Monday, October 24, 2005

European Postscript

Juergen Klinsmann

I’ve been a bit rough on Europe in a few recent posts (Oct. 12, 18, 19). I was fairly critical of Western Continental Europe’s work ethic, economic policy, government regulations, social welfare, secularism, pretension, pacifism, spirit, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. And I forgot to mention ingratitude.

But one thing I admire is their football (soccer for the non-Bundesligers). Now I find that Juergen Klinsmann, coach of Germany’s national football side, moved to a beach town in California, where he lives with his American wife and two children. He has been flying the 20,000-km round trip about twice a month to work in Germany ever since he took the head coaching job.

Bundesliga critics of Klinsmann have long been bothered by new ideas on training, fitness and job competition that Klinsmann brought to Germany from his adopted home in the United States. That a world soccer power could possibly learn anything from upstarts in America is seen as heresy by many in Germany.

Klinsmann's sunny optimism also seems to have upset the pessimists in Germany. German newspapers have published pictures of a smiling Juergen jogging along the beach in California.

He should stop his dancing around in California while leaving us to deal with all the crap here, said Bayern Munich's sporting director Uli Hoeness, one of Klinsmann's sharpest critics. The team is in the same catastrophic condition as the whole country, added Hoeness.

It appears that the talented, optimistic, successful Klinsmann has become part of the European brain drain. And he had the sense to wed an American lass, have two American kids and settle in California.

On a more serious note, the European sickness is a serious problem for America. US exports to the Euro-zone in 2004 totaled $193 billion, but have grown at a measly 3% yearly since 2000. US direct investment in Europe was $97 billion last year. Europe’s stagnation hurts the US trade balance and generally depresses the world economic vitality.

Unfortunately the European outlook is sobering. An upsurge of spirit and courage to forego the entitlements and social safety nets that cripple the economy will be needed to enact the critical economic and government reforms. All the world should hope for this result.


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