What is it about Germans? Somehow I get the feeling that many of them would still complain if they were hung with a new rope. The German economy is booming. Unemployment has never been lower since 1992. There are currently over 400,000 unfilled job openings in the country, and a shortage of workers, not jobs. According to recent projections, the number of unemployed will drop from just under 3 million now to about 2 million in 2012. The economy is currently expanding at a robust 3.4% per year, and Germany leads western industrialized countries in the speed of its recovery from the recession. In spite of it all, the country isn’t exactly “dizzy with success.” It seems that the Germans, or at least the German media, can see a dark cloud behind every silver lining.
The news magazine Focus, for example, agonizes about the “Dangerous Attraction of Prosperity,” in an article warning about increased government debt, in spite of tax receipts in excess of the rosiest projections, and a deficit in the noise compared to that of the United States. In another article entitled “Five Risks to Prosperity,” we learn that, “A cloud of uncertainty is hanging over the good prognoses. Experts don’t trust the good signals.”
Der Spiegel, too, focuses on the negative. In an article entitled, “Capitol City of the Unemployed,” it describes the situation in the city of Demmin, passing on the lugubrious news that “Nowhere is unemployment so high as in the district in the northwest of the republic… Those who can leave for the West, and those who stay experience the daily deterioration.” The “pulse” of the city is “beating ever more slowly.” Another Spiegel article highlights the visit of none other than our own Paul Krugman. Under the headline “Crisis Oracle Krugman Fulminates against the Germans,” the Nobel laureate is quoted warning the Germans that “the crisis isn’t close to over.” He condemns all the talk about a recovery, suggests that demand for German exports will soon collapse, and internal consumption is too low, and hints darkly about renewed pressure on the Euro.
Not to be outdone, the magazine Stern begins an article about the unexpectedly robust German economic expansion reflected in the latest figures with the counterintuitive headline, “The Recovery Weakens,” because projected growth in 2011 is somewhat less. In a word, to say that the Germans aren’t cocky about their recovery is an understatement.
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder: It’s all about me
In spite of all that, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder knows a good thing when he sees it. In keeping with the old saying, “Success has a thousand fathers; failure is an orphan,“ he is claiming that he should be credited with the current recovery, because “it’s a result of his policies.“ In an interview for a local newspaper, he suggests that, “(Chancellor) Angela Merkel should be thankful to him for his reforms.“ No doubt tears of gratitude are falling down her cheeks. One can understand his glee, given the less happy fate of George W. Bush, who continues in the role of scapegoat of choice for all the failings of the Obama administration.
German Greenpeace: Fighting Global Warming with Coal
Meanwhile, even as German coal-fired power plants belch millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and more are planned in the immediate future, German activists posing as “environmentalists” have occupied the roof of the headquarters of the center-right Christian Democrat party in what Der Spiegel calls a “spectacular action” to protest the party’s support for nuclear power. Never mind that coal represents a significantly greater radioactive hazard than nuclear power, without even taking into account the tens of thousands that die each year from breathing the particulates from coal-fired plants, or the fact that such plants contribute mightily to global warming, which these same “environmentalists” have claimed is the number one threat facing the planet. So powerful is the craving of these activists to strike pious poses as noble saviors of humanity that they’re incapable of even making the connection. In their fevered imaginations, the nuclear plants they propose to shut down will all be replaced by non-polluting (and non-existent) “green” energy sources. It’s very simple, really. There are still coal plants in Germany, and there will continue to be coal plants in Germany into the indefinite future. Each nuclear plant that is built or remains in operation can replace the need for a coal plant of comparable size. Therefore, what the German “environmentalists” are really doing by opposing nuclear is promoting the continued burning of coal. As usual, the pose is everything and the reality is nothing.