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Germany, seeking independence from U.S., pushes cyber security research (reuters.com)
125 points by e15ctr0n 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 168 comments



I used to work in the US as a perf engineer, and now live in Europe(Denmark). I made a conscious choice to live here despite a drastic cut in pay. Europe just does not pay anywhere near what US does. Unless this changes, majority of top tech talent will always be in the US.

Want top notch Cyber Security in Germany? Start by paying well for the engineers... then may be they want to stay.


> Unless this changes, majority of top tech talent will always be in the US.

I think that the focus on take-home salary is very American and it doesn't necessarily transfer to other cultures. Europeans generally prefer getting home earlier from work, taking longer holidays, having maternity/paternity leave, and so on. Money is one thing, but as long as you make enough, the other things become more important. If you live in Denmark surely you have noticed this, even in the tech sector.


I'm a German who had a green card in the USA. I gave it up and moved back home to Germany. I value the European lifestyle over the American. I make less but I'm happier with being treated well.


I did not communicate clear enough. I'm NOT saying life in the US is abstractly better than Europe. It is a personal choice, and I quite decided otherwise(moving to Europe from the US). It still does not change the fact that Europe generally pays less than US, and that it would be better for European companies to pay better to attract /retain top talent from the US.


You are saying that USA will always be perceived as a superior place to live because of the better pay; the guy is saying that it's not always true because some people value other things (family time, housing affordability, social security network etc), so some talent will prefer to remain/move to europe/canada etc. While I generally tend to agree with you more (unfortunately people go for the money), he has a good point. The U.S isn't for everyone.


But I do agree the pay should rise about 20% . by "should" I mean a lot of companies in Germany or Netherlands(where I'm currently at) will lose employees to Dublin/London where salaries are much higher.


I know some Eastern Europeans that told me they were treated like garbage in Germany, but as rockstars in the US. YMMV


> treated like garbage in Germany, but as rockstars in the US. YMMV

I think the discussion is about society in general (healthcare, education, safety, work hours, leave from work, etc. ), not about how a person is treated in their individual workplace.


People make choices based on multiple aspects, not just the political aspects you'd like to focus on.

Europeans tend to be nationalist and if you're from the "wrong" nation you feel that. In America you won't be treated with more respect if you're from Denmark and not Poland. So that's an aspect.


Such broad generalizations, its quite lacking in awareness for you to be from a country where Trump is president and still be condescending to Europeans about their nationalism/racism.


Yup, the very fabric of America changed on that awful awful day in November.


[flagged]


It'a cultural thing to judge pople based on their origin and/or nationality?


No that's an asshole/racist thing.


This comparison is very complex. You cannot just compare European wages with US wages [1].

For one, the cost of living is going to depend on where you live. Which country, which city, which town. And you cannot just compare the costs. Each person has different values. Some prefer to live in a village, other in an apartment in a city. Some are cool with 1500 EUR rent a month, some find that ridiculous. Some can't stand the smog, others don't mind. If you live in a village the value of a car increases, while in a city the public transport system is invaluable. Each has their + and -, beyond just the cost of living, and how important these values are is also going to differ.

On top of that you get healthcare in Europe, even if you end up sacked. You pay more tax in Europe, but this also gives you more social security. Then there's state pensions.

In the USA the native language is English, and its settled on that. In Europe, this isn't the case (though it is in Amsterdam) with e.g. the stoic French and Germans. Not even the EUR is the main currency in whole of EU.

[1] I suppose we'd need some kind of statistical analysis.


True that I generalized too much. But, I did so for brevity of my point. Comparing EU salaries with US is not apples to apples. Because EU has different cost of living regions & benefits vs similar differences in US. However, as a personal anecdote from someone who moved from SouthEast USA(Raleigh, NC) which I consider as neither too high end like Bay Area nor too low like somewhere in Montana to Denmark, which is rather higher cost example within Europe, I see a big difference in the money I can retain every month after my expenses. Admittedly, I did not count healthcare costs because it was covered almost entirely by my employer in the US. Here, the Danish government does from my taxes..

If I were a young new graduate tech engineer with aspirations of being among the best, and getting paid well, from anywhere in Europe, it seems almost 90% logical to look at moving to US. Cultural, political and family reasons to stay in Europe is a different story.

I have a friend in DK, who bluntly said that "he will not consider the US in the argument because of Trump, and the society that would elect an idiot like him". People have different priorities at the end of the day. But, money wise, it is still the US of A...


The option to move to the U.S is given only to a selected few who somehow got relocated by their employer or won a visa lottery. And even if everything went fine, if you are married your spouse probably won't be able to work in the U.S. There's plenty of talent in Europe who wouldn't even consider the US simply because of the hellish bureaucracy. So I really doubt that the best and brightest all 100% flock to the U.S from Europe.


I think you are undervaluing a lot the benefits of the European culture [1].

It's just not health care, it's also the safety of not being spontaneously fired, the work-life balance, the vacation time, the paternity leave, and so on.

[1] I know that the mileage can vary from country to country.


I didn't mean to undervalue the benefits. I need to communicate better. I only intended to state a part of the argument that US generally pays substantially more than Europe. There are many (including myself) that choose to stay in Europe in-spite of it, valuing other benefits such as (better healthcare, work-life balance, education, involved society, gun control etc). It still does not change the fact that US pays better, and that it would be better for Europe to do so as well if they want to attract top Engineers aways from US...


When I was an young new graduate I did consider moving into US, even got some interviews, thankfully I decided to stay in Europe.

There is no amount of money that would cover what I would be loosing in vacations, job safety, unions that actually work on IT, paternity leave, healthcare, ....

Plus I got to become fluent in 6 languages, and basic knowledge in a few others.


You're the reason why I said "almost" :-)

I don't think the majority thinks this way when they first build their career and look for places..

I'm heavily inspired by your learning 6 languages! I'm learning Danish as my first foreign language as an adult, and damn is it a struggle...


You, and others, gave additional reasons why the comparison goes moot.


I've considered moving to the US before and have had a couple of offers in the last few years.

There lots of reasons I wouldn't want to live in the US that the increased Valley-area pay wouldn't make up for for me, personally.


How are you looking for jobs in the U.S ? I find the whole process daunting (especially not knowing if you win some visa lottery, and the fact my wife won't be able to work there).


In the USA, if you do have a specialisation you can profit from then you're middle class pronto but if something happens with you, if you get unemployed or drama in your life you are toast. EU is less risk/less reward, and that contradicts a startup culture at its core which is high risk/high reward. However that doesn't mean EU has no risk/reward or effort/reward; it has.

That friend from DK likely has rather opposite values of Trump's and is afraid for a society where approx 50% of the people would vote for Trump. But if you look into it, and speak to Trump voters, that's when you start to develop sympathy and empathy for their background, stories, and reasoning. Its important to listen to people, and try to understand them. We can learn so much from that, but it requires patience, time/effort, and getting out of your bubble. I've seen a very good TV series on this subject [1] by an American-born American-Dutch (Jewish, Czech) presentator Eva Jinek but it is unfortunately with Dutch voiceover/subs.

I come up today with another reason (healthcare example) of why I would prefer EU over US [2]. Examples like these I stumble upon every once in a while, and they make the comparison more and more difficult; not easier. Because income is tangible, but these examples are not.

[1] https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Verenigde_Staten_van_Eva

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17877651


In Amsterdam, you kinda have to learn the language to live for real with locals (though many stay years there and don't).

Compare contractor pay with US. Contractors have to pay their own taxes, health insurance etc.


I suspect that's true in a lot of places. I moved to Finland, and while I didn't speak Finnish I managed to buy a pair of flats, get my brain-scanned (!), and deal with the local tax-offices.

So everyday life is was just fine, people dealt with me in English. But to integrate, to have local friends, and to really be a part of the country I know I have to learn Finnish. (Which I'm slowly doing.)


They don't have to pay well compared to the US. They have to pay well compared to rest of Europe / Germany.


I know more European devs who live and work in the Bay Area than I know Americans who live and work in the Netherlands. And I'm in the Netherlands!

There's clearly more people being drawn to SV than away from it. I bet salary is a major component.

I fully agree with the GP. European tech bigco's need to get their shit together and pay competitively.


As a German engineer, I always shiver at those "I went to hospital, the doctor turned out to be out-network and now I'm in debt for the rest of my life" discussions at HN. Maybe the pay offsets that somewhat, but if I have to be honest: The US don't really strike me as that attractive once I consider the whole package (of course SV is probably nice to live/work).

But universities usually pay worse than the local industry anyway, so yeah, if they want the top people, they should start to pay (local) top salaries. Instead, as a researcher you might find yourself living from 6 month contract to 6 month contract.


I'm a German engineer in the US. The thing with these stories is that they won't happen to you. If you're employed by a tech company you have great health insurance.

Of course, it still sucks that it can happen to someone at all and you might not want to live in such a society. That's a separate issue.

Speaking of SV, I think the cost of living and the social problems there have made it increasingly unattractive. Seattle is nice.


>The thing with these stories is that they won't happen to you.

> If you're employed by a tech company you have great health insurance.

So it will happen to you if you are laid off and happen to become sick after that?


On your layoff papers you check the "sign up for COBRA insurance" box and go on with your life


I lived in the US for 5 years and came back to Europe. Money isn't everything.


> As a German engineer, I always shiver at those "I went to hospital, the doctor turned out to be out-network and now I'm in debt for the rest of my life" discussions at HN.

You're proving his point: all the risk-averse folks stay in Germany. The rest are in the bay area.


I'm not exactly risk-averse - but thomas112 correctly deduced that I don't want to live in a society that basically says "f..k the poor". Also plenty of people with whom I studied are taking financial and career risks instead of going the "9 to 5 family life and happily ever after" route while staying in Europe. If you run a successful company here you can still make a lot of money ;-)


this is a very poor point. People who want to take risks prefer to take additional risks which can be prevented by cooperating with other people through a social security system?

Also, your health is not a calculated risk. Having a poor health (sometimes) just happens, even if your lifestyle is healthy.

This also ignores the massive social problems that are taken for granted in the US because of its non existant healthcare system for the poor.


People who like to take risks very rarely enjoy the kind of straight-jacket social environment you find in Western European societies. Therefore, they leave for greener pastures.

Government mandated social security is an extremely inefficient way of managing health care. As an added evil it puts a giant drag on how fast companies can move.

But in Europe, try to dare to even mention the idea that centralized government mandated social security is terrible and you're immediately ignored because people think you're an immoral person. And social metrics be damned.

Just another example of Europeans living withing the confines of carefully built and maintained mental prisons.


>Government mandated social security is an extremely inefficient way of managing health care.

Yeah, just look how efficient the US healthcare system is: https://www.economicshelp.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/tot...


Yes, but is enough for them to compete with people who want to stay here.


Also change politics. The BND has now pretty much the same damaging image as the CIA, as the last resort for the old fascists, actively supporting Nazis and treating non-violent antifascists (ie democrats) as potential violent terrorists. Nobody wants to work in such an environment, esp. under Seehofer. The cited green party member was completely right. See also Sascha Lobos comment https://www.google.de/amp/www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzpoliti...


Germany has a pretty awesome computer security base already. Look at CCC. The government may need to better align their values with the people's to harness that talent though.


500 times this. They have no clue how to evaluate talent and build culture. If they organize this similar to the BSI, they‘ll take PhDs fresh from Uni, take them on a career path that starts nicely above entry level market salary — but ends there pretty much already (never remotely reaching industry levels). Hackers with some psychological/social issues but great potentials like often found in top Infosec won‘t have a fighting chance, same goes for industry veterans without a degree like me.


+1 As someone that moved to Germany 8 months ago the biggest shock is the sort of culture being cultivated in the work place.

German culture in the work place is hierarchical and extremely "old school" in my experience. Yes I know you hear about all the "cool" startups in Berlin but they are the exception and need to conform at some point if they want to do business with larger organizations that actually have money.

There is a wealth of talent here but this talent simply does not fit the "desired" culture. I would go as far as saying that hacker culture is the complete opposite of what the average German company wants to deal with.

You are in for a shock when you start dealing with the government departments here. They make the private companies look like bastions of liberalism. I could write a book about my experiences dealing with different government departments and agencies.

If Germany wants to attract talent (or start making use of home grown talent) they need to start accepting that these people do not want to fit the mould.


The last thing Germany needs is more Berlin-style startups though. There's has to be a good middle ground between the encrusted industry giants that have all been founded in the late 19th century, and the all-bullshitting-no-substance world of "startups".


I completely agree. It is high time people realise that a business that does not bring in profit is not a real business.

You cannot hedge your city’s job security on startups of whom the vast majority can’t survive without venture capital. It is as if people in tech have forgotten about the 2000 crash.

For a city like Berlin there will be a whole load of hurt when funding dries up. It simply is not in the city’s best interest, in my opinion, to put all its hope in having startups create all their jobs.


there are a lot of real, no-bullshit startups in berlin. Startups, they are a real thing.

I would also say that a lot of industry giants have all-bullshitting-no-substance offers with a great sales department behind it. Just look at watson.

I think germany could improve to be a much better place to start a company. And it should.


Well, there are corporations that can and do hire people with the hacker's mindset and corporations that don't. If you take the highest paying jobs, you usually get the latter. That is a problem.


This, a 1000 time.

Germany's (and western Europe's in general) biggest problem is not lousy compensation and sky-high taxes (although these are a huge problem as well).

The biggest thing that prevents Europe from innovating is culture.

Risk-taking, innovation, doing crazy "unthinkable" things is something that has simply deserted the European DNA a long time ago (probably over a century by now).

Almost all the important technical inventions of the 19th century happened in Europe. Almost all the important technical inventions of the 20th century happened outside Europe.

If you've ever worked in Germany in a tech company you will very likely know what I am talking about here: when you throw a new and crazy idea on the table, the immediate reaction of the crowd is to carefully explain to you the myriad of ways in which your idea is just "not possible" and "will fail".

Getting a brainstorm-type session going with a group German engineers is darn near impossible.

And much less so with management.


I think you are somewhat correct with your brainstorming scenario, but Germany was still plenty innovative in the last century.

Software technologies like MP3 came out of Germany. Companies like SAP and Hetzner are successful and german. Berlin has a healthy startup scene. Green technologies and automotive is dominated by Germany.

Overall I think Germany has plenty of risk taking engineers but the capital is more risk averse than in the US. Capital includes angel investors and pension funds and everything in between.


>Software technologies like MP3 came out of Germany.

With one of the most restrictive IP licensing scheme I've encountered in my professional life. Way to promote innovation indeed.

>Companies like SAP

At the risk of sounding sarcastic, I have a very hard time putting SAP and innovation in the same sentence. They're basically the Oracle of Germany.

> Green technologies and automotive is dominated by Germany.

I do not know enough about green tech to comment, but for automotive, I strongly disagree: incremental improvement, yes. Innovation? certainly not. Case in point: how many German company dominate in self-driving cars? All the German car makers are buying the tech. from elsewhere.

As a matter of fact, thanks for picking that example: where did Sebastian Thrun have to go in order for his ideas to take flight? Why did he not choose to do his thing in Germany?

>Overall I think Germany has plenty of risk taking engineers but the capital is more risk averse than in the US. Capital includes angel investors and pension funds and everything in between.

You are correct that Venture cap in Western Europe is risk averse. All they invest in is European versions of stuff that's already been proven successful in the US.

But what you're not seeing is that the aversion to risk from European VC is a symptom of a larger/deeper problem: statistically speaking, there is no appetite for risk and innovation in Europe. VC risk-averseness is just one facet of that.

And why should there be? Given the regulatory and tax burden you're going to be subjected to when you try to do anything over there, why even effing try?


> With one of the most restrictive IP licensing scheme I've encountered in my professional life. Way to promote innovation indeed.

I feel like you are moving goal posts. Also, do you think IP in the US software industry is any better?


No, I am not moving the goal posts.

Patents, while they were invented to promote it, end up being a major drag on innovation, which bears to my point: innovating in Europe is a major PITA.

>Also, do you think IP in the US software industry is any better

The way IP is managed in the US is terrible, granted.

But I would say that these days, and specifically for software, things are way better than they used to - say - in the 80's and 90's.

A number of tech. companies are starting to recognize that sharing IP is actually making them more money in the long run and are actually publishing a lot of what they invent.

For example, and while I am no fan of Google, they tend to open source a ton of non-obvious stuff (e.g. the recently discussed s2 library).

On the flipside, and as an experiment: if you work in a German tech. company, try and ask their legal dept how they'd feel about open-sourcing some of their stack. See what they say.


How much a tech company open sources their stuff depends much more on their industry sector. The web industry makes a lot Open Source. The embedded industry does not. Do General Motors, Boeing, or Tesla open source a lot?

My employer, Bosch, does open source a few things. For example: http://www.amalthea-project.org/


All car makers (not only the German ones) buy their tech from Bosch, another German company.


I'm talking about self-driving tech. Does Bosch makes that?


I personally know a couple of PhDs who worked at Bosch on self driving tech.



Accidentally, I just found this: Bosch had a self-driving van prototype in 1983. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTnBiTIvGqY


> With one of the most restrictive IP licensing scheme I've encountered in my professional life. Way to promote innovation indeed.

Different business models are different, and things tend to get ugly when you find a way to print money.

I'll take the "restrictive licensing/patents" model over the Google/Facebook "private sector surveillance" model any day of the week...

> At the risk of sounding sarcastic, I have a very hard time putting SAP and innovation in the same sentence. They're basically the Oracle of Germany.

I think IBM might be a better comparison. Certainly the scale of the past century, both SAP and IBM did plenty of innovation.


I think you need to experience more European tech companies. Crazy and new ideas are very much appreciated here, but they also have to be funded, you can't just go hog wild and worry about the budget later.

>"Risk-taking, innovation, doing crazy "unthinkable" things is something that has simply deserted the European DNA a long time ago"

I dunno, just off the top of my head, I'm thinking about Spotify, Skype, Sitecore, Endomondo, Just-Eat, Unity, Tradeshift, Trustpilot, GoMore, Zendesk, TC Electronic, Soundboks, Navision, Vivino, and that's just Scandinavian and primarily Danish(-started) companies off the top of my head.

Perhaps your beef is more with German corporate/startup culture, and not European culture in general? We're very different from North to South, East to West :-)


>you can't just go hog wild and worry about the budget later.

Thank you for proving my point. A perfect example of why Europe is lagging in tech.

>Spotify, Skype, Sitecore, Endomondo, Just-Eat, Unity, Tradeshift, Trustpilot, GoMore, Zendesk, TC Electronic, Soundboks, Navision, Vivino

Leaving aside those that have already been bought out by a US-based corp, pray tell me: where in that list are the European Google, FB, Amazon, Apple, NVidia, Intel, TripAdvisor, etc... ?

Where are the European cell phone, CPU, memory, or for that matter computer manufacturers?

Of the list above, only - maybe - Spotify comes close to being able to play in the big boy's club.

Given the size of the European population, the amazing level of education of the population and the concentration of potential, the state of European innovation is nothing short of pitiful.

The root cause is Europeans live and a deeply arthritic societies where change is very rarely welcome.


Europe has less big tech companies but also less people shooting each other in the street or being homeless. I think the two are connected but that's a debate for another time...


> Europe has less big tech companies but also less people shooting each other in the street or being homeless.

Non sequitur of the century, bravo.


Sure, if you want to be irresponsible and damn the consequences, who cares who gets left behind or run off the road, then of course you can just go crazy. At some point someone is going to have to pick up the bill.

>"where in that list are the European Google, FB, Amazon, Apple, NVidia, Intel, TripAdvisor, etc... ?"

How convenient to only mention the extreme few who made it big. Never mind their predatory business practices, well-documented abuse of their employees, deep-seated government lobbying and massive total disregard for even basic customer privacy. They made it big, so they must be good, right?

>"Given the size of the European population, the amazing level of education of the population and the concentration of potential, the state of European innovation is pitiful.

The root cause is Europeans live and a deeply arthritic societies where change is very rarely welcome."

You seem to have an extremely biased and uncharitable view of Europe, for some reason, which I find troubling.

Unlike the US, we don't just dump our poor and destitute people on the streets to starve. "Move fast and break things" is not a healthy way to run a society.


>You seem to have an extremely biased and uncharitable view of Europe, for some reason, which I find troubling.

I've live very sizable chunks of my life in both the US and Europe, and I'm simply drawing comparisons.

Right now, when it comes to tech. Europe is basically lagging behind big time and my bet is it's only going to get worse. To be able to innovate, you need a certain mindset. That mindset mostly does not exist anymore in Europe.

This is not about uncharitable, it just makes me sad to see Europe as the ugly little duckling of the tech. world and unless folks in tech. in Europe stop telling themselves Gemütlichkeit fairy tales about the state of innovation there, it will only get worse.

>Unlike the US, we don't just dump our poor and destitute people on the streets to starve

This is a giant non-sequitur. What does this have to do with the way innovation is managed?


It's part of the "move fast and break things" mindset that seems extremely prevalent in the US tech industry in particular, but certainly also in other parts of society. Just charge on, who cares about those who get left by the wayside, if they end up in a bad situation, it was probably their own fault for not working hard enough.

Like I said, it's a very troubling mindset to apply to running a country.

You have a lucky few who make great progress, but at what cost?


> Almost all the important technical inventions of the 20th century happened outside Europe.

Evidence please?


To name a few minor ones:

- The transistor

- The computer

- Atomic energy

- The search engine

- The internet

Shall I go on?


Not all of those happened exclusively outside of Europe - there was some parallel development in Europe as well (transistor, computers). The transistor was independently developed in France shortly before the public announcement by Bell Labs. And the arguable first working "modern" digital computer (programmable, fully automated, using floating point) was the Z3 in 1941 (which started the Zuse KG, a computer hardware company, which lasted until ~1970).

And most of the first few search engines were based in Europe (mostly Geneva).. and you might also have heard of a small invention out of CERN that you are using right now..


I'm very sorry, but it's hard not to laugh at this list ... and to try and be objective: these examples make my point even stronger.

None of the folks who may or may not have been the first to invent these things in Europe managed to exploit the economic potential of what they had invented.

It is a deeply sad commentary of how much of bright people's potential is utterly pissed down the drain every day in Europe.

Oh, also, you forgot to mention that the French invented the internet first (t'was called the minitel).

The minitel was a perfect example of a government-run tech. program: 10 years after it was launched, it was still operating at the original speed of 300 bps.

One of very many brilliant ideas left to rot on the altar of socialist-run centralized western europe societies.


> and to try and be objective: these examples make my point even stronger.

Maybe you forgot, but you claimed that almost all the important technical innovations of the 20th century happened outside of Europe. When asked for evidence you produced a list, which includes innovations that were developed in parallel in Europe as well (or even predate the development outside of Europe).

Or is your argument that only who ends up winning in the end (by some arbitrary metric) is the true inventor of some technology?

So how exactly does it make your point stronger?

> None of the folks who may or may not have been the first to invent these things in Europe managed to exploit the economic potential of what they had invented.

By all accounts the Zuse KG did quite well for a few decades, before a few questionable business decisions ended it (and it was bought out by Siemens). But initially he indeed was able to exploit it's commercial potential (in fact he was the first person to do so..).

> It is a deeply sad commentary of how much of bright people's potential is utterly pissed down the drain every day in Europe.

And that's not the case in the US..? And exactly how or why is this happening here and not in the US?

Fair point about Minitel, but that doesn't translate into all aspects of technology.. far from it.


When I talk about innovation, I don't just mean having ideas or inventing things.

Without falling into clichés, having ideas is the easy part. And, TBH, who gives two hoots about who had an idea first as compared to the guy who has the idea and takes it to a planet-sized success?

Getting something to work and then into a commercially viable operation is what I am talking about when I talk about innovation.

I don't doubt there's plenty of German or French or whatever with brilliant ideas. But 10 years later that's all they are: ideas. Or they are taken over by others and grown into what they need to be.

Innovation is about having the right idea and making it take off.

All the important technical innovations in the 20th century - as in: those who have had a sizable impact on humanity, happened outside Europe.


Completely true that having the idea is the easy part. But you are missing a few steps between having the idea and world domination..

> Getting something to work and then into a commercially viable operation is what I am talking about when I talk about innovation.

Which the Zuse KG was for the (early) Computer.

Still - you are using innovation in a different way to most people. Most people don't have the global domination requirement. This very much seems like moving the goal posts to me.

> All the important technical innovations in the 20th century - as in: those who have had a sizable impact on humanity, happened outside Europe.

Now that is completely false, since the arguable most important technical innovation (by impact) of the 20th century, the Haber-Bosch process, was invented in Germany. And the WWW also had quite an impact I would argue..

Never mind more subtle things, like industrial control systems (where Siemens has taken it global) and industrial machines in general (which is also an quite successful area). Things outside the Internet still exist and still have an impact on humanity.

And you haven't answered how the potential of bright people is currently being pissed away in Europe today.


Those had many Europeans on their teams, specially German researchers, while Europe was busy recovering from WW II.


>Those had many Europeans on their teams, specially German researchers

Thank you for proving my point.

I never said Europeans were bad engineers, far from it.

I'm saying they leave because it's just impossible to innovate in Europe, and that's a major problem.


You skipped over

> while Europe was busy recovering from WW II.

Many of those inventions started here during WW II.

Also innovation is not only IT stuff, I bet many in US enjoy being treated with Bayer medicine, stuffing their house with IKEA furniture, doing games in Unity, talking with their friends over Skype, having a mobile phone that one can easily swap out a SIM card, ....


None of the stuff you list is in any way a "major" tech innovation.

That's all Europe has produced in tech. in the last 70 years: crumbs off the table.

And it's not going to get any better: whatever WW-II based explanation you may provide to justify the current state of affairs, it's not a solution to the problem.

The problem is that European innovators operate in a hostile environment.

If they stay, it cripples them.

If they're smart enough to realize this, they leave and go to a place where they can be successful.


Here's a quick selection, excuse my partisanship, I couldn't find an equivalent list for specifically European innovation:

Antibiotics - British

Tank - British

Television - at least shared by Britain and others

Stereo audio - British

Computer - critical aspects conceptualised and realised in Britain

Jet engine - largely German/English

Radar - largely British

Maglev - British

Hovercraft - British

Float glass process - British

Carbon fibre - British

Liquid Crystal (or at least a critical step) - British

RSA encryption - British

World wide web - British

SMS - British

Shall I go on?


The list is mostly from a country that's not exactly in Europe anymore ;)

[edit] I should have been more specific and said that I didn't include the Brits in when I think of flagging innovation in western Europe. The focus was on Germany and to some extent the countries directly around it.

That being said: not a single union jack in sight in the page below ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_largest_informatio...

You have to get down to #28 to find one in this list:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_Internet_compa...

And that's the key: however inventive folks from a given country may be, if the socio-economic system they operate in does impede innovation (and TBH I don't know enough about your island to comment about that), then all of these great ideas are for naught, they end up benefiting others.


Getting into semantics now, but I think entrepreneurialism is perhaps better than innovation, since innovation is not exclusive to business situations. But even then I still have difficulty with what you say about innovation though - tech companies are just one area of business! Germany is the world's third largest exporter, with much of its exports containing cutting edge technology designed and manufactured in Germany, but apparently that doesn't count as innovation in your mind as its not on the Internet?


> Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters that Germany needed new tools to become a top player in cyber security and shore up European security and independence.

Good grace. The man is so horribly incompetent at everything he does and his party (CSU) are even worse. I don't trust this proposal even a bit.

In addition:

1) how on earth are they planning to fund and staff all of this? I worked for local government and it paid shit, and from what I hear state/fed government doesn't pay much more either, so no way to attract talent by pay.

2) Like many gov positions, this will be German nationals only (or EU nationals, not sure if German-citizens-only is still allowed under EU regulations?). Definitely no jobs for non-EU applicants.

3) Ever got a conviction for hacking or a (known) weed/other drug habit? Automatic no-go. Which is the reason why there is a severe lack of IT competency in government, no matter the level or agency.

4) Who in living hell wants to work that job? I'd expect to be kicked out of any political or hacktivist group if I were to work for our increasingly authoritarian government, let alone under Seehofer, and that with reason. That leaves as candidates only those with no other options left, and authoritarians at the best, Nazis at the worst. The police of Saxony showed on the weekend what is the result.


I've worked on projects for the German govt before, and I was never employed by them. Points 3 and 4, possibly also 2 are handled by hiring companies to do the work.


Seehofer wants to create an entire agency. Makes sense given that this is national security matter, I can't believe he'll (be able to) outsource this.

And the other points are still valid even if outsourced, as the requirements will be part of the outsourcing contract.


I don't know if it's not possible to outsource it, if you look to the U.S. an absolutely massive amount of work (intelligence and military ops) is outsourced to private contractors

Ex source (sorry, old one, don't have time right now to find a more recent article I was thinking of for reference): https://www.salon.com/2007/06/01/intel_contractors/


> I don't know if it's not possible to outsource it, if you look to the U.S. an absolutely massive amount of work (intelligence and military ops) is outsourced to private contractors

And Snowden was one of the inevitable results. I mean, I'm happy the leak happened, but it is a perfect example of what can go wrong with outsourcing to the cheapest bidder. In total it would be better for the government to do in-house, but how else are you gonna shift citizen money into the hand of already ultra rich people... the only thing where outsourcing is profitable and worth it is for exclusively short term things (e.g. constructing buildings or developing a specific software), but long term stuff? Cut the profits of the company and hire the employees yourselves.


It wasn't outsourced to the cheapest bidder; actually, limitations on govt salaries is one of the reasons to outsource: you can attract better talent with competitive offers. And plenty of whistleblowers at the CIA and NSA were direct gov employees, not contractors.


These requirements don't need to be part of the outsourcing contract. Sure, there can and probably will be some restrictions, but the reasons why a government agency doesn't employ (even former) drug users don't necessarily apply to contractors hired by the government even for national security projects.


> FILE PHOTO: A German flag is seen on the laptop screen in front of a computer screen on which cyber code is displayed, in this illustration picture taken March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

Cyber code. Reuters. Cyber code.


I'd estimate that a solid 90% of the mainstream news I read about computer science subjects has factual errors. Not interpretations different than mine--stuff that just ain't true. It makes me wonder how competent the writer is, and makes me wonder if 90% of the rest of mainstream news is written just as incompetently, but I just can't notice it because I'm not an expert in everything.


I can't find the name for it right now, but for me that has been a common way to think about why some "news" items stick around, even when they're total BS.

People read an item within their own field and go "what a load of crap, they can't even get the basics right rage" then they turn the page, read something from a different field and go "my, that's so interesting, these people really know their stuff!"



I posited recently that news in areas we're not expert in are basically processed as entertainment, which is why we don't give a damn about its accuracy whereas we're comparatively so enraged about gross mistakes in areas we're well-versed in.


EDIT: HN is a magical place, thanks :)


Are you referring to the Gell-Mann amnesia effect?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gell-Mann_amnesia_effect


Or even better "the media is full of bs and lying to us" turns channel to preferred starting "wow, these guys are really uncovering the deep state and showing media what's up"


By the way, I've never read something in The Economist that contradicted my personal knowledge and experience. They're worth the money, I think.


It's the same about finance (outside of the FT and WSJ). A journalist once defined the profession as "the art of explaining to others what one hasn't understood".


To be entirely fair, this is an accurate alt text for the picture, as it is very much full of cyber.


A good start would be switching all government systems from the Microsoft stack to a home-grown alternative. But efforts to switch to Linux are regularly stopped.


When I started I did lots of migrations in schools, police stations and hospitals. From Windows to Linux based systems. From what I heard none of that have survived, IIRC the first "rollback" happened after 3 months.


It’s because it’s not really doable without tremendous effort. I work for a muniplavity in Denmark, and we’re a big participants in an open source group for public software called OS2, we’re also members of a group of municipalities that own our own ESDH software and codebase and pay private companies to support and maintain it. Our libraries operate on 100% open source with Ubuntu supported by a local company.

So we’re actually pretty progressive in terms of pushing open source while also supporting local business.

We operate more than 300 IT systems though, I’d say that around 75% of these run on windows only, many without suitable alternatives. So even on the technical side, we can’t swap our stack because our employees wouldn’t be able to do their jobs. We’re working to lower this, and stuff like web-apps and the rise of android/iOS devises has helped but it’ll probably take 25 years to happen, and here’s the thing, Azure is actually the most EU friendly, secure, stable and cost-efficient cloud platform, so a lot of those non-Microsoft software actually still run on Microsoft.

Then there is the employee training. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the primary cost of running a public organization is your employees. They are the most important resource and replacing them is really expensive. So is retraining them, and it’s also something we already struggle with in terms of IT.

Most times when we switch a system, the technical implementation will go excellent. The organizational implementation will go horrible, however, because learning how to use an IT system is hard. It’s even harder to learn how to use it efficiently and often local management will be reluctant to invest enough time or focus on what they view as IT changes, because they are already understaffed in their primary function.

Windows, android and IOS are something most people have worked with before. So is the office package, and again, where is the non-Microsoft alternative to the office365 enterprise stack? Anyway, switching people who can barely “turn on the internet” (talking of course about the browser, but that’s what you’ll literally hear every day in our support center) to open source alternatives is a tremendous effort that nobody, nobody, outside of tech wants to do.

Then there is IT, we’ve run Microsoft for decades. Our staff is trained for it, they’re certified in it and despite what you may think, they’re actually cutting edge in terms of skill. At least in my country they are, we’ve yet to find an ADFS consultant that knows more about ADFS than our guys, in fact, we’ve had to send most of them home because they weren’t able to help us. Where do we find Linux replacements for those people? And how do we pay the 25 million it would cost us to replace the ones that don’t want to work with the Linux stack?

Lastly there is support. Microsoft may have a spotty reputation in popular culture, but their support has always been top of the class to the public sector. If we file a primary incident report to Microsoft, Seattle will be on the phone with us until it’s fixed. What Linux house will offer this service? Even if we found one, I don’t think we’d really want to throw away decades of partnership with an untested entity just because.

I wish we could run European based open source software, I really do, but the truth is that it’s complicated, highly improbable and the business case isn’t even there. Because it would be really expensive, and do you really want to sacrifice welfare to run Linux? Would your political leadership?


Thanks for taking the time to write out your experience, it really makes me think.

> so a lot of those non-Microsoft software actually still run on Microsoft

As a FLOSS advocate myself, this matters less than you seem to imply. Microsoft is publicly traded, they'll pivot to goat herding if that's the way to maximize profit. So avoiding it is (imo) less important than avoiding their lock-in products. If Azure has little lock-in, might as well use it, icky as it may feel to me personally. It's not inherently anti-FLOSS, because Microsoft is not inherently anything.

> If we file a primary incident report to Microsoft, Seattle will be on the phone with us until it’s fixed. What Linux house will offer this service?

I think both Redhat and Canonical would love that business.

I'm not looking to argue as you seem to know what you're saying, but on the financial side, how many millions are spent on Windows, Office and other licenses every year? I'd say it's worth doing the math.


I actually really like Azure. Orchestra and application insights have made incident support so much easier, and it’s only as lock-on as you make it.

I also worry because of the political climate. It’s extremely unlikely, that the relationship between the EU and the US will really go bad, but we have contingency plans for things you wouldn’t believe, so naturally we have one for Azure.


Do you have one for Microsoft Office and for reading all your (hopefully archived) documents? Rendering (and hence sometimes the meaning) of office documents can vary significantly depending on your software.


I realize that it's extremely difficult to switch software systems that have grown over decades to something completely different and you can't do that over night.

But then I see cases like the Munich project where they have been using Linux for several years[1], saving 11 million Euros in the process, until Microsoft moves their HQ to Munich and suddenly the council decides to switch back to Windows.

In Germany at least there is tremendous potential for cost savings if it were possible to develop one FOSS set of software for municipalities and share it across the country instead of paying millions in licensing costs.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiMux


I’ll admit that I’m not knowledgeable about the German public sector, but I’d really love to see how they managed to save money.

I work primarily with digitization and efficiency, so I’m cursed in that I’m always thinking about cost efficiency. This is actually the primary drive behind my personal open source idealism. Since open source is customizable, we can cut away the clutter and focus on user experience and results.

But because of my background I can’t help but think about the man-hours they must have spent on the organizational implementation, and how many hundreds of millions of euro that must have cost them.

Maybe the German public sector is less digitized than we are, making the change lighter. Don’t get me wrong, we could certainly save money on licenses too. It’s just that the cost of doing it far exceeds the benefit, but I’d love to learn from Munich.

The cost of change is why I personally think hard switches (I did notice them calling it gradual on the wiki page, but I’d argue that it’s not if you swap OS before every other system is ready) are a mistake in enterprise. We’re gradually changing our plumbing to be more open, but we’re doing it so that nobody notices. Our MSSQL cluster is a good example, it’s currently necessary because of legacy software. In one or two license cycles I fully expect it to be replaced by open source however. If things go as planned then no-one on the business side is going to notice anything but the freed up funds.


I would already be happy if all tenders paid for with public money would include a clause that forbids dependencies on proprietary software. There is no good reason to write new software that doesn't run on Linux.


I mostly agree with what you say about being difficult to switch to Linux, and I also think that the switch to Linux should be done almost all at once throughout the EU at the institutional level. And the EU should be funding a certain "EU Linux distro" that all local administrations within the EU use.

I don't think it makes sense for a particular European country to develop its own distro, and certainly I don't think a state or county should be developing its own distro either, as it happened in Munich. Munich having to support its own distro is pretty crazy. At the EU level, administrations would get all the support and funding they need, pretty much.

I do think it's probably better to have a EU-developed distro than using Fedora or Ubuntu, though. Ubuntu at least already comes with proprietary software and licenses, so I'm not sure it would be that much better and trustworthy than Windows is in terms of national security. Let's imagine a war between some EU countries and the US in the future - would Ubuntu be free from manipulation? I'm not talking about hacking, which is to be expected, just good old hands greasing or compelling of the company to create malicious code.

Having an EU-wide distro that all administrations use and rely on would also have some other "unintended" but positive consequences, such as states not being as interested in quitting the EU, since all of their institutions rely on the EU distro. It wouldn't be the deciding factor in such cases, but I'm sure it would play a major role.

Now, do I think Munich gave up its distro because it was "too difficult and expensive"? No, absolutely not. The deal-breaker, or should I say "deal-maker" was the fact that Microsoft promised to build a whole headquarters there! And then suddenly Munich switched to Windows.

I strongly believe that without that coming into play, Munich would've just pushed through with the Linux distro, since they'd already been using it for the past 10 years, or worst case scenario they would've switched to Ubuntu and Libreoffice.

Microsoft used this as a PR technique "see, Linux doesn't work! Look at these guys, they've already switched back to us!" But it only happened because they made a major move to convince them to switch back to Windows, but 99% of the public doesn't understand or know that, so they believe Microsoft's PR, which seems to have worked very well, because it sounds truthful, even if Linux being hard to use and whatnot wasn't the deciding factor.

Microsoft did something very similar when it began patent trolling Android OEMs. They knew most companies would scoff at them and their patent trolling attempt, so they first got some highly strategic wins. First they got HTC to agree to pay the royalty, and then Samsung, the largest OEM.

Now you, and 99% of the people who don't know the whole story would say "but that sounds about right, looks like those companies thought Microsoft's patents were real so they agreed to the deal, no?"

Wrong. What Microsoft did was give these companies something very compelling in return - something where the net winner wasn't Microsoft in the deal, but those companies. If I remember right, HTC got free Windows Phone licenses for a while, and Samsung got a similar deal, and also free or very cheap laptop Windows licenses. There may have been other benefits for those companies, too.

So basically Microsoft didn't care it had to pay these companies to accept their patenting deal (however little sense that may make at first glance), because they knew that later they can push the story that these companies agreed to their patent licensing deals, because their patents are real and they are afraid of getting sued by Microsoft. Plus, they'd get to go to other companies and say "Look, Samsung and HTC, the most important players in the Android market agreed with our licensing deal, and you won't? Are you sure you want to go down that path?!"


I think all publicly funded software should be open source. The public paid for it, they should have a right to look under the hood, like they can with almost every other piece of government.

I’m also a realist, and have you met the EU? We’ve been working on architectural standards for organizational data for almost 20 years, and it’s nowhere near finished. :p

If we can’t figure out a standard for how to define a department or employee object in a data model, then how on earth will we ever maintain a universal Linux distribution?

I think your strategy for implementation is flawed though. You really don’t want to tear the house down and build a new one when people are living in it.

I realize I’m a bit of a conservative in that sense, but people’s lives depend on our critical systems.

As far as Microsoft goes, they are a company. I think they are a great business partner in an ocean of bad ones. It goes against my personal political beliefs to use proprietary software, but the public sector isn’t primary a tech sector and we don’t operate on personal ideology. We use the best and most efficient tools, at the cheapest cost, to support our primary function.


The European Directive 2003/98/EC on re-use of public sector information allows any EU citizen to request data (source code is data) from any institution that is funded for at least 50% by government. The data should be given in a form that allows reuse. For source code that means a FOSS license.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32...

Each of these directives is implemented as a law in member states. The Dutch version is here: http://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0036795/


Has anybody successfully used this to request any piece of government software under a FLOSS license?


I've been trying for half a year to get the source code for a very simple app from the Dutch parliament. They've not complied yet and put me in touch with their lawyer who also keeps delaying. Normally, there should be a response within four weeks. I've no idea how to escalate it.


You can escalate it by contacting the political leadership of the department directly.

If they failed to adhere to the law you should do so, but I’d urge you not to request access in the future unless it’s really important. Because making a request of access is one of the most expensive things you can do.

We get a few requests each year, every department does, and every time we have to dig through a number of different systems and thousands of documents to prepare stuff that’s relevant. Then we have to read through every single document to make sure there isn’t any sensitive information and manually redact it if there is, while filing a report on why we redacted to internal review.

We do this, while expected to perform our normal functions by the way. I don’t know about the Dutch, but we take every request very serious, but for me personally it’s a little disheartening to know that we could hire 10-15 extra teachers/nurses/care takers if we didn’t have to deal with requests of access done solely by private citizens who feel like they “fight the good fight”.

I mean, who are you fighting? Your own society? The press is usually ahead of you too, but they actually have the resources to process the information they request.


You're fighting the good fight. I'm impressed.


I think the problem with EU standardization is that any viable standard has to be a superset of all member's wishes. Nobody wants to change anything about the way they work right now, so whatever the EU mandates must be 100% compatible with all the quirks of even the smallest municipality. So instead of a simplification that smoothes out the differences you get lovecraftian abominations that nobody can implement without draining their sanity.


This seems quite reasonable for Germany to do. At some point, when you can't trust others to do such important work you need, you have to do it yourself.


Nah, it's not.

Germany has already several established agencies in this area that could use the money but wouldn't have to be build up from scratch.


Is that a bug or a feature, though? Organizations often get stick in their ways. It might be easier to start from scratch if you want something new.


If we'd have much money to spend, I'd say it's a feature. We don't however so I'd say it's a bug. Also due to the persons involved, there might me some unknown motivation behind it.


So, Germany is US controlled territory?


If national critical systems are running Windows or other US closed source tech, then technically yes. The US is potentially in control of these systems. This is true in Germany and in many (most?) other parts of the world. From the viewpoint of these nations, all the US needs to do is have Microsoft, Google, or whatever tech company is in control of a system of interest to insert malware or give the US government the private data it requests. I'm not saying it happens, but rather that it's certainly possible and completely in the US's playcourt to decide to control or not to control. This is why government computer systems should be open source or self-developed.


>all the US needs to do is have Microsoft, Google, or whatever tech company is in control of a system of interest to insert malware or give the US government the private data it requests

Don't even need that. Just utilize one of the numerous vulnerabilities before it's patched.


Good point I forgot to mention.

Microsoft Windows‘ unstoppable telemetry is another really important note!

Also somehow every experiment that tries to free us from this spyware (e.g. Munich Officials tried to use Linux) gets overpowered with someone throwing money at politicians who immediately change back everything to Windows...


>If national critical systems are running Windows or other US closed source tech, then technically yes. The US is potentially in control of these systems.

What? So because US govt't systems run (or ran) Kaspersky (or TrendMicro) that means the US is (was) controlled, technically by Russia or Japan? Huh!


I don't know those software or how widely utilized they are in the US and specifically in US national security critical systems.

The US in a unique position, though. Windows and OSX are operating systems; they have complete control of everything else running in the systems they run on. Google has view of the world's web navigation, email authentication, as well as complete control over a grand portion of the world's phones (most of the other portion is controlled by Apple, also a US company), including knowledge of phone calls made between people, and their location at all times. Facebook also has great knowledge of how all people are interrelated.

There's probably lots I'm missing, but the point is that most of the world's cyberspace (a useful word apparently) is controlled by the US. If we translate that to cyberwarfare, that means that the US practically has ALL the guns. A couple guns from other nations are not going to make a difference in this space.


At least Kaspersky was well deployed within DHS and DoD: a ban was set to prevent new deployments: http://www.executivegov.com/2018/06/dod-nasa-gsa-issue-inter...


The problem is not the OS, the problem are the now the backdoors in the CPU's. In all of them. With them you get even into a foreign OS, like L3 or OpenBSD.


The presence of US military bases would seem to indicate so...


Germany was occupied for decades after WWII. However, it's hard to imagine that it's still under US occupation now. I mean, how could something like that remain secret? But on the other hand, how would I know?

And see "We're all living in America" aka "Amerika" by Ramstein <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr8ljRgcJNM>.


What needs to remain secret? At a certain level of presence, it's a de facto occupation. Could Germany, as a purportedly sovereign state, decide to start working against US foreign policy goals? Decide their interests were better served by making a pact with Russia and asking the US to leave? Running Microsoft's sieveware seems to be the least of their worries.

I don't have a constructive answer to move towards . I just don't like the present-blindness exceptionalism that keeps the US from just being considered an empire, nor the centralization created by having essentially three sovereigns in the world.


I agree that it's fundamentally an empire. It basically subsumed the British, French, German, Japanese, etc empires after WWII. I've seen some stuff online which suggests that the US made explicit deals about this with Britain and France, before joining the war. But I'm no historian, and am not qualified to have opinions about that.


>Could Germany, as a purportedly sovereign state, decide . . . their interests were better served by making a pact with Russia and asking the US to leave?

The US certainly imposes its will on the rest of the world in many ways, but you're overestimating its power and its interest in imposing its will on Western Europe.

Like many countries, Germany played both sides during the Cold War: https://www.britannica.com/event/Ostpolitik

My humble opinion is that Germany could have evicted the US military from their territory in the 60s, 70s or 80s at the cost of inviting the Soviets in, but judged (correctly, IMO) that the Soviets would treat them worse than the Americans had and would. After all, the Soviets treated their own citizens very badly. The tariffs that Trump imposed on German exports would've never happened during the Cold War. The US security establishment knew (correctly, IMO) that Germany's allying with the Soviets would've been a disaster for US interests because of the possibility of the alliance eventually reaching economic and military parity with the US. (The security establishment would've mobilized influential Senators and Congresspersons to pressure the President to remove the tariffs, and in the unlikely event that that didn't work, they would've taken their case to the American press and the American public.) Consequently, they treated Germany better than the Germans could reasonably expect the Soviets to treat them.

I believe Germany could evict the US military from their territory today, particularly since now that the Soviet Union has disintegrated, the US security establishment doesn't really want to maintain that military presence. They probably think they're maintaining it mainly as a favor to the Europeans and wish the Europeans would bear more of the cost of their own defense. The Europeans, on the other hand, probably reason (correctly, IMO) that having the protection of Western Europe come mostly from the US has the happy effect of reducing the probability of an arms race and consequent war between two European powers. In other words, my belief is that the US doesn't really want to bear the cost of their military presence in Europe, but has (at least before Trump's presidency) grudgingly done so because that is the most effective means of keeping down the probability of another European war.

(I'm not saying that the Europeans are more warlike than the US is -- they are not -- just that the situations of the European governments are much more precarious than the situation of the US government. The US government does not have to consider attacking another country to prevent that country from attacking it first.)


> The Europeans, on the other hand, probably reason (correctly, IMO) that having the protection of Western Europe come mostly from the US has the happy effect of reducing the probability of an arms race and consequent war between two European powers.

That's one of the selling points for "soft" empires. Even the Mongols played it that way. After the unpleasantness of invasion, anyway.


> the US security establishment doesn't really want to maintain that military presence.

The Pentagon confirmed this year that they intend to modernize the nuclear weapons stationed in Germany starting in 2021. This does not sound like they don't want to maintain a military presence.


You say Ramstein [sic] I say Laibach. Laibach - NATO [1] and Laibach - Opus Dei (Life is Life) [2]. Brilliant remixes. They're also a steal live [3].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_(album)

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB9lObWclFQ

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4r_KhNakeM


Oops, dropped an "m" there. But cool. Such ironic mockery of neo-nazism. I'm reminded of that Black Flag classic, "White Minority", which became very popular among white-power skinheads.

And Turbonegro's "Death From Above", written by some kid from Bosnia. Also that over-the-top hidden track on Party Animals, "My Name is Bojan Milankovic".[0] It's quite the response to music criticism ;)

0) https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/turbonegro/mynameisbojanmila...


Acid test: how many German military bases in the US?

[edit]: Rammstein is one of my all-time favourite band.


It has military bases and surveillance systems there so I'd say yes.

I'd also wager that if they tried to force the US to leave, the US would respond with aggression, most likely economically.


The salary of a skilled German software engineer in this field is about 1/4th of the US counterpart. So I wish the German government luck in their endeavor, because they’re gonna need it.


I know plenty of smart Germans who do not want to move to USA even for 4-5 times the salary.


Me too, but we've had a strong sequence of "the US is a horrible place to live" stories on the media for decades now, so that point of view is rarely objective.

I have friends that don't want to visit the US solely because of Trump being elected. Very smart software engineers.

Politics and worldview doesn't correlate at all with ones abilities, although this is often portrayed that way.


I don't doubt it, but for the very best the multiplier is greater than that, and not moving becomes harder. The difference is between lifetime wage slavery and financial independence at that point.


I’ve just moved to Berlin to look for software development work, and it’s nowhere near as bad as you are portraying.

Lower than the USA, yes; but even junior software roles are well above “wage slavery”. Housing and medical insurance are both much cheaper here (also food, but food is so cheap generally that it being cheaper here doesn’t make much difference, unlike rent and insurance).


Obviously this depends on the field and on your baseline in the US. I suppose if you made $100k/yr here, then making 60k euro there would not be that big of a deal, even though taxes are much higher. But if you made $500-700k/yr here in total comp (a realistic proposition for senior engineers in hot fields), such a move would be foolish. Remember, we’re not discussing the low end of the market here.


> $500-700k/yr here in total comp (a realistic proposition for senior engineers in hot fields)

Sure, but that level is paid to maybe 1-in-25 staff/principal/distinguished engineers at the top handful companies which make up maybe 1-in-25 of total jobs in the industry (order of magnitude)?

So for the 1-in-500 talents in the German coding industry, maybe it might be a worthwhile consideration to move halfway across the world with their families, but for the 499 even doubling their salary isn't all that enticing...


But those tend to be the people who make or break your strategy. You know, the ones who pick the right vision and how to get there, which the others then can help implementing.

You don't really have a good army without decent generals.


Ah, the classic hacker news big tech pay disbelief. People in big tech quote their pay everyone just assumes that it is impossible or extreme outliers. Those are indeed realistic numbers [0] and L3 through L7 are just the standard well outlined levels. The true outliers are the 4 levels above L7 which pay even more ridiculous amounts.

[0]: https://www.teamblind.com/article/google-engineer---total-co...


500 and 700k is about the level of comp of Google’s Staff and Senior Staff levels correspondingly, assuming a high yearly review rating. Let me assure you, there are a lot more of them than you think, at Google and elsewhere. It is true that almost all of the engineers at those levels are exceptional however.


I would say, atleast from the people I meet, that there is less drive to maximize income. Once you have enough money to rent a nice apartment or house and spend some money on holidays and hobbies, most people I know don't really want any more money or not that much more.

It also helps that labor protection laws are rather strong here and when you look at the US, it's horrible in comparison and not to mention the potential healthcare/other costs that could eat up your wage (I guess with total comp you mean including stock options or something like that, I've rarely seen that here, people prefer to be actually paid).

That and moving to another country, possibly permanently is quite difficult and taxing.


I've noticed this too, and it's not just about comparison with US - the relative salary compared to other jobs in Germany seems to be exceptionally low, from what I hear. I wonder what causes this anomaly?


After a recent stint living in Berlin and working for a German company I think it also may have something to do with the quality (and price) of higher education and the open EU job market. Many people I was working with were in their late 20's on their first job as a junior because they stayed in school much longer than they would have in the U.S. because it's a very low cost (and more of a societal expectation in Germany to have at least a Masters) so you've got a broader highly educated workforce rather than the U.S. where a bachelor/masters from an Ivy or Stanford will set you dramatically ahead of others. Also, you have a lot of highly educated people coming in from Italy, France, Greece (these are the most common ones off the top of my head I remember working with) that have an even worse labor market at home and are willing to work for less.


>I wonder what causes this anomaly?

Compared to the US, you will not find many rich people in Germany. At the same time you will also not find many poor people. Generally, people are quite equal in Germany.


Maybe the distribution is much narrower, but it also seems that software salaries are on the lower end, which is the most surprising part to me. Or, as a German colleague of mine put it, "my no-good brother who takes construction jobs every now and then earns more than me in this software job", followed by revealing that apparently his wife still has to work for them to have the ends meet, because programmer's salary is not enough.


The average full time salary in Berlin is 40-50k before taxes. The median income of all Berliners is a lot lower than that, because we have many part timers and many people on social security. The programmers that I know get about 70k on average. Rent in Berlin is about 10€/m^2 (heating included), so 700€/month gets you an apartment for two.

I assume that the brother from your anecdote doesn't declare all his income (you are left with about 60% of your paycheck after taxes and mandatory insurances). I don't see how a programmer salary isn't enough for two people to make ends meet.


But that is definitely not the norm, is it?


I was lead to believe it is; I'm asking here if anyone can confirm this.


You know what else you will not find in Germany? Successful software companies. There’s basically SAP (which is a multinational that hides its revenues abroad) and hardly anything else. Hmm, I wonder why that is.


Define successful. I know of one German software company that's raking in money and large contracts, despite being staffed with underpaid junior developers and overpaid clueless managers. I had this eye-opening moment, after which I asked my boss, how is it possible that we have the expertise and yet they have the money...


And what did he answer?


He shrugged and continued to desperately try to clean up a mess aforementioned company just caused.


Yet, Google, Microsoft etc. still have offices in Germany.


They're just here to suck in the local talent, filter the best of them and "gently" nudge them towards a job in the US.

No one is saying there isn't eng. talent in Germany. They're just mistreated by the system.

And the valley tech giants know this very well and take advantage of it.


Not everyone wants to live in the US....


We're not talking about individual preferences, but about country-size statistics here.

And statistically, my bet is that most folks will put their dislike of the US in the backseat when offered a 4x wage increase.


Not if they know that they will loose their 30 day vacation, paternity leave, health insurance, 40 hour week, unions support, ...


Which they won't, if they pick the right company, in a place where the market, rather than the government, dictates what kind of benefits a company can offer.

>30 day vacation, paternity leave, health insurance, 40 hour week, unions support

And thank you for providing yet another (or rather a whole 5) perfect explanation of why it's darn near impossible to innovate in Europe.


We have lots of innovations without capitalists abusing our worker rights.


>We have lots of innovations

We're getting down to faith-based reasoning here.

> without capitalists abusing our worker rights

Dude, you sound like the little red book.




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