Five tons of the stuff. That’d be good for a couple years… More importantly, this (presumably) isn’t the American version of Nutella, with sugar as the primary ingredient; this is the real thing, with cocoa as ingredient #1.
April 12, 2013
October 20, 2010
Germans are neurotic when it comes to national pride. Having your parents or grandparents (or neighbors…or self) be part of International Public Enemy #1 of All-Time will do that to you, I guess. German politics has famously been about the Nazi era and how subsequent German generations should react. The first generation, the post-war group led by Konrad Adenauer, argued for…well, they didn’t really do much arguing at all. The Nazi remnants were swept aside, hidden in locked desk drawers, and generally off-limits for discussion.
After this, part of the ’68 crowd’s argument was that Germany needed to clear the air, find the hidden Nazis, and eliminate the scourge through sackcloth, ash, and socialism. Ignore the whole “Nazis were socialists themselves, and their neighbors (after partitioning Poland for the 3rd or 4th time in a few centuries) were monstrous, barbaric Communists” argument; I think it’s correct and meaningful, but on this issue, I think the ’68 crowd was right. By that point in time, it was time to rip open the scabs that the Wirtschaftswunder and Adenauer’s center-right coalition had helped form. I think it was necessary for a full generation to pass—the ’68 crowd had been born during or after the Nazi era and war, so they were “pure” in that sense—but you don’t get past what the Nazis did by just pretending it never happened.
Unfortunately, the other half of the debate was missing. The ’68 crowd did a remarkable job as prosecutor, but the defense was not around. By this, I mean that there were very few people who defended not Nazi Germany—an indefensible proposition—and not even the Prussian authoritarian Germany or the modern German nation, but Germany as such. I mean the Germany of Humboldt, Goethe and Schiller; of Bach and Brahms; of Kant, Husserl, and Fichte; of Gutenberg and Roentgen; heck, even of Hegel and Marx (detestable as I may find their conclusions). Germans had a lot about which they should have been proud, but there was an institutional Verbot against it. If you flew a German flag, you were a right-wing radical; that’s just how it was. So as a result, we ended up seeing a second generation of neurotic Germans. The first was the ’68 crowd, who had to deal with the fact that many of their own parents had been supportive of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. But unfortunately, their children inherited a new neurosis. Yes, this new generation’s parents weren’t complicit in any manner, but they grew up with this idea that there was something unclean about Germany.
It is a natural thing for people to love that which is theirs. A Briton will love his country because it is his; an American will do the same for his own country. This is in our hearts. Perhaps it is a vestige of tribal society in which these connections were necessary for survival, but they persist in our world of spontaneous order. Generally, this love may have some negative ramifications, but often these express themselves in sports or “my country is better than your country” types of conversations. But for Germans, they didn’t have this. Yes, they could rally around the Beckenbauer World Cup club, but otherwise, this natural love for one’s own country was beaten down by guilt for the recent atrocities committed by their elder countrymen. They want to fit in somewhere, be something, but they can’t be Germans—Germans are evil. Many of these people went whole-hog into the “I’m a European” thing. European universalism was around long before the 1970s and 1980s, but Germans embraced it whole-heartedly as something they could actually be proud of. It was their ersatz country. For others, the move was more local, as you saw a great deal of pride in Baden or Bayern (and, to a lesser extent, some of the other formerly-independent states).
Fast forward another generation. I am happy to have lived in Germany through 2005 and 2006, as I was able to experience a major yet subtle change. The World Cup in 2006 could not have come at a better time for Germany. Again, Germans had the opportunity to rally around the national team, but this time around, people were three generations removed from the Nazi era. Germans still have bitter remembrances of the event (and not a little prodding from foreigners), but this generation began to take pride in Germany as Germany, not as a European client-state, not as a superset of Bayern/Baden and a bunch of goofballs, but as Germany itself. I saw German flags hanging outside of houses and on flagpoles. Displaying your national flag is nothing new for an American, but back in 2005, I might have seen (maybe) a few German flags that weren’t attached in some way to government buildings; I saw more flags for Baden (and Baden-Württemberg) than I did for Germany! During the World Cup, though, German flags started to go up, and, unlike previous years, they didn’t come back down after the matches were over. A Jewish friend of the ’70s and ’80s generation described it to me, saying that Germans had taken the flag (and, by analogy, the ability to love their country) back from the right-radicals.
The reason I share all of this context and back-story is that I believe it is necessary to understand my disagreement with Angus’s comments regarding Angela Merkel’s recent “Multikulti has failed” statements. Angus is very concerned with this and sees it as a hearkening back to the Nazi era but does not see it as a hearkening back to the Nazi era (see the comments section). Personally, I see it, like in the above example, as trying to reach an equilibrium. Germans swung too far in one direction and ended up in an unstable situation. They imported a great deal of cheap labor (primarily from Turkey) that they couldn’t assimilate, not least because the people who would further assimilation (teachers, neighbors, employers, customers, people in civic organizations, etc.) could not bring themselves to agree with the idea that it was worth assimilating to German culture. They saw the German nation as, if not permanently evil, then at least potentially evil and with an evil past—that, like an alcoholic, the German people are perpetually one eloquent speaker with a funny mustache away from invading France and Poland and committing mass murder again.
Leaving aside arguments that a Hitler was going to spring up somewhere in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, and Russia were all ripe for it during the 1920s and 1930s, and as far as anti-Semitic nations go, France would have been the sound money bet circa 1930), this neurosis was a cause of the “Multikulti” world Merkel described. This is also the world of large numbers of second- and third-generation Turks who aren’t German citizens and never assimilated to German culture. That type of cultural split is hard to maintain without strife, and Germany has had its fair share of internal problems as a result from this. So instead of being some kind of radical move to re-establish a Nazi Germany, I see it as a continuation of what this new generation of Germans wants: the ability to love their own country in the same way that denizens of other nations can, and to push permanent residents in that nation at least to appreciate the culture and learn the language, if not become cultural Germans themselves.
As one of the commenters points out, you can find the same sentiments in the US (even down to the, uh, less savory aspects). But it’s not just the US: find me a country on the map and I’ll show you cultural pride and at least implicit demand that people join the group. You may have to scratch the surface to get to it, but even in the most Multikulti regions of Europe, you’ll find it.
February 18, 2010
Traveling around Germany, you can definitely see a difference between cities in former West Germany versus former East Germany—even in Berlin, you usually have a good idea which part you are in at any moment. The east German infrastructure is worse off (and uglier), and the areas simply do not look as well-maintained. Nicola Fuchs-Schlündeln, Dirk Krueger, and Mathias Sommner endeavor to discovery exactly how the two regions have developed since reunification (including intra-region dynamics based on transfers from western German workers to eastern German) in Inequality Trends for Germany in the Last Two Decades: a Tale of Two Countries.
In this paper we first document inequality trends in wages, hours worked, earnings, consumption, and wealth for Germany from the last twenty years. We generally find that inequality was relatively stable in West Germany until the German unification (which happened politically in 1990 and in our data in 1991), and then trended upwards for wages and market incomes, especially after about 1998. Disposable income and consumption, on the other hand, display only a modest increase in inequality over the same period. These trends occured against the backdrop of lower trend growth of earnings, incomes and consumption in the 1990s relative to the 1980s. In the second part of the paper we further analyze the differences between East and West Germans in terms of the evolution of levels and inequality of wages, income, and consumption.
The authors note in their introduction that “roughly speaking, inequality remained constant in West Germany until German unification in 1990 (and might even have slightly declined), and then trended upwards.” The reason for this, they indicate, must “be interpreted against the backdrop of significantly lower trend growth of earnings and incomes in the 1990s relative to the 1980s” (2).
Average wages in Germany “show a healthy growth of 2.3% per year from 1983 to 1990, a drop in 1991 (because East German wages were initially substantially lower than West German wages), and slower wage growth after 1991″ (10). They substantiate this argument with micro-level household data, although on that level, there is not quite as much of a jump as the macro-level data.
Another of their findings is three-fold: wage dispersion and inequality did not increase during the 1980s, “wage inequality rises noticably between 1990 and 1991 when the East German sample enters the GSOEP [data set - KF],” and “wage inequality rises in the 1990s, especially after 1991″ (17). They then try to determine what the underlying causes of this increase in inequality could be. They show that it does not really seem to be hours worked—there was a minor change here, and not something that could have caused the change in inequality that they find. They also note that “the majority of earnings inequality is attributable to residual earnings inequality that cannot be explained by differences in observable household characteristics” (24). Education level does explain some of the difference, but even it is not that strong a predictor for these changes.
They also point out that the German redistribution policies have kept German inequality down—without such an expansive measure of taxes and handouts, the Gini coefficient would have been approximately 0.36 in 2004, whereas it was 0.26 in reality, after all government taxes and programs were accounted for (28).
It looks like, according to the authors, the main difference is that certain parts of former East Germany converged more quickly to West German standards, and this difference caused a statistical difference in wealth (49). Their study is not entirely complete—there is a lot more information that we could learn from Germany, but I think that they describe re-unification correctly: as a large, exogenous shock.
May 19, 2009
I am sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight to Germany. I’ve done this a few times already, so I’ve become an expert at the process. This time around, I’m only gone for three weeks (my shortest trip yet!), but it’s long enough for me at this point. I will queue a few posts before we board (I have to do something in the airport, afer all…), so hopefully my presence here will not be missed too much…
May 16, 2009
Over at ThinkMarkets, Sandy Ikeda has a post talking about Vauban, linking to a New York Times article on the Freiburg district. To be honest, even though I lived there (in the Studentendorf that you can see on this map), I had not realized that parking was so limited, mainly because I did not have a car and moved out right about the time when things were getting finished (though I still have one friend who lives in student housing there, so I get some of the gossip still…). The district is very small and I should say that, if I remember correctly, Vauban acts kind of like a gated community, with its own level of governance and absurd regulations.
November 27, 2008
I figured that I would watch Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler tonight. I saw that Netflix shipped it as two DVDs, but when each read 2 hours and 20 minutes, I figured that it would be 2 hours and 20 minutes total, not 2 hours and 20 minutes _apiece_. And truth be told, the first DVD was actually nigh upon 3 hours, so with any luck, I be able to watch the rest of it tomorrow.
On the bright side, Gertrude Welcker is absolutely beautiful in the movie. She appears to have played generally upper-class, relatively minor roles in the early years of German film and disappeared into the mist in 1925, to the point where even Wikipedia knows nothing about her. And Fritz Lang is the director, so you naturally get noir elements (though he had not yet built up his style to that point, and I shall have to wait for M to see the high point of his career). I do find it funny that, speaking with Count Told, Mabuse says that expressionism is nothing more than “playing games,” given that Lang made his early career as an expressionist director…
September 27, 2008
I’ve been holding on to some of these for a few days, but most should be reasonably topical still.
Greg Gutfeld discovers Sarah Palin’s hidden past. He probably made up less in that article than an average Andrew Sullivan article.
Jim Manzi has an interesting set of data on whether income inequality and Democratic party voting go hand-in-hand. He notes that there is a negative correlation between voting for Republicans at the national level and a state’s Gini coefficient. It’s hard to determine causality, though, as you have to figure that the Democrats draw their best from the “edge” rungs of society: the very high and the very low. Break down most socio-economic measures into quintiles (or further) and generally you will see Democratic voters at the top and bottom and Republican voters in the middle on things like education (number of years and final level achieved), income, wealth, etc.
Speaking of education, there is a recent article regarding the social value of education. The standard trope is that education has positive externalities, and thus deserves public subsidization. Steven Yamarik, however, disputes this notion. I’d like to take a closer look at the model and results, so I might look into that when I get a chance. Take a gander at Richard Serlin’s argument at the bottom for a critique. My problem with his critique, though, is that he implies that what he considers external gains are not, in fact, internalized. He’s absolutely right when he says that a better-educated populace is a more productive, innovative, and entreprenurial populace, and that I, by living in such a world, share from the benefits. But at the same time, I am paying these people more in order to obtain services and goods from them. Doctors receive more income than witch doctors, for example. College-educated individuals receive, on average, more than high-school dropouts. This gives individuals a market-based incentive to obtain an education, and by creating incentives to grow intellectually, this internalizes the externality, at least for the most part.
Actually, I would argue that the difference between my thought and Serlin’s is that Serlin assumes constant returns to scale, whereas I’m with James Buchanan in leaning toward the thought that the world really does have increasing returns to scale. This goes against one of the basic assumptions of neo-classical economics, but over time, I’ve grown toward that argument. In this case, Serlin’s point would make perfect sense while still allowing an individual to oppose his follow-up argument (that government spending is necessary or desirable as a result of this externality). You still get the market-driven incentives you would have with constant returns but you don’t have to try to explain away the fact that we, as individuals, are (ceteris paribus) better off living in an educated society or a market economy.
Obama recently had a rather disturbing ad regarding McCain and illegal immigration. After the “McCain doesn’t know how to send an e-mail!” ad (which was wrong as well; it’s not that McCain doesn’t know how, but rather that he has physical difficulties in doing so), the Obama camp shows that they’re quite able to hit below the belt.
Speaking of the Obama camp hitting below the belt, the Jawa Report has evidence indicating that a Democratic PR firm was trying to astroturf by putting out a supposedly community-created attack on Sarah Palin. Right now, one of the important questions regards the female voice actress used and what kind of relationship she (or her company) may have with David Axelrod. The front page and another post have a lot more regarding this smear and they’ve been looking for people in the mainstream media to investigate further. Good luck with that…
Obama really knows his Chicago politics. You would think that a Presidential candidate who worked closely with an unrepentant terrorist would at least have a few reporters trying to get the story here…
Who’s to say that, after talking to everybody on television in 1929 as President (h/t to historical genius Joe Biden for informing us all of that one), Franklin Roosevelt didn’t buy up a lot of homes and make taxpayers a profit?
There are several reasons why I’d really like Obama to lose. The top reason is that I strongly dislike his policies. The second is that divided government is often times better than one party running things. The third reason, though, is Obama’s unbridled arrogance. I’d really like somebody figuratively to bloody his nose. Losing a gimmie election should be enough for him to understand the aphorism that you don’t count your chickens until they hatch.
Mac Owens has an article on some of the worst generalship since George McClellan.
Brian Domitrovic, over at First Principles, has a nice article on why we should be thankful to William F. Buckley for giving good economists a chance during the dark days of Keynesianism. I remember skimming through old issues National Review back in the ’60s one lazy afternoon and really enjoyed a three-issue back-and-forth between Milton Friedman and Henry Hazlitt on a negative income tax. Even before the Wall Street Journal, NR was pushing low inflation and low taxes.
Russia appears to be pushing the envelope. This would be a good opportunity to foster closer ties with Colombia and reasonably friendly Latin American countries. It’s a shame that so many in Congress are opposed to CAFTA and reducing harmful tariffs, as those would be beneficial for relations in the region. Oh, and naturally, expanding American influence further in central Asia and eastern Europe. The Russians may be significantly more ruthless and have a freer hand with military action, but the US has more degrees of freedom (pun not intended), even without doing things like expanding NATO.
Terrorism isn’t dead. Isn’t it funny how Germany has so many terrorists? Why, they weren’t even in Iraq!
The title is bad, but the article is fitting: Washington Mutual, the latest bank to go under, apparently spent more effort hiring for quotas than hiring for quality. As a not-quite-aside, the accounting book I’m reading now has a section on “social responsibility,”* and presumably the author would have applauded Washington Mutual’s decisions. Milton Friedman, of course, knew better when he said that the first and only function of a business is to make money. If, after you receive your earnings from the company’s profits, you decide to perform actions which are “socially responsible,” that is your own choice. But once companies have to deal with “social reponsibility,” they run into Tinbergen’s Law. In this case, the two goals are the same as in my link. Don’t be shocked…
* – I should note here FA Hayek’s statement about how appending “social” to a noun generally results in a meaning precisely the opposite of the unadorned noun’s.
September 21, 2008
Der Spiegel has a test with sample German citizenship questions. I ended up with a score of about 28 or 29, though the funny thing is that you can cheat to your heart’s content. I suppose that this means that the way to be smart enough to become a German citizen is to cheat on the test…
March 24, 2008
Aus des Meeres tiefem, tiefem Grunde
Klingen Abendglocken dumpf und matt,
Uns zu geben wunderbare Kunde
Von der schönen alten Wunderstadt.
In der Fluten Schoss hinabgesunken,
Blieben unten ihre Trümmer stehn.
Ihre Zinnen lassen goldne Funken
Wiederscheinend auf dem Spiegel sehn.
Und der Schiffer, der den Zauberschimmer
Einmal sah im hellen Abendrot,
Nach derselben Stelle schifft er immer,
Ob auch ringsumher die Klippe droht.
Aus des Herzens tiefem, tiefem Grunde
Klingt es mir wie Glocken dumpf und matt;
Ach, sie geben wunderbare Kunde
Von der Liebe, die geliebt es hat.
Eine schöne Welt ist da versunken,
Ihre Trümmer blieben unten stehn,
Lassen sich als goldne Himmelsfunken
Oft im Spiegel meiner Träume sehn.
Und dann möcht ich tauchen in die Tiefen,
Mich versenken in den Widerschein,
Und mir ist, als ob mich Engel riefen
In die alte Wunderstadt hinein.
Vineta – Wilhelm Müller (488)
February 2, 2008
I am reading Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism and came across an interesting statistic. Benito Mussolini, at one point, argued that up to 7% of Bavarians were dim-witted. To the average Bavarian, this would be an insult; to the average non-Bavarian German, this would be a major underestimate…