Paul Oberjuerge header image 2

American Dream Moves Over for German Version

June 29th, 2020 · No Comments · Germany

It looks like suburban America. Single-family housing, block after block. Free national health care. Good schools. A chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage.

That is what much of modern Germany looks like, to a visiting American. Pretty much everyone living the good life. The German Dream, which seems to have eclipsed the American version.

Hard to imagine that Germany was in desperate shape at the end of World War II, in 1945, within living memory of thousands of Germans, even now.

Hated, scorned as murderous Nazis who followed Adolf Hitler to disaster. Shattered cities. Millions dead. The blood of civilians, including 6 million Jews, on their hands. Starvation at the front door.

Germany has made a remarkable comeback since then. Instead of trying to rule the world Germans seem to be intent on instructing it. Setting an example … of stability, of economic success … for everyone else. Including America.

Our grandsons may be among Germany’s biggest fans. They like their schools. They like the kids around them. They like the parks that pop up every few blocks.

If they go out their back gate they can run around a green spot that is several acres, at the least. Afterward, when they have a grand parent who cannot say “no” … they get ice cream at the little mom-and-pop shop, down by the church.

Germany can afford all this because it has the world’s fourth-biggest economy ($4 trillion, despite a population of “only” 80 million.

Unemployment is low, and the German economy is oriented toward high-end production. Those $15-an-hour jobs so many Americans take, these days, come in the wake of major corporations moving overseas, taking jobs with them.

Germany seems to hang on to its biggest companies, which allows for social support and universal health care. And all workers are entitled to at least 20 days of paid vacation. Most get more.

Germany is not perfect. Of course not. The country has an element of “looking out for No. 1”, certainly. Its reputation for economic probity took a hit recently when automotive giant Volkswagen was caught manipulating emissions tests on its diesel vehicles.

Some suggest Germany’s muscular economy owes a debt to the United States, which has provided an umbrella of strategic defense that was mostly paid for by the American taxpayer.

On the other hand, a few years ago, Germany took in 600,000 Syrian refugees in one 12-month period. Chunks of the electorate thought that was a bad idea. Germany’s leaders backed off on that sort of generosity.

When the boys went out to ride around the neighborhood today, Monday, we got to the ice cream shop and it was closed. The kids were disappointed, but the owner works only five days a week, including Saturday but not Monday.

Part of the waking-hours reality of the German Dream.


0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment