Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'll Take the Briar Patch

Ed Walker (AKA masaccio) has a post over at Firedoglake about why the German economy is working, the middle class is thriving, and they work 300-400 hours less per year than we do.

We've heard for years from the US pundits/conservatives/GOP that it was only a matter of time before the Social Democracies of Europe would crumble in economic disaster. Isn't it strange how countries like Germany continue to support strong economies that include meaningful and broad social support for their people even in these 'bad' times? We've heard over and over about the heavy tax burdens and wasteful government spending and how it will soon come to and end. Last weekend on FDL Tom Geoghegan’s new book, Were You Born On The Wrong Continent, was the subject of Saturday’s Book Salon and I was going to post something about it then but I am just getting around to it. Geoghegan discusses Germany’s approach to capitalism and why it has been very successful.

Workers in Germany have a big say in German businesses. In companies with more than 2,000 employees, the workers elect 50% of the members of the board of directors, which they call co-determination. This gives them a significant voice in the overall approach of German businesses. This means that the worker's interests are considered carefully by German companies but it also means that the workers have a real incentive to insure the company is successful.

Unlike the U.S., German's don't have to worry about the big five: retirement, health care, education, child care and good public transportation. They pay higher taxes for it but they don't have to worry about those's part of the deal. How much better would you feel if retirement and health care were not something you had to worry about?

Don't tell anybody, especially a Republican, but Socialism is working and working well . There are only 83 million people in Germany and even working 8 to 10 weeks less than we do managed exports of 1.2 tillion dollars in 2009. That figure is larger than China's where 10 times the people are working long hours under awful conditions.  Germany’s economy grew by 2.2% in the second quarter, leading the EU to solid growth of 1%, despite problems with some of the weaker member nations, like Greece and Spain. Germany’s trade surplus was 60.2 billion Euros and it has no international debt. All of its growth has been financed internally.

It sure seems to me that the evils of 'social democracies' that are constantly being bleated by the pundits, conservatives, and most of all  by the fat cat corporatists that are a bleeding us dry may be complete and utter bullshit. I know I, for one, wouldn't mind a little more of a tax burden if I didn't have to pay out the ass for retirement and health care(if I could even get it) and I would really like to have a public transportation system that actually works. I've spent quite a bit of time in Europe, mostly Sweden, France and Germany, and have been envious of their situation for years. They, as a rule, are not struggling to make life work for themselves or their children as we are in the U.S. and they'll admit that the taxes are somewhat tough but I haven't met one that didn't think they weren't getting their money's worth.

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