Category: Germany (Page 1 of 2)
I attended a conference last week that looked at France’s domestic economic situation and at the impact that has on France’s global and European role.
+ Fewer people are working fewer hours. For example, of people between 55 and 64 years of age, only 44% are working in France, as against 73% in Sweden, 65% in Japan, 60% in the US and 58% in the UK.
+ There is substantial youth unemployment, because young people find it hard to get on the career ladder because of an over regulated labour market that protects existing jobs at the cost of discouraging the creation of new ones. Last year 80% of all new jobs created in France were on temporary contracts.
+ The bigger a company grows, the more rigid are the rules that apply to it in terms of the right to hire and fire. So, while France has some of the most successful big companies in the world, it lacks a large corps of middle sized export oriented companies, like Germany has. 90% of all French companies have fewer than 10 employees and they have strong incentives to stay small.
+ Monopolistic practices exist in a number of sectors controlled by the state and in some private professions. The vested interests protecting these monopolistic practices are very strong. These inefficiencies contribute to the loss of exports by French companies.
- Ensuring that the Lander implement EU budget rules
- Improving the cost effectiveness of long term care restructuring the Landesbanken
- Removing tax wedges that discourage work
- Removing entry barriers to professions and crafts (surprising given Germany’s looming labour shortage)
- Stimulating competition in the service sector
- Promoting cross border energy supply networks( a vital issue now that Russian supplies are so unreliable)
Order had collapsed in Germany in 1919, after the end on the First World War.
Now, in 1919, the boot was on the other foot.
The German Army had lost the war, but it wanted the blame for the resultant peace terms to fall on civilian politicians. A Social Democrat led coalition government was formed which had the unenviable task of agreeing the Allied terms. The country was broke, and many people were starving.
The Army tried to have it both ways. In the event of refusal to accept the Allied terms an Allied invasion was in immediate prospect.
General Hindenburg advised the Government “We cannot count on repelling a determined attack by our enemies” but avoided the responsibility himself by saying. “ As a soldier, I would perish with honour rather than sign a humiliating peace”.
The Social Democrat led Government faced an even more immediate threat, an attempt to seize power, similar to that in Russia two years earlier, by a group calling for all power to be handed over to soldiers and workers councils on the Soviet model. There were mutinies in the armed forces and the elected Government lacked the means to assert its authority.
So the Social Democrat led Government had to turn to irregular forces, drawn from people who had little sympathy with the Government, but who wanted, even more so, to prevent a Soviet style revolution. Thus the Freikorps were born.
This book gives a very good insight into two turbulent years of German history. It explains some of the present day antipathy between Social Democrats and Communists in Germany.
It also throws light n the chaotic, violent, and unstable state of mind, brought about by the suffering and brutalisation imposed by Great War, that existed between 1919 and 1921 all over Europe, including in Ireland.