The Shades Of Grey Of The Great “Deutschland”

Most of us must have already known that one of the famous European country is Germany. Germany is known to be one of the most industrialised country. This is mostly because the developments of its science and technology especially in manufacturing base are drastically improving year by year. This makes Germany as one of the richest and powerful country. The successes and the wealthiness of this nation is just too great that we turn a blind eye to things that actually matters like “The people”. The distribution of wealth in this country are more unevenly distributed than any other industrialised country. One of the biggest challenges that this rich and sophisticated nation faces nowadays is socioeconomic inequality. Does the difference threaten the social cohesion and democracy?

Before we discuss this issue, it is best that we first know about Germany itself. Deutschland which also known as Germany is located at the center of Europe, it is bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The unified Germany has an area of 356, 959 square kilometers. It extends 853 kilometers from its northern border with Denmark to the Alps in the south. Germany is known as the sixth largest country in Europe. At its widest, Germany measures approximately 650 kilometers from the Belgian-German border in the west to the Polish frontier in the east.

The German nation that existed today came into being in the 19th century, which is when a Prussian Prime Minister named Otto von Bismarck brought together dozens of the German-speaking kingdoms, free cities, principalities, duchies, and bishoprics to form the German Empire in 1871. Germany’s economy, however, has always been catching the world’s attention as it has been flourishing over the past 12 years and all of this are possible because their Chancellor Angela Merkel has led the country to enhance the growth of economy and to sustain a low unemployment rates. Germany practices a mixed economy system. A mixed economy is a system consist of the combinations of characteristics of market, command and traditional economies. Benefit comes from the advantages of all three, thus, generates low disadvantages. The mixed economy system used in Germany allows a free market economy in consumer goods and business services. This means that the laws of supply and demand direct the production of goods and services. The laws of supply include natural resources, capital, and labor while demand includes purchases from consumers, businesses, and the government. However, there are also rules and regulations impemented by the government in those areas to protect its citizens. Germany uses command economy in defense. It means that the government will have full control of the nation’s economy. This system has been beneficial for the people. When your payment is done into the system according to your income, you will receive the benefits according to your needs. For example, The government will provide education and health care insurance.

Since Germany is also known as the centre of industry, it is undeniably true that it is one of the most highly developed economies in the world. That is an implication on what Germany has done striving to boost up its economy. Germany’s industrial strength is the country’s education system. This kind of educational system has led Germany to produce most of the highly skilled workers that could meet the specific needs of any long-established and powerful manufacturing base. In Germany, if you are ambitious and talented enough, making it to the top even in the biggest companies is definitely possible.

Even with these well-structured and organised economic system, problems still manage to find its way in. It is my belief that if we are not cautious enough, there is always a lacuna for downfalls. Over the years Germany has faced a lot of challenges and one of them is the crisis of refugees. Because of the unending war in the Middle-East, In the year 2015 there were about 1. 2 million applicants applied for the asylum in Europe. 75 percent of the were men and 40 percent them were between the age of 18-34. This event has created a problem for Germany because in the year of 2016, a group of young refugees were reported of robbing and sexually assaulting more than 600 women. This unfortunate event has created a large political backlash.

One of the known historic struggles of Germany was unemployment. Germany faced higher rate of unemployment during its recession period. Only in recent years that the employment rate in Germany lowered down from 7. 7 percent rate (recession period) to 3. 8 percent in the year 2017. Germany struggled with this issue for historical and cultural reasons. The few factors are;

  1. The laws in Germany made it difficult to lay off workers and lower wages.
  2. After the fall of berlin wall, the reunification of the west and east berlin heightened the rate of unemployment.
  3. The culture of saving for a rainy day instead of investing money for the enhancement of economy.

Besides the challenges mentioned above, what recently Germany is facing is wealth inequality. This issue is on the rise in Germany and it is worrying the citizens very much. A documentary has been done by the DW Documentary to study this issue further so that the people who are supposed to be in charge of this matter realise that this issue is slowly yet terrifyingly conjuring the downfall of the nation. In this documentary it explores the questions of inequality in Germany. Therefore the filmmakers interviewed leading researchers and experts who have studied deeply into the issue of inequality.

Based on the documentary done, it is easier to say that the fact that inequality is happening in Germany, it is like a world of crossroads for the middle-class and poor citizens. This is because they have lost the sense of control to the place of where they live or even their country. The documentary portrays so much on how pressing the inequality issue towards social problems. One of the reasons why this problem occur in Germany is how some people are afraid of bigger responsibilities. Some may wish for a better living but they are not up for the challenge to earn it. In my opinion, it is such a waste when we choose not to challenge ourselves to put out our full potential when it comes to achieving success in life. However, it is still in my understanding how the word ‘Success’ could be subjective and not all can see eye to eye on this matter. Some people can live moderately and call it success and some may call it failure.

Besides that, another reason is there are no proper control on wealth. Basically in Germany richness do not come from the sweat of the brows. However it is by investing your money at the time, at the right place, and for the right things or you are simply just born with it. This is becoming a norm throughout the whole Germany. The difference in power of wealth erects a social barrier between the rich and the moderate or lower.

The statistic studied in this documentary can briefly explain the amount of wealth of 95 percent of the population in Germany. It is explained in a simple X-Y axis graph in which the amount of wealth is on the Y-axis and the population in the X-axis. This graph starts at negative value. This is because part of the population is in debt. Then there are relatively broad area where assets are virtually zero until it increases exponentially. This shows how big the gap is between the middle-class or poorwith the rich people.

The implication to this issue is really bad as it may increase the number of homeless people in Germany. Apartments are becoming so expensive that some locals who lives as middle-class cannot even stay in their own hometown. Since 5 percent of the richest in Germany own half of the apartments and houses in Germany, most the citizen will just have to rent and they are needed to pay more and more for a bigger living space. The purchase price has soared within 10 years (2007-2017) for apartments that starts from 80sqft apartment. These facts can be proven more when studies were made in Leipzig. In Leipzig only 10 percent of the people own a real estate and 60 percent of the new building and 94 percent of the refurbished buildings are not belonged to the locals. It is very unfortunate how one cannot stay in his or her own hometown because they cannot afford it. It is not surprising if the locals feel invaded when they actually have to pay rent to non-locals just to keep staying in the place they live.

Another implication of wealth inequality is that it is able to create a social stratum which may in future deteriorate the peace of the country. Inequalities basically means being a way of making people feel more distant from one another. The fact that this issue exist in the German community, it will pull the people apart from one another physically, experientially, and psychologically. What the documentary is trying to tell the viewers is that the people who are already on top will keep on getting richer while the ones who lives moderately have to suffer as they can hardly afford to live in their own anymore. From this statement, it actually leaves us with one basic question; Does profit for one means loss for the other? If it does, then things should change or else Germany will soon greet its dark era. If the power of wealth is not being controlled properly, what is worrying is that when those people on top are accumulating dynastic wealth in the future. Dynastic wealth means to own large amount of money that gets transferred down to generations. Therefore, the existence of dynastic wealth will stabilise the system of inequality across society. How it stabilise the system is by constricting the availability to everyone else. It is in the nature of human being to have an unending struggle to gain wealth. Humans are too eager in chasing wealth and choose to neglect the people who suffers.

The state of inequality will also put those normal workers on a very shaky legs. Normal employees are only secured by single income. To lose a job is not impossible. Even the biggest company in Germany (SIEMENS) are planning to shut down one of their manufacturing base in Leipzig as the project is seemed to be less beneficial in the future. For sure the people in Germany who are living the middle-class or lower are living in fear even if they have a proper job. It is a suffering to live a life with the fear of losing a job because losing it means losing a roof to stay under.

To stop this matter from becoming a catastrophe if it is not already, the government should play their role by increasing the federal minimum wage. The documentary shows that no matter how much the people work, they can never afford a real estate. This shows how underpaid they are despite their type of jobs. No one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty. Therefore the government themselves have to initiate their own research on the people who are suffering and increase their minimum salary relevantly.

To control the wealth of the rich, it is wiser to demand the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share in taxes. It is fair to implement a progressive estate tax on the rich people who inherit huge amount of money. This way, the wealth that the rich owns can be controlled properly and avoid the existence of wealth gap.

The inequality that is happening in Germany shows how the world is now shaken up by big money and it’s a game that few can play and few can win. This stigma should be omitted and replaced to something that can be made equal to all citizen.

18 March 2020
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