At first glance, Germany appears, economically, to be quite unusually successful. Despite the budgetary and financial crises affecting the other nations of the European Union, the German unem-ployment rate is declining. It has a positive export balance, and its own budgetary deficit is shrinking due to increases in national income and tax revenues. Indeed, the other European nations expect a relatively prosperous Germany to take more financial responsibility for the Union as a whole—a view not supported by a German majority. That majority thinks that the German welfare state, with health insurance and retirement pensions and considerable investment in culture and education as well as material infrastructure, is exclusively a national achievement. Having recently spent billions on domes-tic income transfers (from West to East after reunification in 1990), the German citizenry prefers to keep its money in German pockets. Disdain for Eastern and Southern Europeans serves as a solvent, washing away attention to internal differences in income and life chances that might otherwise move to the center of German politics. A truly yellow national popular press, television commentators as clueless as those we know here, and rigid professors of economics insist on austerity as the one true path to economic salvation. Austerity is prescribed not only for other Europeans, but for those Germans so improvident as not to belong to the upper income groups.


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pp. 9-13
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