“Crotchety, Over-Critical Culture” Part II

As reported earlier, Germans themselves will be the first to admit that, when it comes to entrepreneurship, they have a “crotchety, over-critical culture, with its fear and condemnation of failure,” but it is what it is and they are what they are.

Cars

There’s even a saying/joke here that goes “anything in Germany that is not expressly permitted is forbidden.” Take electric cars, for example. Their production may not be expressly forbidden but the German automobile industry is doing its damnedest to pretend like they don’t exist. One could say this has more to do with “never touch a running system” (this industry still makes piles of money) but it really gets down to being crotchety again. They’re missing the boat and they know it.

Concern is rising in Europe’s automobile heartland about the economic impact of the industry’s move to electric vehicles from gasoline-powered cars.

Officials and executives in Germany fear the country’s big car companies and rich ecosystem of suppliers and service providers are insufficiently prepared for the transition, and that their leadership may not be assured in an electric-car world, threatening jobs, tax revenue and even growth.

Assembling electric cars isn’t as complex or labor intensive as making traditional vehicles and relies partly on imported technology. At the same time, China has made rapid forays in electrification and is shaping up as a potentially formidable competitor in the field.

The trepidation is particularly acute in the city of Stuttgart, hub to one of the country’s biggest automotive clusters at the heart of the nation’s dynamic south. It comes as Europe’s largest economy is showing signs of weakness amid a chill in global trade.

“The greatest catastrophe would be if the industry fell asleep at the wheel. It is crucial for jobs that companies like Daimler make a massive push into this technology and build locally.”

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“Crotchety, Over-Critical Culture”

Comparing Germany’s entrepreneurial business world to Silicon Valley’s? This post will be even shorter than usual.

Silicon

One reason why California continues to draw talent out of Germany is the contrast between Germany’s crotchety, over-critical culture, with its fear and condemnation of failure.

This compares unfavorably with California’s inspiring can-do optimism and fail early, fail often, keep trying until you succeed” mantra. Additional reasons are the much higher salaries paid to engineers and programmer in California, the sunnier, warmer weather and California’s huge head start in building a startup-friendly business ecosystem.

“We need to build critical mass in one city, and that city is Berlin. It’s built a global reputation as a cool, hip, affordable city with a lively startup scene. We should double down on that.”

 

What Difference Does It Make?

Germany: Bundeswehr grounds ‘Tiger’ helicopters due to technical faults.

Tiger

The Bundeswehr and Bundesmarine (German army and navy) ain’t ever going to be deployed anywhere anyway so who cares if nothing works or not?

Bundeswehr’s enduring equipment woes – The incident is the latest in a series of embarrassments for the Bundeswehr and the German government concerning equipment, especially as regards government-issue aircraft. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz have all been delayed by faulty airplanes while carrying out official duties in the past year. Bundeswehr officials have also long complained that much of their equipment is outdated and broken, as increasing defense spending becomes more and more unpopular politically.

“Security is the top priority for the Bundeswehr.”

Inexpensive Meat?

We’ll fix that for you real quick. For your own good, of course.

Meat

Germany: ‘Meat tax’ on the table to protect the climate – meat is relatively cheap for consumers in Germany. But that could all be about to change as lawmakers from across the political spectrum back proposals aimed at climate protection and animal welfare.

German politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens on Wednesday proposed raising the value added tax (VAT) on meat to the standard rate of 19%. Currently, meat is taxed at a reduced rate of 7% like most foodstuffs.

“A meat tax, such as increasing the VAT to 19%, could be a way forward.”

PS: German Oddity 10. Germans have more words for taxation than Eskimos have for snow.

German Of The Day: Igelsex

Go figure. It’s pronounced “eagle sex” but it means hedgehog sex.

Igelsex

Germans kept up at night by noisy igelsex (that’s hedgehog coupling) – Police called out to reports of nocturnal disturbances find hedgehogs ‘having fun.’

I don’t buy it, though. I think these Germans were kept up at night, tossing and turning, worrying about the German economy.

“Germany’s economy is highly dependent on exports, and that’s what’s hitting the German economy now. If the trade conflicts persist for many more years, this will hit Germany very hard.”

German Of The Day: Flaschenhals

That means bottleneck.

Flashenhals

Germany is looking for new ways to power its economy as the traditional growth engines of manufacturing and exports falter. But the country’s outdated internet is acting as a bottleneck.

The sorry state of the online network has become a national joke and an economic liability. Germany ranks 33rd in the world in average monthly fixed broadband connection speeds, and 47th for mobile, according to Speedtest Global Index.

“It’s too slow. If you’re really world class in production, having a ranking of, say, [33rd] in working internet does not fit together with that image.”

A Meating Of Minds

Meat

President Donald Trump just announced a new deal under which the EU will accept a high number of American beef exports, a move that will surely increase profits for US farmers and related industries. The EU will accept 45,000 tons of hormone-free beef from foreign countries every year, and America will be allowed to fulfill 35,000 tons of that quota after seven years — roughly 80 percent of the total.

“America has great beef. We’re selling more.”

German Of The Day: Freier Fall

That means freefall.

Freefall

German manufacturing reports industry ‘in freefall’ – Key survey points to weakest sentiment in nine years.

The Ifo Institute’s manufacturing business climate index slumped to minus 4.3 in July from positive 1.3 the previous month. The reading was the lowest in more than nine years and echoes a separate survey released on Wednesday that pointed to mounting troubles in Europe’s powerhouse economy.

“No improvement is expected in the short term, as businesses are looking ahead to the next six months with more pessimism.”

Saving The Planet The Convenient Way

Lord knows that “saving the planet” from climate change is hard work.

Planet

That is why so many Germans are so “conscientious about the purchases they make, ride bikes and try to reduce their trash and carbon footprint.” They are also perfectly aware of the fact that they “can’t solve the problem on their own,” which us very, well, convenient but “they can force politicians and businesses to act,” which they do, if it isn’t all too inconvenient, that is.

And all of this gives them a good conscience, which is good. A good conscience one must have when one is riddled with guilt. A good conscience one must have when one is driving one’s expensive German non-electric automobile down the autobahn at excessive speeds, for example, or purchasing goods and products grown or manufactured on the other side of the planet being saved and flown in to Germany at dumping prices. A good conscience one must have when one simultaneously exports one’s plastic waste to the other side of the planet while flying off on vacation three times a year to culturally exchange with other cultures about the virtues of saving said planet.

Good conscience and convenience go hand in hand here, in other words. Here, too, Germany is a forerunner and we should look up to their shining example with admiration and humility.

“Sustainability is becoming a ‘quasi-religious’ promise of salvation.”