Good questions, Beak. Okay, here it goes:Of course, comments are welcome here as well, but I would prefer them at the place of origin. (Hey, I just hope you will be able to log into that comment function. I have no idea WHAT crappy interface Beak is using, but it's a nuisance. So keep trying.
1 Does the local identity still exist among Germans? Do people still have regional pride as Bavarians, Prussians or is that concept a thing of the past? In the US, certain localities like Texas, New York have a certain type of strong local identity.
With ever increasing horizontal mobility, local identities (I think they are truly ethnic identities) are getting weaker.
Another deplorable aspect is that the Wessies against Ossies antagonism overrides some of the ethnic identification. But on the whole, Germans, even the young ones, still tend to identify with their local ethnicity, specifically outside the big cities, some of which are identity-forming as well.
2 Has there been residual issues from the reunification of East and West Germany. What happened to all the State employees of East Germany? Did professionals such as teachers and doctors have update their skills?
I think the state employees still are where they were pre-1989. Same like the post-1945 period. They kept the state employees where they were, only removed the most odious ones, to keep the everyday business running.
Of course, the moral aspect is a completely different question.
I doubt that doctors in the former East were significantly lesser qualified than those in the West. (I may be wrong.) The vets I met seem fairly competent to me.
Teachers NEVER update anything. I have a hunch that they just swapped their Communist schoolbooks in the East for the Western versions. Teachers are a pain in the arse (and yes, such a generalisation IS justified) and the main (not the only) reason for the pathetic state of the German education system.
3 Is the anti-American sentiment in Germany largely anti-capitalist in origin or has it cut across the right and left spectrum?
Antiamericanism is the staple between Left, Right and Centre, as far as such a spectrum exists at all. In a quasi-Socialist country like Germany, anti-Capitalism is, of course, part of that staple. There is, of course, another strong ideological component, namely the traditional German reactionary anti-modernism, for which America has been the ogre for centuries now. (The Romantic movement in the 19th century was already strongly anti-American.) Never forget, German Socialists are national Socialists, which is only a step away from Nationalsocialists.
4 What is the correct way to understand Martin Luther. He was a virulent anti-Semite, but he also paved the way for the Protestant reformation of Christianity.
I fail to see the theological and spiritual justification of Luther's Reformation, so even that redeeming quality doesn't come into it. The Reformation cost innumerable lives during the 30-year-war, split the nation in two and is still the cause of hatred and resentment between Germans.
Luther was the only Protestant reformer to identify narrowly with nationalism and welcomed princely authoritarianism. The Evangelical clergy as a group a was traditionally on the side of the secular power in Germany, however disgustingly oppressive.
5 On the subject of Art, there is a naive assumption that artistic gifts bestow political wisdom. Can we as people appreciate the works of Degas, Arthur Miller, Wagner despite their odious political views?
I think everybody has to decide that for himself. I wouldn't want to see an artist (ANY artist) banned because of his political views, but I don't want to have his oeuvre foisted on me as well.
6 How is higher education funded in Germany? Does the state pay for higher education?
Yes it does.
7 Does Germany have sales and income taxes?
Yes we have. And cripplingly high ones.
8 What is your opinion of agricultural subsidies?
Well, my farmer friends are telling me that they are left in the lurch by the EU, subsidies or not. I am not a Libertarian, although I support some of the Libertarian principles, but agricultural subsidies, specifically within a bureaucratic monster like the EU, are too complex a matter for me to comment knowledgeably on.
9 Should people be as outraged at those who deny or mitigate the Armenian genocide as the Holocaust?
I am not quite sure whether I understand that question. The denial of the Armenian genocide (holocaust, if you insist) throws a light on the Turkish people. It doesn't change a thing about the Holocaust of the European Jewry.
Germans tend to relativise their own guilt instrumentalising other peoples' crimes. The fact that the Turks don't come clear with their past makes the Germans feel somewhat noble and less guilty.
All hypocritical and very sad.
Does that answer your question?
10 What are your views on nuclear energy?
I think nuclear power plants face us with a terrible risk in a densely populated area like Western and Central Europe, but I don't see any other way to provide us with the energy we seem to need. Working on more secure nuclear technologies and keep looking for alternative energies may be the answers.
11 Are India and China new superpowers? Should they be included at the world summits?
I believe that the future belongs to the Asian race anyway, whether they are officially included at international organisations now or not. They are hard-working, intelligent no-nonsense people and not troubled with the guilt-complex and self-hatred of the White race.
They will be the answer, too, to the Islamic threat to other cultures, precisely for the above mentioned reasons.
12 What are your views on immigration in Germany? There is talk of a guest worker program in the USA based upon European models. The criticism is that workers seldom go home long after their jobs are finished.
"Guest working" doesn't work, as we are learning the hard way in Germany right now. I don't see why it should work in the United States.
13 How does Germany deal with homelessness? In the USA the issue of homelessness is often intertwined with drug abuse and mental illness. Is the situation similar in Germany?
Homelessness is an extremely complex problem and I think mental illness and drugs are only two of many problems and I doubt that they even are among the more significant ones. I know too little about it to comment knowledgeably and may be wrong here. What I see is that it is not a fashionable cause and the homeless are therefore among those at the bottom of the welfare chain, which makes me sad.
14 Is violent crime increasing in Germany?
Drug and violent offences are rising, property offences are stable or falling. The reunification and an increase in immigration are putting more and more pressure on the penal justice system.
15 Should drug addiction be treated as a medical or criminal matter?
It should be treated as what it is, a medical condition. I am totally with Milton Friedman here.
Having the moral and ethical satisfaction of seeing drug addicts punished is a doubtful price paid for the damage that is done to society by it.
16 Who are the Greens? Are they mostly former Communists? Have they had any major impact on Germany?
No they are NOT just former Communists. In fact, in the early stages of the movement there where quite a few from the Nazi "Blood and Soil" school who were soon ousted as embarrassments. But the fact remains that a lot of Green goals were already what Hitler had planned for after the Endsieg, which included the banning of smoking.
It is very little known that one of the first laws the Nazis passed post-1933 was the ban of hunting to hounds.
It shouldn't be forgotten, too, that one of the early goals of the Greens in the Eighties was TO LEGALISE SEX WITH CHILDREN. Only when they started to participate in governmental power they dropped it as too hot a topic.
The Greens have shaped the German society more than any other political power during the last 30 years far beyond ecological and environmental issues. Find a political correct, doomed, dangerous or wrong cause and the Greens are behind it.
17 Is smoking cigarettes in restaurants banned in your city?
I have recently moved to a small town in East Germany and I don't know whether there IS an official policy. People here have problems different from fashionable causes like the ban of smoking in restaurants. Innkeepers are so happy about every patron that it wouldn't occur to them to ask a guest to stop smoking. Here, one gets a square meal of German traditional cuisine with two half litres of (excellent) beer for less than 10 Euro and they throw in free food and water for the dog who is allowed to sit beside one on the bench, which was already banned because of hygienic reasons decades ago and nobody cares.
People here in Saxony are generally pretty laid back about everything.
18 How do Germans view Bismarck today?
I doubt that the average German under 40 knows who Bismarck was and if he does he will probably have a vague idea that he was an evil old reactionary.
19 Has the UN become useless in today's world?
Let me put it this way: The UN are a gang of criminals.
20 What is your view on State subsidies for the Arts and Culture? Should the government subsidize Museums, Zoos and the Arts?
No they shouldn't.
21 What American TV shows can be seen in Germany?
I haven't watched television for more than a decade now. I was told that Sex and the City used to be quite popular among the more intellectual types not too long ago.
I grew up with (I am not always sure whether the title of the show I know is the one you know, and some I have forgotten entirely) Bonanza (those guys from the Ponderosa), Gunsmoke, Mr. Ed and Fury (horses), Lassie and Rin Tin Tin (dogs).
Later came Mission Impossible, that wonderful show with Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman, Tammy who lived on a houseboat, and in the Eighties the great family sagas Dynasty, Denver and Falcon Crest.
22 In the United States the sale of alcohol is restricted to people over the age of twenty one. Do similar laws exist in Germany?
Yes, they do. People come of age at 18 and may then, of course, buy alcohol.
23 What are your views on the current Pope?
He explains and apologises too much.
What I like about him is the fact that he is one of the leading theologists in the history of the Catholic Church, and that he, different from his predecessor, doesn't strive for personal popularity (as he shouldn't).
As a German, I like to see his election as a sign that we are accepted back to the fold of civilised Western nations, which makes me glad.
And isn't it wonderful that the son of a piss-poor policeman from a little country town in deepest rural Bavaria could become what he has become?
24 Do you think the immigrant riots in France could happen in Germany?
No for various reasons, two of them are that the Turks realise that they are better off without rioting and that there are relatively few Arabs here.
25 Does a country like Germany have the right to insist that laws like polygamy and the age of marriage be kept to historic European norms?
I think they have the DUTY to insist that laws like polygamy and the age of marriage be kept to historic European norms.
Thanks for the great questions, Beak. I hope I haven't shunned any and I will gladly explain my views further to those interested.