Prague Twin

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Frankfurt

I just got back from 10 days in Frankfurt, Germany.

It is much of the same old story, how a country can work so well with central planning and proper investment into infrastructure. But it really does never cease to amaze me.

Here is a country that was bombed nearly to the ground just 60 years ago, and they came out the better for it. The trains run quickly and on time. They are clean. The downtown area is pristine. Everything is strikingly new compared to the battered old Czech Republic where I live.

After we crossed the border into the Czech Republic after driving on nearly perfect freeways all day, suddenly the speed limit dropped to just under 20 mph. "What was happening?" we all said to each other with our eyes. Then, the answer came with a clunk as we hit a poor quality patch which was only the first of a series of failed efforts to repair an old highway.

A smile, a nod and in unison we all proclaimed "A my jsme doma!" (And... we are home). This of course started a long discussion about the state of the freeways and highways in CZ. We had even commented that what was a highway in Germany, would be considered a freeway (not exactly free but $40 buys you a year pass on all of them) in CZ.

It is such a stark demonstration of the benefits of good central planning, effective economic development programs, and an uncorrupted government when you compare the two countries and their post-war histories.

It is amazing what a country can accomplish when it focuses more of its energy on bridge-building than on missile building, and its government does more than line its own, and its friends', pockets with taxpayer money.

Can this success be attributed to the efforts of the German people, or the help they received from the Marshall plan (not to mention 70,000 permanently stationed troops)?

Both are certainly important, but I would weight the efforts of the German people a lot heavier.

To quote my friend Jonathan "A country gets the government they deserve". I don't believe in such absolutes, but there is some truth in there. A people must hold their governments accountable to the law as they will be judged, fairly or not, on the actions of their governments.

I had to say, yea, the Germans had it pretty good. But over the last 60 years, they've earned it.

9 Comments:

  • Yup! Sure is amazing what you can do with American tax dollars isn’t it! (Part of the German success recipe you forgot to mention).

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:58 PM  

  • I thought I covered that with this quote...

    or the help they received from the Marshall plan

    Was there more?

    Plenty of people have received aid from the US and have little to show for it.

    I guess my point is Germany has really done alot with what they were given. Granted, they were given alot.

    Thanks for the comment.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 1:47 PM  

  • Sorry, I see that you did mention it now, although you only touch on it as a possible reason for German post war success, and I believe it should be given more credit.

    Being that you live in the Czech Republic, perhaps you could expound more on the failings of socialism/communism?

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 3:53 PM  

  • Fair enough.

    Like I said, plenty of countries have received US taxpayer money. But only one looks like Germany does now.

    Tell you what, I will do that, complete with the benefits to the individual members of the society. I'm actually a free-market guy, but I have a soft spot for the working class. Thus the duality.

    Thanks for reading.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 7:28 PM  

  • No, I think it was more...the Germany that was rebuilt after the war has to take into account the attributes and determination of the German people.
    In my own professional field, stained glass, Germany very quickly established themseves as being the forefront of post war contemporary design.
    They did this by allocating a percentage of the funding for all building work to be set aside for Art.
    While Britain built pre-fabs, Germany built new architecture.
    As Stained Glass is an Architectural Art form, it flourished, with bold contemporary designs coming forward.
    Germany is still extremely dominant in European glass even today.
    Their lead in this area came from the post war years.

    By Blogger Zeppellina, at 11:32 PM  

  • Praguetwin:

    I guess you forgot about Japan, because inspite of the fact that the Americans droped 2 atomic bombs on it, it to is a model of post war American spending. Funny, the two main axis powers rebuilt in large part with money from the working people of one of the nations they tried to destroy.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 4:16 AM  

  • Zeppellina:

    Although I don’t think the growth would have been nearly as fast without the American tax dollars, you are probably correct in your assertion about the “industrious nature” of the Germans. This is probably also true for the Japanese. It is also why I think that the E.U. will eventually fall apart (economically at least)

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 4:27 AM  

  • Noted: Japan. Same story though... You can through money at something and get very little result.

    My opinion is that the industrious nature of both the Germans and Japanese should be weighted most heavily in our analysis of their respective successes.

    Probably why they thought they could rule the world too, but that is another story.

    Yea, the working people rebuilt these countries in the hope that economic success would stifle their imperialist desires. The Marshall plan was developed as an alternative to the devestating repairations that Germany was forces to pay out of WWI, which of course led to WWII.

    I guess we all learned that in Jr. High, but some people seem to have forgotten (i.e. those who would cut off aid to Hamas).

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 10:43 AM  

  • Very well stated. It is amazing how many people did forget the aftermath of WWI and how it led to WWII, but you confuse Hammas with Palestinians. Hammas is to the Palestinians what the Nazi party was to the German people. In fact the similarities are stunning as both brought the promise of prosperity to their people. Hitler was appeased many times in the hopes of a peaceful European resolution in spite of the fact that there were those like Churchill who advocated for military action. He and many others were ignored until it was almost too late. Perhaps if Hammas is brought to its knees the Palestinians can flourish. Remember, Hitler like Hammas was brought to power through a democratic process as well, and one should never forget that either.

    By Anonymous Arch Stanton, at 6:14 PM  

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