THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Obama Promises Germany-Plus
When I begin to feel homesick for Germany, I have discovered a cheap and easy way out. I simply turn on the TV and listen to a Barack Obama stump speech.
The promised land of universal health care, secure pensions, a lot of green-collar jobs and stable bridges brings me back to my home country. My grandma, who has worked in a post office all her life, enjoys her pension without having ever observed the stock market. Everyone who travels through the countryside can see thousands of windmills, but never a collapsed bridge. And the best: My mom, my friends and everyone around them have access to first-class medical services.
Sometimes it appears to me that Mr. Obama wants to trump all that. He has promised not only a $160 billion program for new green-collar jobs, a higher minimum wage, affordable health care for everybody, a massive investment in infrastructure and tax-free status for pensioners who make less than $50,000. All these nice things come with no tax increase for 95% of Americans. Wow! That’s Germany-plus!
I’ve been in the U.S. for a while, but if I remember my home country correctly, all the German comforts come with a price. My grandma has paid 10% of her salary to the public pension system, and her employer has matched the contribution. For our health insurance everyone has to sacrifice 7% of his or her earnings, which again is matched by the company. Fashionable windmills go along with extra taxes for fuel. A gallon of regular gas in Munich or Berlin costs – fasten your seat belt – more than $8.
Not all of my fellow Germans are happy with this, but the overwhelming majority of my fellow countrymen made their decision a long time ago. They prefer big government. They have learned to live with growth rates far behind and an unemployment rate far above the U.S.
Maybe I am being unfair to Mr. Obama. But it seems to me that the agent of change was window-shopping in Germany without looking at the price tag. You should ask him for the bill.