Few know that our modern Germany didn’t exist before 1871 and fewer still realize that it created the social welfare model now taken for granted in Europe and North America. Social Security as we know it in America is a hand-me-down from a guy named Otto Von Bismarck. He’s been dead since 1891; his social system seems about ready to follow him.
Germany pioneered the social system and is leading the way again: its aging and shrinking population no longer generates enough income to support its generous welfare. As elsewhere, political mismanagement has priced the system increasingly beyond citizens’ ability to pay. The government faces threatening levels of debt from its attempt to keep benefits flowing and where citizens must pay directly as with retirement homes, their portion of costs is too high for the average German to afford. So thousands of elderly Germans are being exported to cheaper quarters in Eastern Europe and Asia. Germany Exports Elderly will tell you more. Old Otto, wherever he has settled, is certainly not smiling, though his rather ferocious moustache would guarantee plausible deniability if he were.
Anyway, the rest of Europe and the U.S. are in the same leaky financial boat. Most Americans can’t afford retirement homes either; an entire little industry has popped up to weasel elderly relatives into such places via Medicaid, i.e, government welfare. And as all but President Obama and Congress seem to know, the government has no money to pay for such things anymore; it’s running on borrowings for which nobody knows a believable repayment source. A lot of American grannies are going to need suitcases. You may be one of them…
See, it’s obvious–if you’re willing to look. Americans, like Germans, have fooled themselves by letting labor make too much money. Labor is a cost. When costs get too high, cheaper places can compete. In Germany, Eastern European workers came in to care for the elderly at lower wages for a while. People came to America from places like the Philippines and Latin America for that purpose. But after a while, even that failed to keep retirement living affordable in Germany or in the U.S. or in most of Europe. So Eastern Europe and Asia now compete by opening homes in their own countries, which remain affordable (by Germans). Their standard of living is rising as the Western standard declines.But ultimately, the joke is on them, because the American and European benefits going their way will dry up as spending is forced to contract towards available income.
In the meantime, if you’re say, a middle-aged German, maybe you want to start learning to speak Polish or Siamese. If you’re American, maybe Spanish would be useful, if you haven’t already acquired it… and if you’re hung up for Christmas or birthday gifts for grandpa and grandma, consider new suitcases.