinking, changed to bureaucracy and social demands.
industriousness, changed to lazyness.
order= more bureaucracy.
accuracy, still some of that remains
timeliness, only when it comes to the trains.
straightforwardness, changed to rudeness. (Service is almost nonexistant)
efficiency, .....not. Have you compared the productivity rates? they are abominable.
shall I continue..............?

i live in motown and catch deutschers on the street all the time. Brazilians too?!!!
It never ceases to amaze me that they want to go see the most diseased and decayed parts of the city and also chase after the most dysfunctional and fucked up celebrities still floating around.

the overt racism of that is always pointed out to them, but they just stare at me. Cracked-out black people were put on this earth as your disneyland animatronics. Aren't they SO INTERESTING!!!!!

I have absolutely no creedence to give 'national character'.

If I'm an asshole, I'm just an asshole, leave the US out of it! Same goes for DE and anywhere else.

I lived in Ann Arbor as a kid and in Heidelberg, both small college towns full of rich kids and eggheads.

All looking as hard as they can to find something wrong with paradise.

Its not germans or anyone else that I ignore,its ingrates that can't see two inches in front of their eyes. Americans are victims of their own success.

Instead of going after the german socialist elite we just made them all all rich by giving them a free pass to the worlds markets. If you want a root cause for german anti-americanism there it is.They needed help, just like everybody else that ever lived.

btw-nothing is more hilarious to me than a german anti-war protestor!!!!Ha!

quit wasting your life worrying about what lazy fat and happy think with their "brains".The best will NEVER be the friend of the envious and so what, how many kids in Iraq can read a book now because someone converted a liberal? really?

Just go about your business and let the clocks tick themselves. If Germany wants to be a light of freedom and hope it'll be another generation that does it. This one is just set to risk their cool.

Joe:
>> I bet you were expecting some thing along the lines of “ we are both democratic nations”.

I'm going to hold my cards until I hear other Germans chime in. But no, Zyme's response did not surprise me.

@Zyme
>>Its the governments job to decide which direction - you cant make the people responsible for doing what they are expected to do.

And THAT, dear Zyme, is why the slave-holding of your grandparents bothers you not a whit. You are a slave to your own government.

It's getting late. See you guys tomorrow. Thanks for one of the best conversations ever.

playertwo
>> how many kids in Iraq can read a book now because someone converted a liberal?
LOL! I am sooooo stealing that!

'Nite.

We should not forget:

Heute vor zehn Jahren, am 11. Juli 1995, fiel Srebrenica, Schutzzone der Vereinten Nationen, in die Hände serbischer Soldaten. 8000 Menschen wurden ermordet oder verschwanden, vor allem bosnische Muslime.

The UN needs to be reformed.

@ Niko

"Here's some news for you - German standard of living may be ahead of, say, Greece, but it's a good two decades behind that of the United States"

In what way exactly. Oh, you mean the way homosexuals are treated the way they were in the Middle Ages? Oh wait - that's a Southern thang...

You mean the way that public transprt is virtually non existent in a city of 200,000? Oh wait, thats an American thang

"The best approximation is from an Urban Institute study which states that about 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year"

Ah America. I would say the standard of living in the US is three decades behind that of Germany. But who gives a damn about homeless children, eh? That's completely normal in "the best county on Earth."

How about metal detectors in high schools. What a great sense of security American children enjoy. If number of metal detectors in high schools is any measure, then I admit, the US has a better standard of living a million times better.

What's wrong Niko, just letting out some pent up verbal faeces, or do you have some metric for calling US standards 2 decades ahead of German standards.

Here's some news for you, US standards may be ahead of those in Iran, but it's a good 3 decades behind those in Germany.

And why, exactly are Latin American so opposed to Bush. Has the Spigel been doing it's rounds there too?

And what's up with S. Korea. Don't they know when someone helps you out (for motives that are completely their own), you owe them your support for eternity. Doesn't matter what the actions of that nation may be decades later, you must show undying support. Those ungrateful S.Koreans. That Spiegel messing around in Korea too now?

@ Scout: I don't want to make the German Education System better than it is, but here are some facts that do not really fit to the claims you repeatetly stated:

PISA: You say "I assume you're talking about that fabulous German education that scored in the bottom third in the last two PISA studies? Even lower than the US?"
Well, actually Germany scored better than the US in three out of four categories in 2003: Germany was on average of all countries three times and above average once and the US were on average once and below average three times. So we are more or less of in the same boat there, albeit for different reasons I guess. (Source: http://www.pisa.oecd.org/dataoecd/1/63/34002454.pdf)

FOREIGN STUDENTS: You say: "I assume you're talking about that fabulous German univerisity education that foreign students are ignoring in droves because they prefer English-language degrees so they can have a head start in actually applying their skills to REAL markets and earning money?"
Now this is factually wrong: IN 2002, 3,7% of all students in the US were foreigners, while in Germany it were 10,1%. Now i am not saying German universities are the best, nor that they are even good, but they are not really being ignored, are they? On the other hand - American students DO ignore them, but they ignore everything thats outside the US - look it up on http://www.wissenschaft-weltoffen.de/2005/1/4/1/1 (in german).

@Zyme: Sorry, but I really dont agree with what you are saying there: "As soon as america stops invading other countries and accepts the world as it is, there will be no more reason for europeans to hate you. " Now first, I did and do not think the Iraq invasion was the best thing to do in that situation, but neither do I think that "accepting the world as it is" would be any option. How in the world could you accept the world as it is? Especially after 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7?? That would be worst isolationism. Of course you can and should discuss about the way to deal with that situation (I think the Bush administration is handling it the wrong way), but you cannot accept, i.e. ignore it.

And second, this "The only ones that had no good lives where the enemys of the government.. my grandparents were none of these" is really BS. Do you remember that little dipute there called World War II brought to your grandparents by their fellow Germans? Do you think 99% of the germans had "a good living" in that war? The problem wasn't that they were liberated, the problem was that they started a war that distroyed half of Europe and 60 million lives - including many of their own.
And finally: "For a german, having a great standart of living is by far more important than having those typical rights that come with democracy." I am a German and i would never prever having "a great standart of living" to having to live in an dictatory state. What is your "great standart of living" worth if it can be taken from you anytime?

Sorry, forgot to tipe in a name there

cool! coulnt you make an extra section with insider travel tips for the us?

@ niko:

"Oh, yes, ye ole diatribe about the US turning into a police state."

How about switching off the attack mode and reading properly?

As far as I can see, raphael was talking about totalitarism in the Third Reich.

@ raphael: good post.

@Niko: Ok, I didn't know that fact, but then it is still about the same percentage as in the US, and Scout's claim is still wrong; apart from that, do you have a number of how many foreign students in the US craduate there?

"Oh, yes, ye ole diatribe about the US turning into a police state."
Sorry if you got that wrong (some kind of anti-antiamerican bias there ;-)?) Where did I say I meant the US in saying that?? How do you come to that conclusion? I meant just what I wrote - that I'd prefere living in a democracy that in a dicatorship, no matter what standart of living I had - including (maybe unbelievable for you, but true) the US. Yes! I'd actually prefer to live in the US to having to live in NOrth Korea, the DDR or Cuba - and this despite I don't like the present American administration - crazy world, isn't it ? ;-)

Raphael, never mind Zyme. I was already suspecting where he is coming from, and reading further comments from him he only confirms my suspicion: He is undemocratic and has no understanding about the value of freedom, or simply doesn't care about it (because, along his line of thought, as long as you submit yourself to whatever kind of authority, you will do fine - never mind whether this is a dictatorship or not).
He is however not representive for the vast majority of Germans, but neither am I. He doesn't value freedom much - judging from his comments, while I can very well imaging emigrating to the States on some later day ;).

In the comment section of a previous article (2 Reasons why Germany...), he stated we should not worry because utter disharray in politics and economy can also bring about good change: Like, a Kaiser. OK, he said elected for 5 years, but during this time, there would be about no accountability mechanisms in place, and federalism or accountability due to a parlament he considered - if I understood you correctly Zyme - as something negative.
Because it is not very kind to talk about someone in 3rd person while he is present, I will now change that. Zyme, you also criticized the Verfassungsschutz as some kind of Stasi. You view it that negatively, because you would have no problem to see our democratic system and constitution disappear. After all, your grandparents had a great time under Hitler just as well, because they were "good citizens".

Tell you something, the Verfassungsschutz is no Stasi, like you wanted to portray it to some Americans here, but instead something like the FBI in the States, who take care - amongst other things - of undemocratic forces and geeks who could care less about freedom to achieve their desired goals, whatever these are. When I said "When you are no threat to our constitution, you are not bothered by the Verfassungsschutz", you said this would be the same like in the former DDR, when you don't threaten it, the STASI would not bother you. First, this is historically untrue, and second, the slight difference is that the DDR was a (communist) dictatorship, thus had NO RIGHT whatsoever to govern their citizens in the first place. If you don't get this idea (and, by your referal to your "law-abiding" grandparents in the 3rd Reich, you don't) further discussion on this is mood.

Further, the Verfassungsschutz does not go active on their own call - like you said - but instead on call by the same constitution. It is written down exactly under which circumstance the Verfassungsschutz is allowed to act. It does not have unrestricted freedom here (like for example the Stasi). When you however criticize the methods or rights of this bureau ONCE engaged, then this is a different debate alltogether and you might very well have some points where I would agree with you. It is however a debate about privaty/freedom/civil rights vs law enforcement, and this is (in a constitutional state) a never ending (thankfully) ongoing debate, with the goal to achieve this very thin line of balance, which however only exists in theory, while reality is either to far to the one side or the other. Goal for reality is to keep it as close to that theoritical thin line as possible. You have this debate in all democracies - likewise in the US, when it comes to methods and rights the FBI may or may not utilize/possess.

I agree with the first comment above. I'm English, but I love spending vacations in the US. Much of what's on the East Coast you can see in Europe. And the summer humidity in New York and Washington DC is a vacation-spoiler by itself. California and the Southwest are the places to go if you want to see something different - wide open spaces, wonderful desert scenery, the outdoor life, one of the world's greatest cuisines (Mexican) and some of the world's greatest cities (SF and LA).

But if you don't drive and don't have anybody to drive you, scratch all that and stay in the Northeast.

Apololgy accepted ;-)
I think it is true that the Studienabbrecherquote ist quite high in Germany, probably mostly because of the fact that studying is still free of charge here. I don't know about African students here (I don't think it is that easy for them to study here), but from what I have noticed myself the number of Asian (especially Chinese) students has grown a lot in recent years, and there is also quite a number of students from Southern and Eastern Europe (in my university, most of the foreign students come from Bulgaria).

@Alex N.: I read those comments of Zyme, too, but guessing that many Americans on this Blog may be thinking that all Germans think like he does (as he claims to be the speaker of all germans...), I just didn't want his thoughts to be uncontradicted. Kind of frightening to hear such thoughts from law students...

All I'm going to say, as a German student, is that the German universities attract a much smaller *number* of foreign students than US universities. In addition, only a small segment of the German population is allowed to attend the university. What Gavin, Raphael and others forget is that the German system is inherently a class system - children of blue-collar workers stand little chance of getting a good education. They will be shunted down to the Realschule and Hauptschule. And they then have very little chance of rising to be able to attend a university.

Why does everyone like to forget that German students like to study forever? (Admission: it took me 14 Semesters to get my Magister in English Philology.) I know so many people who are graduating with their *first degree* at 28 and older. And you can forget having a terminal degree before you're 35. If you become a professor before you're 40, you're doing great! Why? Surely not because our system is so wonderful!

The new degrees that are being introduced in Germany (Bachelor, Master, etc.) are not even yet accepted by the academic systems of other countries! Plus, they're forcing teaching repetitive courses, providing less money to the universities, which means less personel (=> less research). In addition, the pay for university professors has been dropped. Academics are leaving Germany in droves. Students are studying to become teachers (who here are tenured government officials) and it won't take long until, in the words of an academic friend of mine (who has a tenured position at a German university), German universities are just "glorified Gymnasien".

"Kind of frightening to hear such thoughts from law students..."

WHAT? Oh dear. This is even better than the "Politikwissenschaftsstudentin" Yasmin I encountered on the German blog Bushfires of Freedom, who wanted the Iran to have the Nuke - out of fairness and stability reasons...like back in the good old and peacefull days of the Cold War...go figure.

rahpael
>> but guessing that many Americans on this Blog may be thinking that all Germans think like he does

Nope. No chance. Not to worry.

@Alex N.: I don't get that, could you please explain what's wrong with my comment? (I was referring to Zyme, who I think wrote that he was a law student to then go on and ... well, you named it yourself. I just think that he should know better that an "Ersatzkaiser" is what among other things brought us Hitler)

@thesaur: I'm not forgetting that. As i said, i'm not too enthusiastic about the German System. As for the Langzeitstudenten, I think the three main reasons are: 1. not enough money for education, 2. not enough money for the students (bad scholarship system-->students need to work more) 3. free of charge. If you charged for studying, used the money for a better scholarship system (get rid of Bafög) and more teaching personal, the situation would be a lot better I think. And once you've started, you could get rid of that tripartition school system, too and spend more on educataion and less on farming...just dreaming.

Some more travelling tips for the US?

Gavin,

Here is a novel thought – why not do some self-research and attempt to educate yourself about the nation you live in and the world you live in.

Start here - The Human Development Index (HDI), published annually by the UN.

You might find this to be interesting and a bit frustration. It ranks the quality of life in the US much higher than in Germany.

And it is a UN report and we all are aware just highly regarded the UN is held in Germany and the EU.

This might help you in seeing reality and as well as establishing a benchmark to evaluate the candidates in the upcoming election. Such as, just what are they proposing and how does this relate to standard of living.

Have a wonderful adventure with your self education.

Having just looked it up, I actually don't find any hard evidence any more that Zyme is a law student. Guess my intelligence was wrong there at some point. Sorry for that....But still, there is no evidence that he isn't a law student ;-)

@Alex: I think your comment actually wasn't an attack, was it? so I got that wrong, too. Sorry.

Thesaur,

Think you are spot on with your assessment of higher education in Germany. I personally know of 3 very bright Germans who are in the US obtaining advanced degrees. In one case, I found it to be interesting and confusing as one is majoring in German. It took me a while to understand the reason. It is the reason you stated about advanced degrees being recognized outside of Germany. What is also a bit disturbing if I were a German is that 2 of the 3 do not intend to return to Germany.

Improving higher education in Germany is something that needs to be done to insure the future. It is unfortunately going to be one of the most difficult areas to fix. It is going to require what many might view as a radical rethinking of its structure. You and others are correct when you point out many of the problems come from lack of money.

There are several ways to address this: more taxes, students pay more or a reduction in the number of students. Students paying more and a reduction in the number of students goes against so much of what has been built as benefits of the social welfare state.

This is one area that Germany is going to have to look some place other than the US for a model. This is not to say that the US is a great example even thought more than half to the top 100 universities in the world are in the US, but to more of the reality that how American universities are funded cannot be duplicated in Germany.

There is culture here of giving to your university upon graduation. This is a source of funds these universities have to improve faculty, physical plant, research, and to help students pay for the costs of their education by providing scholarships, grants and low cost loans.

Unfortunately this culture does not currently exist in Germany.

@ Joe:

"e Human Development Index (HDI), published annually by the UN."

The UN also rates a number of European nations, and Canada, as having higher standards of living than the US. I tend to agree that Canada, Norway, and a host of other Nations are DEFINATELY better places to live than the US. Do you also agree? NO???

The WHO rates German HealthCare as being better than American, in all the Metrics it had measured. Do you agree with that? NO!!! I'm shocked. So you only agree with studies that make the US look good??? Shocking.

Again, here's some news. The Standard of living in Germany is at least 2 decades ahead of the standard of living found in the US. (I call this style of proof Niko style)

By the way enjoy walking down the halls of your metal detector clad high school. Perhaps you can now tell your classmates that, unlike what your class might recite every morning, the US is only the EIGHTH best place in the World to live, not the best, second to a bunch of - GASP - EUROPEAN NATIONS!

@Joe: Great! Thank for your advice to do some self-research. I just checked out the HDI 2004, and it says that the US have a HDI of .939, wheras Germany has a HDI of .925. Now, that is really a huge difference. It probalby explains why, according to Niko, Germany is still in the Stone Ages or something. But not only did I check out the HDI, I also looked some further and found the HPI (Human Poverty Index). The HPI ranks Germany 6th and the US 17th. Ooops...
Now basically comparing Germany and the US in such ranking doesn't help much, as both countries are at the very top and you could only compare them to developing countries.

There's an article in the Süddeutsche today which says that the German students are quite a lot faster and finishing younger than they used do, while on the other hand the social background seems to be ever more decisive for the chances to study one day. Unfortunately, they don't have that on their webpage.

Booya,

Actually having not lived in Norway or Canada I cannot agree or disagree. I would however say that if the same standard were used for all nations then that would leave little room for objective disagreement.

Probably the area I would question the most would be about healthcare. But there are so many aspects to that issue I am not sure they can be reasonably addressed.

I also think when you look at these reports one has to factor in size and numbers. For example, you used Norway. OK Norway is a little bigger in landmass than the state of New Mexico. Norway has a population of about 4.6 million people. NM only has 1.8 million. So the issues of space and distance come into play.

In my state, Georgia, we are about half the size of Germany in land mass and have only about 10% of the population. As I am sure you can see these distances do have impacts on almost every aspect of our society.

That is one thing most people seem to have little concept of be they Americans or Europeans. For Americans who have not visited or lived in Europe, it is really small. For Europeans who have not really traveled in the US outside of the tourist centers, the US is huge. When compared to Europe, it is also pretty empty of people.

So when making comparisons there are other consideration that have to come into play when faced with reality. This is why I think for Germany to follow the policies of nations like Sweden and Austria are a bit misguided because of sheer size and numbers. Just think in Germany there are more people out of work than makes up the workforce in Austria. So things like retraining, social benefits, creation of jobs, etc is much more difficult. A single new factory employing 2,500 new workers has a much greater impact in Sweden or Austria than it does in Germany.

"@Alex: I think your comment actually wasn't an attack, was it? so I got that wrong, too. Sorry"

This is correct, Raphael. :-) Yes, my "WHAT?" was not directed at your comment as such, but on your remark that *Zyme is a law student*. But no apology, I know one can easily get heated up and slash out on the wrong guys ;)

@Raphael

You've got your assessment of the way out for German education spot on :) The only degree I think has equal value around the world is the Doctorate (US: PhD). That is quite respected. But recognition for anything below that is rather blotchy.

Speaking of Langzeitstudenten: some people remain on the student rolls just to avoid paying social security, etc. Last year, there was a case of four public employees who had remained students for 61(!) semesters. That's over 30 years! Other cases "only" involve 30+ semesters or so... Just another result of the "Sozialdenken" here...

Another issue that I failed to mention above is the numbers game. If one were to consider all EU citizens non-foreigners (which is how they should now be viewed for statistical purposes), you'd probably have a smaller percentage of foreign students than even the US (percentage-wise).

As for students graduating younger, the only reason for that is the bachelor degree. It forces you to finish it in 3 years. I was involved in the process of selecting Bachelor students at a German university (Freiburg, my alma mater - which ranks 88 in the Shanghai ranking) and know at least one student who is going through that course of study. Those students, say what you will, never really get a chance to dig into the deep stuff. Their classes are repetitive and the quality of their education suffers immensely. If you consider, though, that what they currently call a Magister is the level of their new Master's degree, it really would take 6 years to get that. And many, many students will forego continuing their studies. As my friend said, the universities here will become glorified gymnasien - with the exception of the new "Elite" universities that will have to be set up to showcase German education. Pah.

@Joe

Yes, the universities here in Germany are based on a different culture, which does not dictate loyalty to your alma mater. I probably am in a pretty decent position to know this, being a German/American, having spent a major portion of my childhood in the US. The real way to get things jump-started would be to offer students added value in connection with the dreaded "Studiengebühren".

I state this from the perspective of an academic, one who wants to continue in academia and one day found a private university. This whole issue is something I've been looking into more and more. I protested when they wanted to introduce registration fees (Immatrikulationsgebühren). Not because I believed the fees are wrong - but because the government has no clue what they are up to. The way things are going right now, students will be paying EUR 500 and more - for no added value. In fact, the quality of the education will keep on sinking as the government collects EUR 500 per student and cuts EUR 600 in public funding... Maybe if education were privatized, we'd be able to once more look up to our proud heritage.

@Rafael: Thanks for the statistics, but I consider them as not particularly useful and I stand by my claim that the _serious_ foreign student will look to study in the English-speaking world raTHer than Germany. The percentages you name indicate percentage out of the total student population which is naturally smaller in Germany; this is actually raTHer meaningless when considering the TOTAL numbers, since the total number of foreign students in the US is undoubtedly higher than in Germany. Also I agree with thesaur's points... there is a unusually large number of Scheinstudenten in Germany... for whatever reasons. Yes, there are 'professional students' in the US as well, but I believe Germany has a bigger problem with this, as well as the problem of actually finishing something and getting out into the real world to earn some money and pay some taxes! As the saying goes, Germany has the oldest students and the youngest OAPs.

There is culture here of giving to your university upon graduation. [snip] Unfortunately this culture does not currently exist in Germany.

This can be changed. One reason for life-long allegiance to one's Uni in the US is the sports teams. Football season in the fall and basketball in the winter/spring are reminders of school spirit, gratitude and support. Maybe German Uni's should start up their own sports teams.
I call on doctors and here in Michigan you would not believe the rivalry (friendly) among doctors from U of Michigan and Michigan State. Michigan shuts down for the annual Michigan/MSU game and of course for first day of hunting season.

Even without sports, the German Uni's need to develop their alumni relations department, get those Uni decals, flags, stickers, hats and t-shirts out there. Ask for support for a special program that is popular, valuable and will help the Uni and the country. Lack of healthy patriotism for Germany is a problem and lack of patriotism for your school. Germany needs to develop sources of affectation among its people for things larger than themselves.

Here we have the Beach Boys "Be True to Your School":

When some loud braggart tries to put me down
And says his school is great
I tell him right away
Now what’s the matter buddy
Ain’t you heard of my school
It’s number one in the state

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

I got a letterman’s sweater
With a letter in front
I got for footbal and track
I’m proud to where it now
When I cruise around
The other parts of the town
I got a decal in back

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

On friday we’ll be jacked up on the football game
And I’ll be ready to fight
We’re gonna smash ’em now
My girl will be working on her pom-poms now
And she’ll be yelling tonight

So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school

Rah rah rah be true to your school
Rah rah rah be true to your school
Rah rah rah be true to your school
Rah rah rah be true to your school

If you look at the US Military, every outfit has their mascot and their motto and their special greeting. To have a great big team, you have to start with great small teams. In the US, it's all a deep part of the culture. In British military, they have their historic regiments and soldiers are taught the history of those regiments and taught to fight to maintain that honor. This works and is missing to a great extent in Germany outside of the Bundesliga.

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