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With the unchecked excesses of Wall Street and the financial markets in mind, and the growing, yawning gap between the “have’s” and burgeoning “have-nots” of American society in mind, maybe it’s time to move to some Americanized version of the German Social Market Economy model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy). Germany’s hybrid of a U.S.-type mixed economy, with its commitment to free enterprise, together with strong government regulations to protect social services and prevent private excesses, has been in place since after WWII, and pretty successful by most standards. It is NOT socialism, but a modern system that recognizes the pragmatic reality of the strength of a robust private economic sector, with the social protections that economic self-determinism alone cannot assure.
Of course, and I say that because it is self-evident to me, our government needs major reform, if not a new Constitutional Convention, if it is to assume a responsible role in a sane and democratic future. Lop-sided influences need to be removed from the electoral process, starting with federal funding of federal elections, term limits in Congress to restore “citizen government.” Further we need to reform institutions that defeat the “one person/one vote” democratic principle. Kill the obsolete Electoral College system of electing Presidents, that allows election in 11 or 13 “swing states” to determine the Presidency. Consider eliminating the Senate, which is a weak shadow of the old British House of Lords, and represents real estate rather than people, with its two-senator-per-state system that gives the citizens of some states 60 times the voting power of the largest states.
It is time to reform and evolve both our market economy and our representative government, and it must be done soon and together if either, if both, are to remain viable through the 21st century.
The German Institute of Service Quality (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/10/how-did-ikea-beat-out-mcdonalds-for-germanys-most-popular-fast-food/246164/) has done a new survey in Germany in which furniture store Ikea beat out McDonald’s for fast food service. Seems furniture stores in Germany are promoting breakfast, and even roof garden restaurants, with distinct success and popularity. While this may seem like a fluke in consumerism, the idea of combining a retail consumer experience with fast food does make sense, as evidenced by the McDonald’s we see in Walmarts and gas station service centers in the U.S. Perhaps the idea of window-shopping for furniture — fun but not necessarily costly — is a new draw for fast food customers?