Anyone with experience of the German system?

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
I've just been recommended the book, The Rotten State of Britain: Who Is Causing the Crisis and How to Solve It, and whilst browsing through the reviews on Amazon came across this write up:

On one level, this book wouldn't look out of place as an extended Daily Mail or Telegraph leader, albeit significantly better written than most. On another level, given the credentials of the author and his closeness to the affairs of government, it has to be taken as more than a reactionary rant or the sounding off of a golf club bore. Dr Butler has clearly thought this through and worked out his argument in fine detail, even allowing for his occasional divergences into personal diatribe.

What he expresses is what many of us sense, without access to the sources that he has to verify our instincts. It's a pretty damning condemnation of what has been a wretched and deeply wasteful regime. Not before time and not without very good reason.

I recently emigrated with my family from the UK to Germany. Aside from the personal reasons behind the move, at least a part of the final decision was made for us by the self-evidently parlous state of education, health and welfare provision in the UK. In short, it was obvious to us that (unless we were willing to take a chance on the local state schools - we weren't) a decent education for our son was going to cost us the thick end of 100K - money we neither had nor wished to invest in that way - that public health provision was a demonstrable shambles, and that any attempt we made to provide for a comfortable retirement was very less than certain to be successful. This much was blindingly obvious from personal experience, even without Dr Butler's informed analysis.

So we left, taking ten of thousands of pounds worth of UK tertiary education with us, for a country that has already achieved much of what Dr Butler puts on his wish list at the end of this intriguing book. Germany is run as a confederation of states, with strong local government and clear lines of accountability. It shows. Things work. On the face of it, taxation looks like it will cost us a similar amount to what we were used to paying in the UK, but I don't mind because it gives us excellent services. In the end, neither my wife nor I had the 50 years or so to wait for the UK to look across the Channel and apply some of the lessons offered by their European neighbours.

It isn't rocket science, nor, as Dr Butler points out, is change likely to happen any time soon, as long as the UK maintains a political system based entirely on interest groups and party politicking, miles removed from any sort of real public accountability - like losing your job if you mess up - and in service apparently exclusively to itself.

Dr Butler's book makes for a depressing if enlightening read. I found myself thinking 'it can't be this bad', but then looking to my own experiences and seeing the truth in what he said. In the end, if he is only half right, it's reason enough to march in the streets and get not a tweak to the current system, but root and branch reform. A timely message, but will it be heeded? Can it be?
The reviewer makes interesting comparisons to Germany's federated system with the argument that some form of devolution to local/regional government increases accountability and efficiency. My question to those who have experience of living in Germany (as a civilian resident and not just based there), is it really that much better? How do their schools and hospitals compare to ours?

Not thinking of emigrating or anything like that, just interested to know if we should be looking elsewhere for ideas. Cheers in advance!
 
#2
Although from my point of view things are better here, the Germans nevertheless moan/complain about the state of affairs. The health system here is very burocratic, but miles ahead of the NHS, eg I can get a specialist appointment within a few weeks if not days, I understand that in England a waiting period of months is usual. A Federal system has its advantages, but invariably leads to complications as Federal and State authorities argue as to who does what. As an example the flooding of the lower Rhine is caused by events in the upper Rhine. Nordrhein-Westfalen has the problem but cannot solve it, Badenwurtemburg has the solution but no problem and even less interest. The Federal Government says, not our problem, you (the States concerned) solve it. On the plus side the Federal Government knows it cannot do everything it wants because the Upper Chamber is manned by the heads of the 15 States, who obviously want to take care of their interests, which might not coincide with those of the Federal Government.

On a lighter side the beer is quite good and cheap, so is the wine. Being more or less in the middle, travel around Europe is quick and easy.
 
#3
It's true that Germany has a lot of laws, but the vast majority of them are very clear-cut and allow little room for individual interpretation. In addition, the Federal States have their own laws; for instance, in some Federal States, referendums are part of the Constitution. The problem arises when the Boxheeds insist, and I mean insist on their rights. They'll blithely pull out into a main drag if they have right of way, without considering the person approaching who may not be aware of the fact. Boxheed cemeteries are littered with folks who insisted on their being in the right. They probably were, but there comes a time when you have to listen to prudent reason.

Also, politicians at both federal and national level are held accountable and expected to take the consequences of their behaviour, which is something that's gone entirely out of fashion in the UK. And because it's a federal system, the politicians making the most difference to folks' lives are also those closest to them. So resistance to any policies by a Federal State gobment does bear fruit most of the time.

On the whole, however, it functions remarkably well. There are some niggly bits, like being fined for walking across a pedestrian crossing on red, even if there's no traffic. But you have to take the rough with the smooth, I suppose.

MsG
 
#4
The thing you have to remember is that Germany is a new country, less than 150 years old. The forming states and Lande retain much of the independence that they always had..

Going from a distributed authority model to a centralised model is not particularly risky in the short term, and can bring immediate benefits through economies of scale. The risk in the long term is that the system becomes less responsive and flexible and is easy to dominate and leads to totalitariansim.

Going from a centralised model to a distributed one is THE MOST dangerous... As power and authority is delegated, opportunities arise for incompetents to gain control (as there is no source of existing expertise). Once in the system, it is very difficult to get rid of this incompetancy quickly, as it will seek to consolidate its position. Competancy will only be regained through hard work and conflict of one sort or another...

As an example... My only real complaint about Margaret Thatcher was her dealing with the local government in Scotland. As part of her attempt to curb "looney leftie" councils, she centralised many powers in Whitehall. As a result she took powers and authority away from Scotland which had never been part of the Act of Union. This caused an uproar and a deep feeling of anger from the ruling elite in Scotland and contributed not a little to the collapse of the conservative party vote north of the border... ( and the presence of so many Scottish lawyers in the current government..)

Labour, when it got back in, reversed the process to some extent by granting devolution. This however, instead of returning power from whence it came (the professional institutions), handed it to a bunch of "jumped up toon cooncilors" in the guise of the Scottish Parliament who immediately went on the mother and father of a power binge, which, on appearances seems to have no chance of reforming itself soon..

At the end of the day, it is this phenominon which makes me terrified of the EU and all its works... The danger will come, not from the current EU, but in the inevitable breakdown phase when power will be grabbed back by all sorts of neredowells in the process. The more power we grant now, the more dangerous the situation in the future (and the greater the oppertunity for local politicians to grab power, which is why they are doing it...!)

Paranoid... Moi?
 
#5
Personally, I think it is pretty even between UK & Germany.

On some of the points mentioned:
- If you work in Germany you will end up paying +50% of your income as tax (income tax, solidarity tax, health insurance, pension, unemployment insurance etc). For this you do get better services than the UK, but also a lot more beaurocracy and waste.

- Also, the education system is very big on acedemic streaming, with three different types of secondary school depening on exam results. This has pro's and cons - on the one side everyone knows their place with poorly performing children typically doing apprentices in trades such as decorating, building, plumber etc, but on the other side it does little to build entrepreneurship and confidence unless you are the top 20%.

- There is much bigger unemployment in germany (compared to UK), along with all the benefit costs that come with this.

However, as most people here know it can be a sh*tload of fun to live in germany!!
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#6
I did a project for the Bundesbank.
I was surprised to learn they have 10,000 "core" staff (plus shedloads on short term contracts and consultancy contracts), as opposed to the Bank of Englands 1500 staff.
What made it more bizarre was the fact that main functions where now being handled by the European Central Bank who also managed with 1500 staff.

And people moan about the UK civil service being bloated.....
 
#7
Alsacien said:
I did a project for the Bundesbank.
I was surprised to learn they have 10,000 "core" staff (plus shedloads on short term contracts and consultancy contracts), as opposed to the Bank of Englands 1500 staff.
What made it more bizarre was the fact that main functions where now being handled by the European Central Bank who also managed with 1500 staff.

And people moan about the UK civil service being bloated.....
Except that the ECR and the Bank of England are centralised and the Bundesbank has a branch in each of the 16 Federal States.

MsG
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#8
Bugsy said:
Alsacien said:
I did a project for the Bundesbank.
I was surprised to learn they have 10,000 "core" staff (plus shedloads on short term contracts and consultancy contracts), as opposed to the Bank of Englands 1500 staff.
What made it more bizarre was the fact that main functions where now being handled by the European Central Bank who also managed with 1500 staff.

And people moan about the UK civil service being bloated.....
Except that the ECR and the Bank of England are centralised and the Bundesbank has a branch in each of the 16 Federal States.

MsG
I did'nt know that :roll:

But if you think that is efficient, who am I to argue.....I expect you are an expert on Central Banking too :?
 
#9
The branches of the Bundesbank in the Federal States are still necessary to act as clearing banks for the Bundesbank. The process as such is faster, with basic interest rates offset against the Bundesbank at regular intervals. It seems to work for the Boxheeds and ensures consistency in currency transactions.

MsG
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#10
Bugsy said:
The branches of the Bundesbank in the Federal States are still necessary to act as clearing banks for the Bundesbank. The process as such is faster, with basic interest rates offset against the Bundesbank at regular intervals. It seems to work for the Boxheeds and ensures consistency in currency transactions.

MsG
You really are unbelievable :D

...and talking completely out of your arrse as usual :roll:

Google "interbank payment systems", "Target" and "Target2".
 
#11
Alsacien said:
You really are unbelievable :D

...and talking completely out of your arrse as usual :roll:

Google "interbank payment systems", "Target" and "Target2".
And you're even unbelievabler! :)

It's got nothing to do with interbank (international/cross-border) business, but rather domestic (internal) clearing bank transactions. Much the same as the function of the five Brit clearing banks.

MsG

Edited to add. I see where you've misunderstood me now. My apologies for that, it was a genuine mistake. Where I wrote "currency transactions", it should be "commercial transactions".
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#12
Bugsy said:
Alsacien said:
You really are unbelievable :D

...and talking completely out of your arrse as usual :roll:

Google "interbank payment systems", "Target" and "Target2".
And you're even unbelievabler! :)

It's got nothing to do with interbank (international/cross-border) business, but rather domestic (internal) clearing bank transactions. Much the same as the function of the five Brit clearing banks.

MsG
For a start there are 9 regional offices, not 16. Their main role is similar to the FSA eg credit ratings for refinancing operations and local euro supply.

This function will also become null with the new ESRB.

But I'm sure you think you know better......
 
#13
Talking about banks in the Boxheed system: there are a lot more regulations than in the UK. For instance, if you've agreed on a direct debit with a company and they, say, overcharge your account, whether rightly or wrongly, you can instruct your bank to recover the funds. You have six weeks to do this and the bank is bound by law to comply. Another thing is that Boxheed banks are required by law to credit cheques and transfers to your account within 24 hours. Now that's customer service.

MsG
 
#14
I worked in germany for 20 years,before the wll came down,paid my taxes and also into the german state pension scheme, when I left They told me I would get an age pension .10 year later I emigrated to aus,6 weeks after my 63 birthday The german govt sent me forms asking for my bank details, 4 weeks later I received my first backdated age pension payment plus authorisation for freemedical services for my wife and I, no hassle, no needless hin and here writing of letters and phonecalls to newcastle like I had with my british pension,anyone thinking of moving to germany ,go for it 10 million turks cant all be wrong !!
 
#15
The really marvellous (but hidden) advantage in being subjected to Boxheed bureaucracy and Brit bureaucracy is that practically all Boxheed gobment workers are either the equivalent of "Crown servants" (Beamte), or have to abide by the same (very stringent) rules. This means that when some arrogant Boxheed jobsworth (and there are a few) gets up your nose by treating you like a twat, you simply report her/him. Very often, nothing will come of it, but (and this is the main point) it'll be noted in her/his record. Three such reports (even if they all come to nothing) will kibosh any hopes of promotion that yon worthy ever had. It's, sort of, on the "no smoke without fire principle", but it keeps the knobbers in their place, since they don't want to risk their cushy number too much. And, believe me, the Boxheeds take such complaints very, very seriously indeed.

Maybe something on the same lines could be introduced to the UK. Couldn't harm, could it? Three strikes and you're fucked. Licking envelopes (or windows) and clearing snow/grit/rubbish for the rest of your career.

MsG
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#16
Bugsy said:
The really marvellous (but hidden) advantage in being subjected to Boxheed bureaucracy and Brit bureaucracy is that practically all Boxheed gobment workers are either the equivalent of "Crown servants" (Beamte), or have to abide by the same (very stringent) rules. This means that when some arrogant Boxheed jobsworth (and there are a few) gets up your nose by treating you like a twat, you simply report her/him. Very often, nothing will come of it, but (and this is the main point) it'll be noted in her/his record. Three such reports (even if they all come to nothing) will kibosh any hopes of promotion that yon worthy ever had. It's, sort of, on the "no smoke without fire principle", but it keeps the knobbers in their place, since they don't want to risk their cushy number too much. And, believe me, the Boxheeds take such complaints very, very seriously indeed.

Maybe something on the same lines could be introduced to the UK. Couldn't harm, could it? Three strikes and you're fucked. Licking envelopes (or windows) and clearing snow/grit/rubbish for the rest of your career.

MsG
More complete nonsense from someone who has clearly never had to work with a Betriebsrat (staff committee) and clearly has zero knowledge of EU employment law.....
 
#17
Alsacien said:
More complete nonsense from someone who has clearly never had to work with a Betriebsrat (staff committee) and clearly has zero knowledge of EU employment law.....
Listen fella, I've already decided to dip out of a silly pissing contest with you because this thread is supposed to be informative to others about life in Germany. If you reckon I'm talking (writing) "complete nonsense" (i.e. everything I've written is complete, I repeat your "complete" bollix), then present a case proving it, and at the same time, indicating to other ARRSErs what I got wrong so that they don't get the wrong idea. That would be a real help to everybody, wouldn't you agree?

MsG
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#18
Bugsy said:
Alsacien said:
More complete nonsense from someone who has clearly never had to work with a Betriebsrat (staff committee) and clearly has zero knowledge of EU employment law.....
Listen fella, I've already decided to dip out of a silly pissing contest with you because this thread is supposed to be informative to others about life in Germany. If you reckon I'm talking (writing) "complete nonsense" (i.e. everything I've written is complete, I repeat your "complete" bollix), then present a case proving it, and at the same time, indicating to other ARRSErs what I got wrong so that they don't get the wrong idea. That would be a real help to everybody, wouldn't you agree?

MsG
Just stop telling lies and I'll leave you alone.
I don't have the time to link evidence and counter argument to your endless drivel....
 
#19
Alsacien said:
Bugsy said:
Alsacien said:
More complete nonsense from someone who has clearly never had to work with a Betriebsrat (staff committee) and clearly has zero knowledge of EU employment law.....
Listen fella, I've already decided to dip out of a silly pissing contest with you because this thread is supposed to be informative to others about life in Germany. If you reckon I'm talking (writing) "complete nonsense" (i.e. everything I've written is complete, I repeat your "complete" bollix), then present a case proving it, and at the same time, indicating to other ARRSErs what I got wrong so that they don't get the wrong idea. That would be a real help to everybody, wouldn't you agree?

MsG
Just stop telling lies and I'll leave you alone.
I don't have the time to link evidence and counter argument to your endless drivel....
I understand. You don't want to be stressed with such points as I've remarked on, since you're primary reason for responding to my posts was to demonstrate that you want to show/demonstrate your ostensible superiority to me. That's why you haven't responded (or felt the need to respond) to my requests to expand upon your theories/questions.

Nobody's asking you to link evidence and counter-arguments to my endless(?) drivel. Nobody's asking for 215 pages of YOUR drivel to justify your adolescent answers to my, as you put it "endless drivel", but I'm sure a few ARRSErs would appreciate some sort of halfways lucid answers

(This part is only and exclusively for Alsacien. Yes, it's in German, but only because your man's totally convinced that he's der deutschen Sprache derart mächtig, dass alle anderen nur vor Neid erblassen, this it it).

Was ist eigentiich in dich gefahren, Alter? Du vemittelst ansonsten bei deinen anderen Einstellungen in ARRSE einen derart soliden möchte fast sagen einschläferden Eindruck, dass es einem richtig in die Glieder fährt, wenn du so derart ausklinkst und eine richtig böse Welle fährst (gegen mich gerichtet, genaugenommen).

Es ist mir wirklich einerlei, was du daheim, beim Bumsen, beim Schaffen, aufm Golfplatz oder sonstwo Schwierigkeiten hast, wenn du sie nicht da lassen oder irgendwie für dich einrenken kannst, dann bist du hier völlig fehl am Platz. ARRSE ist nicht hier, um deine vermeintlichen persönlichen Probleme halbwegs und vorübergehend zu lösen, um sie in der nächsten Woche unverblümt und ungelöst in alter Weise wieder auftauchen zu sehen.

Ich bin nicht dein Problem, Nüssli! Wenn du der Meinung bist, dass ich derjenige bin, der dir "allfällige Probleme" (in welche Weise auch immer) verursacht, dann sollst du schleunigst professionelle Hilfe aufsuchen. Kann ich dir nur raten, freundlicherweise allerdings.

MsG
 

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