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The Differences Between Germany and the United States (uni-paderborn.de)
167 points by kumarski on Aug 2, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 158 comments

The article is interesting even if bits and pieces are out of date. It's nice to see other's viewpoints.

My one complaint about this article, and a lot of articles of the same ilk, is the part where Americans get criticized for not "traveling abroad" and not "seeing foreign countries".

I suspect most american's will travel more MILES than the average european without ever seeing another country. It's far far more expensive for an American to visit other western countries than it is for the average European. We'd absolutely LOVE to be able to fly to France for the price of train ticket from London to Paris. Sadly, the price of oversees airfare is pretty damned high.

I know visiting different states isn't the same as visiting countries but I think people living outside of the U.S. don't understand just how different various U.S. regions are from each other. Really, you might say it's a bit silly to go visiting foreign countries when you haven't even experienced all of the diversity in your own country yet.

I once had a conversation with a Frenchman (in France) about how he had berated some poor American girl (also in France) for not knowing that Zurich was in Switzerland. I promptly quizzed him on which states 5 American cities were in, all larger than Zurich. He failed miserably.

The United States is geographically almost as large as the whole of Europe. The closest foreign border to me is Niagara Falls just over 400mi away, and even if I go there, they still speak my native tongue with pretty much the same accent. I don't think there exists any point in Germany that far from another country.

The US state of Montana is slightly larger than Germany. I can't name more than one city there and many airlines don't even fly to the state. The US is really big!

Or, really, European nations are incredibly tiny. Fun fact: Guyana is as long as Germany.

And only slightly smaller than the UK in land area, yet has about 1/50th the population.

I promptly quizzed him on which states 5 American cities were in, all larger than Zurich.

Who cares about states in a foreign country? In this context the size of the city or state is not of any interest.

The point is that knowing that Zurich is in Switzerland is more similar to knowing that Denver is in Colorado than it is to knowing that Denver is in the United States. Presumably the size of the city is interesting because the implicit assumption is that knowing where Zurich is important because Zurich is a big city.

My point is that it isn't similar at all, on any level.

A typical foreigner to the US probably knows where some large cities in US are without having the slightest clue about which state many of them reside in.

That is my perception of it.

...Which is why it's so similar to how a typical American probably knows where some large cities in Europe are without having the slightest clue about which country many of them reside in.

I'd say that few outside of America could write that sentence.

The difference between two neighbouring countries is a huge deal and apparent (regardless if you are a local or not) where you don't even speak the same language, have the same currency (the euro has of course changed that a bit (in Europe)) and for all practical purposes a complete different sets of laws and culture.

The reason for why many cities are notable is because they are the capitals of different countries. Their identity is based on their country. You can hardly say the same about different states in America (to the same extent (of course people that live in America have different accents and prejudices for people in other states etc., but to compare that to different countries?)).

I think we're both wrong to a certain extent - you're de-emphasizing the differences between states in America too much, and I'm overemphasizing them. You believe that countries are different enough culturally that not knowing which culture a city is part of is ridiculous, I believe that states are different enough geographically that not knowing which geographic area a city is equivalently ridiculous. It's a pretty dumb argument.

In America I don't need to travel at all to hear many different languages, experience different cultures, etc. They're all in walking distance in any major city. European mono-cultures need to make nationalistic distinctions, the American multi-culture doesn't.

America's monoculture was actually one of my surprises. I live in London; going to the Bay Area and seeing the monoculture was a bit of a shock. IMO you're far more likely to hear foreign languages (foreign to the country) in Europe than almost anywhere in the US.

SF is a bit white and hipster, like the northern half of the country. Try Los Angeles, there are few gringos here, and fewer all the time.

SF is far more Hispanic and East Asian than white. In any case, why so racist?

Don't confuse statement of fact with racism, a common misconception. I've traveled over the world and liked everyone.



"Try Los Angeles, there are few gringos here, and fewer all the time."

I was referring to this statement. And it is a racist statement. It is exactly as racist as saying "Try Illinois, there are few wetbacks there and fewer all the time." These are clear statements by the speaker that the group in question is both undesirable in general and worthwhile to eliminate or distance oneself from, a belief commonly called racism.

With regard to demographics, few of the thousands of undocumented immigrants likely respond to government questionnaires.

The trend is cleary described in the link above. The first sentence, "The 1990 United States Census and 2000 United States Census found that non-Hispanic whites were becoming a minority in Los Angeles."

> immigrants likely respond..

Exactly, they are quite underrepresented in the data above, reinforcing the argument. They are in higher concentration the farther south you go.

If you are upset with the word gringo or "fewer..", it was a small attempt at adding levity, perhaps it is a bit flippant.

Your assumptions of my mental state, however, are known psychologically as projection.

Perhaps you should ask yourself why you thought it would be funny, rather than psychoanalyze a stranger on the internet.

I'm sarcastic in general, and when receiving accusations respond. Of course we could always improve our writing in general. If you don't like your argument critiqued, perhaps you shouldn't do it either?

The San Francisco Bay Area? That's where I live. Mono-cultural it is not. Maybe you meant another Bay Area (there are as many of those as there are bays.)

I meant relatively speaking. In London, there are many streets that all could be in different countries, right down to the script used for the shop signs. I never once saw someone in a niqab or a djellaba, for example.

Well, I'm honestly bewildered. Where did you go in San Francisco? You didn't hear Spanish, Mandarin, or Cantonese anywhere? How? I hear these languages and more, constantly, every day.

London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Relatively speaking, almost every city in the world is less diverse.

America is a baby compared to Europe, and modern communication works against localization of language.

There ate tens of cities in China with populations over several million that westerners have never heard of, too.

He's clearly American... :)

So, in other words, if it interests you, it's fair to quiz someone else about it, but if it doesn't interest you, it's not fair to quiz you about it.

Do you want me to quiz you on the provinces of Sweden?

Oh, you don't find that interesting? Well, hardly anyone outside Sweden probably does. Pointless knowledge.

To paraphrase Richard Feynman: you're not right; in fact, you're not even wrong.

No I don't find Swedish cities interesting. But I did not start quizzing you about U.S. cities. If you started quizzing me about Swedish cities, then it would be fair for me to quiz you about American ones. The issue of cities is irrelevant; the concept at discussion is "turnabout is fair play." The guy who asked about Zurich wanted to show how stupid Americans were by trumpeting his culturally specific, regionally biased knowledge. To show how this was just snobbery, an American did the same to him. It doesn't matter if you don't think America is interesting; that's not what this is about.

Note: I actually like Europe; I'm just trying to prove a point.

You guys might honestly think that it is easier to put a large US city in a state rather than pinpoint it on a map.

I don't think most foreigners would agree.

My interest in America isn't in any way related to my interest of the states within America...

"I don't think most foreigners would agree."

That is my point, in a nutshell: the knowledge is relative.

Most people could name a grand total of one city in all of Sweden. Just not on people's radars the way the US is.

I'm happy as long as we are not confused with Switzerland, but you missed my point.

Is the state that large US cities reside in on (foreign) peoples radars?

San Francisco and Los Angeles are in what US state?



San Francisco and Los Angeles are in different states :) Just ask anyone...

> San Francisco and Los Angeles are in different states

Only San Franciscans think that. The folks in the rest of Northern CA know better.

The real dividing line in CA runs north/south. SF and LA are on the same side of that line.

Alta and Baja.

> It's far far more expensive for an American to visit other western countries than it is for the average European.

Well, yes. Then there's the enjoyment factor. Personally, I've been to Europe multiple times. Hell, I was born there. And frankly, I enjoy going to the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Mexico much more.

> I know visiting different states isn't the same as visiting countries but I think people living outside of the U.S. don't understand just how different various U.S. regions are from each other.

Also spot on. If you live in NYC, going to NOLA is plenty exotic. Vice versa as well. Air fare is almost nothing compared to going to other continents.

The only people who might truly be able to relate would be from China and India. Both countries are large and diverse enough that traveling inside of their borders becomes a rewarding experience.

The more I think about it, the more out of touch you really seem. The people you label as plenty exotic from NOLA were actually deported from eastern Canada(your "tundra") and St.Petersburg(what they've been calling Leningrad for the last 20 years) is pretty well on the Arctic circle, and yet is not part of your "tundra". (and Yes I realise that St.Petersburg isn't tundra, neither is the vast majority of Russia or Canada)

>The people you label as plenty exotic from NOLA were actually deported from eastern Canada(your "tundra")...

Are we talking about New Orleans, Louisiana here?

Ya. The cajuns decendants of the acadians of Eastern Canada(present day Nova Scotia/New Brunswick). Deported by the British/Americans(who were one & the same at the time) to what is now the state of Louisana.

really... just india and china? what about australia? canada? Russia?

I've never been to Australia, so I can't comment.

In Canada, you have three choices. British Columbia/Vancouver, Ontario/Ottawa, and Quebec/Montreal. The rest is frozen tundra.

Russia? Leningrad (or whatever they're calling it now), Moscow, and the Black Sea region (might as well go to Ukraine/Odessa for that). The rest is frozen tundra.

So yeah, China and India. It's not about size. It's about the diversity of cultures and climates.

What about out east? Like PEI and Newfoundland? Calgary for the Stampede? Quebec? Banff National park?

And that's just off the top of my head!

Speaking as one who lives south of some of that Canadian frozen tundra in what you probably would think is frozen tundra of the USA, I think you might want to learn more about those areas. They are quite beautiful and very nice places to visit.

You could go to Toronto to see...Toronto.

Toronto is in Ontario. I did mention Ontario. Look, Canada is a wonderful place to visit. I'm going there at the end of August. But if you're a Canadian and you've already been to BC, QB, and ON ... there's not much else to see. Correct me if I'm wrong.

You're wrong. Also Ontario is huge, and Toronto is a miniscule part of it. The people outside of Toronto/Ottawa in Ontario are completely different from the people who live in those two areas. If you'd had been to any other parts of Canada aside from Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, you'd realise how much more there is to see, and how much more diverse the country really is. "It's not about size. It's about the diversity of cultures and climates." Give me a break. Canada, Australia and Russia are more diverse climate wise than China or India. How is China more culturally diverse answer me that?

edit: From the cia world factbook(https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/...) China Ethnic groups: Han Chinese 91.5%, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uighur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities 8.5% (2000 census)

Yep.. that's a real melting pot there.

Canada lacks the climate diversity of China or India.

For instance, where's Canada's desert? Its jungle?

What you likely consider Desert - Osoyoos Then there's all that tundra we're talking about, which is desert as well. Jungle is tropical, so there is no jungle, there are temperate rainforest though. Where's the jungle in China?

I thought you were specifically mentioning Ottawa, and not Ontario as a whole.

Spoke like a real American who has not seen many places.

Brazil !

I'd like to suggest another reason for large military expenditures that have nothing to do with corruption. The US has the only two-ocean navy, and a very extensive one at that. A lot of the burden of protecting shipping lanes for members of the "global system" is covered by the States. That's really, really expensive.

Of course, that means that countries that don't want to play by US rules (North Korea, Iran, Cuba) get shafted, but it's still a better explanation of the crazy military costs than either fear or corruption.

For the record, there are other multi-ocean navies: russia, south africa, australia, canada, and argentina among them. I think that's a pretty small factor compared to the influence of the military industrial complex.

The size of the US navy dwarfs every other country considerably, even when factoring in oceanic boundaries.



The US has about half the world's aircraft carriers. Each aircraft carrier basically needs a battle group to protect it. The approach is indicative of the US's strategy: be able to have a few aircraft carriers anywhere important in the world, ready to quickly react to a crisis without sacrificing protection elsewhere. Since no other nation with aircraft carriers has more than 2 (and most have only one), that basically guarantees significant air and naval power anywhere.

The parent post doesn't mean the same thing you mean. The USN patrols every major seaway in the world; I sure don't see South Africa doing the same, nor Canada, Australia, The Russian Federation, and definitely not Argentina.

If the gp meant that, then the US would have a 4 ocean navy. I'm not arguing the size is the biggest, I'm arguing that the reason it is the biggest is not due to coastlines on two oceans.

And the US does have a multi-ocean Navy, divided up into 6 fleets that are assigned to certain oceans/seas. And its size is clearly due to the role it's been assigned by the US government. In fact, reasonable arguments can be made that the USN is too small for what it's been tasked with.


  It is not very well known however that Germany saw a much 
  more vigilant communism hunt at about the same time. While 
  in the US only about a dozen people ever went to prison 
  for being Communists, that same number runs in the 
  thousands in Germany. The communist party was forbidden by 
  the German high court, and party members who continued 
  their activities were arrested and sent to prison.
Need we forget that the Stasi of the hostile East German state were right next door?


  The Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an 
  extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several 
  smaller facilities throughout the city. It was widely 
  regarded as one of the most effective and repressive 
  intelligence and secret police agencies in the world. The 
  Stasi motto was "Schild und Schwert der Partei" (Shield 
  and Sword of the Party), that is the ruling Socialist 
  Unity Party of Germany (SED). Now considered a criminal 
  organisation, several Stasi officials were prosecuted for 
  their crimes after 1990.
Lest we forget, the GDR was also a vassal of the nuclear-armed Soviet Union, and the KGB was not an imaginary entity. Communism was no joke. See "The Lives of Others" if you want to see what East Germany was like when this guy grew up:


Incredibly, not a single mention of East Germany or the GDR in this entire document.

yeah, reading him feels like he's been totally disconnected from reality or managed to forget the circumstances of that era in Europe, where fighting communism was real not just a propaganda witchhunt. hence my comment before, many of his observations are totally out of context.

Hm can you elaborate on that? In the US they teach that McCarthyism was an absurd witchhunt, but it seems to me that the Soviet Union and the US were pretty much just as much enemies as West Germany. Why is it so much different?

On charity:

I see two reasons for these different approaches to charity: first, Americans distrust big organizations and third world governments; they fear that money they donate to global causes will trickle away in bureaucracies somewhere. Second, Germans intuitively don't feel much of a need to help local organizations or schools: "that's the government's job, that's what I pay taxes for."

I think the main driver for these different approaches is that the German state basically says "in the end we'll help you" while the US says "in the end you're on your own".

The German approach in my opinion does more to alleviate outcast-scale poverty. However, the quality of helping loses because:

a) those who would help mostly help people from other continents since they think that their countrymen are well off anyway

b) those who do help, are put there to help in form of public officers

But even with a strong social-net as in Germany there are still poor people. What happens when a)-people don't care and b)-people just follow orders is that our poors usually never get on their own feet and out of their dependency because their is no one telling them how to help themselves. That's what I mean with quality of helping.

And yes, this article seems very outdated, but to me the subject would still make a promising headline. One thing I observed is that both countries got less different over the years: If you look at the policies regarding the social-net, Europe has tried to become more american (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartz_concept) while the US has tried to become more european (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordable_Health_Care_for_Amer...).

One thing I observed is that both countries got less different over the years: If you look at the policies regarding the social-net, Europe has tried to become more american (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartz_concept) while the US has tried to become more european (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordable_Health_Care_for_Amer...).

Countries in the EU have a mandate to bring down public debt and the easiest place to do that is the welfare system (depending on the economy, most voters think it's too generous in some cases). Since social welfare is so large in Europe there are many places you can "trim".

In the US this is not the case at all. The welfare system has gotten aggressively more meager since the 80s. The AHCAA also isn't about more benefits but cutting public expenditure on healthcare in the long run. It's ridiculously expensive to treat someone in the ER for an infection rather than them having regular doctor visits. The same for birth control, pap smears, and breast exams. Treating early saves the government money. Don't confuse this act with the European welfare system, it is absolutely about saving money for the govt, your health is side benefit.

It's ridiculously expensive to treat someone in the ER for an infection rather than them having regular doctor visits.

No, it's billed at ridiculously high rates. That's not the same thing.

ER docs are not paid that much more than primary care docs. The cost of treating an infection in the ER is 1 hour of a doctor's time + drugs. The cost of a regular doctor visit is also 1 hour of the doctor's time + drugs. The hospital might bill at some ridiculous rate, but that doesn't mean it costs a lot.

Breast exams are actually well known not to be cost effective (or even beneficial) for women under 50 (though oddly, congress demands they be provided).

The idea that early action is always better is silly.

I agree broadly. Some minor points:

You are probably right about the direct labour costs of treating an infection in ER. However, to use the language of computing, the difference between a GP and ER comes down to latency. An ER should be able to react fast, clogging it up with ailments that could be resolved at a leisurely pace earlier, doesn't strike me as a good idea.

An ER should be able to react fast, clogging it up with ailments that could be resolved at a leisurely pace earlier, doesn't strike me as a good idea.

Fortunately this is a solved problem - the solution is called "triage". No matter how many coughing people are ahead of you in the queue, spurting blood gets immediate treatment.

When you go into an ER for an infection you know it's going to be expensive so you wait until the infection has advanced pretty far. Now it's far from 1 hour and may require many days of 24 hour monitoring. While the hospital might be expensive what are you paying for? 24 hour availability, rapid response, and knowledgable staff. Something that most GPs don't provide.

Breast exams are actually well known not to be cost effective

Please provide a citation.

The idea that early action is always better is silly.

So dying from easily treatable diseases (when they are caught) is so much better.

Your link doesn't say that the screenings aren't cost-effective. It says that if you are in a certain age group these are the recommended amount you should do <40: 2-3 years, 40-49: 2 years, 50-74:1 1 year, 75+: none.

Annual screenings were too aggressive, not ineffective.

"In conclusion, the USPSTF reasoned that the additional benefit gained by starting screening at age 40 years rather than at age 50 years is small, and that moderate harms from screening remain at any age...The USPSTF notes that a "C" grade is a recommendation against routine screening of women aged 40 to 49 years."

Note that this recommendation is solely on medical grounds - that is, the medical cost/benefit ratio suggests routine screenings for women < 49 is pointless. They don't even take into account the financial cost.

The German approach in my opinion does more to alleviate outcast-scale poverty.

I'd be curious how this actually plays out in practice.

In the US, we have a great document called the American Housing Survey. It breaks down what percentage of poor people (and non-poor people) own various goods - e.g., 75% of poor people own a car, 65% own a washing machine and 45% own their home.


Do you know of a similar German document? It would provide some facts to support/dispute your opinion.

The key is that the basics are covered (like in most of Europe)

100% of poor people in Germany own a health insurance

0% own a house (you have to use up your own money first)

100% own a washing machine (paid for by the government)

50& own a car (my guess, but you dont really need it in big cities)

That's basically true, but simplified. We also have homeless people in Germany, who don't own a washing machine. To get the government welfare, you have to navigate some bureaucracy: it's not hard, but there are still people who can't or don't want to do that.

About the house: If your house is cheap enough, I am not sure whether you have to use it all up completely. (I heard that there's even the possibility under certain circumstances of the government helping you with mortgage payments instead of helping you pay for rent.)

In general, you can live of the government welfare and even raise kids. But you need some skills for that, and they aren't that different from the skills that make for basic employability.

Do you have actual stats on this, or are you guessing?

Also, access to financial services (e.g. health insurance) is irrelevant. Financial services are intermediary goods (like education or business suits) - irrelevant by themselves, but sometimes useful to get other things you really want.

Do you know of a similar German document?

http://dip21.bundestag.de/dip21/btd/16/099/1609915.pdf (German)

It's the best that I know of that is somewhat comparable. In there poverty is defined as proportion to the average income.

Listing what poor people own is propably meant as a measure of quality of life in the US-Census document. I think that is a valid measurement.

The German document measures this quality of life different: It uses social participation as factor.

From Wikipedia (2004):

I. Member of a political party

people underneath poverty-risk-line: 1.9 %

people above poverty-risk-line: 3.8 %

II. Member of union

people underneath poverty-risk-line: 5.3 %

people above poverty-risk-line: 14.2 %

III. Takes part in signature-collections

people underneath poverty-risk-line: 10.7 %

people above poverty-risk-line: 23.4 %

IV. Takes part in demonstrations

people underneath poverty-risk-line: 1.2 %

people above poverty-risk-line: 6.2 %

and in the document

There we might have another difference between our two countries? I think both approaches to measure quality of life are valid. I would go on an say, combined they would provide a much better result.

For instance, goods in Germany are often much more expensive. And in my opinion, this is due to heavier regulations that drive up costs. I already delay purchases of certain goods to my umpcoming US trips, because I know the low prices in the US will knock me out of my socks.

I should've elaborated on what I mean by "outcast-scale poverty" - that you're endangered by your poorness.

One thing he didn't mention (directly) is that the average US citizen donates about 6 times more money to non-religious charities than the average German citizen, even if you adjust for GDP/capita.

Some stuff from what he describes and I know about is either wrong, too subjective, lacks context or very outdated; so I'd rather take it with a grain of salt.

Before and during reading I was pretty sure that it is a little biased for one of the countries. The end effect was completely reverse - I can't really choose one country as better right now. So I'd call this article a success.

Jelly donuts rant was a nice touch in the end :) .

Good article, but it always bothers me a bit when people talk about Americans generically.

Yes, you can make some generalizations, but the country is huge and there are many distinct cultural zones. Attitudes and behavior vary widely between them.

Germany also has a diverse culture, especially because it wasn't a unified state until the end of the 19th century. So the generalization is on both sides.

> Germany also has a diverse culture

Compared to what?

Compared to Madison Wisconsin, maybe, compared to all of Wisconsin, probably not, compared to Texas or CA, not a chance. Heck, South San Jose is more diverse.

It depends on whether you define diversity as being 'ethnically' diverse or culturally diverse. Obviously, Germany is ethnically less diverse than, say, California, just as much as any American city is ethnically less diverse than London. If we're talking about 'cultural' diversity the regional differences between southern, northern, eastern and western Germany can be extreme, yet maybe difficult to notice for someone who has not lived there for at least a bit.

In my personal experience (I grew up and spend most of my time in different parts of Germany and Europe, but have worked and lived in Boulder, CO) there is a very distinct and unifying American identity that you do not find like that in Germany. A lot of Germans in the south will define themselves first and foremost by their regional identity, the same is true for people from Hamburg - and the differences are striking, as most Germans from who are from one region but have lived in another will confirm.

That said, comparing whole nations in this manner is entertaining, yet rarely a really fruitful enterprise. People in Wisconsin probably share more similarities with people in Meckelenburg-Vorpommern than they do with New Yorkers, the latter being more similar to people in Berlin etc etc.

London is more ethnically diverse than any American city?

Hmm. Los Angeles may have something to say about that.

Apparently Houston is more diverse than LA.

Re London: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jan/21/britishidentity1

I certainly was surprised by how monocultural the US appeared to be when I visited. Most noticeable was the relative absence of people from Africa (I don't mean African-Americans), the Middle East and south Asia.

> I certainly was surprised by how monocultural the US appeared to be when I visited. Most noticeable was the relative absence of people from Africa (I don't mean African-Americans), the Middle East and south Asia.

That says more about what you visited than it does about the US.

Within walking distance of my house, there are communities where Portugese, Thai, and Cambodian are the dominant languages. (Yes, separate communities.) If I was more "sensitive", I'd could identify the lines between the Mexican and Guatamalan communities.

And my area is considered "white San Jose".

I understand that there are "Iranian bars" in Mountain View.

There are relatively huge Humong communities in various places in the midwest. (No, not just the cities.)

I was suspicious of the claim that Houston was more diverse than Los Angeles, which has to be based on some weird data.

So looking it up, I find it's a study from Rice University, which is in...Houston. Aha.

London probably is more diverse than LA, but not by a huge amount. Large communities of people from pretty much everywhere in the world.

I din't compare anything.

Also, it looks a lot like you never travelled through Germany from north to south. Every piece of Germany has different traditions, dialects and food. I am from a place where I cannot understand people from the next village. Also, all those parts are pretty vocal: I think Germany is the only country that has developed regional Wikipedias (at least Bavaria, Palatinate and Northern Germany).

Pennsylvania has one, too: http://pdc.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsilfaani

Funny. Its a german dialect :). Good catch, thank you!

> I think Germany is the only country that has developed regional Wikipedias

At least Portugal (Portuguese, Mirandes) and Spain (Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Basque) also have articles added in the supported country languages.

> I think Germany is the only country that has developed regional Wikipedias (at least Bavaria, Palatinate and Northern Germany).

Different varieties of English could do that, but English tends to center on an American/Commonwealth divide with only the two prestige dialects everyone else sees as the only 'valid' ones.

They _could_. But in Germany, those things are reality, which shows that those groups take these matters seriously. My point wasn't that US culture is not diverse, it was that german culture is very diverse _as well_.

> But in Germany, those things are reality, which shows that those groups take these matters seriously.

NASCAR and NFL/College football fans also take such things seriously.

Also that Germany didn't exist as a unified country until 1871.

Alaska and Hawaii didn't become states until 1959.

Arizona, which is on the continent, didn't become a state until 1912.

Sorry, but you apparently have no understanding for the topic or you would not say that it is a good article. As much as you are bothered that people "talk about Americans generically", it should provide you a slight understanding for how poor this "article" is.

Was that comment truly necessary?

Did leaping, in a hostile fashion, on two words used as a preamble to the point I was making add anything to this discussion not already added by the other comment you made on the thread?

  Americans living abroad are not even allowed to give up
  citizenship to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
That's wrong, along with many other facts in this article.

It depends on what "allowed" means. The penalty for doing so exceeds that for many minor crimes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expatriation_tax#United_States

Was expatriation a serious problem for the US? It seems a bit of a severe step to take for someone who is already wealthy.

Not to mention it raises the question - if someone renounces their citizenship, what right does the country have to tax them? Doesn't tax come with the right of representation?

I guess you cannot avoid a few misses in that much information. I found most of it to be true.

That said, I think it glosses over the fact that US states have huge differences and he has only experienced a subset of them.

Author probably never went to Poland - there is much more drunk people in than in Germany. And I never experienced problems with Germans in Germany. And untaxed work in Germany was quite prevalent prior to last year May. And some other things that should be corrected.

I think he meant that if you want to avoid paying U.S. taxes, you have to give up citizenship, which is true to my understanding.

No, you have to pay taxes for 7 years post loss of citizenship.

I've lived in Germany for 5+ years and believe humor to be one of the widest cultural gaps between Germany and the US.

To wit: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/what-makes-germ...

Disclaimer: I am German and I actually saw and liked 30 Rock (in English) ;-) As for 30 Rock: The problem with English shows on German television is that they are all dubbed. I won't say that they are doing a bad job (c.f. eastern european countries) but sometimes they are missing out puns and jokes which "can't be translated" without losing meaning. In the end this can make a funny TV show unwatchable. On the other hand you will never (as in never ever) see an undubbed show on German television. People are used to watch it in German, so most of them might just never watch it again in either language.

edit: s/Disclaimer/FYI/

I'm from OZ, and to be honest, I need the canned laughter when watching US comedy - because the humor is not obvious (eg. Will and Grace- canned laughter when a dog walks across the screen ... Ahh, Americans find that funny... Ok) Now British humor? I get that without canned laughter.

I always thought that the "humor" in those American sitcoms was that the thought that they found such events funny.

> I won't say that they are doing a bad job

I do. I watch American shows and films exclusively in their original version because of the really bad job they do with the translation. From time to time I catch the dubbed version by accident. Mostly I just cringe and make it go away.

Nitpick: Arte has undubbed shows. And there's the ever popular Dinner for One.

Didn't think of that. Arte is actually one of the few good TV channels in Germany (and France).

seinfeld is a really good example for this. a hilarious show; someone watching the dubbed german version would never understand what's funny about it...

I hate to sound trivial and to deviate from the conversation, but I would like to draw attention to Finland for a moment and say that the US government should follow suit (for the most part I agree that people in the US have learned to tolerate substandard quality when it comes to many technology services). In Finland, legislation dictates that it is the right of every citizen to have free access to at least a 1Mbps internet connection and by 2015 every household will have a 100Mbps connection. Food for thought: Perhaps if the US followed suit other mobile, banking (and network-reliant fields) would evolve accordingly?

But who'd pay for it? We Finns are more than used to paying taxes for everything we do. Even candies(and other sweets, such as soft drinks) have additional taxing.

It's just a matter of different welfare system(if you could say so, it applies well to the cultural differences between European countries - might be a bit of a stretch to compare it to the States... :))

Interesting, but the cost would be insane.

I live about 8 miles or so outside the closest incorporated town. I have 1Mbps DSL that costs me, along with basic landline phone, about $90/month. I think the fastest connection I can get is about 7Mbps. 2015 is only 3 years away, I very much doubt that I will have 100Mbps available by that time.

Now consider the very large number of Americans who live much farther from a town or city than I do: the people who do monthly grocery shopping trips rather than drive 80 miles round trip to the store every week. The costs associated with providing them with high speed internet are going to be even higher.

Bluetooth headset? Microwaved food debate?

Parts of the text seem to be ten or more years old, while other parts have been updated.

Still, a good read.

Seems interesting but with a notable number of mistakes on the US, how much can I trust what is said about Germany? and how much has changed since he moved to the US?

The description of Germans and German behavior seems to be mostly correct, in my opinion. Some points I disagree with:

- I never heard someone discuss the environmental impact of microwave ovens.

- I have some doubts if the public TV stations are still the biggest.

- Unions appear to have lost some power in the last twenty or thirty years here in Germany. At least, the amount of serious strikes seems to have decreased.

- The requirement to be a "Meister" to be able to open a shop have been dropped in recent years, for almost all trades as far as I know.

I disagree mostly with the German description of aggression and violence. Sometimes, I wish he'd expressed a point a little bit more nuanced.

Mistakes yes, but I think he got most of the core motifs right (on both the US and German side (I grew up in the latter)). With which points (concerning the US) to you disagree / which points to you find questionable (BRD)?

Well writing about high speed trains or lack there of, we have one of the best freight systems in the world, but it makes high speed rail difficult, Europe has gone the other way they have high speed rail focus

ref: http://www.economist.com/node/16636101

and this is only one point.

I read that document a few years ago. The stuff on Germany is basically right, but of course there are some differences in opinion, and some things have changed by now.

If you want to talk about different culture, email me. I'm a German living in the UK, working for a multinational American company. I also spent some time studying in Turkey.

The section on American internet access is pretty old. (ISDN?)

Apparently all cell phones in the US are analog too.

That section has parts that are half-off the rails. The windows and insulation comments struck me as particularly bad.

Once again, for the folks commenting on trains: the US train system is very, very good at hauling cargo. It was designed to do that. It sucks at hauling people because they are on the cargo train tracks and don't have tracks of their own.

That's probably a misunderstanding based on most US carriers using CDMA rather than GSM (like most of the rest of the world).

If by "most" you mean "Verizon and Sprint" versus "AT&T and T-Mobile", that's a curious definition of "most".

One of the areas where Germany has and always will be different from the US is in their motoring culture.

Drivers license Cost

15 $

1400 EU


National Max Highway speed

US 65


*I know, its not everywhere or all the time, but go once, and its pure bliss, cruising around ~100mph just feels right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_autobahns#Speed_limits

Don't forget minimum age to get a license: 16 vs. 18, and possibly related, minimum drinking age 21 vs. 16...

just glanced though it but most of the stuff regarding Germany is pretty outdated

Then again, others are not (e.g. he references the abolishment of compulsory military service in 2011). I think the article is still under constant editing, it's just not possible to catch up with everything at once.

This might be true. But a lot of info is clearly biased toward a negative image on Germany, when it comes to the outdated information.

So for example regarding privacy and data that is kept by you ISP - nothing on recent developement to abolish the 6-month periode in germany, as well as nothing on the recent developement in the US.

Just an example, but a lot of this comparison makes Germany look worse than it actually is.

disclaimer: I am from Germany and I really do not like a lot of things, that do go totally wrong here (imho).

"By Axel Boldt, 1995-2010." - most of it seems to be from 1995. The section about "communism and socialism" (not really major topics these days) also suggests that this is rather old.

It is/was a major topic in Germany when talking about the political party "Die Linke".

I feel like people are giving the impression that because some of the material is dated it is worth less. This is simply not true. I found the first two sections very interesting.

"Many extension cords still come without a third hole for grounding in the US. When you plug things into electrical outlets, you'll often observe cute little sparks. That never happens in Germany."

So in Germany there is no concept of grounding? Why? Also, is there any scientific explanation behind no sparking in Gemany?

I think you have it backwards - he's saying that all German extension cords have a third pin for ground.

That's not true, there are lots of extension cords with smaller sockets for Europlugs ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europlug ) that don't have the ground pins.

However, I've never seen those on a wall socket, so I guess building codes say those must be full Schuko sockets ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schuko ).

Oh yeah..I got it wrong. So, US doesn't have the concept of grounding? Surprising, but I suppose that does explain the sparks.

No, it doesn't. The grounding wire is an equipment ground. It connects to metal cases and other points inside the device that require an earth ground, and not all devices actually require an earth ground. Electrically, though, it does nothing for the cord itself or the outlet.

The sparks are caused by the physical design of the plug and outlet, specifically that US outlets are designed in such a way that you can actually see them. Any mechanical connection between two conductors (outlets, switches, etc.) has the potential to spark if the voltage between them is high enough. Other conductors have nothing to do with this potential.

There are, I guess legacy, 2 wire systems. On those systems, one wire is hot and the other is neutral. The neutral is connected to ground at the electrical box.

For 3 wire systems, there is an additional ground wire. It comes into play when the hot wire shorts to a part of the device that is exposed to the environment (hopefully tripping the breaker).

Modern 2 pole plugs are constructed with different size pins, so a device can be wired to be safer when connected to a properly wired 2 pole outlet.

U.S. outlets are grounded mostly, unless they're older construction.

We do still sell some non-grounded extension cords because lots of appliances (toaster, coffee maker, lamp) have non-grounded plugs.

I have no idea what they're talking about with regards to sparks. If the appliance is switched on while you're plugging it, maybe?

Well grounding is built in (and required) into every socket. We have to main pins and secondary pins for grounding on most of the plugs. There are hovever some plugs for electronic devices, that do not have the grounding-pins.

A ground wire is only useful if you have metal (or conductive material) that isn't connected to the circuitry. The ground wire connects the case metal to the ground - if you get a short-circuit, you're safer as the current flows through the pin rather than you.

If your electronics has no 'floating' metal, there is nothing for a ground wire to connect to, so there's no point to including one.

Required (on new construction).

Read half of it. 70% applies to France vs US as well.

Try explaining the conservatives that NYT is the best news paper in the US.

"What are they afraid of?"

Have you not been paying attention in the last 50 years? We've made a hell of a lot of enemies, and before that it was communism, and before that it was world wars. Our military is strong because if it wasn't we would be getting attacked constantly. I'm pretty sure that a major reason why there haven't been any substantial terrorist attacks on the US since 9/11 is because our military will FUCK UP ENTIRE COUNTRIES if that happens again. Shit, we got launched into a 6-year war with 2 countries after an independent terrorist group blew up our building. If the KKK went to another country and bombed a building, would that country then attack and occupy us? Absolutely not! Because they can't.

> Our military is strong because if it wasn't we would be

> getting attacked constantly

Which is why Sweden, Cabo Verde, Malaysia and Trinidad are getting attacked constantly.

Or maybe the USA gets attacked because it routinely decides to "FUCK UP ENTIRE COUNTRIES" ?

Or even better, why not leave your foreign policy ideology out of a thread about a cultural/sociological article?

I was enjoying it until you ruined it

German history and resulting 'cough' freedom gets in the way here. Why not compare USA to Sweden, Holland of France :D

Maybe, because he is German, lived here a long time and moved to the US? Maybe, because he has no direct knowledge of Sweden?

Your voice and words, dear gentleman, make you a troll.

tl;dr but I guess his point is that if you're a kickass German scientist, you don't have to use CSS and make your posts more readable. <3 the attitude!

The post contains proper HTML markup. Why would he need to add CSS given that it's just a plain article? It should render perfectly - and in fact it's much more readable than many websites here.

The fact that he's not using CSS is what makes the article more readable.

I think that's a problem in academia in general.

What a bunch of lazy, biased nonsense. There is absolutely nothing of value in that accumulation of words. I am neither for or against either the USA or Germany, but I am for unbiased and accurate assessment.

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