I said in a recent post that it seemed but short steps from saying that German car-makers cheat, to saying that German business cheats, and that Germany cheats. In other words, that Germany risks letting its criminal car companies represent the nation's morals in the world. You see a VW on the road: you see a symbol of Germans cheating the public.
The risk seems high, and there is now awareness of the umbilical link between the German government and its car-makers. There was a striking cartoon in Thüringer Allgemeine while we were in Erfurt which showed 5 German flags behind the podium where an official government statement was to be made. Each black, red and yellow flag showed the logo of a different car company.
The Times reported last week in a piece on the forthcoming German federal election:
"People are unhappy about the collusion between carmakers, their readiness to dodge diesel emission standards, their proximity to government and the pervasive suspicion of establishment cover-ups. Germans are rightly proud of their cars and they understandably hate cheats. Now something is going awry. The economy is doing quite well, which should give fair wind to an incumbent government, but voters worry that their teenage children are being exploited in their apprenticeships and traineeships. Unpaid overtime, a demand from some employers that the youngest in the workforce turn up two hours earlier than everyone else, also rankles. The German engine is not purring as it should."
Tomorrow, I'll have a piece on Schadenfreude, Bildung and Beer.