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"Living Comfortably" in Europe?

From the Dallas Morning News this weekend: "Germans live comfortably spending much less than Americans".

The story's author, Jim Landers, interviewed Raoul Wintjes, a Lufthansa employee who spent two years living and working in the DFW metroplex. Wintjes was amazed at the amount of money that Americans spend at restaurants, and with our penchant for "shopping to shop," rather than simply going to the market or the store to purchase a specific item.

The story also provides some interesting statistics to compare the spending habits of Germans and Americans:

Germans live comfortably spending much less than Americans. In 2007, the average Dallas household spent $54,334 for housing, transportation, entertainment, you name it. That same year, German households spent just less than $34,000.

... Households in the Dallas-Fort Worth area spent $2,559 on gasoline and motor oil in 2007 - the most recent year available for comparative data from the German and U.S. governments. In Germany, the consumers living in an average household spent $1,447 to fuel their cars.

Dallas households spend a lot more on dining out - $2,662 a year in 2007. In Germany, it was $1,266.

But are Germans really "living comfortably" while spending 40% less than Americans? The answer would appear to be "no." If you read all the way through to the very end of the story, it turns out that Germans are very nervous about their financial security after they retire. Which is interesting, considering that Germany is one of the European states that supposedly provides "guaranteed everything" to its citizens.

Germans pay a VAT of 19% and have a "tax wedge" (the percentage of a family's income lost to taxes) of about 40%. Yet Germans still save over 16% of their income, compared with around 5% here in America. Wintjes explains, "What we have that you don't have is the demographic disaster. Within 20 years, most of us in Germany will be in our 60s and 70s ... If you cut taxes, they'll save more."

I think it's pretty fair to conclude that Germans are not wise and morally superior world citizens who derive satisfaction from voluntarily consuming less while saving more. They are forced to consume less and save more because, despite the enormous amount of money taken from them by the government, they have little faith that the government will be able to meet the financial obligations that it has promised them. It should also be noted that Germany has a very strong export economy. Germany would be in even more dire financial straits if not for the stronger consumer spending of its export partners ... like the United States.

Way to go Germany. If this is the kind of "hope and change" we can expect from the Democrats' vision of Big Government, then count me out, please.


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Comments (7)

Germans have a completely d... (Below threshold)
epador:

Germans have a completely different culture. While there are fewer alive who experienced the destruction and occupation of their country after WWII (except for those lucky enough to have been in the East), most have heard from the parents or relatives. They struggled through a reunification that is now particularly transparent only a couple of decades later. They have strong family and community organization. Their infrastructure for transportation, health and community is strong. They also struggle with guilt.

There's no comparison.

Been there, done that. I l... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

Been there, done that. I lived in Germany as a native for 5 years. There's no comparison.

Sure they get along with less...because they have to since the government takes most of it.

You cannot compare living in Frankfurt to Dallas, especially in fuel consumption. It's cheaper here, but we also drive much more (freedom). You can get by living in Frankfurt without a car thanks to the subway, street cars, and bus lines.

Apartments are more expensive and you have to install your own kitchen cabinets and appliances. There is less room everywhere, so you deal with less. I had to have a fridge just dedicated to beer since most are college dorm size.

Germany is a great place to visit and most Americans take what we have here for granted. I know because I did, till I lived abroad as a native.

BTW, I had to learn the language, NOTHING was provided to me in English for visas, drivers license, tax returns, etc. You had to assimilate if you wanted to live and succeed.

Either way, you are forced to deal with less (money and freedom), so they have come to terms with it.

Slightly O/T, but our liber... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Slightly O/T, but our liberal brethren always go on about how we should 'be more like the Europeans'. So how come I have to "Press One for English"?

That's a good point GarandF... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

That's a good point GarandFan. I never once heard "Drücken Sie die Nummer eins für deutsch".

I am tired of supporting th... (Below threshold)
ron:

I am tired of supporting the rest of the world I think I will retire on them, and as far as their own security is concerned they can sink or swim.

You know what? I said this 13 years ago now. We get a cold they get the flue. The stimulus package has just suppressed the symptoms with out offering any antibiotics to cure the disease. The disease continues to fester and the likely breakdown of the economy will be far worse had they of let it crash and burn.

I am ready for it, is any body else? Or are you people too, not set up for the real crash and smash of the economy? Some of you will end up homeless when it does.

Of course we could avoid it. Raise tariffs.......Gasp!!!!! Build our own factories..... Gasp!!!! I would say buy American but what the hell do we produce in this country today? Last figure I saw only 17% of Americans produce a material substance to sell. You know hardware. I will not say cyber products count because they are a service. From the looks of it those 17% are supporting the rest of the efin world. That sucks! Back when it was over 25% we were doing great.

Throwing money at the problem....most of you know damn well that is just making it worse.

The rest of the world.....? Well they better learn to spend more and live it up a little more, and we here in the US better learn to save more and spend less or this whole thing ends up......? Dominoes fall and wars happen. This time I swear the war is coming here.

I swear it on my life that the writing is on the wall.

Post war economic distress ... (Below threshold)
dunce:

Post war economic distress is fresh in their memory. Since reunification there are large numbers of people that have not paid into the system all their lives but will demand equal benefits.Plus now they have put themselves on the hook for greeces liabilitys.

Alas, unfortunately, the Kr... (Below threshold)
Tsar Nicholas II:

Alas, unfortunately, the Krauts are not saving up one iota of those precious marks for repayment of the Marshall Plan.




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