September 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Zakaria: Germany as a model for U.S.

Tonight at 8pET, there'll be a GPS primetime special on CNN – Restoring the American Dream: Getting Back to Work. I dig into the unemployment crisis and look at how to create more American jobs.  The other day I talked to Brooke Baldwin about some of the key points I'll raise in the special, including the example Germany sets for the U.S. Here's the transcript:

Brooke Baldwin: I want you to sit there and I want you to channel your inner Steve Jobs. Let's say you invent some gizmo, some kind of technology, you believe in this thing. Who knows, maybe it has the power to change the world. Did you know this? If you want to get a patent on said invention, the average time it takes to get that is three years, three years to get a patent.

That is supposed to change starting today. Today the president signed this overhaul of the government's patent system. So if you watch us daily - come on, a lot of you do - you have heard him ask Congress time and time again to take action on this. Well, they did. And the White House is saying that this will start creating jobs today.

Fareed Zakaria has been drilling down on jobs. He's got a special airing Sunday night. Fareed, let's begin with this patent reform. Three years ago to get a patent and now it looks as though maybe we're getting that fixed. How does expediting a patent, the whole process, create jobs? Obviously the White House also thinks it's a good bit of news. Do you agree?

Fareed Zakaria: I do agree. I think that the big problem for most small businesses, start-ups as you put it, some inventor with a mad idea. In the initial stages you don't make much money. In fact, you lose money. If it takes you three years to get the patent, very few venture capital firms or angel invest are willing to give you money. So you lose money for three years while you get your patent approved. So by the time you get your patent, you've gone out of business.

So the idea here is to really make a quicker up-or-down decision. It doesn't mean you'll always get the patent but if it means you'll know sooner whether you'll get it. That way if you get it, you're still around as a viable firm. It's part of a whole series of things we need to modernize. We've sat on top of the world for so long. We haven't looked at our whole governmental system from taxes to regulations to things like this patent process and asked ourselves, how does the rest of the world do it? What are the best practices out there? How do we benchmark and make sure we're competitive to attract the best capital in the world, the best people in the world? We've tended to assume, well, we're number one. Well, guess what, we're not number one in a lot of areas of.

Brooke Baldwin: Reality check, U.S. And as you and I were talking yesterday, you said, look, here is a great idea to help us create jobs. Issue more tourist visas, and folks from overseas will spend their money here. It sounds easy enough. You say you have a number of other ideas like that. You've spoken to a lot of people for this special who offered some ideas. Give us a couple of more ideas.

Fareed Zakaria: The biggest easy idea, not easy but the most immediate idea, is really infrastructure, rebuilding America's bridges, roads, airports, new smart grid, powered grid, all that. Why is that the best idea in the short term? Because right now, no matter what you do, you give tax credits, tax incentives, cut the payroll tax, businesses aren't hiring because there are isn't much demand. Consumers are paying down debt. We're not spending a lot of money in the mall.

This is one area, infrastructure, which isn't dependent on consumer demand. The government can just start modernizing our infrastructure. And we have desperate needs here. We used to be among the top five in the world in the infrastructure according to the World Economic Forum. We now rank 23rd which means we have the worst infrastructure of the advanced industrial world.  So this is a win-win because we can get people to work and we can rebuild our infrastructure, which will produce more economic activity. Every study has shown that better infrastructure pays for itself very quickly.

Brooke Baldwin: Obviously, Europe, we talk a lot about Europe. I know you do on your show. Europe is hurting as well economically speaking. To hear some folks say it, it's the Germans. The Germans are tired of bailing out the slackers over there. I know Fareed Zakaria, it's not that simple.

Fareed Zakaria: It's not that simple because one of the reasons they have been doing it is that a lot of German banks own all the debt of the Greeks and the Italians and things like that. So when with you look at the Greek situation, you have to understand the reason the Germans are doing it is partly self-interest. They don't want their banking system to collapse, and German banks own a lot of the Greek debt. But there is something to learn from Germany and we talk about this on the special. Germany has maintained its manufacturing capacity, really remarkably. It's supposed to be the case that once you become rich you don't make stuff anymore. We all become management consultants and massage therapists and things like that. That's the service economy.

Well, the Germans still make stuff and they make a lot of it. And why are they able to do that? We explore that, try to explain how you could have a revival of American manufacturing that would bring back what is really at the heart of the American dream, which is a good job for an average person, not a guy with a fancy college degree. That's what the Germans have been able to do, and that's an area we really could learn a lot about. 

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Topics: From Fareed • Jobs • United States

soundoff (160 Responses)
  1. Pitdownman

    There is another way to look at it. There are two ways to generate income. Through employment or investment. The top CEO of 2009 made $84.5 million – $6.1 million in pay, 78.4 million in stocks and options. The wealthy know the real money is in investment. Look in to the Universal Annuity System.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  2. SomethingToBeAwareOf

    : Pitdownman: "income" for whom??!? For the unjust – of course!

    September 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Reply
  3. bob

    Ohhhh! It's SOOOO difficult!!! How on earth will I EVER figure out that if I demand more money per hour at my factory job here in the US than some schmuck in China will accept (including the shipping costs) then I'm OUT OF A JOB FAST! ... I'll NEVER figure that one out!!! What else gets me? How come every time I DEMAND that my minimum wage get raised, everyone else's wages go up too and the prices go up and I'm back where I started? My head is just going to explode...

    September 19, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  4. SomethingToBeAwareOf

    : bob: Agreed – but hey, we should be able to LIVE from our income, shouldn't we??!? Of course, other people are human... but does it make SENSE in a "LONG-TERM" to "outsource" work, for EVERY means, "just" because companies would have to pay "others" lower... income... ??!?

    September 19, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Reply
    • bob

      define "LIVE"... and also, if the grocery store isn't selling anything because nobody can afford to buy it, guess what? the prices go down... This argument: "I deserve a living wage" is crap. All you're guaranteed in our system, in life in general, is the right to use whatever strength you have to fight and claw for your own survival. Survival itself isn't guaranteed. Do we then use our highly evolved social skills to help ourselves and each other survive and even prosper and enjoy life? You bet we do, but whenever we forget the fundamental ground rules and get spoiled by our own success we set ourselves up for a rude awakening...

      September 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Reply
      • SomethingToBeAwareOf

        Yes, I *DO* agree with you once again – but I *DO* disagree with that "I *deserve* a living wage" argument of yours. So you do NOT think you would "deserve" that??!? Oh wait... I think I have misunderstood something... of course, you do your FINE job, and/or FINE work, and even then, you want to HAVE TO FIGHT for your income, don't you??!? When MORE "power" is given to companies... I think you do understand my point of view.

        September 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
      • bob

        You just keep thinking you "deserve" something.... I'll keep remembering I have to FIGHT everyday for it. I don't worry about my job being taken by somebody else, because I remember EVERY DAY that someone else WANTS my job and is always trying to take it.... Somebody in China or India likes you,... they hate me....

        September 19, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  5. SomethingToBeAwareOf

    : bob: So, that's the correct way to "be", heh?

    September 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  6. Shifter

    Germany doesn't spend 35% of its budget on defense like the US does. Here's a shocker: They spend it on social programs that directly benefit its own citizens. Who needs daycare and senior centers when you can have bigger bombs instead?

    September 19, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  7. SomethingToBeAwareOf

    ... the (simple) point is: We *WANT* to work ... think of it all.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  8. Joe

    We are already borrowing things from Germany: The Bush Administration's naming of the Department of Homeland Security is compared to the Nazi use of the term Heimat, "the Homeland" and they hired former East German Stasi spy chief as a consultant to help build the organization. Don't believe me. Look it up yourself.

    September 19, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  9. Germany is a bad model

    20% of all german employees work for loans that aren't enough to make for a living. At the end of the month the state increases their loans to the poverty line. Is that what you wish for the U.S.? You have more people having jobs, but they get paid like cotton pickers in the third world. Think about it!

    a german

    September 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  10. TruthSpeaks

    What a load of nonsense coming from the Council on Foreign Relations spokeman, Germany is no better at the unemployment rate levels those unemployment rate Statistics can be missleading and hiding the real number and why should Germany be a model for america? isnt it already a model?

    September 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  11. Justin

    Yes, let's use Germany as a role model... Put a sick psychopath in charge with absolute power. Invade all our neighbors and make them part of our empire. Kill 6 million Jews. That should cure our unemployment problem! The only things we should use Germany as an example for is making beer, sausage, and starting wars.

    September 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Reply
    • Bla

      Germany didn't start a war for 72 years. How many wars did your country start in this timeframe? Don't throw bricks if you live in a glass house!

      September 19, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Reply
    • MJ

      Pretty ignorant....You must be a product of the Amrican public education system.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Reply
    • Mark

      Justin you reflect perfectly the dumb inept thinking of Americans. With people like you there can never be a rebirth of America. Most Americans are just dumb right wing church going phonys.

      September 20, 2011 at 1:10 am | Reply
      • Independant 1

        How do you know that He is not a left wing nut from Boston

        September 20, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • MLB

      Are you kidding, Your talking about something that happened over 60 years ago and what does that have to do with today. Meanwhile the US has been in numerous wars, fought or been part of dozens of proxy wars. Supplies weapons to a bunch of wackos around the world. Get real dip*^%$

      September 20, 2011 at 2:17 am | Reply
    • SMANCometh

      Hitler and the Nazi party was a statistical anomaly in the history of humanity. It was a brewing of the perfect storm. It is highly unlikely that another Nazi Germany will ever show it's evil face ever again on this planet. However, that does not mean another form of evil will rise up in the future.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:37 am | Reply
      • coflyboy

        He did... his name is George Walker Bush.

        September 20, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  12. Strangewalk

    I've been involved in manufacturing all my life. I know of dozens of medium and large companies that were forced into bankruptcy by unions, and I've heard of hundreds of smaller ones that were. We shouldn't be opposed to unions, just encourage a different model where unions and management work together in a non-adversarial way for the benefit of workers, shareholders, community and nation. The German example of intelligently managing integration into globalization is well-worth considering. As one example, America has given away its tool, die and mold-making industry to the Chinese, which is the backbone of manufacturing. However, the Germans lead the world in this area and spawn most of the new advances in this field. The USA will NEVER be able to sustain a middle class without manufacturing!

    September 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Reply
    • Jorge

      AHHHH, a beacon of enlightened commentary emerging from the fog of intellectually unredeemable dorkdom pervading this blog, you must have taken one of those pills from the movie 'Limitless'.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:56 am | Reply
  13. Devin Gray

    I'm still perplexed at why the imitial stimulus did not include more shovel-ready infrastructurre projects, and why we continue to ignore this need that would put so many back to work.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Reply
    • Nelba

      Infrastructure does not bring in wealth. It recirculates what we already have.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  14. MJ

    Pretty ignorant...You must be a product of the American public education system.

    September 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  15. Nelba

    The topic is GERMANY as a model. Germany is only 31st in college gradutes per capita. Education is appropraite to the real needs of individuals and society. In The USA we squander youth lives & national resources pretending everyone is going to be an astronaut , a brain surgeon, or dramatist. Very destructiove all around.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  16. xray

    The USA gave up its manufacturing capabilities for cheaper T-shirts at Walmart.
    With no inflation fighting strategies other than interest rate hikes they figured that cheap Chinese imports would keep the inflation rate down and the masses happy.
    Australia is now going down the same path by permitting the import of fruit and even milk from China....this to a land with fabulous weather for farming and a wealth of talented farmers.
    "You want us to buy your iron ore and gas....let us flood your domestic markets with cheap food"..."Trust don't need to manufacture stuff...we can do it for you.....manufacturing is over rated"
    USA economy is now so driven by domestic consumption that one day,the music will stop, and your new Chinese overlords will turn off the tap.Perhaps then the American people will learn(all over again) that you need to make things....or die.

    September 19, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  17. Christianna

    No thanks. Germans have the worst screwed theology. There's no hope in that nation unless they get re-educated on Christianity.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:00 am | Reply
    • Jorge

      Oh brother, another loopy thumper who misses the forest for the trees.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:00 am | Reply
  18. Doubting Thomas

    Irvin Baxter wrote a book back in 1986-"A Message for the President" where he talks about Germany being found in the Bible-And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
    He states that the Berlin Wall was the wound that wouldn't heal and that the wall would come down one day according to the Bible(he started teaching this in 1968 and the wall came down in 1989) and the world would follow the after the beast-the Leopard Head is the symbol for Germany in the Bible-Revelation13.3. He also states that this was the birth of the "New World Order" and 10 years later in the Wall Street Journal (full page ad) Merrill Lynch ran an ad that the world was 10 years old today. You can download his video at the endtime dot com website. He also has a radio show "Politics and Religion" in many cities across the US-all of the shows are archived on this website as well.
    I have watched many of his videos and it's amazing all of the history packed into his videos about the prophecies of the bible–I highly recommend his videos to anyone wondering where the world is headed. He has a 14 DVD set that will explain what is written in your Bible.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:04 am | Reply
  19. Berliner

    Americans think Europe is so far ahead of them. What suckers! Germany went into massive debt trying to rebuild East German Infrastructure. Starting in the 90s driving up unemployement from 5% to 11% Drastics social cuts have insued. Unemployment has dropped because many Germans are leaving Germany to work in other countries such as India and China. The Germans and Swiss have regular program on what it is like to work overseas in places like Vietnam, Laos, Nicaragua. Get real Fareed, do some real journalistic work. OOPS did I say a dirty word!

    September 20, 2011 at 1:48 am | Reply
    • MLB

      You are kidding right? Have you seen our debt in the US.

      September 20, 2011 at 2:11 am | Reply
  20. TG

    We cannot succeed as a country this large, when we pay others to do our work for us ... For instance, what are we doing in the meantime, and with what do we pay those people who are doing our work for us? Today, we're borrowing money, to pay people to do our work. How's that working out for us?

    Also, some of our leaders are beholden to our multinational corporatations, instead of to the USA. We cannod survive, if we're led around by the nose by some multinational corporations. To the point where we let these corporations buy our elections.

    No more republicans, no more dittoheads, no more multinationals. NO MORE OUTSOURCING.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • Leila

      Well said – please run for office – and hurry.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:15 am | Reply
  21. R

    First thing to do is, throw the cancer named Fareed Zakaria out of this country. Right now he may be good for USA. However, this dirty blood of corrupted politician will show its color soon. Whatever he is saying right now, his closeness of India most corrupt politicians can harm USA too. I have no problem against Muslims. But Fareed is cancer.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:30 am | Reply
    • Leila

      Yuck – could you be more ugly? Please make the effort to post an articulate and intelligent reply instead of just vomiting vile words into the computer. If you have a problem with Mr. Zakaria please state what they are using facts – and state your sources. I'm so tired of people just purging themselves in these comment sections.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:13 am | Reply
  22. Jason Glugla

    Unfortunately Americans are too arrogant to follow the leadership of another nation regarding anything. Many still believe the pablum put out by politicians that this is the greatest country in the world.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:28 am | Reply
    • Drowlord

      The US has its share of problems, but there is no country in the world that's as friendly to small businesses. The fact that over 30% of Americans have started a small business at some point in their life speaks volumes to this. In point of fact, almost everyone in my extended family has started a business (individually, not together). It's very easy, and assuming you have any financial sense at all, you can make money from the start by running it out of your home.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:40 am | Reply
  23. Drowlord

    The whole world of intellectual property protections is overblown and difficult to navigate. One of the main points in the article - about patents taking three years - is exaggerated. You can have a patent search completed and file a provisional patent in the span of a few weeks in the ballpark of $15k. The formal patent can wait while you're making your product and moving forward. That's assuming you even need a patent, which you probably don't. In the small business world there's plenty of demand for things that don't require patents or copyrights.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:31 am | Reply
  24. Pat S.

    Keeping wealth and the means to develop it within our borders is like holding water in a dirt sifter. The numbers in which mass manufacturing, better technology, cheap labor and mass shipping gives corporations choices to make bigger profits outside our country. There is little loyalty in big global business. And competing with slave labor is suicide for developed countries..... If there is any doubt, see that some of China's private industry is starting to invest huge amount of money in other countries, specifically Africa. The next big potential cheap labor market is Africa. ..... Our government has to right itself with the free trade agreements and other tax free items which promotes a bigger outward flow of cash from the U.S. The article does get it right when they mention "fancy college degree". It's not for everyone and our colleges selling themselves as the panecea for the common man is so enslaving for some......

    September 20, 2011 at 10:40 am | Reply
    • susan

      I totally agree with you about the college thing. It's not for everyone and it's not anyone's fault, to be honest. Everyone has his or her own strength. People were saying, oh, let's get all these workers trained in high technology. Well, it doesn't work that way. There are a lot of people in this world who just can't be trained to do high technology, no matter how hard the trainers try or the trainees try. Such people still need to work and they are good at mechanical work. We have to make things in US, so people could still do some simple tasks. Not everyone should get logical kind of training in college. It's not supposed to be everyone's task. Only some need to do that type of work.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:40 am | Reply
    • kd


      Africa is a continent, not a country.

      September 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Reply
  25. Grim Reaper

    How many businesses has Fareed started and ran? Not as an investor, not as an officer to an established company but one in which he had an idea culminating into a profitable business, Everyone in Congress and pundits alike have the answer yet it doesn't seem like many of them have any real experience-sounds too much like fantasy football.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:06 am | Reply
  26. susan

    We need to put special tax on companies that move jobs overseas. If they hire more in other countries and reduces jobs here in US, they need to pay more taxes. Or else just move the entire company out of US, the owner's citizenship should be canceled and the guy should just live in the other country all the time, never allowed to come back. And companies who move their jobs back to US should get a tax credit. Instead of increasing tax on professionals who make $250000, who are not really rich people AT ALL! There's so much cost in education and housing and so high a tax placed on professional already. If more tax is added, we'll end up paying 50% soon. Might as well quit and wait for some handout from government and live in houses free of rent (government paid etc.) , the so-called Section 8. Obama has to go for all he can think of is how to squeeze more money out of people who are still working, and he's not really creating more jobs by making people who actually work pay more tax. Two professionals in CA easily make $250000 and they are NOT rich, living in an expensive place like CA.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:34 am | Reply
  27. Pharos

    How will amending the patent law help anything?
    If you don't understand the problem, I will explain it AGAIN.
    The day someone gets their patent on their new gizmo is the day they start making arrangements to produce the gizmo in China, or Mexico, or any other country with no labor standards. This produces ZERO jobs.
    Long live free trade. Let the North Americans eat cake!

    September 20, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  28. DD

    Why Ford opened a branch in India? At the same time they close in St.Thomas (Canada). Why???? Because there is no qualified personnel, large number of school drop out, people are not going for Engineering/ higher education and so...on. Everytime when President speaks, he proud about the quality of Education In India. Good in mathematics, science and computer. Such thing should happen in North America. Here is an Classical example, In India , after finishing grade 12, one can go for Medical admission but in North Amercia, one should have an degree and which I feel 4 years waste of time. Are North Americans are immature/incapable to undergo medical after grade 12????Think and change the curriculum standard inN. America. Educate all Americans. Stop going to India for medical treatment, " Medical tourism" so that you can improve atleast your economic status. In india the total literacy rate is 82%, in some states it is 99% (Pondicherry). See the difference which you can do in N.America, if you work hard.

    September 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  29. justin

    We need to put special tax on companies that move jobs overseas.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:16 am | Reply
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