Sunday, July 23, 2017

Germany and the Reproduction Rate

It's a story that doesn't get much hype or explanation.....so I'll try to do this in simple way.

If you ask the German government about the rate....they will tell that it's risen in the past two years (mostly due to incoming immigrants).  Before 2013, it was near 1.43 births that came from German women over their lifetime from age 15 to age 45.  In the past two years....it rose to 1.5 births.  Not exactly a significant number, but it's better than 1.43.

Why the low rate?  There are basically four elements to the story.

1.  About a hundred years ago....several German 'charity' groups got around to publishing birth-control information.  If you asked for it.....you got it.  Naturally, this upset political folks and a fair number of men.  Knowledge is power.....if applied.  Fortunley, the war (WW I) came along, and two million German men didn't come back from the war.  While recovery took a few years....German Industry and manpower needs eventually came to be an open-door for German women.

The same episode repeated in the late 1930s, and by 1945....3.6 million German men did not come back.  Women at that point were firmly planted in occupations and having a career path that hadn't existed before. Having some desire to just stay home and have four or five kids?  There was no desire.  As you proceed through the 1960s, with the pill now available and more birth-control options in the 1970s and 1980s....the information factor simply doubled up.

2.  Cost of living.  Ever looked around at the typical cost of living or the cost of affordable housing in Germany?  Go and try to price a three or four bedroom apartment in Koln or Frankfurt.  Most average families can't afford it.

3.  Average income issue.  If you take an average German couple and look at the general income (both working) and deduct the taxation....you start laughing.  One member of the couple needs to have a fairly technical background with decent pay....if there was some objective of having three kids.
4.  It is commonly accepted that couples might not have any kids at all.  You might find some guy who meets up with a German gal, and twenty years later.....still living together....no marriage....no kids...and happy with the situation.

As much as politicians and bureaucrats have tried to invent ways to entice more production....it simply hasn't achieved much of anything.  Adding to the whole 'game'....is the fact that studies have shown that even immigrant families arrive and help to some degree to pump up the numbers.....that generation 2.0 and 3.0 (a decade, two decades, and three decades down the line).....all become Germanized and they settle back into the same German dilemma....lower production rates.

The Linda Story

It is a page two story in Germany....but this Dresden teenage gal (16), who ran away and jointed ISIS in Iraq, and is now a prisoner of the Iraqi government.....is said to be in serious jeopardy (possibly getting the Iraqi death penalty).

What the Iraqis hint (various news services now covering this) is that gal (Linda) is a teen and typically, the Iraqis can find various ways of avoiding the death penalty, but they really don't want to mess with her or hold her.

So, you get the impression....the door is open for some German political figure to negotiate with Iraq about this episode.  The big issue is that the Germans themselves have a law on the books which suggests several years in prison as a minimum....if you run off and join some war effort (like in this case).

My prediction is that you see either Gabriel (the German Foreign Minister) or one of the big CDU folks just appear in Iraq, and in one hour....they have this teenage German gal on the plane and flying back into Berlin.

Some court case will be scripted up....she will admit guilt, and get 18 months in some controlled atmosphere, with schooling and education mandated as part of the deal.  Along the way, she can do an interview and confess that going off to fight for ISIS was just plain stupid....detailing how she got doped, and the public TV folks can get a five-star leg-up on the radical thugs who recruit for ISIS.

It ought to be this easy to do one simple smart thing, but somehow, I think some intellectual German bureaucrat will screw this up.

Inner-German Gaps

I was reading this morning over commentary by a German (anonymous in nature) who made the observation that he now has to read foreign news media coverage because he knows that the content of German news production is biased or written with an agenda attached.

This comes up this weekend because of the university study over the news media coverage of the immigration period of 2015, and the analysis of the university study that the general news cycle in Germany were no longer acting as reporters....but producing agenda-like coverage.  No one says it was in relationship with the government, or any political party....which is what you'd expect.  It's almost like you walked into a party and started a rumor on one side of the room that the beer was 'flat', and an hour later....everyone in the room was convinced that the beer really is flat.  No one actually stands there and tastes the beer or counters the rumor....they just accept it as fact.

What really happened in this period of 2013 to 1 January 2016?  One can say that the one-sided direction of German analysis and news ended with the Koln riot from the New Year's eve period.  Within four short weeks after that period, it was a water valve was turned off and the significant coverage in the one-sided direction simply ended.

As for what happened in that three year period leading up to January of 2016?  I would lay the problem upon three basic issues:

(1) Intellectual compromise.  This is usually where a really smart (PhD-type) individual has consumed a lot of information but is unable to factor in odd pieces of the story, find faults with conceived 'facts', or is unwilling to ask more questions (believing they have reached the 'gold-standard' of PURE FACT).

(2) The good German costume.  With so much crap dumped on the Germans from WW I and WW II....some people would really like to go and find this wonderful public image of the 'good German'....the guy who takes in the poor, the weak, the injured, and the war-afflicted.  I admit, it's a worthy thing to go and look for this costume, and to feel the humble respect of your peers.  The problem with this is that you end up with a costume that is ill-fitting and sometimes makes you look a bit foolish.  On top of that....a fair sum of people don't really want to wear the 'good German' costume, and when they said 'no'....they were criticized for not accepting their role in the 'play'.  

(3) Labeling all asylum seekers, immigrants, and migrants as one single 'flavor'.  There was this period in 2014 where the news media of Germany (mostly ARD and ZDF) were telling strictly Iraqi and Syrian refugee-related stories.  Oddly enough, if you did look at the factual data....they were maybe making up 50-percent of the incoming crowd.  The rest?  From Albania, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Africa, and Central Africa.  The crowd from Syria and Iraq?  Mostly family related (grandparents, kids, etc).  The folks from North Africa?  Mostly all male (18-to-25 years old).  The news crowd couldn't bring themselves to break out the incoming into the natural groups....if they had....their positive-spin story would have started to dissolve.

At this point in the compromised situation....you can sense that the news media folks over this weekend are carefully reading through the criticism leveled at them....by the university professors, and perhaps frustrated.  They will call up co-workers and peers to get support....maybe go to some pub and sip through wine and beer....discovering that their friends and associates kinda agree with the compromised story-line and some knew this all the way back to 2013.

So, back to the gentleman who started me upon this topic today....the German guy who says that gaps in the news of Germany now exist.  Well....there are literally thousands of sources of news existing in the world and you can go and start a habit of reading from outside of your circle.  The internet provides you that tool.  I'm guessing that the ARD/ZDF crowd (the public TV gang of Germany) will try to suggest that too much fake news exist and you need to stick with them because they know all about fake news.  Then you kinda laugh because....well....they were fake-agenda creators for three years, and they've got a lot of expertise in that area.

I don't really want to hype up on this whole issue, but you just gaze back over three years and how it was a one-sided story, and in the blink of an eye....over January of 2016, the one-sided story just quietly evaporated and disappeared.  There is a story here, but it's just not one that anyone would want to admire or feel proud about.

My end-point?  Was this the only one-sided story?  Or did they also go and create other topics like this as well?

German News, Sunday

Turkey tourism down: ARD article.  A blunt piece written over German tourism into Turkey because of the coup of last summer. As they point out....anyone walking the streets around these Turkish resorts would say that there's very few tourists compared to the better period (spring of 2016, before the coup).  5.6 million Germans visited Turkey in 2015.....no one is guessing much on 2017 but the trend is way down.  As for countries that took up the slack and replaced Turkey?  Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Croatia have noticed a serious pick-up in tourism in 2017.

Candidate Schulz warns of a new crisis: N-TV article.  From this weekend, SPD's Schulz has hyped up that a new refugee and immigration crisis is about to emerge with Italy and the 200,000 that they've 'rescued' from the Med.  If you had to go and pick out a topic to fan upon the German voting public which would NOT be taken in a friendly fashion, this is one of those topics.  His gimmick solution?  Force EU countries to take in the Italian crowd, but oddly....no mention of halting the smuggling operations or rescue ships....so you'd have another 200,000 in a matter of six months to disperse as well...and force upon the EU members yet again.  He is correct in that a crisis is likely coming but looking over five or six EU members as being zero-enthusiastic about taking migrants is one problem.  Then telling a thousand migrants sitting in Italy that they will have to accept going to some country that wasn't on their acceptance list is another problem.  If this episode explodes in the final weeks before the election....it hurts both the SPD and the CDU.

Macron polling down: N-TV article.  Well, yeah, it only took about 90 days for the public to start losing it's appeal with the Macron charm.  Forty-three percent of the French public is dissatisfied with Macron now.

Anis Amri troubles: N-TV article.  If you remember Anis....he's the young Tunisian guy who killed eleven Germans in Berlin around Christmas time.  The young terrorist thug....was killed days later in Italy by a couple of cops.  Well, it's come to pass that the city where he was shot by the cops.....Sesto San Giovanni....has been handed the bill by the city mortuary folks for holding the guy 'on ice' for an extended period (he's only been released to be sent back Tunisia in recent weeks). The bill? 2,160.18 Euro.....yeah, it's pretty precise.  The mayor doesn't want the bill on his back and he thinks the people of the city also are angry about this stupid bill.  He has sent the bill to Rome and wants the national government to pay this.  There is an Italian law which says......if NO ONE claims the body....the city where the death occurred.....must take the bill.  Oddly, no member of the family took possession of the body, and it appears that Italy just helped to ship the body back to Tunisia.  Pretty stupid episode but it demonstrates how troublesome terrorists can be....even when they are dead.

Criticism of German News

Early this morning (Sunday), I noted that the ARD (German public TV crowd) had finally put up the analysis over German media coverage for the immigration period, and were very critical of the one-sided nature of the news journalists involved.

Where did ARD stack it?  Taggeschau's web page....under the 'Fact Checker'.  

They basically noted that the analysis did exist and laid out the basic theme of the report.  Beyond that....nothing.  It reminded you of some kid who stole grandmother's blueberry pie, and has been discovered with blue-spots all over his mouth....trying not to admit he did it, but it's obvious.

I then went to the bottom where they have to allow commentary by the public.  92 folks made observations....most all of them noted that they felt the one-sided nature of the immigration stories told from 2013 to 2016.   Anger and frustration?  You get that impression as you read through the commentary.  

One of the commentary reactions by readers even put it correctly.  You cannot trust the news media completely.  You need to filter information.  You need to use various sources and read through different pieces to arrive at a understanding.  Weigh information that you get, and determine if any piece of it could be fake news. In other words, use common sense.  

At one point in the public commentary, I came to this one interesting prospective....the individual felt they were back in the old GDR (East Germany), where one-sided reporting was normal and regularly accepted.  In some ways, that is a valid point in this amusing analysis. 

What happens next?  Anyone's guess.  Maybe a public chat forum comes up in three or four weeks (after the summer vacation period for the networks), with this as a topic.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

German Left-wing Radicals

There was an interesting piece with Focus this morning.  Someone had sat down (within the cops apparently) in Berlin and analyzed the heck out of left-wing extremist (like the Hamburg thugs) and had drawn a number of interesting prospectives.

In Berlin, most of the radical and violent left live in the Riga Strasse area of town (on the east side of town).

So, 92-percent of the Berlin left-wing crowd.....still live with mom and dad.  Eight percent live on their own.  Yeah, that's an amazing number.

Within this crowd....most are male (84-percent).

The majority (75-percent) are between 18 and 29 years old.

Most of them are single (estimated at 90-percent).

Roughly 60-percent of the Berlin left-wing crowd are either students  or jobless.  The analysis doesn't ask the question....why they were jobless.

I sat there in amazement....92-percent still live at home.  Mom makes them breakfast and likely cleans their room.  "Johan" not working?  Fine, dad will pass over some cash for his pizza this weekend.

Are mom and dad aware of 'Johan' and his friends activities?  When 'Johan' said he was going to be visiting some friends for the weekend in Hamburg.....did mom and dad put together the puzzle and figure out their son was a 'bad-boy' over that four-day period in Hamburg?

Trying to be some Marxist-revolutionary....while living in mom's apartment?  It's what you'd call a loser scenario.  Some kid without much in life....just acting out.  The part about 90-percent of them being single....gee, wonder why?  Course, 16-percent of this entire Berlin crowd are female.

What happens as 'Johan' gets up into his mid-30s and still unemployed?  My guess is that sooner or later....mom and dad kinda hint that you have to go.....and that means the evil situation has latched onto you.....you will have to work for a living and account for your actions.  This left-wing extremism game will come to a bitter end....the rent-money and food for tonight will rate as a higher priority.

Across Germany, it's this same story.  The template for the Berlin left-wing crowd is the same for the crowd in Koln, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and so on.

No one suggests numbers across Germany for these 'kids' still living with mom and dad, but on some revolutionary-war episode to bring Marxism to the masses.  I hate to suggest it, but I think at 18....the kid needs to be sent either onto the German military or pushed out of the house.  This would change the numbers of left-wing radicals drastically.

Bag Charges

This came up in travel news this week...from several different Brit sources.

Jet2....a discount airline out of the UK (number four on the list)....has a new policy.  If you intend to board the plane, and don't check any luggage in (meaning that you have a small-travel bag that you will lug as you board)....then there's a charge for that hand-bag (2.59 pounds per bag, each way).

That's 3.25 dollars roughly....per bag.

You can do the math....a Welsh couple jetting off to some Spanish isle for 3 days of reckless fun and carrying only the bare minimum of clothing along....will pay $13 extra to get their bag each within the cabin.

Various reasons will be given for the charge.  Some folks argue that the older planes, while designed for 90 passengers....weren't designed in some way to handle the 90 folks having the mini-bags that you typically see dragged onto the plane.

I sat a couple of weeks ago on a Delta-flight in the US and observed dozens of people dragging bags which would just barely fit into the overhead bin.  In one case, with the whole plane full (every seat taken)....they had three bags which wouldn't fit anywhere, and they had to drag them back to the front and have 'Joe-the-bag-dude' reopen the baggage area to dump them in.

I can understand the logic to this but it's just another stupid charge added to your ticket.  In some situations, you could be looking at three or four cost-elements added to your 100-Euro airline ticket, and making it 150-Euro instead.

Immigrant Groups in Germany

One of the things that few Germans grasp is that there is a vast and wide landscape of nationalities and cultures in Germany today (more than eighty nationalities).

They range from the Turks with roughly 1.5-million all the way to down to Liechtensteiners with roughly 240 folks.

Some come to study or attend college (like a lot of Chinese).  Some come for safety (like the Syrians and Iraqis).  Some come for jobs (like the Turks).

Just because they have a visa to work, study or stay long-term....does NOT mean that they are actively seeking citizenship.

Roughly eighty-percent of the German society (82-million) are native full-blown Germans....which means that twenty-percent (around 16-million) either were born else-where and became a German, or have a visa to visit or stay long-term.

The 90,000 folks from Vietnam?  The mass majority were part of an exchange program with DDR (the old East Germany) and were brought in for work-assignments.  When the wall went down....no one said much, and it's believed that most stayed and integrated into Germany.

The South Koreans in Germany?  They number around 32,000.  Their introduction into German society started in the early 1960s as part of a work-guest program (mostly for miners and nurses).  While the program had a end-date and end-date to it....as the end-date approached....roughly half of the South Koreans applied to stay permanently in Germany.  One of the interesting aspects of the Koreans who stayed....their next generation (the 2nd generation) had almost 70-percent of the kids reach Abi-level (meaning 12 years of high school and a year of technical college).  If you look at normal German statistics...they typically reached the 35-to-40 percent range....so the Koreans-turned-into-Germans put a lot of emphasis on their kids to achieve and move ahead in the German system.  The Koreans have a very large presence in the Rhine-Main region (Frankfurt), with over 6,000 in the region.

If you go and ask most Germans about having foreigners around....they will typically cite the Turks, the Greeks, the Russians, and the Italians.  They will typically point out the Greek and Italian restaurants in the local area as an example of successful immigrants.

As much as some folks do 'dump' on the immigration policy....the trend up until the 2013 period was mostly positive and with minimum complaints.  The only way that West Germany and later...Germany itself....reached economic success and built up dozens of known companies....was the effort to get guest-workers into the country and fast-pace them along the way to production and integration. If you went and asked most who came into Germany in the 1960s or 1970s....they will say that a basic course in German occurred, and some German co-workers pointed out a few things along the way.  Otherwise, integration was almost non-existent in terms of a program existing.

What happened along the way?  I think there was always a magical number in the air in terms of people coming in and the pace that they took.  You won't find anyone who will say what the magical number is, or how they arrived at the magical number.  PhD folks and intellectuals will mostly just grin because you can't build a science or logic around this magic number.  The CSU of Bavaria will tell you that the magic number is 200,000 per year.  They can't cite any science behind that number though.  The pro-asylum folks will say that the number is unlimited, but they can't cite any science behind that logic either.

Adding to this conflict is the fact that integration is continually argued about.  If you offered a class and a hundred question quiz....then offered the same test to some fifty-year-old Germans (folks who've been here their entire life)....probably a quarter of them would fail the German integration test.

So you are left with a door that must be forever left unlocked and somewhat open....at least in the minds of the German leadership.