Germany's Economy Is Just Fine, Thank You

The article ``Tuning Up the Engine of Europe's Economy,'' Oct. 19, is rather unbalanced, and quotes only the critics of Germany's social and economic system. There are numerous economists and politicians both in Germany and outside who would dispute many of the assertions made.

One of the repeated themes of the article is the ``high cost'' of Germany's social welfare system designed to reduce income inequalities and to foster a sense of social security. It can just as well be argued (as the author did to some extent) that the social harmony that it engendered has, in fact, been a major factor in Germany's success as an economic power.

The article points out that Germany's economy should become more service-centered. This is ironic because the most service-centered economies (US and Britain) have the most intractable negative trade balances.

The author seems to imply that Germany relies too much on ``heavy'' industry and ``heavy'' machinery production.

Actually, those days are long gone. On the surface, today's exports may look less than high-tech, but the statistics mask the fact that German-made machines are more likely to be electronically controlled than products made anywhere else.

Finally, the author criticizes the cash-only attitude prevailing in the German economy. Many people would argue that eschewing credit is, instead, a virtue that helps to stabilize families and society as a whole. Walter H. Diebold, Lafayette, Calif.

Cruise-ship golfers: spare the ocean

It is hypocritical and highly irresponsible for nature lovers aboard a cruise ship to be driving golf balls off the stern (``Warming Up to the Frozen North,'' Oct. 5). Debra S. Gysin, Aesch, Switzerland

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