Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Behind the Mask: Two Very Scary Things

Wow! Now I see the other side of the happy German state. I don't know which of these things frightens me more.

1. They took 52% of my paycheck. FIFTY TWO percent, for taxes, health insurance, and social insurance. In other words, respectively, to pay for fat ass bureaucrats who do nothing, for fat ass civilians who don't take care of themselves, and for fat ass civilians who refuse to work. I pay this money, at gunpoint, for the privilege of serving the welfare state. Why does anyone work?

Now, the university assures me that this will be refunded to me, but that is not the point. If I were a German worker, then I would be working for less than half of whatever pathetic salary der Staat saw fit to pay me. That is appalling.

No wonder young people are pissed off. Most of them won't get good jobs. That may be true in the U.S. also. But at least in the U.S. if you get a good job you will be able to keep some of your salary. Here, if you work hard and get a good job, you are definitely going to get the red hot tax poker, right up the gozatch.

2. Twice, people have tried to steal my bike, once setting it on fire. (yes, they set the Gbike on fire, you read that right. Fortunately I had taken the pirate flag into the apartment, so THAT was safe).

I live in a very nice neighborhood. The problem is that during Bergkirchweih, lots of drunk people from out of town are walking (pissing, vomiting, you get the picture) on our street. So there is a temporary, but serious, crime problem.

But when my landlords (three of their bikes were stolen, and some other stuff also) called the polizei, the cops just shrugged. Openly and honestly said that they don't protect property, and don't investigate property crimes. If there had been an assault, maybe they would bestir themselves. Now I see why the cops are always so happy and smiling. They don't actually have jobs, except to protect themselves. And, since THEY have guns (no other Germans are allowed to have guns, basically), the cops can protect themselves. The rest of us can clearly go get screwed.

I had expected the cops to pretend they were interested, but they did not pretend.

Again, the difference from the U.S. isn't that big. American cops also make no effort to protect property. But at least in the U.S. you have some ability to try to protect yourself, unless you live in the People's Republic of the District of Columbia. I don't expect the state to HELP, but it is remarkable that the state will actually intervene on behalf of the criminals, to ensure that the populace is helpless and defenseless.

I feel like I have passed entirely through the looking glass. This isn't varieties of capitalism. This is varieties of state-sponsored theft.


JO said...

Thank you for another interesting post from Erlangen!

I'm curious as to where "the state" comes from in your description - in two of your recent posts you claimed it didn't exist. Does the state only exist in its negative form for you?

I also think that a majority of Germans (for the most part including myself) happily pays for a social net that - in most cases - actually works (there are many different reform proposals to vote on). If I break my leg or lose my job I can count on support without indebting myself in the process or living on the street.

The attitude of the police is a shame, but I still don't think we should all be carrying guns - have you compared the rate of firearm deaths in the US to the German one? How would you prevent criminals from acquiring guns as easily as you'd like to be able to get one yourself?

Anonymous said...

"How would you prevent criminals from acquiring guns as easily as you'd like to be able to get one yourself?"

That's an interesting question. In Germany how do they prevent criminals from acquiring guns? If you are approached by a criminal in Germany, is it likely that they don't have a firearm? I am curious about this, since I would think that criminals might have guns in either place. Where there is gun prohibition, do there tend to be fewer firearm deaths but more petty crimes? Are the criminals occasionally armed, but just less likely to use the gun since the victims aren't?

JO said...

I certainly don't think that it's impossible for a criminal to get a gun on the German black market as well, but I assume that if you make it easier for everybody to get a gun on the legal market, criminals will be among those most interested since they too have to improve their armament now.

Bird said...

I would hope that "protecting" oneself in America would not include the right to shoot to kill someone stealing a bike from you yard.

Anonymous said...

wow, a rather socialist slant on these comments. First, Jo: perhaps you enjoy a state that spends money for you and supports you, just as we Americans seem to enjoy a state that gives us an incentive not to work. I definitely enjoy going to work every day and coming home to my roommate on the couch, grubbing on cereal making as much as I do from unemployment checks. But I have faith that government can spend a large portion of my money better than i can so i continue to work.
"have you compared the rate of firearm deaths in the US to the German one?"
This is surely a misleading statistic. One must compare violence resulting from those who legally carry guns. Guns carry titles with them so its not as if some bloke can just go to K-mart and buy a bunch of guns then sell them to criminals who couldn't pass the background check. If he does, he's implicated. But i realize we do have more gun violence--probably because they allow our children to play paintball and laser tag. And Bird: protecting ones self in America means the right to protect your property if the state is unwilling to do so. I'm sure that with the existence of a police force in Germany, it was assumed that his bike would be somewhat protected on the street. But now rational behavior will take over, I'm sure, and a better place will be found for the bike--or the festival will end. Perhaps he puts it inside. If a criminal then decides he still wants the bike and breaks in to pursue the bike, endangering the owner...yes, he should have the right to protect himself with a gun.

David said...

"Wah, wah, wah. I can't protect myself." You are a neanderthal, Mungowitz. I am shocked and disappointed you didn't grind up any thief's bones to make your bread.

And if this is all it takes to feel like you've gone through the looking glass, please do not go to China. Your head would explode.

Christoph said...

Your post on taxes got me curious, so I googled a bit to get a comparison (assuming your US salary would be above $82,250 and using single status for simplicity):

US Federal Income Tax 28.00%
NC State Income Tax 7.75%
Social Security 6.20%
Medicare 1.45%
Total 43.40%

On top of that you have to pay probably around 2% for health insurance. This gives me an estimated difference of tax/health between 6% and 7% of your income. A sizable amount for sure, but hardly the difference between socialism and the free world.

Anonymous said...

"A sizable amount for sure, but hardly the difference between socialism and the free world."
both Germany and US are the free world. Both Germany and the US are part socialist.

JO said...

To 2:09 PM, "I definitely enjoy going to work every day and coming home to my roommate on the couch, grubbing on cereal making as much as I do from unemployment checks.": I don't know much about the situation in the US, but in Germany it's not that easy anymore. You get 345 Euros (less if your assets exceed a certain amount) and the rent paid for, although you'll have to leave your apartment or move back in with your parents if it is too big or you're under 25, and if you don't actively search for a job, the assistance will be shortened (to zero, in the end). There are certainly some people faking this search because they absolutely don't want to work, but in my opinion that's hardly the majority and it's definitely sad if you describe all the unemployed as lazy.

Dirty Davey said...

Given that--as far as quick Internet research can ascertain--both the program (DAAD) and the University of Erlangen are state institutions, it seems a little rude to complain about the tax burden on a paycheck written to you by the taxpayers.

Josh Hall said...


The top marginal income tax rate only applies to income earned above the threshold. Thus you can be paying the top marginal income tax rate and still have a much lower average tax rate, which is what Mike was talking about.