August 17, 2005
Political Observation of the Moment
It is interesting to note that in Germany only people critical of capitalism use the term "capitalism", while in the US only people critical of socialism use the term "socialism".
--from Axel Boldt's A subjective comparison of Germany and the United States. Not the America-slamming I thought it might be, pretty well balanced, and with some things I knew, some things that were new to me, and a few things I just hadn't thought of.
Here are the "Factoids about German Life:" I recorded when visiting V in Germany in late 2000...
- Apartment renters often have to furnish their own kitchens
- Stores close at 4 on Saturdays and aren't open on Sundays. Weekdays they close earlyish, 6 or 8. This is federally mandated to protect the homelives of workers.
- For water conservation, toilets in Germany have a dual mode switch- press one side to flush, but if you don't need the full amount of water you can press the other side to stop it early.
- Germans do drive pretty fast & hard on the autobahns, (160+ km/hour in V's little renault, 200+ in a nice BMW wagon) but it's not quite as insane as all that. On the roads where there are limits, there are sometimes automatic cameras take a picture of your car and you get a ticket 6 weeks later.
- Upon leaving, German restaurant patrons say 'bye' ("tschüß", roughly pronounced 'chuss' or more roughly 'cheers') to other patrons. Also the waitstaff brings over a moneybook to conduct cash transactions at the table rather than carrying money or change to and from a remote register.
- Almost all Universities in Germany are public and once you graduate from the German gymnasium you can register at any University.
- Fords are considered German cars here since they are manufactured in Germany.