American Ingenuity vs. German Engineering?

I saw this commercial the other day.  Actually, I saw the 30 second version, but this is the full version.  It opens up a lot of questions and thoughts about current debates going on around the world right now.  If you are lazy, I’ll summarize:

Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google, Vic Gundotra talks about his experience in traffic in his Mercedes.  He did not notice the vehicle in front of him had stopped while he was on the highway.  The car started beeping and then stopped before colliding with the stopped vehicle in front of him.  Maybe people outside of California do not find this as astoundingly amazing as I do.  I don’t know.  For me, when it registered what this automobile had done, the best way to express my feelings was:  WOW!


How is that not amazing?!?!?  Seriously.  If you don’t think that is amazing:  Fuck you.  It’s amazing.

And why is the “fake Apple Stoer” in China more news than this?

Chinese Apple Stoer

Chinese company infrinces on Western Hegemony

  Or a Senator named Douchey that has the nerve to talk about the President’s name?  Mercedes made a car that avoids accidents by itself!

There is a reason we call it an “accident.”  People are prone to make mistakes.  It happens.  When we are going 45 to 60 miles per hour, those ‘mistakes’ can be pretty detrimental.  Mercedes made a car that avoids some of those mistakes.  I do not even know how many lives this technology can save.  It’s not penicillin, but it is still a huge advancement for mankind.

We have all of these discussions about the American economy these days.  Or even debates on the best form of Western economies.  The argument made by many Americans, not just Conservatives, is that the “Free Market” is the incentive for advancement.  The belief is that a truly unregulated market place will allow companies and corporations to compete and continue to make more advanced products.  This Mercedes technology basically says, “not exactly.”

I have mentioned this before, but it is important to note the nature of the current German economy.  It is a Capitalist nation, that is true.  But it is not really the type of “limited government, Free Market capitalist” nation that the Conservatives claim will be the savior of mankind.  In reality, it is even more interesting when looking at the Tea Party argument for the structure of government and economy.  There is NO evidence to support this claim, but there is evidence to contradict it.  It is much like the insistence on claiming that natural selection and evolutionary theory are more flawed than Creationism… because of faith.  Even when all the evidence points in the opposite direction.

First of all, Germany now has the Deutsche Bundesbank.  It amazes me because I see so much criticism against the Federal Reserve in the United States.  (I am going to over-simplify everything, so do not criticize me for that.. but the facts should be correct.)

This is amazing because Buba (The Bundesbank) is an independent agency with officials that are appointed by the President.  Buba is not allowed to provide financing for private industry, but they are in charge of controlling the economic levers of the German economy.  The point of this is that the criticisms of the Fed is that they “interfere” too much, not that they lend to private banks and private industry, too much.  (An interesting note is that the reason Buba cannot do this is because of German history… more or less, it is considered one factor that led to the rise of fascism.)

What I find really interesting is the claim that “big government” is the “problem.”  Well, let’s look at the country in which the car that avoids accidents by itself was developed.  This is not an easy topic to research.  (I don’t think you can do all the “research” in a quick Google search, I tried it and didn’t get much.)  But, Research and Development in Deutschland is funded and accomplished through the government.  How do the Conservatives maintain this claim that “Big Government is the Problem”?  How is America competing with German engineering?

We wonder why no one buys American cars the way they consume Japanese, Korean and German cars.  Really?  I don’t need to haul debris or hay every day… but I do like to be safe and save money on gas.  So, why would I want a big, behemoth of a car that guzzles gas with giant rims and peeling paint?  The American Auto Industry is starting to catch on, but is it too late?

I mean… This is a country that can fly a remote controlled drone into a city and shoot someone between the eyes.  We can fly bombers that you cannot hear.  We can drop a bomb on a building and take out the building underneath it (underground).  This country can put people on the moon, or at least in space.  But the Germans were the ones that developed a car that avoids accidents by itself?

Let’s look at the German economy.  The GDP per capita PPP for Germany is above the UK and well above Italy and France.  The American economy is still farther near the top, but the German economy is nowhere near failing.  If the Conservatives in the US and UK, and the Tea Party were correct, then a nation like Germany would be flailing far behind most other Western nations.

The cause of the situation is not really the issue.  After WWII, Germany was forced into a government that is quite large, with many checks and balances.  The rest of the world pretty much demanded it.  No one wants Germany left unchecked again.  The German economy probably has more Keynesian economic levers then the US and UK combined… yet they are making cars that avoid accidents by themselves.

The fact is that German products are not synonymous with bad quality.  One can name any list of German products that are considered to be of superior quality:  BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche,  Braun, Krupps, Lufthansa, Hugo Boss, Addidas, Bosch, Siemens, Nivea, Puma, Bayer, Stihl, Blaupunkt, and Haribo gummy bears to name just a few.

When was the last time you bought an RCA stereo?

After three GE microwaves, I know own a Panasonic microwave.


  1. avatar Lettie says:

    I thought fiindng this would be so arduous but it’s a breeze!

  2. avatar Barbara Machine says:

    I learned a lot from this post, great help for me, thank you!

  3. avatar Nancy Sandra says:

    Thanks for the share!

  4. avatar Ben says:

    Lets see German engineering produce a sub 15,000 dollar car that isn’t built in a third world country. American engineering strives to employ Americans through lessening cost standard things aren’t free and we can’t all drive Benz

    1. avatar Adam Baum says:

      Lets see German engineering produce a sub 15,000 dollar car that isn’t built in a third world country.

      You mean the Volkswagen Passat? Or the VW Polo? Not every German car is a Mercedes or a BMW.

      And since I wrote this, there are a few more interesting American cars being produced. The Chevy Volt, for example.

      American engineering strives to employ Americans through lessening cost standard things aren’t free and we can’t all drive Benz

      Which was the point of this entry. Americans are stuck in 20th Century mentality of trying to mass produce cheap products. Can Americans really out produce China or Mexico at a lower cost? I don’t see that as plausible, if it is even possible.

      Farther, why would we want a supply-side solution for a demand side problem? Is there a shortage of American cars? Why do we need to make more?