Friday, October 9, 2015

The Thirty-Percent Story

This week.....the German Interior Minister.....Thomas de Maiziere.....said that roughly thirty percent of the refugees coming into Germany who say they are Syrian....ARE NOT Syrians.

The journalists in Germany got all hyped up about this comment and the statistical number.

The next issue?  Well....the source for this number is said to be the German Police....but they say they really didn't start the number story.  The German office for refugees?  They hinted that they didn't start the story.  And Frontex....the EU agency who might know about this they didn't start the story.

A fake number tied to comments by the Interior Minister?  Maybe.  That's what the national news media will say in public.

The problem is that there are hundreds of statistics that come out daily from the German statistical folks and they don't get officially released.  Generally, if you started to pump out statistical'd start to scare the journalists because there has to be a story behind every number change or such.

The thirty percent not being Syrians?  I'm guessing that someone noted over a one-month period that roughly thirty percent of the folks processing through.....had issues on the documentation and it was obvious they didn't know much about Syria, while claiming to be from there.  Once you ask five questions on Syrian sports or TV shows, and the guy misses four of the five just start shaking your head.  Simply my humble guess.

Somewhere down the just start to suspect that some German bureaucrat will create some forty-question test and mandate each guy or gal on an Syrian visa deal must show up and pass some Syria test.  Syrians will be standing there and shaking their heads.  A German testing you on Syrian affairs, and grading you on your Syrian status?

Another State-run Network?

State-run TV in Germany carves out a fair amount of tax funding from the public....roughly 17 Euro a month from every cover the twenty-odd channels that exist.

There are various positive and negative feelings for the operation....if you chat with Germans about it or make your own personal observations.

Some supporters of state-run TV will tell you that it's in a crisis period because almost no one under the age of twenty-five watches much of anything....even the news or sports events.   You might have a fair number of the university crowd who watch some of the political chat shows and the documentary-type programs, but the vast number of folks under twenty-five aren't interested in what they offer.

So, this week....they had a meeting and finally ironed some deal to start ANOTHER channel under the state-run TV umbrella.  This one? Aimed strictly at the group between 14 and 29 years old.  Start-up date?  Late 2016.  They say they want the 'platform' to offer options on radio, TV and online forums.

The themes?'s a curious list.  Music, youth culture, news related to youth, comedy, and 'entertainment'.

The folks who favor this have said that this has been in the discussion stage for five years.  What they spent the time on?  Unknown.  I'd take a guess that they hired people to interview kids and younger get some idea of what they'd watch.

Where this will go?  Some political folks think that they can create modern and educational themes that will help transform the youth of Germany.  I have my doubts.  Shows like Breaking Bad, Flash, and Big Bang Theory are all blockbusters with German youth.  I just don't see German state-run TV programming coming up with shows like this, and the guys who do the programming just aren't the type who'd pay big-money for something like Flash.

The idea that kids would buy into some news theme or political chat show episode?  Zero.  They'd just start laughing at you.

Science Fiction?  That's the one area that the younger German generation might buy into....if they'd create their own brand-name or style of SF for German TV.  The odds of this?  Fairly remote....if the typical programming crowd have anything to say about the matter.  There's almost zero SF produced on any of the state-run networks, and almost zero purchased via other distributors.

Not to sound discouraging, but I don't know where this idea will go and have any success.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Difference between US/911 and German/112

This is from the prospective of an American who has spent a few years in Germany and made observations.

In the US, when you got a bad life situation going on in terms of an will call 911 and wait for the local ambulance crew to arrive (usually ten to twenty minutes).

Ervin and Willy will be emergency technicians with a certification or two each.  They will do their best to stabilize your problem....resuscitate you if necessary....strap you on a gurney....and at least ensure your bleeding is hindered or stopped.  On a list of problems.....there's probably just enough training to ensure your survival and hopefully get you to an emergency room within twenty-five minutes.

You can generally depend on Ervin and ninety-percent of keep you alive, and give you a decent chance with the emergency room staff.

In Germany after you dial 112.....there's two vehicles which will be sent out.  In vehicle one is Karl and Huns.  They are basically there to lift, carry and transport you from the scene to the nearest hospital.  They have some basic first aid certifications and might be either as good as the US team or one step less than the US team.

The second vehicle?  This will come from the nearest hospital and be an emergency-qualified doctor.  Yep, a full-up doctor who will arrive at the scene and give you a bigger chance of survival.  He's usually got a station-wagon and it's loaded with just about every type of gadget required.  He might not be able to handle snakebites or a dozen broken bones.....but he can handle 99-percent of what you might encounter.

The doctor has one single ensure you are stabilized at the scene and give you a slightly better chance of making it.  Once he gives the signal.....Karl and Huns will strap you down and off you go.  The doctor will tail them in his car and arrive at the emergency room to provide notes and info on what happened at the accident or scene. All of this helps the emergency room a little bit more than you'd think.

A slightly better chance in Germany than the US surviving a bad problem?  Maybe.

Cost factor?  No one says much about that.  Somewhere in the billing process, there has to be some extra thousand Euro to cover the doctor and his equipment on top of the ambulance itself, but you never hear much about the cost factor.   If you think about it.....spending an extra thousand to get a doctor on the scene.....most folks would readily spend the money and never question this way of doing business.

The Removal of Shoes Story

There's a political chat show run on ARD (Channel One of German state-run TV) called "Maischberger".  I missed the show this week but I saw where it got reviewed by a number of journalists for some oddball comments.

The show centered on Islamic relations in Germany, and one of the guests was the Green Party member....Renate Kunast.  Kunast delivered a view of accommodating the Muslims as much as you can.

So the topic of entering a Muslim home came up, and the tradition of removing one's shoes.  Generally, if you go read a fair amount of literature on the a Mosque, it is absolutely required to remove one's shoes.  In a Muslim home, it's generally required by the host.  You can find some examples where people don't go to that extend, but it's generally one of those things that is accepted.

I should note....there are Jewish traditions that go along the same lines as well.

So, Kunast came to the topic and suggested that as the German police come to Mosques and homes (one might assume on search warrants or emergency calls).....they should remove their shoes.

You'd pause and think over this suggestion.  If we were talking about a regular person, a kitchen repair guy, or the neighbor.....there wouldn't be any issue.  Police tend to be on situations that might require some physical actions.....running.....or taking down someone who is a threat.  If you went up to a thousand German police and suggested that they start removing their shoes as they enter a Mosque for a search warrant or while entering a Muslim home.....all one-thousand would just smile and decline the idea.

I've come to the point where I might question these political chat shows in Germany, and if they are helping the topics intended.....or simply charging up more and more people to be negative.  There's some belief that openness about a subject will help to soften views of the public.  In this case.....the more information that gets laid on the table doesn't necessarily change prospectives....but hardens them.

One can go back three years ago when the Muslim life in Germany and it's culture might have gotten noted one evening per month.  Today?  I'd say over the past couple of months.....there's been at least five or six shows per month which engage on the topic.  Most of the shows try to stay positive and show the good-neighbor attitude.  Receiving that message and agreeing with it across German society?'s not going that well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

That License Story

Some group came out today in Germany....advocating that the German government needs to cover the cost of getting a driver's license.....if you are a visa-approved refugee/asylum seeker.  Naturally, it drew a fair amount of comments (negative).

The necessity of having a license in Germany is a big deal....because in the case of employment....most folks have to have a license and must have a get to their place of employment.  Maybe if you live within the boundaries of an urban Frankfurt or Wiesbaden for can go car-less like myself.  But if you live another ten miles out?  You are pretty screwed on getting into the urbanized area and your job.

With potentially 1.5 million refugees.....what might the cost be?  Well, in get through the class and the driving hours.....then take the private instructor are talking 1,500 Euro as a minimum ($1,700).  I'd take a guess that thirty percent of the people taking the driver's exam will have problems and easily blow past 2,100 Euro ($2,400).

A significant amount of money that would be put on the back of the state?  Well....yeah.  Considering the fact that German kids never got a break, and German parents got stuck paying the 1,500 Euro often out of their pocket or forced the kid to cough up a portion from their marginal salary during the apprentice years (figure 600 Euro a month as an apprentice worker)'s a harsh reality on kids to realize it's not cheap.

The private instructor atmosphere?  I'm guessing they are grinning from ear to ear.....looking at potentially another seventy-five students for 2016/2017 on top of what they typically expected.  Figure 2,000 Euro possibly for each extra student, and you could pay down a pretty decent vacation and a new car, as a driving instructor.

I would offer this personal observation.  Even if they pay the 1,500 Euro out of the government pocket for the refugees to get German license.....who will pay for the car?  Figure 1.5 million folks and at least fifty percent will have to have some cheap form of vehicle transportation by the summer of 2016.  How will that be paid or covered?

Bavaria's Trump-Card

The CSU head of state in Bavaria....Horst Seehofer....came out this morning and made some comments which will get the Berlin crowd disturbed.  It'll probably even get Chancellor Merkel a bit frustrated and uptight.

Seehofer says that Bavaria is now under a state of 'threat', and will act upon a self-defense plan if Berlin doesn't do something real quick.

The threat made?  Bavaria could say that's it for 2015 and refuse any more refugees.....putting instead on a train heading out of the state......forcing them onto the other fifteen states, and likely creating a major crisis with Berlin in a matter of hours.

Some CDU folks will probably try to persuade Seehofer not to issue such a threat but it's too late and I suspect that the CSU government in Bavaria has already started planning for this self-defense plan.

The amount of discomfort that this will cause across Germany?  A number of other states have taken their 'share' and feel the same issue as Bavaria.  It'd likely cause meetings this week for three or four other states to talk about their own breaking point and their own self-defense plan.  You could suddenly see five or six German states making very strongly worded comments to Berlin and letting them know that they won't participate any longer.

For those thinking that 1 January will reset the clock and get folks past some hump issue.....well, no.  That's not going to be the way this all falls into play.

If you were looking for a five-star moment in Germany.....where the Berlin guys start sweating and things get heated.....this Seehofer threat is it.

The Lesser Pension Deal

I sat this morning in some crowd while doing my bus trip.  Two older German guys were chatting and the topic from what I could figure.....was immigrants, refugees, work, and the pension situation.  I probably got fifty percent of the conversation, but there's this one key element which the one guy noted and I did get in plain understanding.

As you gaze across at this large crowd of immigrants and refugees for Germany in 2015 (maybe 850,000 to 1.5 million).....there's a fair number which are in their twenties, which is positive.  But there are probably five-percent of these guys who are forty years old or older.

So, you look at how these older guys (forty or older) will fit into the pension program of Germany.  They will spend at least eighteen months involved in German language and integration training, then search for a house and job.  At best, you can figure Hammad (my scenario guy) is presently forty-one and will be forty-three by the time he's employed.

By the time that Hammad reaches sixty-five.....he will have only accomplished 22 years of pension contributions....compared to a regular German guy who started at age 16 and has contributed almost 49 years of pay into the deal.

The regular German guy with 49 years of pension contribution?  He'll likely get around 1,100 Euro a month (if he was in the lower wage category).   The new guy, Hammad, with 22 years of contributions?  He'll get at best 650 to 700 Euro a month.

Can Hammad live off 700 Euro a month with his wife?  Marginally.....but I'd have doubts.  Hammad will probably have to apply for welfare, or live with a son or daughter.....if they have space for him.

This little chat that I listened something that no journalist or reporter has really discussed in Germany.  While the bulk of these young guys coming in will help the pension program and fit better.....these guys....especially over forty years old....are going to wake up in a decade and realize the shortfall involved and how crappy that German pensions can be.

Can the German government make up for this?  No, the system isn't built for that type of repair or fix.

A problem down the line?  I'm guessing that it'll become obvious in five years and some political figures try to suggest some repair involving tax funding.....which most Germans will be frustrated about and angry.  Just another one of those odd problems with the whole asylum thing.

The Seven Million Extra Folks

Some German journalist finally brought this up....I was reading it this morning in Focus.....that while a bunch of these refugees and immigrants in Germany (the one-million-plus for 2015) are young males....there's this new factor of the German government now realizing that as they grant asylum or visas to these young guys.....they will want to bring their wife, their cousin, their entire family....into Germany.

So one-million-plus really equals seven million potential players.

If you walked out into most German communities and you talked to the pro-asylum folks (who the news media claims are in the 80-percent approval rating of the current situation).....then mention this flipping to seven million, well....this might disturb a significant number of Germans.

To be honest, just on housing issues alone....I don't see how the German system can consume and absorb that many folks over the next two or three years.  There's simply not enough apartments or houses.  Even if they got aggressive....Germans take forever to get a project approved and you could be looking at thirty-six months to construct an apartment house and have it ready for folks to move in.

Creating more problems for the political folks?

Yeah.....go ahead and just plan on massive public anxiety somewhere down the line.