All is not well in Deutschland:
Germans are leaving their country in record numbers but unlike previous waves of migrants who fled 19th century poverty or 1930s Nazi terror, these modern day refugees are trying to escape a new scourge — unemployment.
Flocking to places as far away as the United States, Canada and Australia as well as Norway, the Netherlands and Austria more than 150,000 Germans packed their bags and left in 2004 — the greatest exodus in any single year since the late 1940s.
High unemployment that lingers at levels of more than 20 percent in some parts of Germany and dim prospects for any improvement are the key factors behind the migration. In the 15 years since German unification more than 1.8 million Germans have left.
“It’s hard for me to even imagine any more what it’s like to have so much unemployment,” said Karin Manske, 45, who moved to the United States with her two children eight years ago to start her own business as a consultant.
“It’s hard to fathom because Germans are such skilled workers,” Manske said in an interview with Reuters in Los Angeles. “I love the adventurous spirit and won’t go back. You can start a business on a shoe string and work hard to succeed.”
The article brings to mind three somewhat disparate thoughts.
The first is memories of Colosse. Colosse is full of people from around the country. What I found interesting, particularly when I was in college, were those that moved to Colosse, Delosa, and the south more generally because of the opportunities that exist there… and then proceed to complain that Colosse isn’t nearly as good as Boston or Chicago and that Delosa’s culture is kinda backwards compared to the enlightened New Englanders. Everyone, of course, has a right to their opinion, but I found it odd that at least particularly when it came to economic policy the fact that southern governments are so non-progressive might be at least a little responsible for the fact that the opportunity they were persuing was in Colosse and not Baltimore. They move across the country to seek opportunity that they can’t find at home and then try to turn their new home into the old home that they had to leave (or were bribed away from).
I wonder about those Germans that are coming to America and wonder how many of them will have a good deal of problems with everything that’s wrong with our country — everything that is not like the Fatherland (except for the unemployment rate)
I don’t hold a whole lot of punches in my critiques of Deseretian culture, but at the same time I try to recognize that some of the things that I really don’t like out here (heavily Mormon culture) heavily influence the things that I can appreciate (the general cleanness of the place, for instance). Ultimately, the things I like aren’t enough to keep me here, but that’s part of an equation. Some people seem to think that you can just get rid of everything that you don’t like while everything that’s good will naturally stay in place.
The second thought is on an article I read a while back suggesting that the United States is having a little more difficulty with bringing in educated immigrants than we used to because they’re opting for Canada or Australia. I am quite interested to see if that happens. The fact is that American culture and economic policy really doesn’t mesh with the priorities of much of the rest of the world. We want the freedom to bear arms, but it seems that most foreigners are more interested in freedom from people that bear arms. Not to mention health care and religious zealotry.
The question we may have to ask ourselves someday is whether American exceptionalism will come back to hurt us. In some ways the exceptionalist culture that we maintain is kept afloat by immigrants, both legal and illegal and both educated and uneducated. While we have little to worry about uneducated illegals making their way into the country, it could be problematic if we have to start relying on our own public education system to produce great American minds without educated outside influence. If they do start opting for Canada and Australia in large numbers, it could really hurt us. On the other hand, for all of the paradise that Canada is supposed to be, they’re the ones losing their educated people to us and not vice-versa. So maybe they’ll get the Indians and the Germans and we’ll get the Canadians.
The last thought has to do with education levels and the lady who commented that it was surprising that Germans are unemployed in such high numbers when they’re such skilled workers. I find the notion that an economy will grow to meet the needs of its workforce, instead of vice-versa, to be odd.
A while back I read an article about the alleged engineering gap that Americans have. A debate opened up at Asymmetical Information on the subject, bringing up the question: if there are many engineers unemployed or underemployed against their preference, can we really say that there is a shortage of engineers? Even if we stack unfavorably in comparison with the Indians, just because we have less does not mean that we have too few engineers… it often means that we’re not providing engineers with job opportunities that make young men and women choosing a career path envious.
But a lot of the collegiate education debate is around graduating as many people as possible rather than graduating what we need and needing what we are currently graduating. I may someday write a post making the case that our education system has gotten a so segmented with overspecialization that our scientific degrees are (correctly or incorrectly) seen as unuseful outside of the specific field. The original idea behind a liberal arts education was that it would make people ready for brain-intensive careers (in law, education, etc.). I am generally in favor of more useful degrees over less useful ones (don’t get me started on the people majoring in Lesbianism in Mayan Culture), but I find it interesting that the people with more generalized business degrees are doing so much better than those in the most specialized engineering ones.
Unfortunately the current economy is stacked up so that any investment by an employer in an employee is probably wasted (and vice-versa), so many of the tech companies want employees pre-trained. As tuitions continue to increase and companies decline to train, the much-heralded “continuing education” is coming at the expense of the employees having to undergo it at the benefit of the corporations that can afford to require it and the government that seems to have more important things to spend its money on.
But unless we can convince employees to stick with companies even when they can make more elsewhere, and unless we can convince employers to invest in their employees, its going to be quite difficult to change.