Friday, September 30, 2016

The Numbers Story

For months here in 2016, the government had stuck by the story of 1.1 million refugees, immigrants and migrants entering Germany in 2015.  In the past twenty-four hours.....they dropped that "fact" and went to the current number of 890,000 (more or less).  That's 210,000 less migrants.

How did they screw up?

A lot of Germans seem to have forgotten that for almost a decade.....Germany had been projecting itself at 82 million residents, then one day....a software team arrived and began to look at the database (this would have been around 2007-2010).  The team eventually went up and spoke to the boss.....there's some duplicates in the master listing.

Well.....how many?  By the end, they had cut almost one-million Germans off the master list of residents.

It seems that when folks pack up and move from one city to another....they go and register themselves at the new city, and the old city "deducts" them.  Well....folks weren't being deducted in every single case.  Some towns lost thousands (like Kaiserslautern for example).  Some complained but the reality was that there just weren't 82-million people existing at that point.  Note: this has changed in the past twelve months and they've pumped themselves back up to 82-million.

So with the refugees....did they so easily add 210,000?

My guess is that as a hundred guys showed up at such-and-such center at the Bavarian border....Huns-the-computer-guy entered all hundred into a database and gave them a small sheet of paper, with a name and special number.  Then they gave the hundred a box lunch and a bottle of water....two hours later, a bus came and took them to the "welcome-center" where they'd get a shower, clean clothing, and a bunk for two or three days.

A couple of the hundred asked questions and noted that they had relatives in Hessen or the Pfalz, and wanted to sent onto that region.....but they'd lost that slip of paper.  So the computer guy asked for info and eventually made another entry, with another number, and printed another slip of paper.

Then a couple of the folks get put on a bus and land in the Pfalz....at a more permanent camp.  Something happens at this point, where another dozen guys arrive, who've lost their slips.....and the next computer guy enters them yet a third time.

Day after day in 2015.....folks were added....maybe a second, a third, a fourth, and maybe even a fifth time.

The system was begging to be fixed, and the leadership just couldn't grasp that fact.  The sad thing is that this overage of 210,000 would have lessen the criticism of the Merkel government, and lessen the push by the AfD in 2015 and 2016.  In some ways, they helped to marginalize the Merkel government by their stupidity.

But this brings me to this odd feature of the problem.  So.....all this money funneled into the chaos.....is it for real people, or just made-up numbers?  Are we all paying taxes into a funnel to cover the migrants and immigrants......who don't exist?

Then we come to other odd question.  The 210,000.....do they come equally from each of the sixteen states....or did they all come from primarily two or three states?  Oddly, they really didn't lay out this part of the issue, nor did the reporters ask any additional questions.

The other funny thing to this.....it radically changes the country-make-up of the migrants.  There were less Iraqis....less Syrians....etc.  Yet no one asked questions about that either.

So here we are....the Berlin crowd admitted to yet another screw-up with this whole thing, but at least it lessen the impact of 2015 (twenty-percent less).

The "FUNK" Story

Several years ago here in Germany.....the ZDF/ARD state-run TV empires came to a mutual understanding....a shocker at the time....that young people aren't watching their product.  After a while, they began to grasp that if the trend held out....this growing population of non-viewers would eventually reach the point of suggesting that the TV tax was unfair and that state-run TV was not a necessity in life.  So began a search for a solution.

Yesterday, came the solution...."FUNK".

FUNK is this downloadable or data-streaming network that will exist for a younger audience.

What the ZDF and ARD folks realized is that younger viewers don't watch regular TV.  They prefer to log on and download what they want to watch, at the time that they desire.

They also came to realize that cheap productions don't work.  The younger generation want science fiction and more youth-related TV products, so what FUNK will produce will go into this direction.

Success guaranteed?  No.  To produce quality science fiction TV....means money.  No one said much yesterday but after watching a four-minute review of their product, I can only assume that the TV tax will have to go up a minimum of 2 Euro more a month (17.50 Euro a month now) to meet this new cost dynamic.  Will the kids even come to review this network or download anything?  It's hard to say.

At one point, they wanted people to know that the network will also serve to provide information and news....in a fashion that younger viewers desire. How? Unexplained.

Then I noticed some of the packaged news pieces.  Strong anti-BREXIT products....pro-EU products....environmental issues laid out.  Basically the same themes as the ZDF and ARD players.  Will the news pieces be downloaded?  My humble guess is "no".  They might find 50,000 young viewers....mostly university students who fall into this category, but I suspect that 90-percent of the young audience will just grin and continue the trend toward Netflix and Amazon.

They had to do something in an attempt to reacquire the young viewers but I just don't see this being the success that ZDF and ARD talk about.  In three years, they will assess the numbers and find that it's got two or three shows that get a decent audience, and the bulk of their daily production (probably over 22 hours a day) will be marginally downloaded.

The Bank Job Problem

So, the German Commerz Bank has decided to trim back 9,600 jobs in Germany.  It won't happen all in one single month, or one single year....the analysts hint that it should be finished by 2020.  Some folks may find job offers to come back within the bank, but in a totally different capacity.

The Deutsche Bank?  It's announcement in the past week involved the cut of 7,300 jobs.  This probably won't be spread out to 2020, and a fair number of people will be let go over the next twelve months.  In their case, the jobs will be internationally done.....so the affect on the German market is a question mark.  One might assume that half of these jobs will be from within Germany itself.

If you add it up.....it's probably in the range of 12,000 banking sector jobs in Germany.  Those who are near sixty....probably will go and retire....using some of their savings to cover things until they reach 65 and they get their pension.  The rest?  That's a big question mark.

What does an unemployed bank employee do?

Some of their talents might fit into the insurance business but there's no growth in jobs there.  Some of the jobs might fit into a regular clerk field, but there's no growth there.

You can imagine in a town like Wiesbaden.....being the bank-jobs-technician....you sit and review forty folders.  No job growth in town for these people, and so you need to convince them to retrain.  Some who are in their 20's....might easily accept this.  Some who are in their 40's....won't easily accept this.  Some in their 50's.....will be extremely disturbed by this mess.

Two or three years from now....you might be standing in some small grocery and chatting with the new shift supervisor of the grocery.....then come to realize that he was your mid-level bank boss from town, and this is his new profession.

It's an odd problem....one must admit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Deutschland Sucht Chancellor (Germany Seeks a Chancellor)

There are two German TV shows.....Bauer Sucht Frau (Farmer Seeks a Wife) and Deutschland Sucht Super-Star, which Germans tend to watch and get all hyped up over some reality TV business.

Very shortly, in about 120 to 150 days, we will begin an election cycle and start the way toward the next Chancellor.  Most folks are convinced that Merkel won't run again, and it'll open the door for a wide debate over current policies and where things ought to go.

Frankly, if you line up the cast of characters....no one is really that excited (they'd probably get more excited about the two TV shows and their entertainment value).

The SPD (left-of-center Democrats) talk about Gabriel as their lead guy, but the true player is Martin Schulz....the EU SPD guy.  His thing though is that it's best not to talk about the immigration, integration or refugee business because there's no real changes that he wants to bring to the table.  So, his slant on this.....hopefully looking at Trump winning and make an anti-Trump and anti-US campaign out of thin air.

The CDU?  Two or three close associates of Merkels are on the chart and might make it as the CDU Chancellor candidate.  None would be appreciated that much.  The CDU player out of the Pfalz....Julie Klockner?  She has a 25-percent chance of being the candidate and probably generating more interest than most folks.  But she's also determined to have a change on the immigration and refugee policy.....which may not interest the leadership within the CDU party that much.

The Greens and Linke Party?  Marginal interest across the nation.

Then you come to AfD (the anti-immigration party).  Frauke Petry is the current head and does good in debates.  Nationally?  Probably not that much enthusiasm for her.

There just isn't anyone with charm, charisma, or debate skills that really stands out.  A Schulz versus Klockner versus Petry race?  Yeah, and it'd be curious how the public reacts to a non-Merkel race and some new direction on refugees and integration laid out.

The effort to make this into a anti-US or anti-Trump election?  There's a research project from 2015 which asked Germans about their trust in the news media....with roughly two-thirds of Germans saying that they don't have trust any longer.  Even if the news media carries the anti-US or anti-Trump theme.....the public will stay back with the current anti-immigration or anti-integration issue.  It's hard to see where this election would go and who might carve out a 25-to-30 percent win and who they would partner up in a coalition with.  The AfD is considered toxic and will not be able to partner with anyone.

So, as we approach early spring of 2017.....settle back and prepare for an interesting race.

Monday, September 26, 2016

German Spread on Trump-Clinton Election

Last night, via German state-run ARD, the Anne Will Show came on.  The public forum chat topic?  Trump-Clinton.

There are six observations to make from this show, which featured five entertaining guests.

1.  "Are Americans that stupid?"  This was the question at some point directed by Anne Will (the moderator) toward Thomas Gottschalk (the German entertainer who lives out of California).  In about sixty seconds, Gottschalk laid it out....that Americans are the always the energetic child-people....always pumped up and going onto the next thing.

The suggestion here by the moderator.....which the public would normally perceive is that Americans really aren't capable of making correct decisions.  This theme came over and over in the forum.

2.  The chief active political player invited as a guest?  Martin Schulz (SPD) who typically is a EU member.  It's an amusing invitation because behind the scenes.....Schulz is being seen as the top SPD chancellor candidate instead of Gabriel.  Few Germans know that, and it's not widely discussed.

Throughout the evening Schulz laid out issues and problems with Trump.  I would suggest that the chief political theme for summer and fall of 2017 for the SPD in it's way toward the Oct/Nov election.....instead of security and immigration.....it'll be an anti-US/anti-Trump theme.  Amusing to some but not likely to work as it has in the past.

3.  A fair amount of assumption by the entire panel that Trump will win.  This is the part that surprised me....in that they are fairly assessing the situation and have already determined that Hillary cannot win against Trump.

Back in April and May, Hillary would come up as a topic and talk was always positive on state-run TV on her campaign.  Now?  The assessment must be in and the sense is that she's in a bad situation.

4.  Roger Johnson was the sole American on the panel and did a fair job (in German) explaining the whole thing.  He is a Republican, I should note.  Oddly, they didn't invite someone to hype up Hillary, which made one wonder if they had quietly gone ahead and assumed she was pre-determined loser.

Johnson's one key positive in the episode came toward the end and explaining the public desire for more jobs.  There is a significant assumption that only Trump can deliver on the jobs promise.....which no one seemed to argue much against that logical reason to pick Trump.

5.  Only intellectuals and statesmen should be leaders.  Over the first ten minutes of this show.....this topic was drilled down into, and repeated.  Trump isn't a statesman, or an intellectual.   Trump's profession as mentioned at least a dozen times over the evening.....is reality show host.

Perhaps they could have asked about the intellectualism assessed to President Obama.....or how Chancellor Merkel's intellectualism got them deep into AfD territory with disgruntled voters, but they didn't reach that stage.

There is a need for intellectuals within politics....but to say they are some kind of 'anchor' or the stable side of the game....is a joke.

6.  A clear moment where you realized this forum had become an entertainment forum.  Over and over, it was stressed via the guests of the show and the moderator.....that politics isn't entertainment.  Yet, over and over.....they proved the point of all of this coming full circle and being entertainment for the public.

As I came to the end of this chat forum show.....I came to this odd conclusion.  There are some people (political figures and journalists) who are generally in some trance or zombie-like state, and haven't met real people in a decade.  These people (not just the ones who appeared on this show) aren't connected to the public or understand the general public frustration....whether it be in Germany or the US.  They hang out with like-minded friends, sip wine with other intellectual-types, and read intellectual-minded material.

These were the people who want to tell you what the priorities are.....why things are great....and how you should appreciate things as they are.  The general public frustration is obvious.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Riga 94 Epic Story

If you live around Berlin, and hear the term "Riga-94" mentioned.....most Berliners will have an opinion. It goes from one side of the spectrum to the other.

I've blogged the house on Riga Strasse.....number 94....before.  So I won't go into a long detailed description of the mess.

What you have is an old building on Riga Strasse....on the far east side of town....which squatters took over several decades ago.  Off and on....ownership has been called into question.  Squatters refuse to leave.  What you have are a number of oddball characters which make up some hippy-type commune who have resorted to violence and cops have responded with their form of violence.   Neighbors take an uneasy view of the house and the "guests" that stay there.  For the past five years....with a CDU senator in charge of the police force....it's been tense at times with some riots.

I noted in the Berlin news today that the Green Party and SPD Party (likely part of a new coalition in the state of Berlin) are talking about this new idea of handling Riga-94.  They want the city to buy the property via the city's municipal housing authority.  The house would then be city property and that would "fix" everything.

I sat there for five minutes after reading short article.  It was written up by BR (the state-run Berlin regional network) by someone who just wanted to report the thing and be done with it.  No analysis....no pondering....nothing.

Right now today....the property is owned by someone, who basically can't get the squatters to move on, and can't really modernize or improve the building because the squatters refuse to leave or allow any real significant changes.  So you start to wonder.

Let's say the property changes hands tomorrow.....for 10,000 Euro.  To be honest, it's bad shape and looks like some 3rd world apartment building.  I would question any idiot paying more than 100,000 Euro at the very most. If the city did pay more.....I'd suggest corruption involved and have a complete audit of the people doing the deal.

So, we move on.  The true owner at this point is the Berlin city municipal housing authority.  My guess is that they own at least 200 similar structures around the city and have a basic code on who lives there, what they pay, and the safety/appearance of the facility does matter.  So an inspector will arrive and note the upgrades required.

Will the squatters allow the upgrades?  I doubt it.

Will the squatters agree to some kind of compensation or rent?  I have my doubts.

Will the squatters agree to the city exercising their authority over the building?  I doubt it.

After about a year of trying to take control and exercise normal authority (like the other 200-odd buildings).....some guy in the housing authority management group will have a chat with the mayor.  He'll suggest that there's nothing being paid by the squatters on rent, and that they won't accept the authority's simplistic rules or code of conduct.  The mayor will grin and say....yeah, that's for sure.  After a while, the neighbors will finally have enough and go to a lawyer to sue the city because they won't resolve the condition of the building or kick the squatters out.  The judge will look at the city and the municipal housing authority and ask what the heck is going on.

Basically, "nothing" will be the answer.

The positive is that the Greens and SPD will have wasted three years.....doing mostly nothing, spent at least 10,000 Euro to buy the  building, and focused everyone on some resolution which really didn't fix anything in the end.

It's an odd political mess......actually worthy of a movie, if you ask me.

A Frustration to the Frustration Vote?

Since WW II, there's been this unwritten understanding between the CDU (Christian Democrats or Germany's Republican Party) and the CSU (Christian Social Union, or Germany's Bavarian-style Republican Party).

In fifteen states, the CDU operates and has candidates.  In Bavaria, it's the CSU.

There are some hostile feelings brewing now between the two Conservative parties over Merkel's immigration vision.  The Bavarians aren't happy and have been demanding changes over the past two years.  For every two steps forward that they ask.....they get at best....one step forward.

There's been this hyped up discussion or threat.....that the CSU might go national, or that the CDU might enter Bavarian politics.

Today, it went one step closer as the governor of Hessen (a CDU member) brought up the topic again and said it could actually happen.

There are several observations that one might make.

If you look across the fifteen states where the CDU operates....a fair number of members are sticking to the party but it's obvious that while they can't vote for the AfD, they'd like a frustration vote.  If the CSU (Bavarians) were existing in their state.....like Schleswig-Holstein (the state), which has an election in early May?  The 28-percent polling rate that the CDU shows right now.....might drop 6-points and trigger an easy loss for the CDU.  The Bavarians don't care if they only got 6-to-8 percent, it's the point that they could affect the CDU folks in their home territory.

The CSU in Saarbrucken in March of 2017 for their state election?  Same story.....they could take 6-to-8 points off the CDU and cause them to lose that election.

The CSU in NRW in their May 2017 election?  There might be enough frustration to slide 20-percent of the vote and deny the AfD a big chunk of the voting, and deny the CDU as well.

In some ways, I see this as a theater operation and some fakeness to it.  If you had a real proven Conservative party to vote for, and you were seeking only a frustration opportunity to vote against Merkel, then the CSU makes perfect sense.  Why waste a vote for the AfD?

Nationally for the CSU?  No one has ever done a poll like this, and you have to wonder 'why not'?

The facts that we do know is that in Bavaria, the CSU can pull 8.5 percent of the national voting off their one single state.

If the CDU were to enter Bavarian politics?  At best, the CDU might carve away one entire point in the national election.  Most Bavarians probably wouldn't slip over unless there were more changes to the immigration policy.....the heart of the problem for the CDU in the first place.

So, all this talk.....something to generate a "frustration to the frustration-vote"?

It would make one wonder about this.

Worst case scenario.....another riot in Koln on 31 December 2016, massive sexual assaults, Turkey releasing refugees in the April 2017 period to come to Germany in massive numbers?  With the AfD as a frustration vote and a weak CDU chancellor candidate.....the AfD might actually clear 20-to-24 percent of the national vote.

If you could create a fake diversion and give people the CSU Bavarians as a chance to send your frustration vote that way?  I suspect that the AfD folks would barely clear 10-percent and the Bavarians would take the bulk of this frustration vote nationally.  A 18-percent CDU win and a 24-percent CSU win?  That probably would be enough the election and create a new partnership (really the same people, just in different numbers).

A fake frustration-vote opera?  Yeah.  It would be humorous to consider but these are Germans and fairly creative at things like this.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Bus Story

I sat this morning on a Wiesbaden city bus.  We had around thirty folks on it as we left mid-town, and at some stop....three ticket-audit folks got onboard.

Kinda surprising  on statistics.  Out of 30 passengers....I'd say at least five didn't have a ticket (awful high statistics).

But from those five....two guys didn't have a passport.  Both were immigrants.  One guy....I would guess was Iraqi or Syrian, and the other Eritrean.

The Eritrean kid (around 20 to 24 years old) took to some bit of arguing with the audit gal.  He wanted to just step off the bus, and she wasn't going to let him get away (60 Euro fine but you need the passport to asses this).

You could see that the kid was looking to ease back and go out the backdoor.....but the second audit guy (big guy) stood there to ensure he didn't leave.

We were nearing the cop station in that neighborhood, and so they yelled for the driver to stop there and they escorted the two folks to the front door.  Cops would make the ID on both and settle this matter.

You see this occasionally with the immigrants.....they just seem to think that no one ever audits people on the buses.  The 60 Euro fine?  They can't really pay it but it goes to the auslander office and somewhere down the line.....it's going to be deducted from some payment to the guy.

Does someone ever explain this to the new immigrants?  You'd think that some German bureaucrat would sit there and lay out a hundred really important things that you need to know once you get accepted to some center and await your visa.