Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Poverty Story

Speigel (the German weekly magazine) went out and developed a city-poverty rating index.  I won't go into all the formulas or questions that were used....but at the conclusion ....the most poverty-stricken city in Germany of a major scale....is Kaiserslautern.

I sat there for a while...laughing over the results of this index.  It's of a questionable value to use as 'fact'.

Kaiserslatuern has issues....I will admit.  I lived around the area from 1994 to 2009.  They were in this constant fight to maintain a 100k population.  To be honest....they could only count that type of population if they added in the Americans and counted three or four of the local villages into their numbers.  

The Americans provide this odd factor for the city of Kaiserslautern.  You see....we eat out a good bit....so unlike most German communities....Kaiserslautern has probably twice as many restaurants as a normal Germany community of its size.  We also tend to pay more for houses and apartments....than the typical German.  So we are financing the entire twenty-mile circle around Kaiserslautern to a significant degree...thus meaning without....they'd even be deeper into the poverty class than what they are today.

The anchor on Kaiserslautern?  There are around five major problems with the area.

First, the downtown crowd really hate competition.  So you can't bring in a major department store without getting folks angry over their small storefront operations.  Even if you allow any development at one end of town....you draw hostile feelings.

Second, for all these years....Opel was the only real money-maker in the town and they just plain didn't care if other smaller operations failed or not.  Only in the past decade....has there been any interest in developing industrial properties on the outskirts of town.

Third, the university....for all practical purposes....hasn't attracted any big-name companies to anchor up with it and put serious money into developmental projects.  Yes, there are a couple of companies....but they really need massive interest and developmental projects to carry the university and the town.

Fourth, most of these projects that the town put state-money into....are just money-pits.  The garden-show project was a money-pit.  Nothing has really come out of the millions spent on that project.  The upswing from the soccer championships   Parking lots were built all over the place, but after the games came and went....now what?

Fifth....if you subtracted out the Americans....this would really be a much smaller town of 50k people.  The jobs wouldn't be here and the support atmosphere would be quickly downsized.  They are a small town trying to act big....and doing the best they can...with what they have.

So I don't really consider K-town to be at the end of the poverty index.  No one is really suffering much around Kaiserslautern.  There are empty stores and some folks traveling an hour off to Mannheim or Mainz to work....but at least they are finding employment.  And the standards of living?  It's not exactly a terrible place to live.  Besides, you can still walk around the streets of K-town at 10PM and not have to worry about crime or robbery....unlike Frankfurt.

Just my humble opinion.  

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