Germany vs. USA

2006/01/13 at 11:07

Here’s an interesting comparison of Germany and the USA from a guy who grew up in Germany but has lived in the US for a long time. I have only skimmed a couple of sections so far, but it seems right on based on my experience with the two countries. For instance:

The Rich
Success in the US is almost exclusively defined as economic success; those who have such success try everything to show it. It is cool to be rich and people look up to the rich, to the extent that someone whose only credential consists of being a billionaire can almost become president.
By contrast, the rich are not particularly well-liked in Germany. In politics, being extremely rich would certainly be an obstacle. In the back of the German’s mind there’s still the assumption that someone who owns that much must have exploited others to get it.
The obvious fact that the rich in the US have much better access to health care and legal representation than the poor is generally not seen as an injustice. To Germans, this notion is deeply offensive. When I discussed the O.J. Simpson case with Americans, I would usually point out that he got away with murder because he was rich enough to hire the very best lawyers; many people I spoke to didn’t even notice the implied criticism: they replied “Sure, the rich can buy better lawyers. They can also buy better cars. That’s what wealth is.”
Generally speaking, the average living standard in the US is considerably higher than in Germany. More people own their home, houses are bigger, people own more luxury items and have more disposable income. Two caveats are in order: first, the variation in the US is a lot larger, and the poor in the US are poorer than the poor in Germany. Second, Germans may not have as much money, but they certainly have much more free time, if the daily working hours and the yearly vacation time is taken into account.

I’ll be reading the rest of it at my earliest opportunity.