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'Where's the money?'

The Local · 30 Sep 2011, 12:21

Published: 30 Sep 2011 12:21 GMT+02:00

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Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative coalition was in apparent harmony with the opposition on Thursday (or at least most of it), as the Bundestag voted overwhelmingly to expand the European Financial Stability Facility, raising its scope to €440 billion ($599 billion). Only the socialist Left party, and a handful of government backbench rebels, voted against the measure.

Outside the machinery of government, however, opinion is much less unanimous. A survey commissioned by public broadcaster ZDF last week showed that three-quarters of Germans rejected the idea of throwing more money into saving the single European currency.

The Local ventured onto the streets of Berlin to ask people what they thought of their government's decision.

Hannah Kowalski, 49, homemaker

“In my view, it’s crap when Germany gives others money. We are also poor. I am against this. Greece caused its own problems; it should take care of them. Where’s the money?”

Christoph Marx, 22, intern at public transport operator

“I think it’s actually good. This will strengthen Europe. We’re all in the same boat.”

Marianne Friedeißen, 57, unemployed

“I am against it. I’m from the GDR (former communist East Germany). I was not very excited about the so-called reunification. I personally think the whole idea of the European Union is not bad...but why should I, as a German citizen, help carry the debts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal?”

Matthias S., 24, student

“I don’t think that it will accomplish anything.”

Klaus B., 63, unemployed

Story continues below…

“We never should have accepted Greece and Portugal (into the EU). You can’t compare these countries with Germany or France. It almost goes without saying. When this is over, they’ll just want more money.”

E. Wolf, 35, salesperson

“I have a very divided opinion. In general, I wasn’t really in favour of the euro. This is kind of a confirmation of the whole thing. Other countries have a completely different mentality and different way of handling money...But (the euro crisis) has affected even the middle class of Germans so that they can barely afford anything besides necessities.”

Interviews by Erin Huggins

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:42 September 30, 2011 by freechoice
The Greek Orthodox Church owns property worth some €700 billion ­ more than double the country¦#39;s national debt. And yet it is the struggling Greek state that pays the salaries and pensions of all the Orthodox clerics in the country.
15:51 September 30, 2011 by DEACON6825
Think of The EU, in terms of the USA.

When say, a poor State such as New Jersey, needs help, rich states, such as Texas or California, helps out through the Fed. Government. Not that, it was their choice.. They are just, in it together.
17:38 September 30, 2011 by Portnoy
Yeah Deacon, that's the point -- Germany from the start said it didn't want that kind of Union and will fight to prevent it.
17:40 September 30, 2011 by Englishted

"Think of The EU, in terms of the USA. "

Think of the U.S.A.,in terms of the E.U..

Keep expanding (in your case southwards) taking in countries who 's only advantage is a cheap labour force .But do not ask your citizens if hey agree just do it anyway.
18:23 September 30, 2011 by aletheia93
freechoice: you are right. The same problem is encountered here in Poland wrt Catholic Church. Perhaps the Greek Church does not feel any obligation to face the problems of mainstream society. Some countries are not modern enough in order to face challenges. I'm afraid that Poland will face the same fate as Greece and Portugal. Actually, political class in Poland ( corrupted especially the current government) repeats the same mistakes ( including other factors like a ridiculous pride and unwillingness to push through a full scale modernization). There is no wealth without a solid industry based on advanced technology and knowledge. None wants to listen ... Poland will be a big trouble for the EU in the future. It is irrelevant who rules this country Kaczynski or Tusk or whoever. Backwardness and corruption just remains constant.
19:10 September 30, 2011 by expatriarch
@DEASON6825 - Hate to break it to you, reality is exactly inverse of your example. Texas receives net positive and NJ receives net negative federal assistance. In other words, TX is on welfare, NJ pays for the deadbeats.
21:20 September 30, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Ok, Guys, really? NJ now bails out California and Texas? LOL

Get real...

Debt per Capita;

Texas ranking in at #4: $520.00

California ranking #47: 1,805.00

New Jersey ranking #46: $3,621.00

Utah and New Hampshire ranking #1 and #2 in the country.

Here is an interactive map for you to follow..

00:02 October 1, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, according to history, the most intelligent people do not hold positions withing government. This fact has plagued humanity for thousands of years.

Plato said, a very long time ago, "Only the Philosopher who has achieved true knowledge is fit to rule. Democracy, the rule of the majority, is usually rooted in mere opinions."

Rational people would never have pushed for the current version of the EU.

They wouldn't have, simply because it's too illogical. It was basically set to fail from day one. And so, now the question becomes...What will Europe do to correct the huge mess?

Although the EU Concept itself is beneficial, however, obviously there must be changes?

I would suggest "It's better to shrink, than become extinct." AD
03:06 October 1, 2011 by aletheia93
logic guy: who should leave the EU then?
12:04 October 1, 2011 by Gretl
Remember the EU came into being to compete with NAFTA. NAFTA did not create a single currency or a international ruling commission.

I agree Logic Guy (surprising, I know). A common currency, free trade between member states, a weak central government and competing state interests negating common solutions? The US did that twice, and it failed twice. The EU either needs to have a strong central government and weaker states' rights or revise the EU to an economic trade union without the political union or common currency.
15:47 October 1, 2011 by melcart
There seems to be some misconceptions here about who bails out whom in the case of US political entities. In the US, political entities are not bailed out. The largest bankruptcy to date occurred when Orange County in California went bust in the mid 90's. The bond holders lost everything. There was no attempt bail anyone out. Why? Because none of the "too big to fail" banks were threatened -- they had already sold their bonds to unsuspecting seniors.

The purpose of the EFSF is to create a mechanism to bail out the "too big to fail" banks once Greece is recognized as being insolvent. The German government could not legally bail out banks in other European countries with German tax payer money, but through the mechanism of the EFSF this is all perfectly legal now...
15:48 October 1, 2011 by catjones
I'm not educated enough to know, but I'm not sure the common currency is the problem, anymore than a currency pegged to the dollar means a shared responsibility or shared fate.

I see the EU as more of a shared street of homes where the valuation of one home affects the valuation of others. I'm sure there are historical references, but my guess is that if Greece failed with its own currency germany would proffer loans just the same....only with an exchange rate.
17:32 October 1, 2011 by storymann
When you sample the public you rarely if ever get a realistic response.The problem is not the Euro. Germany can not go back to the D Mark it would be a diaster.I would guess that the value presently of the Mark would be 21/2 times that of the dollar and at least that to most other former European currencies. Who would be able to afford those nice German autos and all the other quality German products?

Germany has prospered from the Euro ,we just read where unemployment is at a 20 year low.I would wager that would not be so if the D Mark come back.
11:10 October 2, 2011 by Stephanie73
There are poor nations in Europe and rich nations. WHat the EU is, is poor nations saying "Here is an idea, let's all share our money!"
08:56 October 3, 2011 by snowey
Greece will default. They have consistently falsified financial data since entering the Eurozone in 2000 & continue to do so. Greek Goverment bonds currently earn 25% interest per annum which is absurd & its because the market expects a default within weeks. Nor has the Greek Goverment implemented promises made during the current crisis.They promised the IMF & World Bank 12 months ago that they would sell of €50 billion worth of state assets to private investors & yet, currently, they have not even identified which assets to sell. Moreover for local political reasons the Socialist Government has recruited an additional 20,000 civil servants during the past year since these people will vote for them. Germany & the Eurozone countries are simply throwing good money after bad.
17:49 October 18, 2011 by lwexcel
I read this story about a month ago but something just dawned on me. Of course it depends on where the sample was taken, but, take a gander at the occupations of all of the people that were questioned I believe only one out of all of them has a valid peverbial '9 to 5' I predict that this is going to be a large problem as Germany gets hit with further financial issues.
07:34 October 20, 2011 by luckylongshot
Because the l problem is too much debt, trying to solve it with even more debt is doomed. It is like trying to cure alcoholism by providing more alcohol. There is zero chance that this will work and the proof of this is that every fiat currency in history has failed. All the money in the bailout fund will be lost and everything that is added to it will also be lost. The only way out of this mess is allowing the Euro to collapse, writing off all the debt and starting fresh with a gold backed currency. This is the only solution that has worked historically. Coincidentally this dates back to 400 BC and the Greeks.
21:31 November 3, 2011 by ms915

"Remember the EU came into being to compete with NAFTA."

It's actually the other way around.

The EU is a very old post-WW2 idea that a lot of people worked long and hard for. Abandoning it now would have dire consequences for Germany. In the short term, the new German mark would make it impossible to export at our current levels. In the long term, Germany would become more and more isolated.
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