Tuesday, July 31, 2012


While cycling through villages and small towns in the Bavarian Black Forest, I realize again how well Angela Merkel Land is organized and how clean it is. Everything is well maintained, the houses, roads, forests, fields and everything else. The prosperity or should I write the wealth splashes off. You wonder why.

Germans are not only hard workers, but also tough, technically inventive and what is called in German gründlich (thoroughly). The car museum in Schramberg is a testimony of this. Immediately after the Second World War, when the country was nearly completely destroyed, the Germans rebuild American jeeps into mobile sawmills that produced the wood for things like for example the famous cuckoo clocks. While the Allied Forces occupying Germany did not allow anymore Messerschmitt to build their dangerous fighter planes, the company switched to the production of small cars. Volkswagen, DKW (later AUDI) and BMW soon followed. NSU motorcycles and mopeds like Zündapp were in the fifties of the last century even popular in the Netherlands.

It is also the land of the craftsman who succeeds in building up a medium or even large company thanks to his inventiveness and creativity, even on the world market. Almost every village or small town has its own industrial park where not only agricultural equipment is repaired. There are also a lot of medium sized companies producing export market products with the latest technology. I see a plant for laser technology in the small village of Aichhalden and one for lightweight rims in Schiltach. The German countryside and its industry are perfectly integrated. The countryside is no longer a farmers business due to the more well-maintained and extended infrastructure of roads where even the cycle tourist is not forgotten. Everywhere there are cycle roads and signs. Also on this field the Germans strive for perfection.

But there's more. Merkel Land is also a stable democracy with a reliable legislation that can be trusted by international investors. This of course supports economic and industrial development together with stable labour relations. Of course there are sometimes labour conflicts. The great and mighty trade union IGMetall occasionally organizes strikes or mass demonstrations but ultimately it is always ready to start a dialogue with employers or the government with the aim to find a compromise. The German consensus model works just as well or perhaps better than the so-called Dutch polder model.

But sometimes I get the creeps of so much perfection. It does not seem healthy to exclude all surprises from life. Life must also be an adventure or we will die of boredom. 

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