Sunday, October 4, 2009

The difference between the US and German politicians

Repeatedly, I have had to explain what is going on over here in Germany to Americans who naturally assumed that the baby is thrown out with the bathwater regularly in other countries as well. How could they expect things to be otherwise, since radical, immediate, unannounced changes are commonplace in US politics:

The former eBay CEO [Republican gubernatorial candidate for California Meg Whitman] told an audience at Gen-Probe Inc. in Mira Mesa she would issue an executive order suspending the law that restricts emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, until its long-term economic consequences are better understood.

In other words, as soon as she hits the door, a major piece of legislation is thrown out by decree.

Compare this to what happened in 2005, when the SPD / Green coalition under Gerhard Schröder lost the elections. A grand coalition of the SPD / CDU took office, and many Americans apparently felt (judging from the comments I heard) that Germany's renewables legislation would be thrown out.

Instead, an announcement was made in 2005 that the Renewable Energy Act would be reviewed as scheduled in 2006. In 2007, the initial results were made public, and in 2008 the law that took effect in 2009 was drawn up.

Businesses thus had a full three years and three months between the elections and the date on which the new legislation took effect to prepare for the changes, which were relatively slight in any case -- basically, the system was tweaked.

It would be great for the US to have more consistent legislation. And I had no idea that eBay was the brainchild of dimwits.

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