The German Road Network Is KaputtMark - Sixpots None The Richer5/22/14 9:28pmFiled to: GermanyKolbenfresserInfrastructure10012EditPromoteShare to KinjaGo to permalink(The sign reads “road damages” and someone attached “for roughly 30 years now” underneath it. Picture by www.bild.de)AdvertisementBitching and moaning about the government is a preferred pastime all over the world. Whether I read a text on Jalopnik or in a German newspaper, the taxes we hard working citizens have to hand over to our leaders always seem to be wasted and/or missing everywhere because of negligent incompetence or even barely concealed viciousness.For us Jalops the condition of the road network is a common topic. From reading articles and your comments I get the impression that the roads in the US suffer a lot from potholes, rotting bridges and other signs of decay while the government is paralysed by shutdowns and unable to provide more funding.AdvertisementSo what’s going on in Deutschland? Some of you might know that Germany is in a remarkable situation. While a lot of countries still struggle to recover from the recession and especially states in Southern Europe are desperately trying to control their national deficits with sometimes drastic measures, our finance minister Schäuble was able to present the first balanced budget since the late 60s this year because the German economy is (slowly) growing and unemployment is low thus raising the tax revenue to a record high.I’m not going into the witchcraft and monetary trickery involved to calculate the budget and whether the estimated numbers are actually real or not. Let’s assume here that the balanced budget is a fact.SponsoredSo life is peachy and driving a smooth joy over here, you might think.Paradoxically nobody is building statues of our beloved leaders though. In fact, the balanced budget isn’t big news, and the government around Angela Merkel – although fairly popular for reasons beyond me – wasn’t able to really profit from this achievement yet. The problems Germany and the European Union are facing these days - and in the near future for that matter - are too severe to unconcernedly celebrate this historic success. The Germans also didn’t forget that in the last five years the government had to loan an unprecedented amount of money to stimulate the economy, save the banks and the Euro all at once. So everybody is anxious that the balance might be a short-lived moment, and the promise of a positive national budget within the next two years is just as hollow as almost every election campaign drivel we heard before.AdvertisementAnd then there’s something else. What are “we” supposed to celebrate exactly?Despite the record high tax revenue – of course being a nuisance by itself for us hard working citizens - the balanced budget wasn’t possible without reducing expenses. “A penny saved is a penny earned”, is a phrase we all know too well. But a government isn’t about earning money. AdvertisementDon’t get me wrong now. I’m being deliberately simplistic in my analysis. We can all see what happened in Greece when the national debt reached a critical level. However, this is not the place to debate it. Let’s just say for now that there’s a limit to making debts somewhere, and even though Germany luckily didn’t reach it in the past, it’s probably for the best not to find out where exactly it is. So the national budget is a complicated affair and spending was cut more or less everywhere. But this being Oppo I will - like a true lobbyist – ignore those facts completely and just bang the drum for the road network in this article. I will also overlook that large parts of the road network are financed by the federal states and smaller municipalities too. The 16 federal states and countless municipalities have varying budgets themselves and some of them are in way bigger financial turmoil than the national government. But to make things easier here and to completely lose my credibility, I will unrealistically assume that those subdivisions have roughly comparable budgets to upkeep their share of the roads and fail miserably at doing so. AdvertisementAdvertisementIn every country the transport infrastructure is the fundament on which the society and economy is based. Germany is - or was - in the comfortable position of having a well developed and dense road network that was largely build about 40 years ago. In Eastern Germany parts of the infrastructure were (re-)build after the reunification and are therefore more modern. This fairly efficient network in the densely populated heart of one of the most important economic regions in the world is partially making up for some of Germany’s shortcomings like for example the lack of natural resources.To see what our “rolling economy” actually looks like watch the video of fellow Opponaut Reborn Pyrrhic.