‘Capitalist’ US vs ‘Socialist’ Germany

In this video, there was one particular point about Germany that stood out. Germany is 1/5 the size of the US and yet has the second highest trade surplus in the world (after China). They’ve accomplished this while having higher rate of unionization and higher pay. Interestingly, the US economy was also doing better when unionization and pay was higher in the US.

Unions in the US are considered socialists even though they represent the working class. In Germany, it’s required for worker representation to be half of board members of companies. In Germany, the industrial and financial sectors are highly regulated keeping jobs from being outsourced and ensuring main street benefits rather than just wall street. According to conservative ideology, this kind of socialist practices and union power should destroy the economy and destroy innovation and yet the complete opposite is the result.

This seems to support Noam Chomsky’s arguments. Chomsky thinks the world would be a better place if workers had more power to influence the companies they work for and influence the economy they are a part of. As a socialist liberal, Chomsky genuinely believes it’s good to empower the average person. It would appear Germany has done exactly this and has become immensely successful by doing so.

Here is an article by the interviewee:


Most Americans, I suspect, believe we’re losing manufacturing because we can’t compete against cheap Chinese labor. But Germany has remained a manufacturing giant notwithstanding the rise of East Asia, making high-end products with a workforce that is more unionized and better paid than ours. German exports came to $1.1 trillion in 2009 — roughly $125 billion more than we exported, though there are just 82 million Germans to our 310 million Americans. Germany’s yearly trade balance went from a deficit of $6 billion in 1998 to a surplus of $267 billion in 2008 — the same year the United States ran a trade deficit of $569 billion. Over those same 10 years, Germany’s annual growth rate per capita exceeded ours.

Germany has increased its edge in world-class manufacturing even as we have squandered ours because its model of capitalism is superior to our own. For one thing, its financial sector serves the larger economy, not just itself. The typical German company has a long-term relationship with a single bank — and for the smaller manufacturers that are the backbone of the German economy, those relationships are likely with one of Germany’s 431 savings banks, each of them a local institution with a municipally appointed board, that shun capital markets and invest their depositors’ savings in upgrading local enterprises. By American banking standards, the savings banks are incredibly dull. But they didn’t lose money in the financial panic of 2008 and have financed an industrial sector that makes ours look anemic by comparison.

The above video reminds me of another video I watched a few weeks back.

The author in this second interview is comparing the US to Europe, but he specifically talks about Germany. He also mentions the importance of unionization in Germany and he puts it in the context of their quality education system. German students are taught to understand politics and the role of unions. Also, students are taught real trade skills and taught the importance of unions in protecting trades.

As Hartmann points out, the middle class in the US has been become an endangered species. The author agrees in saying that US society only helps the plutocratic rich and even disadvantages the average rich person. There actually is more entrepreneurship in ‘socialist’ Europe than in the ‘capitalist’ US. One thing that helps small businesses in some European countries is single payer which lowers business costs. Of course, ‘socialist’ Obama simply ignored single payer during the health care debate. What right-wingers in the US don’t understand is that ‘socialism’ helps both the workers and small business owners… whereas ‘capitalism’ (as practiced in the US) helps only big businesses while hurting both workers and small business owners.

Here is another interview with the author in the second video:


Why is it useful to compare ourselves to the Germans?

Germany has the highest degree of worker control on the planet since the collapse of the Soviet Union. When I saw German labor minister Günther Horzetzky in April of 2009, he said “Our biggest export now is co-determination.” He meant that other European countries were coming up with versions of it.

How did Germany become such a great place to work in the first place?

The Allies did it. This whole European model came, to some extent, from the New Deal. Our real history and tradition is what we created in Europe. Occupying Germany after WWII, the 1945 European constitutions, the UN Charter of Human Rights all came from Eleanor Roosevelt and the New Dealers. All of it got worked into the constitutions of Europe and helped shape their social democracies. It came from us. The papal encyclicals on labor, it came from the Americans.

[ . . . ]

Thomas Friedman’s “flat world” theory predicts that in the future, all countries will be competing on an equal playing field — paving the way for highly-populated countries to dominate the world economy. Do you agree with him?

How does he explain the existence of Germany? What country has the highest exports in the world today? It’s the country with the highest wage rates and union restrictions. Germany has become more of a power, not less of a power as the world has become more global. Our problem isn’t competing with China, it’s competing with Germany in China. We’re so focused on China all the time, and low-wage assembly stuff, that we’re missing what’s going on. It’s Germany that’s going in and selling stuff in China that we ought to be selling that would hold down the trade gap between the U.S. and China. It’s not China’s fault; it’s Germany’s. But no one wants to talk about that. Because that would raise questions about the whole U.S. model: Why is this high-wage country beating us? Why are the European socialists beating us? It’s too subversive an idea so we don’t allow in the discourse.

I decided to add one other comparison. I had recently perused some of the book The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett, and I had mentioned it in a post last month (Mean Bosses & Inequality). After posting all the above, I thought I should look at the data on wealth disparity and social problems in order to see if Germany does better than the US.

There apparently were problems with social disruption after reunification which led to some social problems, but the restructuring that followed decreased over time the income inequality and social problems (similar to what post-war restructuring did to improve Japanese society). Presently, Germany has less than half of the income inequality seen in the US (Germany having income equality that is about average for Europe and the US having high income inequality similar to countries such as Singapore and Israel). The US has a much higher average income than Germany, but because most of US wealth belongs to the upper class whereas most of the German wealth belongs to the middle class. Also, Germany has high social mobility and the US has low social mobility (most wealth coming from privilege and inheritance)… which is interesting to put in context of Americans working on average more hours and have less vacation time than Germans.

What this means in terms of social problems is that Germany has lower rates and the US higher rates of the following: mental illness, imprisoned per capita, drug use, homicides, infant mortality, obesity, teen pregnancy, and children’s experience of conflict (“reported fighting, bullying and finding peers not kind and helpful”, p. 139). And Germany has higher rates and the US has lower rates of the following: UNICEF index of child wellbeing, longer life expectancy, happiness, and recycling.

In The Spirit Level, the authors point out one particular impact this has on children. They write (pp 116-7), “when we first looked at data on children’s aspirations from a UNICEF report on childhood well-being, we were surprised at its relationship to income inequality.” They continue:

More children reported low aspirations in more equal countries; in unequal countries children were more likely to have high aspirations. Some of this may be acounted for by the fact that in more equal societies, less-skilled work may be less stigmatized, in comparison to more unequal societies where career choices are dominated by rather star-struck ideas of financial success and images of glamour and celebrity.

In more unequal countries, we found a larger gap betwen aspirations and actual opportunities and expectations. If we compare… maths and reading scores in different countries… it is clear that aspirations are higher in countries where educational achievement is lower. More children might be aspiring to higher-status jobs, but fewer of them will be qualified to get them. If inequality leads to unrealistic hopes it must also lead to disappointment.

Gillian Evans quotes a teacher ta an inner-city primary school, who summed up the corrosive effect of inequality on children:

These kids don’t know theyr’e working class; they won’t know that until they leave school and realize that the dreams they’ve nurtured through childhood can’t come true.

I brought this up because it’s another comparison of US and Germany. Going by the data (UNICEF – Child poverty in perspective), German children are about twice as likely to aspire to low skilled work. Most people probably think lack of aspiration for greater opportunities means lack of opportunities or lack of seeking out opportunities, but the data shows a very different picture.

In the US, children have a lot of aspiration and yet have less opportunity to fulfill that aspiration (because of income inequality and low rate of social mobility).

In Germany, children have less aspiration and yet are more likely to achieve further beyond the socio-economic status they were born into.

This goes against commonsense. Americans like to believe we live in a meritocracy, like to believe that if you dream big enough anything is possible. However, this has a dark side in that idolizing the wealthy leads American society to demonize the poor. To be working class in America and never striving to better yourself means that you aren’t living up to your potential and therefore are in some sense a failure. To be working class in Germany, on the other hand, is considered worthy. The American ruling elite told average Americans that working class jobs were undesirable and so sent most of our manufacturing jobs overseas, but Germany maintained it’s manufacturing jobs and through unionization made sure those jobs had good benefits.

Sadly, the American Dream will forever remain a dream for most Americans… and yet few Americans seem to understand why the American Dream has been dying.

– – –

Since posting all the above, I noticed an article about the relationship between economic growth and income distribution, specifically why inequality undermines sustainable growth:

Warning! Inequality May Be Hazardous to Your Growth
Andrew Berg & Jonathan D. Ostry

Here are some other related articles and papers:






And I noticed that there are several nice graphs from the Equality Trust website (which is related to the work and authors of The Spirit Level):

Physical Health


Mental Health

Mental Illness

Drug Abuse








Social Mobility


Trust and Community Life




Teenage Births

Teenage Births

Child Well-being

Child Well-being

Rich  and Poor Countries

Foreign Aid

Equality and Global Warming


72 thoughts on “‘Capitalist’ US vs ‘Socialist’ Germany

  1. Thank you, thanks and akpe(thank you in Ewe) for posting this. Similar to me, I am in this increasingly capitalist country and I am increasingly lowering my aspirations. The reduction is just a return to my true self so a natural thing and actually has nothing to do with the nation. But, when I think about it, placing myself in that context, I laugh and say ‘ei, you, instead of being ambitious like your friends, look at you, your head like..’. I bet you, it’s comicfest in my head. Lol.

    You know, Germany has always been an interesting country for me. In energy matters, there’s this German village with its own solar station, others have their own water plants and it’s impressive there. These I often reference in such discussions. But I watched that like 5yrs back so I don’t know about now. Never knew their national life was this exceptional. The Netherlands is another interesting topic of mine, plus Japan, but bar Japan I haven’t really looked at any of the above’s national profiles. Well, this consideration has to compete with so many others in my head so it’s logical, I would forget it.

    Thanks again

    • I’m about ready for bed, but I noticed your comment and so I’ll give you a quick response.

      I can honestly say that was the first time I’ve been thanked in Ewe. I’ll just respond in English by saying you’re welcome.

      I’m really not that familiar with Germany. One side of my family is German, but that side of the family has been in the US for so long that no one knows how the family ended up in Southern Indiana some centuries ago. The only thing German about me is that I have big bones and lots of bodily hair. I was as blonde as could be as a child, but I wasn’t blue-eyed.

      I’ve met Germans before and the ones I’ve known seemed like perfectly fine people. My sister-in-law lived in Germany for a time and she thought it was an awesome place to live. It apparently was legal to be naked in public parks which she considered to be a good thing.

      The only aspect of Germany I’ve studied in some detail is in religious history. The Germans were the last European tribes to be conquered by the Romans and I don’t think they ever were completely conquered. Eventually, it was the German tribes that sacked Rome when the Christians were in power. The most interesting part is that those German tribes were Christian as well and so it was Christians sacking Christians. lol

      I forget the exact disagreement between the German and Roman Christians, but the Germans believed in something the Roman Christians considered heretical. Going by my studies, a lot of heretical thought survived in Germany (including some strains of Gnosticism) and resurfaced in later centuries. It seems that this heretical tradition was part of the influence behind the Protestant and Anabaptist movements.

      Okay. That was my quick response. Don’t make me give you a long response. 🙂

    • By the way, I was for some reason reminded of the notion of a creative class. I wrote about it in the past.


      To my sleepy mind, it seems to somehow relate. It would be interesting if there were comparable data about the growth of the creative class in different countries. My guess is that the creative class would be found to a higher degree in countries with more income equality and more social mobility.

  2. There is one other aspect I’ve come across. It’s about taxes. I don’t understand tax laws all that well, but I’ll explain what I’ve come to understand.

    US supposedly has a very high tax rate for corporations. This fact is used as rhetoric for supporting such things as tax cuts for the rich, but it’s deceptive to the point of dishonesty. People who use this as a political talking point are intentionally ignoring the context.

    The context is the actual tax revenue. Tax rates don’t simplistically equate to tax revenue. There are many factors from tax loopholes to overseas tax havens. After all of this, some corporations end up paying no taxes at all. And, overall, the US has one of the lowest tax revenues from corporations in the world.



    This analysis interests me for a number of reasons. When the economy was growing in the past, the tax rate and tax revenue from corporations was higher.

    Similarly, at that time, there was more regulation and unionization in the US. Union membership is at a low point. This certainly doesn’t benefit the working class and going by Germany’s example it would seem not to benefit the economy in general. Corporations in the US used to be more regulated which protected American markets and maintained domestic manufacturing. When that regulation was removed, factories and jobs went overseas. This certainly hasn’t benefitted the working class and going by Germany’s example it seems not to have benefitted the economy in general.

    Germany doesn’t have a low tax rate or low tax revenue. Germany doesn’t promote deregulation. Germany doesn’t demonize unions. If Germany is doing everything that US ‘capitalists’ say is bad, then why is their economy better than that of the US?

    Everyone recognizes the US economy is failing. But there are two different responses. Some say let’s follow the examples of countries that have been successful such as Germany: end tax cuts for the rich, increase regulation, and encourage unionization. Others say let’s keep doing more of the same and blame the victims for everything that is wrong.

    • A very nice collection of points. Of course, all social data is complicated by ‘infinite’ interconnections, and the data sources are threads through time.
      I think little of the squabbles matter, except that working people need to defend themselves against the ‘oligarchs” unions. From there, everything else, such as tax shenanigans, will sort out.
      Although USA is swinging away from conservatism, I doubt it will swing far (or may swing toward ideological/irrational “leftism(??)” ala Lyndon Larouche).
      USA-ans seem to be increasingly succumbing to the wall of propaganda (fox news, “religious” charlatans, rantradio — all w/ associated print products). My wild guess is a major government change toward the end of the 2000’s. The propaganda producers/funders are opportunists, driven by short term selfish interests. I doubt propagandists’ deliberate goal is class warfare, but they only do what is easy.
      Again, the only underlying defense regular people have is their own sense, and sense is steadily becoming scarcer in the USA.

      • I would agree. I’m a fan of ‘infinite’ interconnections. Complication is the name of the game.

        I’m more a observer of demographics and patterns than of economics and politics. My sense is that we are in a very major shift (partly based on generations theory: Fourth Turning). I’m not sure if a shift to the left is ever as dramatic as a shift to the right. Poll data shows that those on the left put more value on bipartisanship. The loony left like Lyndon Larouche is so far left that it simply doesn’t exist as a real influence in mainstream politics. The loony left is further left than Noam Chomsky who is already so far left to be mostly ignored by the mainstream media.

        I have some predictions about the changes that are happening and what they might mean. I plan on writing about it here soon, but I won’t try to explain it here in the comments.

        Class warfare seems like just a part of our culture. I agree that propagandists don’t care about it or anything else besides their own agenda. I do think class warfare is part of the various conflicts going on, but a lot of class warfare ends up being about controlling the narrative. The social conservatives and neocons have controlled the narrative fairly well in recent decades, but that won’t last. The wealth disparity is becoming too large and the middle class is disappearing. Old school class warfare will come back into fashion with time.

  3. the flaming truth is Americans cannot compete with UNBRIDLED competition from slave-labor Communist Chinese firms that have no EPA, OSHA, or Pensions to fund. We de-construct our economy, displace tens of millions of Americans, then re-assemble the economy in Asia to employ tens of millions of Chinese. the result is 10% unemployment and a right leaning body politik who calls these newly unemployed people lazy shiftless worthless slugs.

    Germany protects it’s labor, gives them a seat on the BOD, protects their workers the way the Japanese do….Amerikans simply hate each other, they hate having to think about “society” what with all those high wooden fences in between every house and one car one person philosophy it’s hard to fathom my we can’t stand each other, we forgot how to care.

    • I’ve never understood the laissez-faire attitude toward globalization. How can a relatively free country such as the US genuinely have free trade with countries that are oppressive? How can a small business hope to compete fairly or a working class worker hope to get a fair deal when transnationals have so much power that they influence the policies made in countries around the world? If this is free trade, then the word ‘free’ has become meaningless.

      Also, this attitude shows an ignorance of history. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the British govt AND a protest against the transnational British East India Company. The Founding Fathers established protectionism against transnationals that allowed American businesses to compete fairly. The American Revolution was one of the early fights against laissez-faire globalization.

    • Compared to most US states (especially red states), Vermont is (from the Spirit Level by Wilkinson & Pickett):

      Low in – income inequality, infant mortality, obesity, high school drop out rate, teen pregnancy, abortions, homicides, prisoners per capita

      High in – people trusting each other, index of women’s status, life expectancy, average of maths & literacy scores

    • I wonder that myself.

      When the Taft-Hartley Act was passed, the labor movement was almost entirely destroyed as a way of workers being fairly represented and as a way of workers being able to fight against the worst elements of capitalism. The Taft-Hartley Act was and still is both unconstitutional and undemocratic.

      If a similar act was passed but directed at owners and managers instead of at workers, it would be called Communism. So, why in America is oppression acceptable when it comes from capitalists and those who serve the interests of capitalists? Why not have democracy for all? If democracy is in opposition to our present capitalist system, maybe democracy isn’t the problem.

  4. I am German and I worked all over the world, like in Germany, USA, Asia, etc. So I think I could gain kind of a good overview.

    I think the biggest problem in the in the US is this “black-white” thinking pattern. Things are either socialist or capitalist, liberal or conservative, democrats or republicans, etc. All decisions are discussed within this pattern – healthcare, unions, worker rights, role of the government, etc. They are stuck in it. I think if things could have a wider variety it would be easier to find compromises and to have discussions without these idealistic sides of good and evil, patriotic and unpatriotic, socialists and capitalists. When people vote in Europe they can choose between up to 20 parties and in the US it’s practically just two. (It’s still hard to choose, since in Europe most politicians are just power greedy, too)
    The word socialism is such a big word in the US and constantly overused without even a clear definition. In Germany nobody really cares about that word and it definitely does not have this bad aftertaste like in the US. It’s perceived positively. I think caring for your community and for the different groups of the society is more wide spread in Germany. People are even willing to pay more taxes, if this provides a benefit for the community – in healthcare, social justice, infrastructure, education etc. The government’s role is perceived differently than in the US. The government should protect its people to a good degree and that’s why the discussion is comparatively little when the government passes laws to “regulate” the economy and support the workers rights. When it comes to outsourcing manufacturing jobs, the society even expects the government to step in(even though it also happened in big scales). I think another aspect for Germany’s success is that middle-scale companies are the backbone of the economy and not just these huge companies. These smaller companies have to care about their workers, their partners and banks, since they depend on individuals much more than these huge companies. This adds to this “caring” common sense. But Germany is not THE dream country for workers and businessmen, too. The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger, and a lot of lobbies influence political decisions more and more. The birth rate is at a record low and the society is getting older and older.

    Americas history explains it’s fear for a “regulating” government. The USA is a young nation founded by people from Europe(after getting rid of the native Americans) who where seeking for freedom, either personal or religious freedom. That’s why the word freedom is another biiiiig word in US. Thats why they are afraid that the government steps in and “cuts” their choices by laws. For some reason they don”t see how the government can/should protect their freedom from the money/power greedy companies and lobbies or whatsoever. This is actually the reason to have a government.
    The other big problem in the USA is their education system. They are demolishing it. They cut budgets for schools and increase the budget for the military and the rich. How can you expect uneducated people to understand the big picture, especially when they are brain washed by fox news etc.

    In Asia on the other hand, especially in the China and countries with Chinese influence, the kids are trimmed to work and efficiency. They seriously work 7 hours a week 15 hours a day, studying and trying to get an A+ otherwise they are seriously in trouble at home. I think no society should force their kids to give up most of their free time and time to develop themselves. Furthermore the focus is just on “efficient” subjects such as science, physics and math. It is good to have a good understanding in these areas but subjects like art, music and social education are neglected. All this is unhealthy for themselves and for the society.

    In general is to say that societies based on growth, needing increasing consumption and therefore exploitation of resources(environment, people, cultures, etc.) is doomed to fail in the long run. In Amerika, Europe, Asia, anywhere

    • I agree and disagree. Actually, I almost entirely agree with everything you wrote.

      My one minor disagreement is about the black/white thinking. I’m not generally in favor of the Christianized Manichaean dualism, especially when applied to modern politics and economics. But I do perceive important distinctions that aren’t mere ideological rhetoric.

      In terms of psychology, there are clear personality traits that correlate to liberals and conservatives. Of course, these traits exist on a spectrum… and, so, black/white thinking still isn’t overly helpful.

      In terms of society, there are clear differences between conservative red states and liberal blue states. These differences certainly matter to the people living in those different states.

      Obviously, this is a complex subject. It isn’t about one side being entirely right and the other side being entirely wrong. However, if the differences aren’t understood, then intelligent/rational discussion can’t be had and worthwhile compromises can’t be made.

      As for socialism, I don’t know about other countries, but I do know few people in America understand the term. The confusion is that, like capitalism, there are many forms of socialism. Many conservatives assume all socialism is statism and all statism is socialism. In reality, anarchism would be the most absolute form of socialism. This demonstrates the failure of our education system and our mainstream media.

    • I think this comment is the best I’ve read. I am an American (with German ancestry along with Irish, English and Cherokee Indian). I believe the person who wrote this comment has a very good understanding of why this country is in the shape it’s in. I agree that we have too many extremes in politics. You either have to be far right or far left. And that does not work in solving problems. Oil and water do not mix. Neither do extreme right and extreme left. I’ve always grown up believing that socialism is a dirty word. But if we don’t take care of our middle class and if we don’t take care of supporting education, then we are doomed to fail. If Germany is doing something better than we are doing, then why can’t we learn from them and try it. I’m for solutions to problems. Especially when those problems affect the 99% of Americans who are working middle class.

      • Hello jenphelps! It is always nice to meet one of my fellow American mutts. We have a similar ancestral mix, although beyond family rumor I haven’t been able to prove there is any Native American in my family.

        Thanks for the comment. I’ve always found it odd the typical American reaction to words such as ‘communim’ and ‘socialism’. Maybe it is because I grew up as a young GenXer who only knew the Cold Ar as it was winding down. Even as a kid, I think I had some understanding that the anti-communist rhetoric was just propaganda. It probably helped that I spent many formative years in liberal college towns.

        I heartily agree with the attitudeyou express. I’m not an ideologue. Dogmatic black/white thinking goes against my nature. In writing posts like this, I’m not defending socialism as an ideology against capitalism as an ideology. I just want to see what works, no matter what label people give it.

        Nonetheless, I am curious to better understand ideologies. Socialism fascinates me partly because it is such a mystery to most Americans. This capitalist-loving country even has its own tradition of socialism and yet few Americans know about it. This makes rational discussion rather difficult.

        America’s tradition of socialism is what has been called sewer socialism or municipal socialism. It is more similar to what is seen in a country like Germany. To simplify, its defining characteristic is a heavy emphasis on the public good of communities. It is closely related to social democracy which in its extreme forms would seem to inevitably lead to democratic socialism.

        The tricky part is always in definition. As I often point out, there is no single socialism. The typical socialist, of course, doesn’t fit the caricature portrayed by anti-communist propaganda. Sewer socialism is the kind of moderate socialism that particularly doesn’t fit such a caricature, but there are some socialist ideologues who would claim it isn’t real socialism. Sewer socialism is that type of middle position that usually makes unhappy the extreme ideologues on both sides, at least it does so here in America.

  5. This immediate past comment is very socialist in its disposition. A man made in that form. For me, that’s just a name coined for sensibilities matching this readers so categorising him as such is unfair and potentially erroneous. What is easy to see is a person who believes in balance. That’s my view. I agree with that black-white thought.

    Ben, what do you say to that comment? Haha, fox news casting magic spells from the silver stage, marvellous image.

    By the way, Ben, long time no comment, huh?

    • Let me respond to you first and then I’ll get to the other commenters. I’ll have to think a bit about some of these comments in order to figure out what I have to say.

      This is the most number of comments I’ve ever received on any post. This post is now the most viewed on my entire blog (7,752 at present count). It’s getting more total views than even the home page for the entire time I’ve had this blog. Someone posted it on Reddit which has sent massive traffic to this one post.

      Unlike you, I haven’t been blogging as much lately. You’ve been posting regularly in recent months. I wish I was more motivated to post regularly, but I tend to only feel motivated when I have large blocks of time.

      So, how are the holidays? Do you do any religious celebrations? I’m not big on holiday festivities, but I will be seeing some family on Christmas. I am excited to have several days off. Maybe I’ll write some posts in celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus. 🙂

  6. Thank you for your interesting insight. I would say that German socialism is part of the Germany’s success. Other factors I can see include,

    * German banking seems to be braking with global banking. I’m not sure how this fits, but from what I’ve seen of the IMF and the federal reserve, I’m betting this is a major factor.
    * Germany is seeking energy independence. They have embraced solar and unlike the United States continue to provide tax intensives to home owners.
    * Although controversial and considered radical, elements in Germany are seeking to preserve their culture against multi-cultural forces. When you take a closer look at other parts of Europe and France, you will find problems with Islamic groups seeking to install Sharia law over secular law.

    On the whole, Germany seems to be doing all the right things.

    • All your points seem like probable contributing factors to Germany’s success. I’m not an expert on Germany or Europe and so my assessment is dependent on the opinions of those more informed. I’m most familiar with US data and so I do find the data interesting when compared between US and other countries.

      In some ways, it’s unfair to compare US to European countries.

      Our histories are very different. It makes sense for Germany to seek to preserve their own culture. I wouldn’t hold that against them. But the US doesn’t have it’s own singular traditional culture.

      That said, I think other comparisons still apply. Americans shouldn’t seek to copy German culture, but it could be helpful for Americans to adopt some of Germany’s social and economic policies. I would agree that the German banking system seems to be a central issue. Combining the banking system with union representation, the German economy seems more well rooted in localized politics and communities which apparently creates a more responsible attitude.

  7. Ben, my man. Looking forward to free time is the best part of the holidays. Immediately the year starts, I’m already looking forward to them (ok, exagerration).

    Religious holidays, mm, lemme see. I’ve never really celebrated them religiously. Before, I’d traditionally go to church (underline traditionally) but I haven’t been to church in a long time. Celebrating Jesus is done by me all year round, meant and means a lot. In my posts, he gets plenty references, I’ve worn a crucifix (increased to 3) since class 5 for that same reason (though, I used to have vivid nightmares around that time that I wanted to be safe from) and now, that symbol carries much more of that meaning to me as the fear is practically gone. The love, the hate, youth, wisdom, justice, mercy, faith, humanism, spirituality. He also was one of my first philosophers despite the dispute over the historical accuracy of him.

    Wow, 8000 views, one post, wow!!

    • Yeah, I wasn’t sure what the winter holidays are like where you live. In the US, people get obsessive about festivities, family gatherings, lights and decorations, and gift buying/giving. I don’t share this obsession. Probably like you, my own interests in religion/spirituality are more private or at least less outwardly expressed.

      I don’t remember if I’ve asked you this before. What are the approximate percentages of different religions in Ghana? And which holiday(s) is most celebrated there?

      I agree with your “Wow”. I don’t visit the Reddit site and so I don’t know much about it. Someone posted it there and for some reason it drew attention. I was wondering if there was something in the news lately that made it a topic of interest.

  8. Honestly, I’ve only for a brief period been a religious person, even then it was for the following reason. I’ll count myself more spiritual. Subject matter is deviating fast, just like us huh, Ben?

    • Deviation is welcome in my blog (but I can’t promise all deviants will be welcome in my blog lol). I don’t usually have a problem wrangling in deviatating subject matter.

      In particular, I tend to see a connection between religion/spirituality in a particular culture and other factors such as politics and economics. This is very obvious in the US with our vocal and politically active fundamentalists, but it should be true (maybe less obviously?) in Germany as well.

      The German tribes were never fully conquered by the Romans and it was German tribes who were Arian Christians who sacked Rome. It was in Germany where some of the last remnants of gnosticism could be found in Europe and there were many German religious movements that challenged the Catholic Church. Last but not least, there was the folk religiosity that was a major part of German nationalism during WWII.

      I’m not sure how that might relate to the present society of Germany. They seem to be a country that prides independence and so maybe that is behind their localized banking system. And, obviously, some present ‘socialist’ tendencies might be a reaction to the Nazi era when socialists were killed and imprisoned.

      But all of that is speculation. I have been curious about the history of Germany. I wish I knew more about it since part of my ancestry is German, but it would take a lot of study to try to understand an entirely different culture that I’ve never personally experienced.

      • But the German economy is not doing well at all. They are in the same mess as the US except that the debt that fuelled their boom was Greek, Irish, Spanish and Portuguese. German exports don’t go to China or the any of the rest of the BRICS, they go to the Eurozone. The high wages and trade surpluses of Germany have been paid for by over-leveraged Eurozone neighbours, not some socialist miracle. What Germany is just starting to realise is that it is thier problem, hence the EFSF.

        What Germany managed after re-unification was to build an economic empire in Europe that worked in exactly the same way the British Empire used to. Germany manufactures and sells to neighbours at preferential rates (though the Euro, which operates like the preferential trade agreement s in the British Commonwealth after 1931). It can therefore monopolise manufacturing output in Europe so long as no one challenges them as European manufacturer in Chief (such as Turkey, why do you think Germany doesn’t want them in the Eurozone?) or its captive trade partners run out of money (which is exactly what has happened in the sovereign debt issues we are seeing now).

        Germany is no socialist paradise, its a 19th century empire in 21st century clothing. Just look at the way Germans have started to view the European deficit countries. they have begun to think of themselves as the only fiscally responsible nation in Europe. The rest must be in this mess because of their fecklessness or laziness. It’s classic imperial condescension. I wouldn’t call it socialist by any means, unless all socialism means is looking after your own.

        • There might be some validity to your analysis, but you’re ignoring many facts.

          Germany isn’t a great colonial empire as British Empire was nor a great military empire as the US is. The British Empire never had powerful labor unions that had half of the membership on corporate boards. The US empire is certainly different in all the ways that were described in the post.

          The US dominates the world economy and banking system. The economic problems in Europe are directly related to policies and practices in the US… which isn’t to say that the European countries have been blameless. However, Germany is one of the few examples of a stable banking system that weathered the economic crisis. Germany had a more localized banking system and did fine. Countries with a less localized banking system did worse.

          I’m not sure why you say Germany doesn’t export to China. All the data I’ve seen states that Germany does export to China at fairly high rates. A number of countries Germany exports to aren’t in the Eurozone.


          The last thing you’re ignoring is the correlation of wealth disparity and social problems. I’m not arguing that Germany or Europe in general is a socialist paradise. Judging a solution because it’s not perfect doesn’t lessen the fact that certain solutions are relatively better than other solutions. Germany and Europe have less wealth disparity and less rates of social problems than the US. This correlation can be found when looking at countries around the world.

          This correlation can even be found within the US. The US presently has more wealth disparity and social problems than it had in the past (when, by the way, unions were stronger and had more membership). Also, this comparison can be made between the states. The states that had the most stable economies recently aren’t the wealthiest states but the states with low wealth disparity (which happen to be more of the farming states that have more localized banking).


          If you don’t understand why wealth disparity matters, then check out some of my other blogs that go into more detail:






          • I think the maths is on my side. Using your own figures (from above) the German export market is 42% Eurozone countries. If we include the US and The UK (non-Euro but developed, high deficit, high consumer debt) that rises to 58%. Moreover Export to the BRICs (or rather China and Russia, as exports to India and Brazil don’t even appear in the top 15) are only 5.2%. More worryingly for Germany is that it runs deficits against China, Russia and Japan (the major exporters on the list, although obviously in the case of Russia this will be mostly raw materials and not consumer goods) of 18bn, 2bn, 7bn respectively.

            As for income inequality I have no argument with the idea that more equal societies tend to do better by most measures of well-being. Although given the lack of multivariate analysis in The Spirit Level, as well as the lack of evidence relating to the causal mechanisms they suggest (I’m not sure status perception explains it), I don’t feel confident that simply increasing wealth or income equality would make any given society perform better in future (though it couldn’t hurt!).

            My point was more that wages and general economic performance in Germany are not held up by endogenous features of their economy but by the spoils of economic empire, just as the wages of British workers were at the turn of the 19th century. Germans may have been better at sharing the proceeds within the nation than either Britain or the US have been but have been just as careless about the effects outside of their borders, which I wouldn’t call ‘socialist’.

          • As you admit, less than half of Germany’s exports go to the Eurozone. Also, I don’t know how Germany is preventing other countries (in and outside the Eurozone) from exporting to Eurozone countries. Or how Germany is preventing other countries (such as the US) from exporting to China.

            For example, the US is very economically powerful, but has chosen to decrease it’s own manufacturing base which was the source of its past success in exportation. It’s because the US is so economically imperialist that it doesn’t need to depend on an exportation economy.

            I don’t know of any inherent and necessary causal relation between exportation rates and some form of economic imperialism. If there were, it would seem to imply that no economy could become successful in exportation except through unfair power held over other economies.

            I’m not familiar with the deficits of Germany. Anyway, I’m not even proposing Germany is perfect in all ways. I’m just saying that in recent history they’ve been more economically successful than other comparable countries including the US. In particular, the US comparison is important. Even if Germany had some minor economic power over other countries, they are no where near the economic imperialism of the US. Considering US is so much more powerful and influential, why is Germany so much more successful in the areas of economics and societal health?

            I understand that correlation doesn’t prove causation, but it for damn sure offers a lot of supporting evidence. There are few correlations that can as strongly be shown across so many countries. However, I’m not offering absolute conclusions because there is no way to rationally offer absolute conclusions. We can just look at probabilities and make predictions based on the past.

            Like Germany in the present, the US used to have a lower economic disparity, higher union membership, more regulation, higher taxation rates, and less social problems. The US has become worse in so many ways despite the overall wealth in the US increasing. Causation is hard to determine, but a person would be a fool to dismiss this data.

            I still don’t get how you can honestly compare present day Germany to the 19th century British Empire which was a global colonial power. It’s comparing apples and oranges. It’s just a fact that Germany doesn’t have military presence around the world like the British used to have and as the US does presently have. Germany isn’t a colonial or military empire.

            By the way, I wasn’t actually arguing in my post that Germany was ‘socialist’. I was just arguing that Germany is what most Americans conceive of ‘socialism’. Most Americans say ‘socialism’ is a failure. Whatever one thinks about genuine socialism, one can’t argue that German ‘socialism’ is a failure.

            I’m pointing out that many Americans are incorrect about their claims about unions destroying a country. In the US, unions haven’t been powerful for more than a half century. The problems with the US economy can’t be blamed on the supposed ‘socialist’ unions.

          • I wanted to add one more thought.

            I don’t know that your analysis is entirely wrong. You make a rational argument and you seem seem intelligent enough. My criticism is that I don’t see strong enough data to support your position, but maybe you have further data you could offer.

            Also, I’m not sure we are exactly having the same discussion. To me, the wealth disparity correlations seem to be some of the strongest data we have in making useful comparisons. But, to you, such data seems irrelevant. So, we apparently care about different types of data… or are seeking to use data in different contexts and maybe for different purposes. I can’t say exactly what it is, but we seem to be somewhat talking past each other.

            Even if Germany was an economic empire, that wouldn’t lessen the data I present. It would make it all that more relevant because the US is definitely an economic empire. It would still be important to try to understand why certain economic empires are more successful than others. And why certain economic empires mostly just benefit the rich while others benefit a more broad spectrum of the population.

            However, for some reason you find this comparison uninteresting or less significant or something. You don’t seem to be making any clear comparisons or else you’re trying to limit comparisons.

            The one comparison you make is between Germany and other Eurozone countries. We could follow that line of discussion.

            So, do other Eurozone countries have the same rates of labor union membership, have the same law about union membership on corporate boards, and have the same kind of localized banking system? What are the differences between Germany and Greece? Why has Germany retained a strong economy as the Eurozone economy overall hasn’t?

            The problem is that all of this is going into areas I’m not well informed about. What I am informed about apparently isn’t what you are interested in duscussing and so I’m not sure our discussion can go on much further.

  9. I’m a bit down on current affairs at the moment, actually I always am. My tactic is to leech off my mates who keep up. So, religious composition, I can’t really tell, but Christianity is more than 75% by my estimate. Islam comes next then African traditional religion before the other minor ones. Biggest holiday is Christmas, by far, celebrated massively here.

    Unfortunately, we just recently did a national census and the results haven’t been published yet. Perhaps, you’d find something of the sort on the net. Sorry for the disappointment but I told you before, I’m given to a lot of theorizing.

    • What you wrote was basically what I was expecting. I didn’t think you’d necessarily know of any specific data. I just wanted your personal observations and assessment.

      Going by your estimates, it sounds similar to the US. The only two differences are: 1) the type of traditional religions here; and 2) there are probably a lot more Jews in North America than in Africa.

      I have one further question. What type of Christianity seems to be the most popular there? We have a mix here, but I was just thinking of all the Christian fundamentalist missionaries the US has exported to Africa. I suppose, like in the US, the fundies are the most vocal and have the most influence, correct?

      That’s interesting that you just had a national census. We also had one and the full results haven’t been published yet either.

      No worries. As you know, I have plenty of respect for theorizing. It’s all good.

  10. Pingback: Marmalade ~
  11. Could the disparity with Germany and the USA be explained by in no small part by the difference in the age distribution of the population (more youth in America who committ most of the crimes and who are early in the job market), the precentage of minorities in Germany as compared to the USA (less educated, less healthy, more likely to committ crime), and the precentage of immigrants in Germany as compared to the USA? I am not sure the socialist structure in Germany is the sole explanation with for the diffences in the USA and Germany. Furthermore, the USA’s committment to the military certainly takes the strain off Germany so they can more easily support their social programs.

    • I doubt there is much difference in youth populations as percentage of population. The US doesn’t have more crime, but the US does imprison more of its citizens for victimless ‘crimes’. Sure, criminalize the normal and natural behaviors of youth such as smoking pot and you’ll have many young ‘criminals’.

      The racial angle is complex. In the US, the most violent demographic actually is southern whites, not any minority. So, the question one might ask is: Why does the US have a more violent white population if whites are the majority in both countries? Also, why do Americans choose to treat their minorities worse than they do in countries such as Germany? Why intentionally create and allow to continue impoverished communities where people experience high rates of pollution, malnutrition, violence, and poor education?

      Of course, I wasn’t actually claiming Germany is socialist. I was merely saying they are ‘socialist’ according to the demented views of right-wingers. They are more close to what some might call social democrats, something like the American ‘Sewer Socialists’. If socialism has no positive value, why were socialist-run cities some of the best in US history?




      Furthermore, no one is forcing the US government to be a military empire and grow the military-industrial complex. Germany could seek to create a military-industrial complex. Why don’t they? If it was just an issue of defense spending, why aren’t other European countries with smaller militaries doing equally well as Germany?

      • “In the US, the most violent demographic actually is southern whites, not any minority.”

        I call BS on that statistic. Where did you find that?
        I know you lefties hate the NASCAR nation and like to support each other in your circle jerk of socialist propaganda and misinformation, but his claim is pure, unadulterated, bigoted BS.

        The U.S. Dept. of Justice provides the facts:

        • Shouldn’t you actually attempt to learn all the facts before claiming BS? Just because the facts don’t conform to your beliefs, it doesn’t follow that the facts are wrong.

          I looked at all of this US data in great detail in a very long post:


          Some of the most interesting data comes from the book Southern Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South by Dov Cohen and Richard E. Nisbett. Violence is higher in the South than in the North. Violence is higher in the rural South where there is a majority of whites than in the urban South where there is a majority of blacks. Violence is highest among whites in the rural South than among any other demographic in the entire United States.

          Other data shows similar patterns. The rural South has the highest rates of almost every kind of social and health problem that you can think of. This is the region in the US that has the highest poverty and the highest economic inequality. The correlation between all these factors isn’t clear, but the facts have been confirmed again and again by numerous studies and other sources of info.

          I don’t say any of this out of hatred and judgment. Any time I see social problems, I hope that we as a society can collectively solve those problems. Violence isn’t a good thing. Neither is poverty or any of the other social and health problems. I don’t blame the people in these areas. It’s not their fault for being born into a poor and violent region.

          I’ve lived in the South for much of my life. I went to public school in SC growing up, went to college there, and spent summers working in NC for several years. My best friend was a typical Scots-Irish redneck and proud of it. I dated a girl from a fundamentalist family whose family lived right in the middle of the Bible Belt. Part of my father’s family comes from the Deep South and my mother’s entire family came through Appalachia before ending up in Southern Indiana. I’ve been to various stock car races and such in my life. I’m familiar with the culture and I even like aspects of it, especially in Appalachia.

          If you actually care about people, then you’d want to acknowledge problems that can be solved in order to make their lives better. Just because you deny the violence, it doesn’t make the violence go away and it doesn’t make those who are victimized by violence feel better.

  12. a. The precentage of Germans less than 34 is approximately 14%. In America is is approximately 25%.

    b. Blacks commit a large precentage of crimes not just in America but in other countries as well. I am not sure I would blame this on capitalism.

    c. I am not sure Germany treats minorities any better than any other country. Blacks and jews are certainly not well represented in Germany.

    d. Whites in America may committ more violent crime but this may not be entirely explained by capitalism. I suspect it is multifactorial.

    e. In a capiatalist country, why would one wish to improverish markets intentionally? Why would such a system encourage crime which impedes market access?

    f. The closing of the Boeing plant in South Carolina is an example of how Unions can punish those not in Unions (as you describe “the impoverished South”).

    g. No one stated that unions have no social value. However, when they impede the flow of ideas and choice, they have a component of negative social value.

    h. I am unsure why used past tense in your example of the best run cities that were socialist in practice. The staes of Michigan (and the city of Detriot) and Ohio are doing poorly with loss of population. Why are these former icons losing their citizens?

    i. America is the policeman by default. No one else has the political will to assume the role or even to do their fair share to assist in the role that is vital to trade and world peace. The world is free of the once dominant curse of the far left communist and the far right fascist in no small part because of the brand of capitalism in America.

    j. Germany may export more products than they import, but America’s system is the more productive and dynamic (patents, graduate and undergraduate education, innovation, and research).

    German’s unions are necessary for the well being of Germany. America’s capitalism is necessary for the well being of the world.

  13. a. The precentage of Germans less than 34 is approximately 14%. In America is is approximately 25%.

    Irrelevant. The Baby Boomers were the largest generation prior to the present large generation. Size of a generation doesn’t determine the size (or strength or health or growth) of the economy and of the job market.

    When the Baby Boomers were growing up, the economy, especially high paying union jobs in manufacturing, was growing and wealth disparity was shrinking… which together meant the middle class was being formed as not just an economic force but also a social and political force. Baby Boomers had cheap education and many job opportunities. They came out of college with little to no debt and had a wide variety of jobs to choose from that had good benefits and pensions.

    They didn’t face high rates of unemployment. They didn’t face potential homelessness or else having to move back home with their parents. They didn’t face going to prison for smoking pot.

    Similar to Germany now, Boomers grew up in a society with a high tax rate that was progressive and the tax revenue paid for infrastructure and public services that they benefited from. The government was funding research into technology such as computers and the internet. The government funding of that time would set the stage for the economic boom of the following half century.

    b. Blacks commit a large precentage of crimes not just in America but in other countries as well. I am not sure I would blame this on capitalism.

    Don’t be stupid.

    Yes, blacks were enslaved, oppressed and disenfranchised for centuries. Those brought to Western countries as slaves had their entire culture destroyed and they were forced into poverty and illiteracy.

    Yes, blacks in Western countries only gained equal rights to whites in recent history. Many blacks alive right now were born before blacks even had the right to vote. Study after study proves that racism continues and is often institutionalized, such as in the legal system.

    Yes, blacks have had less opportunity to better themselves and have been disproportionately stuck in poverty, unemployment and homelessness. Yes, blacks grow up in poor neighborhoods with underfunded education, with high rates of violence and gang activity, with, with police brutality and few hopes of escape, with poor nutrition and high rates of pollution (both which, along with stress, impair cognitive development and hence lowers IQ).

    Yes, blacks along with other minorities are one of the fastest growing demographics. They are large segment of the population and so they end up being a large segment of the prison population. Also, studies show that police, judges, and juries treat blacks more harshly than whites for the exact same crimes. Studies show that drugs that blacks used have had higher punishments than drugs that whites used, despite most drug users being white in America.

    But, no, most criminals in countries such as Germany aren’t black. That would be a lie.

    I will not tolerate racial bigotry in my blog. If you bring your racial bigotry up again, your comment will be deleted and you will be blocked.

    c. I am not sure Germany treats minorities any better than any other country. Blacks and jews are certainly not well represented in Germany.

    I haven’t seen any data on this. Your comment is baseless speculation. Also, it is irrelevant to the topic of this post. If Germany treated its poor minorities in the way America does with its poor minorities, then were that a significant factor we’d see Germany have similar results as America. Anyway, Racism in other countries doesn’t justify racism in America.

    d. Whites in America may committ more violent crime but this may not be entirely explained by capitalism. I suspect it is multifactorial.

    Everything is multifactoral, but obviously some factors are more directly related in terms of causal links. I’ve analyzed all the factors I could find in a previous post:


    Besides, I never claimed white violence is entirely explained by capitalism. I’m actually not sure what you are referring to. The violence of whites, especially whites in the rural south, seems to have more to do with culture than anything else. However, it’s true that this conservative culture has been very supportive of our present capitalist system and the ideology that justifies it.

    e. In a capiatalist country, why would one wish to improverish markets intentionally? Why would such a system encourage crime which impedes market access?

    Why do you ask? As far as I know, most people wouldn’t impoverish markets intentionally. In certain cases, though, a business or alliance of businesses might seek to undermine one market in order to encourage another market. Or, in other cases, a company seeking more customers might become near-monopolistic which would impoverish markets.

    Capitalism encourages profit at all costs. So, it isn’t surprising that what benefits a single company doesn’t always benefit the entire market. That is just commonsense.

    Why would such a system encourage crime which impedes market access?

    I’m not sure what this question is about. Capitalism seeks profit. What is a crime depends on social context. What is crime in one place or one situation may not be considered a crime in another. Also, many people hold that attitude that something is only a crime when you get caught or when you get punished. If companies capture regulation agencies, they don’t have to worry about either getting caught or punished.

    Of course, companies aren’t going to impede their own market access, at least not intentionally. But there activities might impede market access intentionally to other companies or unintentionally to themselves. Capitalism promotes short-term thinking. A CEO doesn’t care if a business will be profitable or a market viable 50 years from now. They just care about the next year or so, but once the CEO makes a quick profit and gets their bonus they don’t necessarily care about the long-term future. It’s just not in the nature of the present capitalist system to be concerned about the bigger picture.

    f. The closing of the Boeing plant in South Carolina is an example of how Unions can punish those not in Unions (as you describe “the impoverished South”).

    The unions didn’t close the Boeing plant. Boeing closed the Boeing plant. That is an example of how capitalists punish workers for trying to defend fairness and justice. Unionized or not, the only way workers could compete with third world workers is turning America into a third world nation. Even anti-union workers shouldn’t be stupid enough to think that would be a good thing.

    g. No one stated that unions have no social value. However, when they impede the flow of ideas and choice, they have a component of negative social value.

    Well, it’s a good thing that unions don’t impede the flow of ideas and choice. In fact, unions increase the flow of ideas and choice for workers. That is why they have been so effective in creating positive change in the past, prior to the anti-democratic union-busting. To be against unions is to be against democracy. Anything that is against democracy has negative social value.

    h. I am unsure why used past tense in your example of the best run cities that were socialist in practice. The staes of Michigan (and the city of Detriot) and Ohio are doing poorly with loss of population. Why are these former icons losing their citizens?

    There are no cities that are presently run by socialists who are part of an organized socialist movement. Hence, the past tense. It would be untrue to state it in the present tense. Why have certain states done poorly and loss population as socialists lost power and capitalists gained power? I think the question answers itself.

    i. America is the policeman by default. No one else has the political will to assume the role or even to do their fair share to assist in the role that is vital to trade and world peace. The world is free of the once dominant curse of the far left communist and the far right fascist in no small part because of the brand of capitalism in America.

    America is the policeman of the world by choice. Being a bully does have its benefits, but it also has many costs especially in the long-term. A bully is one way to maintain piece. I’d think you are a fucktarded asshole, though, if you were to suggest it is the best way to maintain peace.

    Yes, America defeated the communists. But, no, America didn’t defeat the fascists. Rather, America defeated the communists by becoming the fascists, although it is beginning to look more like inverted totalitarianism, a banana republic either way.

    j. Germany may export more products than they import, but America’s system is the more productive and dynamic (patents, graduate and undergraduate education, innovation, and research).

    This first link has a lot of data that shows how US ranks against other countries:


    According to the CIA, the US is ranked 127 in GDP – real growth rate.


    According to the Global Competitive Index, Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore rank higher than the US in terms of competitiveness. I know Switzerland and Sweden also have much lower wealth disparity than the US.

    Click to access WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2010-11.pdf

    “The United States continues the decline that
    began last year, falling two more places to 4th position.
    While many structural features that make its economy
    extremely productive, a number of escalating weaknesses
    have lowered the US ranking over the past two years.”


    “Switzerland boasts far more Nobel Prizes per capita than any other nation that collects Nobels on a regular basis, even when we do not consider all the foreign laureates living here.”
    “Switzerland has the highest number of patents per capita, and is world leader in per capita R&D expenditure (2000 World Competitiveness Report of the IMD).”
    “Switzerland boasts the world’s highest number of scientific publications per capita, as well as the most citations per capita (Thomson-Reuters 2009).”
    “For many decades it had the world’s highest GDP per capita; it still has the world’s largest wealth per capita (Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2010).”
    “Switzerland got the highest ranking in the list of happiest countries (1990s average), according to the Happiness Foundation.”


    “Some of the numbers are counter-intuitive: the conventional wisdom suggests that innovation is promoted by vigorous competition and high monetary reward. Not so. The most equal societies are also the most innovative (the U.S. and Canada are at the bottom in terms of patents per million population amongst developed nations).
    “In more equal societies, people work less (workers in Canada and the U.S. work hundreds of hours more a year than their counterparts in more-equal northern European countries) because their more equal incomes are adequate to their needs. More equal societies even recycle a higher proportion of their waste. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is also direct correlation between equality and a high percentage of unionized workers. Unionization rates in Canada have declined by nearly half since the 1960s.”


    “Recent research surveyed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a governmental think tank for the rich nations, found that mobility in the United States is lower than in other industrial countries. One study found that mobility between generations — people doing better or worse than their parents — is weaker in America than in Denmark, Austria, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Spain and France. In America, there is more than a 40 percent chance that if a father is in the bottom fifth of the earnings’ distribution, his son will end up there, too. In Denmark, the equivalent odds are under 25 percent, and they are less than 30 percent in Britain.
    “America’s sluggish mobility is ultimately unsurprising. Wealthy parents not only pass on that wealth in inheritances, they can pay for better education, nutrition and health care for their children. The poor cannot afford this investment in their children’s development — and the government doesn’t provide nearly enough help.”


    “Inequality increases the social distance between groups, undermining inter-group trust and reducing the sense of common citizenship. As Reich has argued with respect to the US, with growing income and wealth gaps disparate sections in society no longer feel they have a common interest and a mutual responsibility for each other. They are no longer members of the same society. At the extreme, as in the US, the rich begin to secede from the public realm altogether. Ensconced in their semiautonomous and privately-policed ‘gated communities’, they eschew the public services on which the rest of society depend, and become oblivious to the way most people live. At the same time, the poor are increasingly marginalised from society; excluded by their inability to find work, or by their meagre pay, from buying housing or healthcare; unable to access decent schools; and in many cases forced into urban ghettoes where they interact only with others in similarly deprived conditions (Hutton, 2002; Reich, 2001).
    “Large income gaps are quite easily transformed into even larger wealth gaps (Dorling, 2009). These lock in social disadvantage over generations and curtail social mobility. As research has repeatedly shown (Esping-Andersen, 2005), the most unequal societies are usually those, like the US and the UK, with relatively low levels of social mobility. The greater the pay gaps, the less chance of movement between classes since there is so much further to travel between them. Wealth inequality, as Durkheim (1964) noted, can often be more damaging to social cohesion than income inequality, particularly where many individuals appear to derive their wealth from inheritance or asset price inflation rather than through ability and hard work. Incomes tend to rise and fall during different phases of the lifecycle so that people on low incomes at particular points in their lives can take comfort from the hope that better times are around the corner. Capital seems to have more permanence, and because most of it is inherited, not earned, it locks in inequalities across generations (Dorling, 2009). The lack of it can act as a long-term exclusionary mechanism, as in countries where housing is so expensive relative to incomes that lack of capital then becomes the main barrier to home ownership. Likewise social immobility can do more to undermine social cohesion than income inequality, since it gradually erodes the belief in meritocracy and just rewards that is at the heart of the social contract, particularly in the liberal states.”
    [ . . . ] “Interpersonal or ‘social’ trust has often been considered one of the key measures of social cohesion (Green, Preston and Janmaat, 2006; Reeskens, 2007; Uslaner, 2002). It relates to people’s willingness to place their confidence in a wide range of others, including people they do not know. And it is widely considered to be an important precondition for the functioning of modern societies where a highly evolved division of labour means that everyday activities often involve interactions with strangers. Trust is necessary for the legitimacy of democratic systems which require that we trust the politicians we elect to deliver their pledges. It is also a precondition for welfare states which redistribute resources towards the needy because they depend on people trusting that if they pay their taxes to support others in need, these will not abuse the system, and others in turn will pay theirs to support them if they are in need (Canovan, 1996). Trust is also essential for efficient economic activity which depends on people sticking to what they have agreed and performing their contracts. The higher the levels of trust and trustworthiness the less the need for legal contracts and lawyers for every transaction and thus the lower are transaction costs (North, 1990). Above all, trust is what allows people to go about their daily business without constant fear of being let down or cheated. This general form of trust has been widely identified as necessary for a substantial range of private and public goods in society. If we believe the correlational evidence, it is closely associated with economic and social outcomes as diverse as economic growth (Knack and Keefer, 1997), innovation (Osherg, 2003), public health (Wilkinson, 1996), better government (Putnam, 2000) and general well-being and happiness (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009)”


    “The classic tool for measuring inequality is the Gini coefficient. The higher it is, the less equal the society. In America the coefficient climbed steadily from 0.395 in 1974 to 0.47 in 2006 before dipping slightly to 0.463 in 2007. In Britain, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Gini has risen from 0.25 in 1979 to 0.35 in 2006. Figures from the United Nations suggest that America’s Gini coefficient is lower than that of many developing countries but well above the levels recorded by egalitarian Denmark, Finland and Sweden, where it does not seem to have risen much.
    “The recent widening of inequalities marked a complete reversal of the previous trend. From the 1930s to the late 1970s wealth disparities in developed countries declined sharply. But which is the anomaly: the earlier period of high tax rates and rapidly growing state involvement in the economy, or the rising inequality of the past 30 years?”
    [ . . . ] “Leaving aside the moral issues, does inequality have any economic benefits? In the 1970s it was argued that high taxes had reduced incentives and thus economic growth. Entrepreneurs had to be motivated to build businesses and create jobs. But extensive study by economists has found little correlation, in either direction, between inequality and economic growth rates across countries.
    “One argument advanced in America is that wide income disparities might encourage more people to want to go to college, thus creating a better-educated workforce. But Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute points out that several societies that are more egalitarian than America have higher college enrolment rates.
    “There might also be an argument in favour of wealth disparities if social mobility was high and the sons and daughters of office cleaners could fairly easily rise to become chief executives. But America and Britain, which follow the Anglo-Saxon model, have the highest intergenerational correlations between the social status of fathers and sons; the lowest are found in egalitarian Norway and Denmark. Things are even worse for ethnic minorities; a black American born in the bottom quintile of the population (by income) has a 42% chance of staying there as an adult, compared with 17% for a white person.
    “As a result, talent is being neglected. Of American children with the highest test scores in eighth grade, only 29% of those from low-income families ended up going to college, compared with 74% of those from high-income families. Since the better-off can afford to keep their children in higher education and the poor cannot, breaking out of the cycle is hard.”

    German’s unions are necessary for the well being of Germany. America’s capitalism is necessary for the well being of the world.

    Good lord! What lovely propaganda that is. The world will go on just fine when America stops being the bully of the world.

    The American economy was growing like Germany’s economy when there was more unionization of American workers. There is no conflict between capitalism and unions. Germany is a capitalist country. Like the US, it has a mixed economy. But Germany just emphasizes egalitarianism and social democracy more than America.

    • Why does a military empire have military bases in other countries?

      Why is the sky blue?

      Is there a particular reason your asking this question in the comment section of this particular post, a post that has nothing to do with the military?

      To answer your question, the US military is in Germany because Germany tried to take over the world in order to create its own military empire. The US and its allies stopped Germany. After bombing Germany into oblivion, the US (using the money of US taxpayers) funded the rebuilding of Germany (Marshall Plan) which led to Germany’s present state of economic prosperity.

      The US has troops in Germany because after the whole Nazi incident most of the Western world thought it might be best to keep tabs on Germany. At first, it was split between the USSR and the US. But then the USSR fell. Germany hasn’t had to spend its own money on military to any great extent because the US has militarily protected Germany.

      It’s the same reason the US has troops in Japan. Americans didn’t like the experience of being attacked. We can all argue about the merits of the US military interventions in the decades following WWII, but the world has good reasons to be a bit wary of Germany’s (and Japan’s) ability to build threatening militaries.

      • It is time you educate yourself about Germany. For one thing, the Marshall plan was but a drop in the bucket as far as rebuilding of Germany was concerned. Germany grew economically successful because of the nature and work ethic of the German people. Never mind, that it was the US and Britain that bombed Germany into oblivion, even though Germany NEVER attacked the US. Except for Hitler, Germany has NEVER been as imperialistic and empire building as the United States from its very beginning (over 235 war and police actions around the world, and growing, now even is engaging in PRE-emptive strike policy. While it is true that the US has protected Germany from the threat of the Soviet-Union und for this Germany is grateful, these days are past, and the threat from Germany has died after World War II, but the military involvement of America all over the world has NOT stopped.

        • It wasn’t just the money spent on the Marshall plan. Some of the best experts were involved. So it was also an introduction of new ideas and systems into the German economy. That said, the money spent was no small potatoes.

          I never criticized or dismissed the nature and work ethic of the German people. My mom’s side of the family is largely German. Her maiden name is German. German-Americans are the largest ethnic demographic in the US. Many of the great scientific and academic experts the US came from European countries such as Germany. German immigrants formed the largest influx of immigrants and they were also among the first immigrants. America wouldn’t be America without Germany. Certainly, the Midwestern US where I live wouldn’t be the way it is without the large percentage of immigrants from Germany and other Northern European countries.

          It was the US and Britain that bombed Germany. Also, it was Germany that bombed Britain which was an ally of the US and it was Japan that bombed the US which was an ally of Germany. It was war. That is how war works.

          I totally agree that the US has become increasingly militaristic over its history. We haven’t committed any largescale genocide in our recent history in the way Germany did, but we have our own history of genocide against Native Americans. It’s true that Germany hasn’t come close to the imperialism that the US has accomplished then again. German people, whether as tribes or as a modern nation-state, have been invading and occupying countries for most of European history, long before America was even a thought.

          I wish the US wasn’t imperialistic. Nothing ever good can come from that. If I had the power, I would stop American imperialism instantly. Many countries have suffered at the hands of the US military, and at least some of these countries are justified in hating America and wanting to do us harm. Blowback is a bitch.

  14. Pingback: Marmalade ~
  15. Look where you are now 6-11-12, Germany NEEDS to pay for their Socialist brethren in S Europe. The EU countries that have benefited from the Euro NEED to pony up the money since they are doing so well. Put your money where your mouth is and do the truly FAIR THING!

    • Are you directing your comment at me? I don’t understand what you mean. Where am I now?

      I’m neither German nor European. The problem with EU countries isn’t my personal problem. Of course, as an American, it indirectly impacts my life as it indirectly impacts everyone around the world. We Americans have our own problems that also indirectly impacts everyone else as well.

      I don’t even know what putting my money where my mouth is even means in this context, especially not for me personally. As far as I can tell, Germany is still a strong economy which continues to prove my point.

  16. Now this is an interesting article and a point of view I have never heard expressed before. I had no idea that Germany had a similar manufacturing/ labor relationship with China as we do yet they have a much more successful economy. I’m so used to hearing Americans blame cheap Chinese labor for all their problems.

    • This difference was recently demonstrated with the German company seeking to build a factory in the US South. They wanted to implant their German model with strong unionization, but the Southern ruling elite threatened the company and threatened the workers.

      Isn’t it interesting that the US South would be fine if a company from an oppressive unfree society chose to place a factory there? But a company that wants to empower disenfranchised Americans. That will not be tolerated.

      Our government, both federal and state, could enforce about anything it wanted. China doesn’t have that much power relative to us. They would do business on almost any terms we demanded. If we told Chinese that we refused to do business with companies that use near slave labor, the Chines government would quickly curtail that.

      • Wow. That is something I have never realized before. U.S. certainly does have the power to change how overseas manufacturers operate, but I guess it’s that we don’t feel the “obligation to”, unfortunately.

  17. Both, the US and Germany are consuming their historic values and are both on the pass of self-distraction.

    US is founded on the absolute right of the individual.
    Germany is rooted in the believe that “collective interest” comes before “individual interest”.

    US was designed as Republic. People don’t comprehend the concept of States and ask for the federal government to provide. The Elite welcomes the development for a power grasp.

    The EU is a copy of the US, and Germany is like a State. Because the EU is younger, the “States” still have more autonomy and self-dynamic. Over time the EU “States” will have the same faith as the States in the US and loose their autonomy.


    US songs are about crime, sex and Satan, hate
    German songs are about Family, Nature, God, Fun, Hope, gratefulness

    US – get maximum credit, Germany – keep the account in the black, save
    US – How much can I afford per month, Germany – How much can I save to travel to other countries
    US – Show off possessions, Germany – Be proud of using resources most efficiently
    US – Eat out, eat convenient, don’t care about quality, lots of fried food, monotone diet Germany – Eat healthy, eat good, quality over quantity, value variety
    US – USA, USA, USA, Germany – The average 18 year old has visited a few countries and appreciates various cultures
    US – War is a live style, Germany – Peace, Fun, Cultural tolerance, Community and Family values
    US – Team rooting mentality, Germany – Community/Family mentality
    US – big car, Germany – good car, economic car, technically advanced car
    US – Own home, Germany – Rent home
    US – Guns, Germany – Tons of sports activities
    US – all other countries are a thread, Germany – other countries are interesting

    US – Get the highest graduation paper (end up with huge loan), or minimum wage, Germany – University degree (basically free), or 3 years trade school (50/50 trade/school)
    US – Schools funded relative to home value, Germany – Schools funded independent of neighborhood economics
    US – 9 month/yr, Germany – 12 month/yr

    Family Support
    US – What?, Germany – Get a monthly amount per child

    Community Service / Home ownership cost
    US – 1% Property Tax, Germany – Tax negligible
    US – Paid fire department, Germany – Volunteer fire department
    US – Fluoride in Water, Germany – Cleanest water
    US – Home owner insurance, Germany – Fire insurance at cost
    US – Track building, Germany – more neighborhood help
    US – Sticks and dry wall, Germany – solid high tech
    US – Single pane, Germany – Triple Pane Isolation
    US – Forced Air, Germany – High efficiency radiation

    US – manipulated two party system, many don’t even know that there are other options
    Germany – multiple parties put more pressure on politicians, more dialogue and compromise
    US – Executive order overwrites law, Germany – Parliament needed to put things into motion
    US – red or blue, resulting in radical direction changes on domestic issues, keeps country in perpetual state of war
    Germany – more gradual changes, war needs serious reason and proof to be even considered for discussion
    US – diminishing influence of states,
    Germany – states remain influential
    US – voter don’t understand the election process, know they are lied too, vote for their team,
    Germany – Voters are slow to break with tradition, trust too much in the integrity of the elect
    US – Politicians are owned by corporations and special interest groups, e.g. Israel, Defense Industry, Unions, industries
    Germany – becomes like the US, trusting Germans don’t realize the trend

    US – 8 days of vacation, 12 bank holidays
    Germany – 30 days of vacation, 18 bank holidays
    US – termination in a New York minute
    Germany – Termination 6 – 52 weeks
    US – mostly minimum wage
    Germany – mostly negotiated Tariffs

    US – High premium, high deductibles, #1 reason for bankruptcy, wired legal structures, risk to loose coverage when needed most, dental is extra, limited preventive care, state bankruptcies on the horizon because of Obamacare (nothing like EU healthcare)
    Germany – premium is a percentage of income, never see a medical bill, co-payment limited to a few hundred bucks, fairly comprehensive dental included, managed with common sense and integrity, deteriorating as US ideas are entering health care, preventive care is big

    Any social concept is valid, if implemented in its purest form and administered with common sense, morals and integrity.

    The US has lost its magic by regulating the living crap out of a system that would be second to none if the individual rights would be protected to the maximum, just as intended. Regulation has created monopolies, forces socialistic ideas on people in contradiction to the core values, creating a frustrating, polarized society where everybody looses. Every perceived gain, by one or the other political view is one step closer to mass poverty. I don’t expect the average person to see it.

    Germany has lost its magic as politicians have started to sell the country out to corporations and to the elite agenda. Germany is all but a decade behind the US, as far as, the destruction of family values, moral values, community values and social structure is concerned.

    Both countries have their unique powerful ways of going about live.
    Both countries are loosing it all by continuing to elect the main parties.
    Both countries are loosing their identity.
    Both countries drive the people into poverty.
    Both countries are about to give up their national identity and become part of a world government.
    Both countries have lied to the people about the history and about current events.
    Both country sell out the people for an elite agenda.
    Both countries deserve what happens to them for not caring enough to fire the parties that are selling them out.

    Everybody can ignore the arguments. The consequences can not be ignored.

    Americans loose their guns, their homes, their jobs, their civil rights, their ability to start businesses on a dime, and their dignity.

    Germans loose their socially secured way of live, their national and cultural identity, their economic strength and stability, their existence as a tribe. 2050 Germans will be a minority in their own country. By 2100 Germans will be less than native Americans are in the US, today.

    The US and Germany are going to loose it all, for the people to allow politicians to robe them and destroy them for payoffs to further the interests of a ruthless few.

    PS: This post has a good degree of generalization. The various states have quite different laws and practices, too much to address all adequately. 😉

    PPS: There is more to history than we where told. Understanding history helps to make more sense of our present. http://thegreateststorynevertold.tv/

    PPPS: So you know US history? Really? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hgyztsj7O6M&list=PL_YgloinfYxBHXb2xt5bL7fQlkMBi6Igw&index=5

    PPPPS: For those that wonder what comes next: (shy of kicking the big parties out of office)
    – War in the middle east
    – Many countries will have revolutions. The young French will burn down Paris
    – Three top politicians will be murdered
    – Russia is forced to attack EU and advances in just a few days to the river Rhein (French/German boarder)
    – US will unleash 10000 drones stationed in Africa and drop chemical bombs from Prag all the way to the northern part of Europe, cutting off Russian supply and retreat lines
    – London will sink as a result of a bomb in the canal, and two other major cities in the world will be flooded (NY? Venice?)
    – Long lost land will reappear out of the ocean.
    – The Pope will flee Rome.
    – A pole shift will bring Germany 800 kilometers closer to the equator.
    – The sky turns dark for 3 days, and poisonous ash will kill everybody that opens the door. Floods will come as far inland as Berlin. US gets shaken up badly.
    – After that, few will be left. The light will be brighter, the green will be greener, and land will be offered for free in Europe and the now fertile Siberia.
    – Some Monarchies will be reinstated in Europe. A really old guy in leatherhosen, with white hair in Bavaria.
    – While life is simple, a long period of peace and happiness has started.

    • That is a long comment. I do like someone who takes the time to write a long and involved comment, as long as they offering something relevant and of interest. I write long comments myself all the time.

      But I almost didn’t approve it. I wasn’t sure if it added to dialogue. It feels more like a rant or preaching than a comment. But you weren’t being negative and so I decided at least some of it was worthy of being posted.

      You are simplifying quite a bit.

      The US was founded on more than just individualism. Many of the founding generation would find that claim strange. They were seeking a new kind of social order.

      As another example, you wrote that:

      “US songs are about crime, sex and Satan, hate
      German songs are about Family, Nature, God, Fun, Hope, gratefulness”

      I suppose that is how a foreigner would see American music, but it is inaccurate. In the US, there are a ton of very popular country music and Christian music radio stations. They play songs about family, nature, God, fun, hope, gratefulness, etc. Americans are quite obsessed about such things as family. Our entire society is based on family as the central social institution.

      I did like what you said here:

      “Any social concept is valid, if implemented in its purest form and administered with common sense, morals and integrity.”

      I mostly agree. I’m not sure that just any social concept is valid. But that seems true for a wide variety of social concepts. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all solution.

      That is true for countries that can be organized by different values and principles, and yet still lead to positive results. That is also true of different regions, states, and communities within a large country. This is why sewer socialism worked well in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which is in the Upper Midwest, but wouldn’t work well somewhere in the Deep South, despite both areas being part of the same country.

      A large, diverse country like the US in particular has no single culture. Never has and maybe never will. No one had to “[force] socialistic ideas on people in contradiction to the core values, creating a frustrating, polarized society where everybody looses”.

      The Milwaukee residents voted for sewer socialists for more than a half century. It worked for them and they freely kept on voting the sewer socialists back into office. It was considered one of the best run city governments in the country at the time, and it was widely praised.

      It didn’t lead to frustration or a polarized society. It naturally emerged from a specific population of German immigrants and the descendants of German immigrants. To this day, the Upper Midwest remains a distinct sub-culture within the US which, because German descendants are the largest demographic in the country, have had a massive influence on all of American culture.

      This has been true for a long time. During the American Revolution, Germans were the majority in the Middle Colonies which is the population that formed the basis of Midwestern culture, especially the Upper Midwest. This is the Heartland of America.

      This is partly why America has never been a wholly individualistic society.

      I’m glad you understand that you are making generalizations:

      “This post has a good degree of generalization. The various states have quite different laws and practices, too much to address all adequately.”

      I don’t mind generalizations, when they are used to make a point. Sometimes generalizations are useful and sometimes not.

      You asked a question:

      “So you know US history? Really?”

      I assume that was directed at me and implied that I didn’t know US history. I beg to differ. I know US history quite well. If you peruse my blog, you’ll see a ton of posts about US history. I don’t just read about mainstream history, but also alternative perspectives.

      I’m not sure what to think of the predictions you make at the end. Some of them just seem plain bizarre or simply unfounded.

      “Three top politicians will be murdered”

      Why three? Why not two or four? Such specificity is odd. Is this that old wives’ tale that deaths happen in threes?

      “The sky turns dark for 3 days, and poisonous ash will kill everybody that opens the door. Floods will come as far inland as Berlin. US gets shaken up badly.”

      Are you obsessed with the number three? Also, do you think you are a prophet of the End Times? People throughout history have been predicting such things. What makes you think you are so special? Does God whisper in your ear?

      • There are many differences between the US and Germany. But there are also similarities. For example, the US population has a higher rate of German ancestry than of any other ancestry. Plus, English culture originated partly out of German culture (Anglos, Saxons, Normans, etc). Anglo-American culture and German culture are very close. So, there is room for meaningful comparisons, and yet we should always be careful when making comparisons.

  18. Glaringly absent from this article is the effect of a minimal defense requirement, which has been filled b the taxpayers of America since the end of WWII. Add to that the fact that almost every military installation and its support structure was handed over to Germany when America pulled out most of its troops. Had Germany been left to defend itself during the Cold War, you would NOT see the successes we see today. Guaranteed.

    • I’m aware of all of that, but that wasn’t the emphasis.

      Sure, Germany was rebuilt, but it was also destroyed. Being rebuilt after being destroyed is better than not being rebuilt. Then again, best of all is not having your country’s entire infrastructure and economy annihalated. Of course, Germans deserved what they got in WWII.

      I think it was great we rebuilt their society. I think the US should rebuild every society it destroys through war. Even so, that seems like a major tangent.

      History is complex. Yeah, Germany wouldn’t be what it is today if we hadn’t treated them as an ally. The same goes for Japan. It is strange to treat former enemies as allies, but I think it should be done more often.

      The same happened with Britain’s relationship to the US. The US never would be as successful today if Britain hadn’t become our ally, for Britain was a global superpower. No country can take credit alone for anything. We live in an interrelated world where, as they say, no man is an island.

      Nonetheless, individual countries have to take some responsibility for the results of their societies. If Germany is doing better than us and we helped rebuild their society, that proves the US has no excuse in not doing better here at home.

    • Neoliberalism and corporatism ultimately aren’t national problems. The economy and corporations are transnational. Many large corporations are wealthier and more powerful than many small countries. Germany isn’t a small country, but corporate and plutocratic interests are taking over political power in any and all countries where they can get a foothold. It’s impossible for citizens at the local level to fight against this. It has to be fought at the transnational level. The lower classes of all countries will have to form a global movement that challenges unjust power everywhere it is found.

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