Posted: 12/22/2002 10:41:50 PM EDT
BERLIN, Dec. 22 — President Johannes Rau said on Sunday Germans complain too much for their own good even though they live in one of the world's richest and safest countries, admonishing his countrymen to stop their moaning and groaning.
Rau said Germany was facing a number of problems but he said he was convinced the country, which has Europe's biggest economy, has the might and skill to make needed corrections.
''There's too much moaning in Germany at times,'' Rau said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper, referring to waves of criticism that have buffeted the government over rising taxes and unemployment as well as health care and pension costs.
''There are some people who have reason to complain, but a lot of others allow themselves to be infected by the current mood,'' said Rau, whose office holds largely ceremonial powers.
He said Germans have enough money to travel abroad and buy ever-more Christmas presents -- and should stop their whining.
Germany has been plagued recently by token strikes in the public sector as wage negotiations faltered, and could face a full-scale strike by millions of nurses, bus drivers, and trash collectors in January if mediators are unable to reach a deal.
Pollsters and economists report Germans quickly focus on perceived flaws in planned reforms or changes, pessimistically bemoaning any potential pitfalls and generally overlooking possible longer-term advantages.
Despite rising pension and health care costs for workers, Germany is considered to have one of the world's best universal health-care systems, a generous social safety network, and pension payments far higher than in other European countries.
Crime rates are lower than in many countries, university education is free and workers get six weeks annual paid holiday. Germany also has a world-class transportation infrastructure.
''We live in a world of split reality,'' Rau said, offering two examples. ''There is an enormous number of booked holidays and retailers report rising turnover ahead of Christmas -- so you see we are not living in a valley of tears. The situation is better than the mood would indicate.''
Rau said he was delighted by the wave of solidarity that swept Germany last summer after devastating floods swamped much of eastern Germany, but wondered why that mood evaporated.
''There was a level of willingness to help out that had never been seen before,'' said Rau, 72. ''What I regret is that this solidarity couldn't be transported to other areas of our lives.''
Rau also criticised the main political parties, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats and the opposition conservatives, for their continued squabbling even months after the September election that Schroeder's SPD narrowly won.
''What I haven't seen is an end to the election campaign,'' Rau said, referring to bitter post-election attacks by the parties against each other, in particular a parliamentary commission set up last week to investigate ''campaign lies.''
Conservative chancellor candidate Edmund Stoiber at first claimed victory before the final tally was announced and refused to congratulate Schroeder after final results showed him losing.
''What I'm not seeing is a government governing and an opposition acting as opposition,'' added Rau, who was a member of the SPD before taking his current office. ''In order to govern and to perform as opposition there needs to be a competition between rival agendas. That's not clear to everyone here.''
Well... They ARE Europeans.
As far as health benefits and vacations go, they have nothing to bitch about!
I spent almost 12 years in Germany, 4 of those years as a civilian working at a German job, not for the US military as a civilian. I also married a German.
Off the top of my head these were some of my benefits:
From day one of my new job:
1)Full medical and dental for me and my family.
2)6 weeks of paid vacation.
3)Vacation pay, equal to almost a full months wages.
4)Christmas pay which was one months wages.
5)36 hour work week (but paid for 40).
6)Money from the government for raising kids. More kids=more money.Till they turn 18 or complete college.
7)Money from the State for raising kids. Until they turn three years old. More kids=more money.
These are just a few of the benefits that Germans have, I could go on, my wife sat behind me rattling off more as I typed.
I don't feel they have too much to bitch about, but relatives say switching to the Euro really hurt them.