John Riceburg: Five reforms to bring Germany out of the Middle Ages



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Theoretically this is all voluntary, but many people are signed up at birth.

Plain and simply wrong. As you're not a member of the church at birth, you aren't signed up.

I'd posit that the separation of church and state is better in Germany than it is in the United States, where strong church influence in politics exist - far more than even in Germany despite being led by the so-called Christian Democratic Union.

hydroxide more than 2 years ago

I think the USA is more Middle Aged :/

... or not to say a developing country.

1. Tent-cities, don't know how to spell social security,
2. ask s.o. for the way and he offers you to help out for 'only five bucks',
3. step in the wrong street and you become a victim,
4. not possible to drink tap-water,
5. ecology - an enigma - but SUV is how we roll (over it),
6. democracy by lobbyism,
7. death penalties
7a. - that doesn't even work
8. hawking around with all kind of weapons but start crying when the next child get shot

xtraa more than 2 years ago

Church Taxes

Most of the katholic church taxes go to Rome anyway.

me more than 2 years ago


I think you need to stop giving John Riceburg the time of day with trite like this. I stopped buying your magazine because of him. I cannot believe he's still being given "air-time". Disgusting.

Lauren E Healy more than 2 years ago

5 things to bring the US out of the middle ages

#1 Abolish death penalty
#2 No more crusades
#3 Stop executing people in the streets
#4 Install a social state
#5 Don't bomb other countries back into the middle ages
I completely agree with your suggested reforms. But your choice of words sound rather imperialistic and clearly reminds us of the culture you were raised in (see above)

Really? more than 2 years ago


Given that all these points are totally irrelevant to everyday-life (more like "but I want tomato sauce on my pulled pork sandwich"), there do not seem to be any major problems in Germany. I'm happy about that!

carl more than 2 years ago


Getting citizenship is easy. No need to muse about. And why should it be of interest of culturally alienating children by forcing two languages on them, I can't see that this would be in the public interest.

What reform Germany needs? We need to develop a German islam that conforms modern conceptions of society and export it to the world. We need to regain digital sovereignty. We have to stop foreign surveillance and espionage. And we should learn ancient greek in higher education again. Germany will prevail when we do things differently than other nations in the occident and promote more "useless" arts. And reading more Hölderlin...

Andre more than 2 years ago

Thanks Andre

I totally second that. Also dismiss the totally needless bachelor-master system and bring back our own educational system - we rather need more self-esteem using our own ideas than adopting every anglicistic mistake.

Focus more on greek logic, philosophy and other things that lasts and matter rather than using mental drosophilas that wows on the first look but turns out to be stupid and insignificant.

But take the fun part :) Great shows, movies, music and media - that's the esset of America :)

Andi Arbeit more than 2 years ago


If your "friend" was born in Germany, they they are doing something wrong can get a passport. I wasn't and I am now a citizen. Quit whining and deal with the country you are in. If you want it more like the US, let's give 9 year olds shooting lesson on an Uzi, but I'm afraid that's just not allowed here. Just duelling at 10 paces. Go Middle Ages!

Doug more than 2 years ago

no vacuum on sunday: seriously?

If I wann do my groceries on Sunday, please stop being paternalistic and pseudo-christian and do let me do it!

If I wanna vacuum at home on a Sunday than please stop bitching dear neighbors. Just grow up.

Miguel more than 2 years ago

Mosque tax

Sunnis and Shias in the Middle East could learn a lot from the church tax system. Divyy up the booty! Best way to prevent sectarian bloodbaths in the long run.

Maurice T Frank more than 2 years ago

bad article

1. I think enough people made clear that this is not mandatory. I never paid church taxes. Still, you're right: the state is not supposed to handle it.

2. well if you really want to criticize the multi-tiered school system you will have to learn about our education system in general.. because the "lower" tiers are meant for people who later do "ausbildung" instead of studying. the system is actually really good and after finishing tier 1 you can decide if you do an "ausbildung" or go on to tier 2, ... basically, you can reach every part of the education system if you're willing to - no matter what choices you took in the past.

3. "just give people citizenship" -- duude. it's easier to go living in germany than A LOT of other places in the world. still, it's not perfect, but come on.

4. there is bilingual education. I had to learn English and French apart from German at school. If you find the right school, you can also learn Russian or Turkish. If you have money, you can do anything. Again, show me any country where you have free bilingual education.

So basically, you article is just a random rant without any sign of quality or research.

Another Daniel more than 2 years ago

Missing the point

"If you have money, you can do anything".
Oh, okay then. Good. Let's all just chill out then.

caite more than 2 years ago


so you expect to get everything for free? every tax payer in germany is supposed to pay for expat's bilingual schools? that's ridiculous. even if it was a good idea (which it kind of is) - how do you explain to all those germans? where are you from? I want my free bilingual education, please.

Paul more than 2 years ago

Who's talking about expats?

Point 4 is about providing better opportunities to kids with immigrant/foreign language backgrounds and giving them the same access to language learning as rich kids. There are places doing it in Berlin (there are Turkish/German kitas, and programmes with native English speaking aides in the classroom) so why not improve on it throughout Germany?

caite more than 2 years ago

still don't get your point

I know you're talking about your personal wishlist here. But these things cost money, you know. What exactly is it that you lack? Is there any country that does this? How do they do it? How do they pay for it?

Actually I think kids learn new languages pretty quickly, it's mostly the parents that need help. When you speak Turkish/Syrian/whatever to your child at home, and your child speaks German in school, it will learn both languages - I met dozens of people growing up bilingual that way. What kind of support do you wish? And how do German kids benefit from that? (other than learning foreign languages, which every child in Germany does)

Paul more than 2 years ago

getting the point is not really a strength of yours, hey?

It's not my personal wishlist, I've already been to school, thanks.
But the message here was merely that bilingual education is valuable, let's make it available to more kids, not just rich ones.
As far as I'm concerned, you can either agree with this idea, and think that it's a worthwhile thing to do, or disagree and say that it's not necessary. But to say "If you have money, you can do anything" is 100% missing the point and plainly, stewpid.

caite more than 2 years ago


Money is the ultimate protestantic ethic for every american citizen. No wonder - you have been socialized, trained like that. But let me explain my point :)

1. Money has no value without sharing it (take your time and think about it)
2. Money itself has no value and is just a tool. Even if you have it cash in your pocket, it's not your money, it still belongs - in your case - to the FED.

That being said, and thinking about the logical consequences, you can't run a society without sharing. You think taxes are a bad thing? Think again. To put it in your kind of view, imagine how to run any business without tax-paid streets. I know Americans are trained to think in terms like property, and anything else even if it don't make sense is dismissed as socialism.

Now look at your country, compare it with what it used to be in the 60ies and watch how it vanishs from the image area of the world, sinking in dept. You can ignore the fact but that does not make it better, nor will it give a solution. To keep the good thing going, it is about time to consider the mistakes of the actual system.

xtraa more than 2 years ago

My country??

Puh-lease. I'm not American.

caite more than 2 years ago

Well, Daniel got very excited...

...about your critical, yet friendly rant. I can agree with a lot of your wishes, especially concerning the yet to be established division of church and state, and I wonder: would Daniel get as angry at me (being a german) if I said so to him in a bar? Whatsoever: I actually meant to advise you to do some more research on the question of citizenship. Concerning people who's parents were born in Turkey the turkish government has a big saying in this itself.

xtrat more than 2 years ago

you dont even know anything about germany

You said everybody pays the church tax. That wrong. What about all the million people withoud any confessions or other religions? Do them count as "everybody"? You even compare this to Napoleon? Whats wrong with you? We have bilingual and even multi-lingual education. So many people don't want to have the citizenship. Those who want to, can get it.

Daniel more than 2 years ago

Less of everything

In general the same advice I would give any country on this planet: a lot less goverment interventtion, especially central goverments. Lets go to more individual freedoms, less taxes, more direct democracy via local goverment (bezirkamt), more live and let live (socially but also economically), eliminate central bank, more empowerment of mayors (bürgermeister), less to politicians in bundestag, easier rules to create business and jobs, less burocracy, protect freedom of choice, less taxes to church but also eliminate lobby of special interests like pharma, aviation, industrial and military complex, etc... and above all banks! Let the market (das volk) work freely

Alejandro more than 2 years ago

half agree

I always enjoy a good piece of advice and I would not even object to most of your points apart from the fact that they are sloppily made:

Church Tax: I agree. The church should make its case and collect voluntary contributions. However, when you first register as living in Germany you just say that you are not religious and you will never be bothered about again about church tax and at that point it does not cost you anything.

Citizenship: we can sure learn something from the US and UK here, could not agree more. However, its a bit more complex: your Turkish/German friend who grew up in Germany is entitled to German citizenship but would have to give up the Turkish one because there is not yet dual citizenship for countries outside the EU. But, as you point out, this is supposed to change under the current coalition government.

Education: There is lots to critisize about the German system but at least education here is generally free. The US has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. In the US money determines your place in life and the quality of education you on that one I would recommend to look at your own country more closely before berating the German system.

Criticisms to add:
I feel Germany is still in the middle ages when it comes to diversity and minority issues and how people from minorities are properly represented....unfortunately, I would not suggest to look at the US for race relations advice but rather at the UK which in my opinion can serve as a role model for European countries.

More risk taking would also be welcome in my opinion..the lack of it has a lot to do with legalistic restrictions in my view..

Lastly, thanks for initiating the debate....

An Eek more than 2 years ago


Yeah, because the author is obviously responsible for all the shitty things about America. So of course he shouldn't be allowed to voice any political opinions about the country he is living in. (Irony alert....)

A.T. more than 2 years ago


GEMAGEMAGEMAGEMA, TV tax, blocked Youtube, censored Google, banned Uber, etc. Bureaucracy. 40 days to connect your internet. And accepting queues as a natural part of life. Even most East European countries have moved ahead of Germany on these things.

(Of course I understand many of these things help make Berlin the weird and wacky place it is. But still.)

Club Mate more than 2 years ago


by the same reason I was reluctant to give advice to Americans how they could do better when I was living in the US, I'd wish Americans would shy away from telling us what to do or not to do. especially when it comes to grant citizenships.

icke my heart more than 2 years ago

out of the middle age

Shopowners should be able to open their shops on every Sunday. The resting day does not make sense in the society we are right now.

Ana Estrela more than 2 years ago

Stupid Article

"Only those that get selected for the vaunted Gymnasium" - around 50% of all students, its not as selective as you make it sound. "Send all kids to schools with the same quality!" - Real- and Hauptschule are not schools of worse quality !! They are less academic (just like not everyone is taking AP classes in the States) and more pedagogic. "Again, stop giving tax money to the church" - Religion might not matter to you but it´s important to a lot of people. Especially old and lonely people rely on churches for social contacts and entertainment.

Karla more than 2 years ago

Last time I checked

the church wasn't exactly a social hot spot or a particular crowd puller when it comes to entertainment.
How about instead of funding bishops to walk around in creepy gowns we could maybe put that tax money towards funding the arts and adult education and sporting facilities and youth groups and women's centers and homeless shelters and and and....
If lonely and old people still want to go to church, no one is stopping them.

caite more than 2 years ago

not so stupid

And when schools decide what path a student should follow according not only to his/her grades but also "oh... your father is a medical doctor! than gymnasium for sure!"
it is an unfair and uneven system.

As for church taxes, if those lonely people rely on churches, let them pay for them. don't they already rely on social services for which we all pay for?

Miguel more than 2 years ago


Stop talking about it. It is a concept which does not make sense to an increasing number of people...

Ana Harendt more than 2 years ago

Hear! Hear!

Especially points 1 and 5. Church tax is such a sham.

Kate more than 2 years ago

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