German Poverty?

Nice try. This is another one of my favorite German myths. You can claim that poverty exists here all you want but everybody knows that poverty only exists in the real world and has nothing at all to do with this country. Or could it be that I am the one with an “unrealistic” definition of what poverty is?

Poverty

Report: About 3.1 million wage and salary earners in Germany had an income below the poverty threshold, according to Saturday’s edition of the Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper.

You have to understand how Germany works to know that this is ridiculous. For one thing, nobody has to work in Germany if he or she does not want to – ever. They get their rent paid and a low monthly allowance (and then work illegally on the side in a lot of cases) indefinitely = for life, if they want to (everybody know how or knows someone who does).  Many people choose to live this way (I know a few personally). Their welfare system is called Hartz IV, by the way. So like, are you a victim of “poverty” if you choose to be? In a country that has the money to pay your way, I mean?

And you must also understand how a German defines poverty in Germany: “Every second low wage worker, some 1.5 million Germans, would not be able to pay for a one-week holiday per year outside their own four walls. About 600,000 workers were forgoing having their own car because they could not afford it.”

OMG. It’s certainly a cold, cruel world out there when you can’t fly off to Mallorca twice a year like everybody else does and/or keep your expensive German sports car on the road as God intended you to (even though you don’t believe in God, but still).

“The number of workers who earn scarcely or marginally more than the government unemployment benefits (Hartz IV) is alarmingly high.”

PS: Speaking of poverty, get your free copy of Dumb Deutsch here. Offer ends Monday.

German Of The Day: 5 Billionen

That means 5 trillion (don’t ask, but it really does). And that’s how many euros German savers have set aside for a rainy day.

Trillion

That’s going to be one rainy day.

Zwar investierten die privaten Haushalte ihr Geld trotz niedriger Zinsen vor allem in kurzfristige und vermeintlich sichere Bankeinlagen. Trotzdem wuchs ihr Geldvermögen von Juli bis September 2014 um 28 Milliarden Euro oder 0,6 Prozent auf 5,01 Billionen Euro, wie die Deutsche Bundesbank mitteilte.

More Strikes Like These Please

“Amazon is being striked – and nobody is noticing it.”

Strikes

Amazon employees (in Germany) have already been on strike for an entire week. The union Verdi is looking to disrupt the delivery of Christmas packages but our user survey (Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung) indicates that it isn’t having any luck.

This survey indicates that 86% of Amazon packages have come on time – the other mail-order companies only managed 73% of the time.

Von dem Streik bekommen die weitaus meisten Kunden nichts mit. Laut Umfrage ist Amazon sogar jetzt noch pünktlicher als die anderen Versandhändler. 86 Prozent der Amazon-Pakete aus unserer Umfrage sind pünktlich angekommen, von den anderen Versandhändlern waren es nur 73 Prozent.

Would Numbers Lie?

News products can be that way. On the one hand the numbers tell us today that the mood in the German economy has picked up yet again and that German companies are looking ahead to 2015 with renewed confidence.

Positive

At the same time we read how Germany’s National Office for Statistics has determined that one in every five Germans is a victim of poverty.

A contradiction? Not necessarily, I guess. That’s why everybody’s kind of happy sort of around here these days. And that’s why I, for one, believe everything I read.

Die Stimmung in der deutschen Wirtschaft hat sich im Dezember erneut verbessert: Der Ifo-Index legte zum zweiten Mal zu.

The Fall Of The Berlin Mall Of Berlin

Jeepers. That didn’t take very long.

Mall of Berlin

This is not just any mall, mind you, but the hubristically named Mall of Berlin—the largest Germany’s capital has ever seen, including not only shops but (as yet unfinished) apartments and a hotel. And guess what? While it’s only been open since the autumn, the whole project is already bombing…

It’s not that Berlin’s government and developers don’t have the guts to take on major projects to transform the city. They just really suck at them.

The End Of An Aura

It’s amazing these sleeper trains have lasted as long as they have, if you stop and think about it.

Night Train

Saturday marked the end of the line for this Paris-Berlin sleeper, at any rate. Slow food might be able to make a stand here and there but it looks like slow travel is definitely out.

Deutsche Bahn, the German rail network which operates the sleeper said the service was incurring debts over €20 million a year and losing out to cheap bus connections and easyJet which offers a regular service between the two capitals. Along with the Paris-Berlin sleeper, overnight train services linking Berlin with Copenhagen and Amsterdam are also being axed.

The Bigger They Are…

Airbus Group NV (AIR) raised the prospect of discontinuing its A380 superjumbo as soon as 2018, the first admission that it may have misjudged the market for the double-decker after failing to find a single airline buyer this year.

A380

Bis heute hat Airbus Bestellungen für 318 Exemplare der A380 erhalten. Das ist nur gut ein Viertel des Bedarfs, den Airbus einst vorausgesagt hatte.

Günter Wallraff Foaming Around The Mouth Again

Still bitter about having lost his undercover job as a package deliverer I guess (he wasn’t used to actually having to work for a living) undercover undercover-journalist Günter “Undercover” Wallraff couldn’t help but have yet another fit about Amazon & Co. on German television last night.

Gunter Wallraff

Good timing or something. It’s strike season in Germany again (still?), as you know. Merry Christmas, Verdi!

But at least he didn’t just stop with Amazon, for once. Wallraff is also very, very angry at German consumers themselves for not purchasing their products where he wants them to (anywhere else but Amazon). Geez, he’s saying. It’s like if you just let people do whatever they want to do they’ll end up doing whatever it is they want to do. And where would that lead us to? That’s right, to where we are now.

His costumes really do rock, though. The one he was wearing last night (see above) was a little scary, though.

Wallraff kritisierte auch die Verbraucher: „Wir selber zerstören eigentlich gewachsene Struktur und wundern uns, irgendwann, dass das Leben so kalt und unpersönlich und trostlos geworden ist und Innenstädte veröden.“

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