Given the current developments around the German debt brake, I think it’s good to refer to this bit about German financial politics and Adam Tooze’s initial prediction (FT, Zeit) that Christian Lindner as finance minister would not be good.
Fragment from around 45:00 clipped below:
“We got quite a lot of shit for doing that actually. Not entirely popular with my German colleagues. ‘Nicht zum Volkskörper zugehörig’ is a phrase that was used. ‘Wie trauen sie sich ein solches Urteil zu.’ Not belonging to the body politic of Germany. How dare you make a judgement like that. We don’t have any reason to regret it. We were clearly right.
An unexpected deep dive on the problem of unaffordable and underutilized land as it relates to Berlin. It manages to even sneak in some mentions of land reform and land value taxes (which would solve this problem pretty much instantaneously).
SOMETIME IN THE 2000S, a group of mostly Turkish women from an immigrant group called Neighborhood Mothers began meeting in the Neukölln district of Berlin to learn about the Holocaust. Their history lessons were part of a program facilitated by members of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace, a Christian organization dedicated to German atonement for the Shoah. The Neighborhood Mothers were terrified by what they learned in these sessions. “How could a society turn so fanatical?” a group member named Nazmiye later recalled thinking. “We began to ask ourselves if they could do such a thing to us as well . . . whether we would find ourselves in the same position as the Jews.” But when they expressed this fear on a church visit organized by the program, their German hosts became apoplectic. “They told us to go back to our countries if this is how we think,” Nazmiye said. The session was abruptly ended and the women were asked to leave.
This is a core fear of migrants in Germany and Europe and it’s not at all unjustified.
In this podcast episode a court case is treated (with the public prosecutor) where during a fluke accident a girl riding along on a bike is killed by a bus in Amsterdam.
The thoroughness and consideration with which that is done contrasted immensely with how things run in Berlin and made it clear to me (again) how unserious this city is.
It’s super lovely that Berlin has a lab which does these kind of user tested innovations on city processes. The work that needs to be done is written up here and it’s relatively straight-forward (there are just no short-cuts).
What we need with the Bürgeramt though is not 10% more appointments but the automation of at least half of the processes there to no longer need human intervention. We needed that 10 years ago.
Important prototyping work to show how German government forms can be much better and much friendlier than what’s out there right now.
Getting anything like this to production will be very very difficult without a lot of systemic changes and groundwork done first.
For my notes, a bunch of receipts about just one of the dark pasts of the German Green Party.
Love to see these updates from the German Digital Service. Not sure everybody knows that that organization exists now and what they’re busy with.
The work they’re doing is really good but what’s really staggering is how much of a gap they have to bridge here. These are basic buildings blocks of digital transformation that advanced societies tackled 10-20 years ago.