December 6, 2005

Cheering up the Germans.

The NYT has an article about that ad campaign to cheer up Germans:
Whether this is an appropriate way to battle the national melancholy - and opinions vary greatly on this issue - the very existence of such a campaign, reportedly the first of its sort in this country, is a sign of what is generally recognized here: that Germany is indeed in a sour mood, its economy in the doldrums, its financial deficits too high and none of its leaders strong or visionary enough to lead the way out....

[I]t has now settled pretty deeply in the collective awareness that unification has been an economic and a spiritual failure. It cost, and still costs, a staggering amount of money in financial transfers from the former West to the poorer and smaller former East, where the money seems to have vanished without a trace.

Now, the westerners are unhappy because the disappearance of all that money is seen as the root of Germany's economic stagnation and high unemployment. The easterners are notoriously unhappy because life is less secure than it used to be under Communism, and, as this cycle continues, the westerners are irritated that the easterners are unhappy....

[Critics of the ad campaign argue] that what Germany needs is not singers and athletes (and literary critics, television anchor women and 8-year-olds) telling them to cheer up, but serious attention to the country's real problems.

The intellectual weekly Die Zeit heaped scorn on the campaign, labeling it "propaganda" and excoriating its creators in particular for what the paper deemed their "tasteless" use of the Holocaust Memorial as a backdrop to the "You are Germany" chants of the gay and handicapped people.

"Unemployment is depicted as a consequence of the bad mood, a private phenomenon, which at any given time could be corrected by self-contemplation and positive thinking," wrote the paper's commentator, Jens Jessen.

This story got me thinking about Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech. People who are already unhappy about the economy do not like to hear that they ought to solve the problem by not being unhappy.

12 comments:

HaloJonesFan said...

Jesus, why would we want happy Germans? Miserable Germans write music. Happy Germans set things on fire!

dick said...

I would question whether this is in reality the first of its type in Germany. Maybe it is the first in the current rebirth of Germany but the principle is much the same as what Hitler and Leni and Goebbels were doing in the 1930's. After all Germany was really in the tank at that time and Hitler and crew did all they could to buck up the country with celebrations and slogans and movies praising the German past. There were all sorts of slogans at the time. It worked then and ended up as a disaster but the Germans did pull together then. Maybe it will work now and in a beneficial way. Lord knows they need to do something. When one of the great nations of the world is losing jobs and population and faith in itself as fast as the Germans are today they need to do something.

Mike said...

I understand that this is tangential, but I recall that it was widely known on the Left and by Carter that by now we would have absolutely no oil left on the planet. I found this very dubious at the time. What a difference a change of attitude made when Reagan was elected. Those on the Left are seemingly always so sure that the sky is falling, but they always turn out to be wrong. It baffles me that so many even listen to them anymore.

I love the argument about ANWR that it will not help immediately (10 years lead time is often quoted). The situation is similar for refineries which apparently have a similarly long lead time. Why have these arguments prevailed for my adult life (about 30 years)? Until all of the lefties start living in a Unabomber shack, I will continue to not be impressed by their commitment to the cause (such as it is). Don't even get me started on the lefties who are so afraid of any useful use of nuclear power, but constantly irradiate themselves on purpose by tanning.

Mike

PatCA said...

Halo, LOL!


Since they blame reunification, can blaming Ronald Reagan ("tear down this wall") be far behind?

Meade said...

Jimmy Carter would've made a good German.

Joe Baby said...

I say we do our part and give them Heidi Klum back.

Please.

erp said...

Mike, the left needs everything and everybody to be going to hell in a hand basket, so they can step in and make it all better. Of course, what the left does is make everything much worse, so they need more programs and more taxes in a vicious cycle that culminated in the Carter presidency.

Since then we got a little smarter, so maybe we won't make that same mistake of believing that socialism and income redistribution solves problems ever again.

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

People who are already unhappy about the economy do not like to hear that they ought to solve the problem by not being unhappy. My thoughts exactly a few weeks ago when Chirac said the same thing.

Goesh said...

Are they still burning cars in France or have they moved on to government buildings?

Mark Daniels said...

Ann:
Because of my friendships with several Germans and my ongoing interest in Germany, I wrote a piece on this several weeks ago. The link: http://markdaniels.blogspot.com/2005/11/du-bist-deutschland-and-tragedy-of.html.

In specific response to today's Times article, I wrote this: http://markdaniels.blogspot.com/2005/12/more-on-germanys-mood.html.

In both posts, I look at things historically, economically, and spiritually.

You mention thinking of Jimmy Carter's incorrectly nicknamed "malaise" speech while reading the NYT article. (Carter never used the word "malaise" in the speech.) I thought of Herbert Hoover and friends and talk about that in the second post.

Mark Daniels

JBlog said...

Gosh, how about if we let them invade France again? You think that might cheer them up?

Sorry, it was a little too easy.

The detractors of the ad campaign do have a point -- "happy" ads won't fix the real problems.

Steven said...

I'm just going to stand here and point to the 2004 unemployment rates in Australia [5.1%], Ireland [4.3%], New Zealand [4.2%], the United Kingdom [4.8%], and the United States [5.5%].

Then I'll point to the 2004 unemployment rates in Belgium [12%], France [10.1%], Germany [10.6%], Italy [8.6%], and Spain [10.4%].

Advice to Germany: Switch from the "Social Market" model to the "Anglo-Saxon Capitalist" model.