Thriving, Struggling, Suffering

Although not necessarily in that order.

Germans are notorious pessimists, as you know. And they’re always bitching and moaning, especially when they don’t have anything to bitch and moan about. Take this latest Gallup survey, for instance:

“The 4 in 10 Germans who rated their lives highly enough to be considered “thriving” throughout 2011 was lower than in 2010.”

That could have been a whole lot worse, though. I’ve been living here so long that the first time I read that sentence I swear I was sure it read

“The 4 in 10 Germans who rated their lives highly enough to be considered “LIVING” throughout 2011 was lower than in 2010.”

Come on Germany, you’re giving me a complex. Go out there and live a little already!

In addition, the percentage of Germans who are “suffering” ticked up slightly in the fourth quarter of 2011, amid escalating economic turmoil in the eurozone.


Electric Cars Bad, Too

For the climate, I mean.

How piquant or exquisite or unintentionally funny or something. An eco-study by an eco-institute (Öko-Institut) has just found out that eco-cars of the ecolectric kind are not nearly as ecological for the ecology as assumed (is there an eco in here?).

Basing its findings upon the amount of additional electricity these cars will have to use in the future, the study determined that if this energy does not come from renewable energy sources (a most unlikely likelihood at this time, it appears), then this increase in electricity production will actually prove to have a detrimental effect upon the so-called climate balance.

Exhaust or not, it must be clear by now that this subject will never be exhausted.

Als Grund nennt das Öko-Institut die Strommengen, die durch Elektroautos verbraucht werden. Die Klimabilanz wäre nur dann ausgewogen, wenn dafür zusätzliche Mengen erneuerbarer Energie in den Strommarkt eingeführt würden.

Left Party Victims Victimized Again

What a shock or something.

Around a third of Germany’s far-left Left Party’s parliamentarians are under observation by the country’s Verfassungsschutz or BfV (the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution), a domestic intelligence agency designed to, well, protect the German constitution.

This is outrageous, I guess, and Germans everywhere are empört (scandalized), as usual. How could it possibly be, they ask themselves, that a political party having members who…

belonging to the “Communist Platform,” claim that in order to introduce a new social order, “illogical, unobjective, unjust and pure power” will be necessary at first…

belonging to the “Marxist Forum,” maintain that “the ruling elite” must be removed from the “operating levers of state power” and have their “economical power base wrested from them…”

get enthusiastic about a party leader (Gesine Lötzsch) who congratulates Fidel Castro on his “fullfilled life of armed struggle and many accomplished works…”

having belonged to the Stasi (the GDR’s Ministry of State Security) still, in essence, belong to the GDR’s Ministry of State Security…

How could it be, like I said, that they could possibly, by any wild stretch of the imagination, ever be considered to be a threat to modern German democratic society based as it is upon the rule of law?

Like I said, what a shock or something.

Es geht nicht darum, eine Partei unter Generalverdacht zu stellen. Es geht darum, verfassungsfeindliche Bestrebungen zu orten, bevor sie Schaden anrichten. Hat man dem Verfassungsschutz nicht gerade – zu Recht – vorgeworfen, das Undenkbare nicht gedacht zu haben? Extremismus kann auf vielerlei Humus wachsen. Auch auf linkem.

PS: By the way, Left Party members are big fans of Iran and Syria, too, to name just a few. I’m just sayin’, it’s none of my business or anything.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

God punishes us, I mean you, by giving you what you want.

The 1960s saw demonstrations across West Germany against the Vietnam war and the 1980s brought large protests outside some U.S. bases against plans to deploy new medium-range nuclear missiles. U.S. forces have always been viewed by some, especially on the political left, with hostility, as occupiers.

“We Germans fought for the Russians to go, now we are fighting for the Americans to stay.”

When the Bundestag isn’t being shut down due to power failure

Unintentional spam attacks from Bundestag employees can take their toll, too.

You’ve all seen this happen, I’m sure. Somebody on a huge distribution list receives an internal email and accidently responds to everyone (instead of just to the person who sent it). Dozens if not hundreds of the recipients who then get that person’s response feel the desperate need to respond to that in some smart ass way (to everyone here, too) and on and one it goes, for hours on end, until a systems administrator finally loses his/her patience and pulls out the plug.

Well, that happened today in the halls of German government. Just your normal everyday dumb office behavior kind of thing again. Or was it maybe a diabolical terrorist attack doch?

“Liebe Britta, wenn Ihr Euch eindeckt, bringt Ihr mir eins mit? Danke und herzliche Grüße.”

Well We Can’t Excel At Everything

Like when it comes to anti-Semitism and bad old fashioned anti-Jewish thought crime.

Honestly, let’s put this latest study in perspective and maybe not paint the Germans as being the Hollywood Nazis they aren’t for once (but just this once).

Sure, 20 percent is a lot. But you know that you know you thought it was higher (or wanted it to be). And “the study — which draws on several different surveys and other research — puts Germans in the middle of the pack in Europe, showing more latent anti-Semitism in countries such as Poland, Hungary and Portugal, and less in Italy, Britain, the Netherlands and France.”

And what happens to that 20 percent once you subtract the extremist right/Islamic fringe and those who think like and/or support them? I’m all for subtracting them, by the way, but we don’t live in a perfect world. What can I say? It’s a never ending story.

Ob auf Fußballplätzen, im Netz oder in islamistischen und rechtsextremen Milieus – Judenfeindlichkeit ist in der deutschen Gesellschaft noch immer gegenwärtig.

Those No Good Greek Tax Evaders!

Greece’s finance ministry has named 4,152 individuals as major tax dodgers that owe the state a combined 14.9 billion euros in unpaid back taxes as part of a campaign to name and shame tax evaders.

And Germany is empört (indignant), as usual. The interesting thing about the list though are some of the Greek names, I find.  These are names like Grundmann, Hutter und Elstner. They almost sound like, I dunno, like German names. But that can’t be. Germans don’t evade taxes, right? Not unless they live in Greece, they don’t.

Einige der Namen klingen für hiesige Ohren seltsam vertraut: Namen wie Grundmann, Hutter und Elstner. Schulden Deutsche den Griechen Geld?

Crisis, Doomsday And The End Of The World As We Know It

I don’t usually tend to panic when reading newspapers, but when German journalists start writing articles critical of the media’s “eternal ramblings about doomsday,” I get very nervous indeed. This is news, in other words, primarily because this isn’t news to me.

Evelyn Finger’s main concern here is the German obsession with “the” Krise (crisis) in general (crises plural) and the latest so-called Krise der Demokratie (crisis of Democracy) in particular.

“In the meantime (it started out long ago with “the oil crisis,” she believes) we have become all too accustomed to terms like education crisis, energy crisis, climate crisis and, most recently, financial crisis, debt crisis and euro crisis. We have all hoped that these crises would not prove to become any more threatening than they already are, especially since our linguistic capacity to express more crisis seems to have been exhausted: World financial crisis! But a new threatening term has been spooking the debates as of late: A crisis of Democracy. Is there really such a crisis or is the chatter about it the real problem?”

We all know the answer to that question, of course. She rightly finds this obsessive German Angslust (passion for fear) ridiculous and has no trouble exposing it for what it is; mindless, self-indulgent, neurotic nonsense. But I do wish she would have had the decency to have warned me first. I don’t like stumbling accross articles like this in German newspapers, articles that make sense by expressing something we used to call “common sense.” If I had wanted to read articles like that I wouldn’t have bought a German newspaper in the first place.

But thanks anyway, Evelyn. You may have shaken me up a bit, but I really do hope you have a pleasant week.

Das Wort Krise hatte seinen Schrecken schon fast verloren. Es klang in den letzten Monaten auch bei dramatischer Nachrichtenlage etwas schwach und durch häufigen Gebrauch abgenutzt.