Saturday, July 2, 2011

Random News Generator- Germany

First off, yes, there's the Women's World Cup going on today. Earlier today North Korea lost 1-0 to Sweden, sending the Swedes through to the quarterfinals and eliminating the North Koreans with one game remaining for each in the group stage. The United States plays Colombia shortly; the Americans can advance with a win while a loss will eliminate Colombia.

Also confirmed to advance are France, Japan and host Germany. Confirmed as eliminated are Nigeria, Canada and New Zealand.

However, there is something else notable in Germany today: the formal end of their draft, with the final draftees being released from service on Thursday. West Germany instituted a draft in 1957, with the aim of tying the military more closely to society in general so that it wouldn't get any new bright ideas about world domination. Sometimes the period of required service was 18 months; in later years it was whittled down to six, and eventually, the memory and shame of Hitler and World War 2 just turned the Germans largely off of war entirely. The result has been a shrinking military, fewer campaigns abroad, and the end of the draft that we are now seeing.

Although the recession had something to do with it too.

Swapping to a volunteer force, though, may start causing another cultural echo chamber, as a disproportionally high number of volunteers come from the former East Germany. Lack of opportunity in civilian life leads some to enlist, just like in any other country with a volunteer army, and East Germany never really caught up with West Germany economically after the Cold War.

The move to abolish the draft has drawn opposition from, of all things, the nation's hospitals. With any draft, there will be conscientious objectors. Conscientious objectors are placed somewhere on the homefront where they can still be of use- for instance, a hospital. Or a kindergarten. Or an assisted-living facility. Those places, in turn, receive relatively cheap labor. That is the core of the objection: no objectors means no cheap labor, and no cheap labor means payroll costs go up. In addition, the objectors tend to be given the more basic, menial tasks, tasks that would then have to be reassigned to their regular employees, employees that have gotten used to concentrating on more critical tasks. Productivity, thus, would go down as well.

Jobs, however, would not be much of an issue. Germany is currently riding 24 consecutive months of falling unemployment, with the 7.0% unemployment rate the best Germany has seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall. If someone wants or needs that kind of work, there it is.

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