Dysfunctional, Datfunctional, Main Thing Nothing Works

And costs everybody else in the country a whole lot of money. Berlin, my kind of town. My kind of town??

Berlin

Berlin, the capital of Europe’s most successful economy, is surprisingly badly governed. The new airport, the city’s biggest flagship project, missed its seventh opening date earlier this year and may not open until 2021, ten years after it was originally supposed to. The jobless rate is among the highest in the country. Schools are dismal. Courts and police are so overworked that hundreds of millions of euros in fines and taxes have not been collected; and the city failed to keep tabs on Anis Amri, the jihadist who killed 11 people with a lorry last Christmas, despite warnings about him three weeks earlier…

Astonishingly for a capital city, Berlin makes Germany poorer. Without it, Germany’s GDP per person would be 0.2% higher. By comparison, if Britain lost London, its GDP per person would be 11.1% lower; France without Paris would be 14.8% poorer…

“We have a deeply held suspicion of anything that smacks of efficiency and competence.”

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Berlin: The Future Is Ours

It has to be because the present is kind of, you know, sucky? And we don’t even want to talk about the past.

Berlin

Berlin may have moved ahead a bit in the current ranking of German cities the magazine Wirtschafswoche and the real estate site Immobilienscout 24 put out (it moved up to place 39) but, alas, when it comes to economic power, jobs, real estate and quality of life, its still got a long way to go before it catches up to the winner, The City Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken (Munich).

Die Hauptstadt landet im Städteranking der Wirtschaftswoche und des Immobilien-Portals Immobilienscout 24 wie im Vorjahr auf Platz neun von 69 Großstädten, wenn die Dynamik am Standort gemessen wird. Wird das erreichte Niveau angegeben, kommt Berlin auf Rang 39 und hat sich somit um vier Plätze verbessert.

Berlin Is So Poor…

Poor? The city of Berlin is so poor that it can’t even afford the bullets for its policemen anymore.

Taser

Berlin’s plans to arm police patrols with taser guns would make it the first German state to implement extensive use of the electroshock weapon.

Makes good economic sense to me. Because then all they have to do is just hook them up to solar panels to recharge overnight.

Spätestens seitdem ein Beamter im Juni 2013 einen geistig verwirrten, bewaffneten Mann im Neptunbrunnen in Mitte erschoss, wird die politische Debatte um die Anschaffung der Taser geführt – auch und vor allem im Kontext des grotesk schlechten Zustands der Berliner Schießstände, an denen Polizisten den Einsatz ihrer Waffen in regelmäßigen Abständen trainieren müssen. In den vergangenen zwei Jahren hatten viele Beamte gar nicht mehr mit scharfer Munition üben, sondern lediglich ein Laser-Simulationsschießen als Ersatz absolvieren können.*

* That big long German sentence says, among other things, that Berlin cops don’t even have a decent firing range so they have to practice using laser simulation shooting.

Poor But Sexy, But Poor

Those were the days. Berlin used to be just (arm aber sexy) poor but sexy.

Poor

Now Berlin is poor but sexy, but poor. At least when it comes to trying to earn a living here.

The German capital pulls down the per capita income for the entire country. According to Eurostat (the European statistics office), Germany’s gross national product (with an emphasis on gross) would climb 0.2 percent if they could just find a way to factor out losers like us here in Berlin.

Poor? Yo capital is so poor it can’t afford to pay attention.

Die Hauptstadt drückt auf das Pro-Kopf-Einkommen der gesamten Bundesrepublik: Das Bruttoinlandsprodukt je Einwohner würde um 0,2 Prozent steigen, wenn man Berlin und seine Einwohner ausklammert, wie das Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) auf Basis von Daten des Europäischen Statistikamtes Eurostat errechnete.

The German Reputation For Efficiency?

Is that anything like the German reputation for moral integrity (see VW’s Dieselgate, Deutsche Bank’s countless crooked dealings, the ADAC “Gelber Engel” fraud, the purchase of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, to name just a few)?

Refugees

So what’s all this talk about “Berlin’s refugee chaos eroding the German reputation for efficiency” here? You can say what you want about the city of Berlin, pal, but at least we Berliners are consistent. Nothing ever works here and the people of this less than fair city are damned proud of it, too (see the Airport fiasco, the S-Bahn, the city’s finances (ha, ha!), to name just a few). Just go and try, for instance, as a “normal” citizen here, to get an appointment at your local Behörde (public authority) for some important paperwork to be processed. You will have to wait months – unless, of course, you “buy” an earlier appointment online from one of the many enterprising entrepreneurs active in the Internet these days (I’m not making this up, folks). I think this is how they do it in Baghdad, too.

Why on earth then should anyone expect that the 73,000 refugees who have arrived in Berlin during these past months be treated any differently? You can expect it if you want to but your expectations will most definitely be disappointed. Welcome to poor but sexy land, people.

At least Hertha BSC seems to be working at the moment. Enjoy it while it lasts, my fellow Berliners.

Berlin’s State Office for Health and Social Affairs is the gateway to life in the German capital for thousands of asylum seekers. Refugees must register here for access to healthcare, housing and welfare support; the wait is measured in days rather than hours. But in a country that prides itself on its orderliness and moral integrity, the chaotic scenes outside this office block have proved deeply humiliating.

When In Doubt Just Say No

Nein, nein, nein, already. Nolympics in Hamburg, either.

Nolympics

As you can see up there, Hamburgers were too afraid that the Olympics they decided not to bid to host for yesterday would have brought more police brutality, more barbed wire fences, more school crossing cops escorting people to airports, more big nasty retro surveillance cameras and more US-Amerikan Yankee dollars coming out of the chimney of some Hamburger’s house in a really weird surrealistic fashion (causing particularly nasty air pollution, I assume?).

Put in that light I think it was the sound decision to make.

Let’s see, Munich said no, Berlin said no and now Hamburg says no. I think a pattern is starting to develop here. Boston, too, said no, of course (are there really that many Bostonians of German extraction?). What a minute. Has hosting the Olympics now become some new form of cruel and unusual punishment or something? Maybe we could get ISIS to put in a bid.

“Die Menschen sehen, dass es Sachen gibt, wo das Geld besser angelegt ist.”

Berlin Is Already Over And Nobody Here Had The Decency To Tell Me

Or at least that’s what one New York Times journalist had to report – after clearly having run into way too many Americans here. And how could that not spell trouble?

Berlin

The Berlin backlash had to happen sooner or later. No city could be so consistently lauded to the skies for its creative edge, elegant shabbiness, and 24-hour nightlife without eventually coming down with a hard bump. And the bump does seem to have arrived.

…On the international front, the city’s social scene is also getting increasingly Anglophone.

Erschwerend kam hinzu, dass der offenbar aus New York stammende New-York-Times-Autor im Berghain wie auch überall sonst in Berlin ausschließlich auf andere aus New York stammende Menschen gestoßen ist, was die Bedeutung der einstigen Hipsterhochburg für ihn abschließend ruiniert hat; getreu der von dem ebenfalls aus New York stammenden Gegenwartsanalytiker Groucho Marx aufgestellten Maxime, dass er kein Mitglied in einem Club sein möchte, der ihn aufnehmen würde.

Berlin Loses Coveted “Capital Of Debt” Title

But only for this season, I’m convinced of it. Debters never quit and quitters never… something. The German cities with the highest per capita debt all seem to be “out west” right now. The Angeber (showoffs).

Debt

But there is more to Berlin debt (61 billion) than first meets the eye. The city has cut spending, as anyone who lives here sees on a daily basis, but the money being saved isn’t really from tax revenue generated here in Berlin. Berlin is being kept alive by money coming in from the so-called Länderfinanzausgleich (inter-state fiscal adjustment) system. The rich German states (Bavaria, for instance) get milked for those less inclined to, uh, be rich (Berlin, for instance).

You know, solidarity. Or Umverteilung (redistribution) of other people’s money, if you prefer.

Es bleibt dann leider noch ein Schuldenberg von 61 Milliarden Euro übrig. Das kostet jährlich rund 1,9 Milliarden Euro Zinsen, trotz des immer noch extrem niedrigen Zinsniveaus.

Citizens Of Düsseldorf Least Miserable Germans This Year

At least according to this year’s Glücksatlas (Happiness Atlas) they are. Oh boy and good for them or something.

But why they don’t just come out and call the damned thing the Misery Atlas, I’ll never know.

Am zufriedensten sind die Deutschen in den Regionen Hamburg (7,23 Punkte), Niedersachsen/Nordsee (7,16), Süd-Bayern (7,11) und Franken (7,10). Auf den letzten Plätzen rangieren Brandenburg (6,63), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (6,58) und Sachsen-Anhalt (6,56). 

Stress and the City

A shocking new study has come to the completely unexpected conclusion that German city dwellers are more “stressed-out” than their country bumpkin counterparts.

Researchers at the Zentralinstitut für seelische Gesundheit (too stressful to translate) found that a certain ganglion of the limbic system adjoining the temporal lobe of the German city brain involved in emotions of fear and aggression (the amygdala) was more fearful and aggressive than your every day German hick’s amygdala is, itself already much more fearful and aggressive than other human amygalas anywhere else in the world you can possibly think of.

“Who would have thought that?” one researcher asked another researcher, brutally shoving him aside in impatient disdain to confront the next one. “I grew up in Berlin and we’re not at all aggressive. That’s a myth. Or it’s just a show. Or do you think you’re big enough to tell me you think that we are?”

Städter erkranken häufiger an Depressionen, Angststörungen, Schizophrenie.