Thursday, September 15, 2005

Why They Hate Us

Germany is a country caught in the economic doldrums, a victim of its own welfare state that lards every job with so many mandatory benefits that companies are slow to hire new people whom the government makes nearly impossible to fire. Now Germany suffers an 11.5% unemployment rate, zero economic growth, and zero population growth. Germans fear for their future, hoard their cash, and complain that politicians are not honest about the sacrifices that must be made to put the economy right. Ultimately, it means disassembling the welfare state that shackles the economy.

From the Guardian:

"Germany's postwar economic miracle is a distant memory. Its unquestioned economic, educational and sporting superiority over Britain, and so many other countries, belongs to a previous, more confident generation of Germans. The numbers suggest that it is low-unemployment, low-tax, post-industrial Britain, with its job-hopping, free-spending citizens and penny-pinching Treasury that is the success story now; high-unemployment, high-tax industrial Germany, with its rigid labour market, parsimonious populace and free-spending government, that is the failure.
In the 1990s, when the extent of Germany's current economic slump first became clear, Germans blamed the problem on the reunification of the old West and communist East Germany, which began with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. More recently, gloom merchants have pointed to the introduction of the euro. Birgit, who volunteered to act as my interpreter on part of my journey through her country, had a different take. The trouble was that Germany didn't feel special any more; Germans could no longer feel superior to the new Europe."
Germans are realizing, like the English did under Maggie Thatcher, that socialism, even socialism lite, is a pipe dream. With dull shock they have discovered that it won't work when given one more push, not even with a lot of tweaking. They took the road to the left, thinking it was a short cut, and discovered it a dead end.

They were wrong, terribly wrong, and now realize that they have to make the same drastic market-based reform of their welfare state that Great Britain made with such success. In other words, they have to become more like America, the capitalist Great Satan of their fevered rhetoric. We were right all along, and they were wrong. And that's why they hate us.


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