Thomas Geoghegan’s latest book takes us on a meandering journey through Europe, and then through Germany, at all seasons, in all kinds of weather, and in sickness and in health.
He shows us that, since Germany did not drive its industrial base off to foreign lands as we did, they continue to prosper, ever thrive. And their strong, moderately unionized, middle class thrives as well. Which is the basis for their social democracy.
German workers – sometimes even the janitor – can sit on the Boards of their companies! There are also worker councils – in several ways, Germany is a bottom up culture.
His question is a real one. And not just based on the fact that German ordinary citizens have a chance to lead nice middle class lives, with less anxiety than ours. but also because all this had led the Germans to be more globally competitive than we are.
With the European / German models, Geoghegan points out that senior citizens do not have to worry about becoming bag ladies / men, that they have good health care, that there are way fewer holes in the safety net – which is made of much stronger fabric.
In one chapter, he talks about schools. Not enough Germans go to college, and schools are broke because of the taxes needed to integrate East Germany into their economy. (Though this may have changed some since 2010 is the publication date, and the material mostly is from earlier than that.) Both we and Germany are high school nations.
He thinks the difference is corporate governance and the correct system of labor laws. My way to say this would probably be to point out that it is harder for the upper class to shaft those of us beneath them.
At any rate – if you really want to do some new thinking, here’s just the book to get you there. His other books will as well – and there is evidently one coming out around the first of the year. Can’t wait!