Saturday, March 1, 2008

Teuton Kaput

Public sector strikes are threatening to ground Germany to a halt. They could be the biggest strikes since WWII and union leaders are demanding a king’s ransom. Unfortunately Germany does not have a king. I hope they knock on the door of the Prince of Hanover with the collection plate, though any contribution that requires cutting into his drinking money will likely draw naught.

I feel for the German people with long commutes and no public transportation and those with life threatening impairments requiring immediate surgery. I hope all are enjoying the unseasonable high temperatures with leisurely pursuits involving lederhosen, beer, sausages and lots of singing instead of the daily grind, or impending death.

Germany and Norway share a long and glorious history, if you overlook the occupation of Norway during the Second World War, and the introduction of the plague, which is rightfully attributed to the English. The evidence of the Hansiatic League is still a vibrant part of Norway today, though many Norwegians have traded in their sea faring duties for government jobs.

I tried to contact my German cousin von Bibermund to get an eye witness report from the ground. I could not get through. It is possible the telegraph operators have also joined the strike. I will try the post but fear they may strike as their chief has recently been outed as a tax evader. This is a terribly un-socially democratic Schadenfreude and it has shocked the nation.

To add insult to injury, I wake to the disturbing news that Nazi slave labour built my German car, or at least a predecessor. It would appear I am driving a latent model of Hitler’s staff car. I wish the best of luck to the crack American legal team seeking retribution on behalf of the surviving victims though I recommend they start with the German government and allow the targeted companies to contribute voluntarily.

My cousin von Bibermund would surely agree. We cannot blame him or his generation of captains of industry for the crimes committed by his grandfather’s generation under a demanding totalitarian regime during times of war. Anyway, his graduating class have their hands full with allegations of expense account sex (big car company), systematic bribery (big electronics company), and sub-prime abuse (big state banks).

I desperately seek news of the strife in Germany and resort to Google. I am caught by the headline ‘German Strikes Spreading Fast’ from the New York Times. I click to find the country is facing total disaster and am concerned for my Teutonic cousins!

My eyes wander to the date in the upper corner of the article. It is November 26th…. 1918!

A 19th century German pundit was once asked where he would like to be when the world ended. His reply caught everyone by surprise when he responded England. When asked why, he casually replied that he wanted to be in England when the world ended because everything happened there 10 years later.

I doubt that is still the case, if it ever was.



Zhu said...

I know there couldn't be a strike -- this is the French specialty, and they definitely don't want to be like Germans!

ian in hamburg said...

Reports of a German collapse have been greatly exaggerated. A public sector strike? If it comes to that it won't last long. This isn't France, after all.

Still, the mood is mixed, as usual. Though unemployment is down to 8% the economy has probably peaked and is headed for a slowdown, the tax authorities are on a witchhunt, and Angela is starting to look a little tired.

Anonymous said...

India was like this once (strikes at the drop of a hat); it still is in some states ruled by the Communists. As for you car, I think it's time to make peace and not make the current generation pay for their great-grandfathers' sins. If we had such a long memory, the Americans would have to pay too, as would...who knows who else. :-)

Re: the German pundit, heh! That's funny...

Anonymous said...

maybe that missing roof is hiding in germany.....

ExpatKat said...

And German always seems like such a well oiled machine. Sorry to hear that there are issues.

Michele said...

The occasional strike, although inconvenient, is essential for any society. It humbles business and government while reminding the people that our labor unites and, ultimately, strengthens us. Just ask those Americans who suffered horribly through the Great Writers' Strike of '08. Nothing unites like a common loathing of reruns and bad reality television.

Hils til von Bibermund; his people carry a great burden. Luckily they have very good beer.

beaverboosh said...

zhu - check again!

ian - Hope this is the case. 8% wage demands are a big ask!

shantanu - Totally agree. Make peace not litigation! The US team is the same that pursued the Swiss banks and it is being tried in a US court. I do not believe the companies should have to admit culpability... they are willing to pay! re: the german pundit - true quote though not verbatim

nm - the roof and various other things but not the assets, they are in Lichtenstein!

expatkat - welcome! And I am sure it is a well oiled union machine!

michele - welcome and welcome to Norway! Sandefjord is beautiful! You will clearly get along here! Everyone threatens to strike in Norway in May!

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a wealthy german woman (in australia) whose primary residence was in lichtenstein.

she had so much money she was able to pay cash for her sydney mansion - $7.5 million!

beaverboosh said...

Yeah, a tax haven for those who can afford to cheat properly!

Theresa said...

We have some striking going on this week too. After all, what would the week before the elections be without a few strikes?

beaverboosh said...

At least there is a premise for a reason! In Norway people strike in May come rain or shine! Though it is conveniently predictable, it's a bad time to plan, say a wedding!

beaverboosh said...

p.s. nice picture Theresa! I showed the last one to my wife proclaiming a similarity to Hepburn, and then felt silly!