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Amerika Sei Verrückt Geworden. America in Decline: Why Germans Think We're Insane

by Democrats Ramshield Thu May 12th, 2011 at 03:26:53 PM EST

(Written by an American expat living in the European Union.)
This diary announces the launch of the foreign language group at the Daily Kos. Our group is dedicated to bringing the voices of progressive American bloggers to the international community through foreign language media and bi-lingual diaries to every corner of America and the globe.

This diary was originally published at Alternet and additionally as its author I was grateful that it did receive some attention from progressive radio show host Thom Hartmann who provided a detailed review and commentary. This diary was also featured on Current TV where it gratefully received a large number of comments. As such this original diary is now presented in bi-lingual format both in German and in English. It presents the struggle of the American working class vs the plutocracy in what can only be described as class warfare. These Daily Kos groups invites any and all interested persons to become members and followers.
(Please note I am not a professional translator, but rather a citizen journalist, and what is offered in this diary is an interpretation of my English language diary into German. I also offer my interpretation of quotes from English into German. In a time of class warfare wherein the plutocracy tries to buy the Congress, the American working class in order to defend itself and helps shape progressive public policies must be free to appeal to the world court of public opinion from America's progressive grassroots diaries.)

As an American expat living in the European Union, I've started to see America from a different perspective.
Als ein Amerikanischer Auswanderer der jetzt in der Europäischen Union lebt, sehe ich Amerika von einem anderen Blickpunkt.
The European Union has a larger economy and more people than America does. Though it spends less on medical -- right around 9 percent of GNP, whereas we in the U.S. spend between 15 to 16 percent of GNP on medical -- the EU pretty much insures 100 percent of its population.

#1) Die EU hat eine größere Wirtschaft und Bevölkerung als Amerika. Obwohl sie weniger für Gesundheitliches ausgibt -- in etwa 9 Prozent des BNE, während wir in Amerika zwischen 15 und 16 Prozent des BNE für Gesundheitliches ausgeben --, versichert die Europäische Union annährend 100 Procent der Bevölkerung mit medizinischer Betreuung.

The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured;  132 million without dental insurance;  60 million without paid sick leave; 40 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane.
Die USA haben 59 Millionen Bürger ohne Krankenversicherung, 132 Millionen ohne zahnärztliche Betreuung, 60 Millionen ohne bezahlten Krankenurlaub und 40 Millionen, die Lebensmittelmarken beziehen. Jedermann in der EU hat von der Wiege bis zum Grab zugang zu einer gesetzlichen universalen medizinischen und Zahntechnischen Versicherung. Die Gesetze also erfordern bezahlten Krankheitsurlaub, bezahlten jährlichen Urlaub und bezahlten Schwangerschaftsurlaub. Wenn man das alles überdenkt, wird es klar, dass die Europäer mutmaßen, Amerika sei verrückt geworden.
 Der Spiegel has run an interesting feature called "A Superpower in Decline," which attempts to explain to a German audience such odd phenomena as the rise of the Tea Party, without the hedging or attempts at "balance" found in mainstream U.S. media.
Der Spiegel brachte einen interessanten Artikel mit der überschrift "Supermacht im Verfall", der versuchte, der deutschen Leserschaft solche eigenartigen Begebenheiten zu erklären, wie der Aufstieg der Tea Party, ohne die in den amerikanischen Medien üblichen Versuchen zur Ausweichung und "Balance".
On the Tea Parties: Full of Hatred:
"The Tea Party, that group of white, older voters who claim that they want their country back, is angry. Fox News host Glenn Beck, a recovering alcoholic who likens Obama to Adolf Hitler, is angry. Beck doesn't quite know what he wants to be -- maybe a politician, maybe president, maybe a preacher -- and he doesn't know what he wants to do, either, or least he hasn't come up with any specific ideas or plans. But he is full of hatred."
Über die Tea Party: Mit hass erfüllt:
Die Tea Party, eine Gruppe Weisser  älterer Wähler, die ihr Land zurückfordern, ist verärgert. Fox-News-Sprecher Glenn Beck, ein genesender Alkoholiker, der Obama mit Hitler verknüpft, ist zornig. Beck ist sich nicht ganz sicher was er sein will - vielleicht ein Politiker, vielleicht Präsident, vielleicht ein Prediger; und er weiss auch nicht, was zu tun. Zumindest ist er nicht mit irgendwelchen spezifischen Ideen oder Plänen hervorgetreten. Aber er ist mit Hass erfüllt.
The piece continues with the sobering assessment that America's actual unemployment rate isn't really 10 percent, but close to 20 percent when we factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work.
Der Artikel fährt mit der ernüchternden Feststellung fort, dass Amerikas aktuelle Arbeitslosenrate nicht wirklich 10 Prozent ist, sondern näher an 20 Prozent, wenn man die Bürger miteinkalkuliert, die aufgehört haben nach Arbeit zu suchen.
Some social scientists think that making sure large-scale crime or fascism never takes root in Europe again requires a taxpayer investment in a strong social safety net. Can we learn from Europe? Isn't it better to invest in a social safety net than in a large criminal justice system? (In America over 2 million people are incarcerated.)
Einige Sozialwissenschaftler denken, um sicher zu gehen, dass große Verbrechen oder Faschismus in Europa niemals wieder Fuß fassen, ist eine Investition des Steuerzahlers in ein starkes Sozialnetz erforderlich. Können wir von Europa lernen? Ist es nicht besser, in ein Soziales Netz als in ein gröeßeres Justizwesen zu investieren? (In Amerika sind über 2 Millionen Menschen inhaftiert.)
Jobless Benefits That Never Run Out
Unlike here, in Germany jobless benefits never run out. Not only that -- as part of their social safety net, all job seekers continue to be medically insured, as are their families.
Arbeitslosenunterstützung die nicht ausgeht
Im Gegensatz zur Situation hier (in Amerika), läuft die Arbeitslosenunterstützung in Deutschland nie aus. Nicht nur das, als ein Teil des sozialen Sicherheitsnetzes sind alle Arbeitsuchenden Krankenversichert, wie auch ihre Familien.
In the German jobless benefit system, when "jobless benefit 1" runs out, "jobless benefit 2," also known as  Hartz-IV, kicks in. That one never gets cut off. The jobless also have contributions made for their pensions. They receive other types of insurance coverage from the state. As you can imagine, the estimated 2 million unemployed Americans who almost had no benefits this Christmas seems a particular horror show to Europeans, made worse by the fact that the U.S. government does not provide any medical insurance to American unemployment recipients. Europeans routinely recoil at that in disbelief and disgust.
Im Deutschen Arbeitslosenunterstützungssystem springt nach Ablauf der Arbeitslosenunterstützung 1 das System II, bekannt als Hartz-IV, an. Dieses wird nie abgebrochen. Auch die Rentenbeiträge der Arbeitslosen werden weiter geführt und beglichen. Andere Arten von Versicherungen werden zusätzlich vom Staat gedeckt. Wie Sie sich vorstellen können, die ungefähr 2 Millionen arbeitslosen Amerikaner, die zu Weihnachten fast ohne irgendwelche Unterstützung dastanden, bedeuten für Europäer ein Bild des Schreckens, noch verstärkt durch die Tatsache, dass die USA garkeine Krankenversicherung für Arbeitslose anbietet. Europäer in der Gesamtheit schrecken in Unglauben und Abscheu vor diesen Bedingungen zurück.
In another piece the Spiegel magazine steps away from statistics and tells the story of Pam Brown, who personifies what is coming to be known as the Nouveau American poor. Pam Brown was a former executive assistant on Wall Street, and her shocking decline has become part of the American story:
In einer anderen Veröffentlichung weicht das Spiegel.Magazin von Statistiken ab, und erzählt die Geschichte von Pam Brown, die einer als Noveau Poor (Neu-Armen) bekannten Gruppe von Amerikanern angehört. Pam Brown war früher eine Vorstandsassistentin an der Wall Street und ihr erschreckender Untergang ist ein Teil der amerikanischen Geschichte:
American society is breaking apart. Millions of people have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty. Among them, for the first time, are many middle-class families. Meet Pam Brown from New York, whose life changed overnight. The crisis caught her unprepared. "It was horrible," Pam Brown remembers. "Overnight I found myself on the wrong side of the fence. It never occurred to me that something like this could happen to me. I got very depressed."
Die amerikanische Gesellschaft bricht auseinander: Millionen Bürger haben durch die Rezession ihren Job verloren und verarmen, unter ihnen viele Mittelschichtfamilien. Die New Yorkerin Pam Brown hat den Absturz erlebt - über Nacht veränderte sich ihr Leben komplett. Auf den Schock war sie nicht vorbereitet. "Es war entsetzlich", erinnert sich Pam Brown. "Über Nacht fand ich mich auf der falschen Seite des Lebens wieder. Dass mir so was passieren könnte, hätte ich mir nie träumen lassen. Ich bin in eine tiefe Depression gestürzt."
Brown sits in a cheap diner on West 14th Street in Manhattan, stirring her $1.35 coffee. That's all she orders -- it's too late for breakfast and too early for lunch.  She also needs to save money. Until early 2009, Brown worked as an executive assistant on Wall Street, earning more than $80,000 a year, living in a six-bedroom house with her three sons. Today, she's long-term unemployed and has to make do with a tiny one-bedroom in the Bronx.
Brown sitzt im einem Billigrestaurant an der 14. Straße und rührt in ihrem Kaffee für 1,35 Dollar. Mehr bestellt sie nicht - es ist zu spät fürs Frühstück und zu früh fürs Mittagessen. Sparen muss sie sowieso. Bis Anfang 2009 arbeitete Brown noch als Vorstandsassistentin an der Wall Street, verdiente mehr als 80.000 Dollar im Jahr und wohnte mit ihren drei Söhnen in einer Sieben-Zimmer-Wohnung. Heute ist sie langzeitarbeitslos, muss in einem winzigen Apartment in der New Yorker Bronx hausen und ist nur mit viel Glück nicht obdachlos.
It's important to note that no country in the European Union uses food stamps in order to humiliate its disadvantaged citizens in the grocery checkout line. Even worse is the fact that even the humbling food stamp allotment may not provide enough food for America's jobless families. So it is on a reoccurring basis that some of these families report eating out of garbage cans to the European media.
Es ist Wichtig anzumerken, dass kein Land in der EU Lebensmittelmarken benutzt und damit seine bedüftigen Bürger an der Kasse demütigt. Noch schlimmer ist die Tatsache, dass selbst die bescheidenen Lebensmittelmarken nicht genug Nahrung für arbeitslose Familien ermöglichen. So kommt es in wiederholten Fällen dazu, dass einige dieser Familien den europäischen Medien berichten, dass sie ihr Essen aus Abfalltonnen beziehen.
For Pam Brown, last winter was the worst. One day she ran out of food completely and had to go through trash cans. She fell into a deep depression ... For many, like Brown, the downfall is a Kafkaesque odyssey, a humiliation hard to comprehend. Help is not in sight: their government and their society have abandoned them.
Für Pam Brown war der letzte Winter das Schlimmste. Eines Tages hatte sie keine Lebensmittelmarken mehr, und musste durch Abfalltonnen wühlen. Sie fiel in eine tiefe Depression ... Für viele wie Brown ist der Niedergang wie eine kafkaeske Odyssee; eine schwer zu verstehende Demütigung. Hilfe steht nicht in Aussicht; ihre Regierung und ihre Gesellschaft haben sie fallen gelassen.
Pam Brown and her children were disturbingly, indeed incomprehensibly, allowed to fall straight to the bottom. The richest country in the world becomes morally bankrupt when someone like Pam Brown and her children have to pick through trash to eat, abandoned with a callous disregard by the American government. People like Brown have found themselves dispossessed due to the robber baron actions of the Wall Street elite.
Auf beunruhigende, ja unbegreifliche weise wurde zugelassen, dass Pam Brown geradezu in den Boden stürzte.
Das reichste Land der Erde erklärt moralischen Bankrott, wenn jemand wie Pam Brown und ihre Kinder durch Abfall wühlen müssen um zu essen, verlassen durch herzlose Nichtbeachtung der amerikanischen Regierung. Menschen wie Brown fanden sich durch die Raubritteraktionen der Wall-Street-Elite enteignet.
Hunger in the Land of the Big Mac

A shocking headline from Swiss newspaper Berner Zeitung reads Hunger in the Land of the Big Mac. Though the article is in German, the pictures are worth 1,000 words and need no translation. Given the fact that the Swiss virtually eliminated hunger, how do we as Americans think they will view these pictures, to which the American population has apparently been desensitized.

Hunger im Land des Big Mac

Eine Schockierende Schlagzeile der Berner Zeitung lautet: Hunger im Land des Big Mac. Obwohl der Artikel in Deutsch ist, sprechen die Bilder tausend Worte und bedürfen keiner Übersetzung. Die Tatsache gegeben, dass die Schweizer praktisch Hunger besiegten, wie denken wir, als Amerikaner, werden sie diese Bilder, denen gegenüber die amerikanische Bevölkerung offensichtlich empfindungslos ist, betrachten?


The above appears to be a picture of two mothers collecting food boxes from the charity Feed the Children.
Das Obige scheint das Bild zweier Mütter, die augenscheinlich Lebensmittelpakete von der Wohlfahrtsorganisation "Feed the Children" abholen, zu sein.
Perhaps the only way for us to remember what we really look like in America is to see ourselves through the eyes of others. While it is true that we can all be proud Americans, surely we don't have to be proud of the broken American social safety net. Surely we can do better than that. Can a European style social safety net rescue the American working and middle classes from GOP and Tea Party warfare?
Vielleicht der einzige Weg, uns zu erinnern, wie wir in Amerika wirklich aussehen, ist uns selbst durch die Augen anderer zu sehen. Obwohl es Wahr ist, dass wir alle stolze Amerikaner sein können, kann man sicherlich nicht auf das zerrissene Sozialnetz stolz sein. Mit Sicherheit können wir mehr tun. Kann ein nach europäischen Muster geformtes Sozialnetz die amerikanische Arbeiterschaft und Mittelklasse vor dem Krieg zwischen der GOP (Grand Old Party = Republikaner) und der Tea Party retten?


Please feel invited to join and follow the Daily Kos Foreign Language Edition Group Newsletter. Employing foreign language media, we communicate with progressives both in America and around the world.

(This diary was cross posted by author from the Daily Kos.)

#8: Ist dies das erste Mal, dass jemand hier lobt HartzIV?...
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 03:36:57 PM EST
Ya don't need to convince anyone here. I genuinely pity people in the USA these days.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 05:07:19 PM EST
As the European Tribune is an English language blog, primarily, perhaps some of our German speaking members can suggest appropriate German language blogs on which this could be cross-posted. Thanks for posting here.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 05:59:19 PM EST
Thank you!! The truth is I need all the help I can get!
If anyone knows any German language blogs to cross post to please give me a link. Also any help in cross posting would also be appreciated. Thanks

sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]
by Democrats Ramshield on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 06:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Would you mind if somebod went in and formatted this in ET's standard side-by-side bilingual column format?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 07:39:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok thanks for the helpful comment.
Good idea! I can always use all the help I can get!

sig...You just ran into a hardcore progressive who's just another working stiff with an MBA degree & therefore a vociferous labor union supporter [smile]
by Democrats Ramshield on Mon May 16th, 2011 at 07:27:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I did that. I also eliminated the lazy links. Furthermore, I went through the German and edited the most glaring errors (mainly missing commas, capitalisation of adjectives and non-capitalisation of nouns, also some word choice and some word combination hyphens, and a half missing translation in the first point which was garbled in the English original already [also edited]) – check if you intend to re-publish it in parts or in its entirety later.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 17th, 2011 at 10:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]

But under the Pyrenean mountains the unemployment benefits are not as good as in Germany, and dentist are very expensive (take your teeth out for free --public service-- or pay what you are asked --private service--).

And our dear political leaders are bringing us austerity and more pain.

After we got out from our dictatorships in the 70s, Portugal, Spain, and Greece tried to run and catch up some well-being society and democratic freedoms, then we received some help from the new european union, but in the middle of the way, we are stopped and without a clear north.

We removed the general misery to a state of poor with quite a good health service and poor retirement, with almost free public universities in quite ordinary cities, but in the middle of the way to north european societies.

Then, the crazy housing boom came and Spain was building 800.000 homes/year, the little flat prices tripled in few years, but anyone with a job could get a mortgage. And as only half of the young were working, while the other half was living comfortably in their parent's home, those young workers decided to be free buying their own flat, paying half their annual income for 40 years, thinking they were going up in the scale.

Middle class parents were helping sons and daughters with the entrance or buying a flat on their own for a son or an investment until everything blow up.

And now we have the IMF telling us that we are risking a loss generation (half of young unemployed), that we must embrace austerity and so and so. In tree words: we are south-americans, or, we are south-asians.

It seems that in five years we have to give back to what we got in 25 years.

But the generation who started from scratch, working hard, wining a month of free vacation, a good health care service and a cheap university for their sons and daughters, fighting and working hard for it, now see their very modern sons and daughters, with a universitary degree, looking for a job, working for 1000 €/month, or just leeching them, in bad manners.

At the same time, most journalist with experience earning a good income have been replaced for young people earning a third, and all media are bombing us with dirty entertainment, realities, magical thinking and worst news services. Anyone sells his soul for a few bucks, and what a wonderful world!

It seems that Huxley's A Brave New Wold and Orwell's 1984 have been fulfilling, first one and then the other, 25 years later. And we are now in the peak of it. And the only way is down and down and down, while we are given Barça-R. Madrid matches.

So sorry for the rant, but I'm not sure this is the Europe I want.

Disclaimer: I'm a basque of the south; our unemployment rate is half of Spain, our GDP is quite bigger; but I also see a very fast increasing inequality here; with half housing bubble, we also saw tripling prices; they say that our public banks (cajas) are not insolvent; but I've also seen young unable to finish basic school became new riches, and all the rest of the shit.

PS: I agree with the whole version of Mr. Soini of the True Finns Party in Finland. http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=185817

by kukute on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 09:38:25 PM EST
I do not know how to put this video here...please help.

<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/10239575?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0"></iframe>

Steinhardt Lecture 2010 at Lewis & Clark College presents Dr. William Black from The Resource Lab on Vimeo.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed May 18th, 2011 at 12:53:12 AM EST
Copy the ID number of the video from the URL (in this case, 10239575) and then use the vimeo macro, that is, write "((vimeo ID_NUMBER))" (in this case: "((vimeo 10239575))"). The result:

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 18th, 2011 at 03:49:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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