Life at № 42
I can’t deny it, I’m finding the VW scandal de-licious. It’s a fantastic lesson on the power of mythology and social manipulation. Most countries I’ve been to have some variety of we’re the best in the world or most beautiful in the world trope- but Germany matches the US in pushing the concept to a nauseating degree.
I spent the past 15 years in an area that had a considerable German population, and although they were all very different from each other, they did all firmly share the belief that anything German was of superior quality to an equivalent product made anywhere else. Hmmmm… I wonder where that idea came from?
In a place like Sotogrande this was of course taken to the extreme. First one German ex-pat got German windows. Then another got German furniture. Another not wanting to be outdone had their new house designed by a German firm. To outdo them all a certain gentleman brought in German construction workers to build his home.
Most excruciating was the refrain: In Germany ______________. The mail comes on time; people work harder; dogs don’t poo; the skies are always blue. I often wondered why so many of them either abandoned their Vaterland all together or at the very least spent considerable amounts of time elsewhere.
The wonderfulness of the VW affair is it should make people think twice about stereotypes both good and bad. The lazy Greeks, for example, work more hours than any other EU country.
France, the land of cuisine, is one of the world’s top consumers of frozen ready-made meals with sales of 36kg of frozen products per member of the population per year. Spaniards drink more alcohol than the French. And here’s another interesting one, homeownership rates:
We can translate that to meaning that, crises aside, the average Greek, Spaniard and Irishman have considerably more personal financial security than the average German or Frenchman.
So think twice the next time you consider ascribing a particular characteristic to an entire population. Except the Swedes, of course, they are all blonde nudist sex fanatics.
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