Bo Strander and East Germany wealth and poverty



Hi Everyone! Bo's experiences bring to mind my first trip driving
from Frankfurt to Berlin. I'd hoped to find that the Amphicar
factory in the Borsig suburb (of what was then West Berlin) still
had parts, tooling and drawings, blueprints, etc. for the Amphicar.
No luck. All they had were a few pictures. If only I'd been there
in 1968. Even I was too young then.

Arriving at the East German border was interesting. Traffic going
to West Berlin had its exclusive, well organized (but lengthy wait)
entry and inspection lanes. Those going to East Germany itself,
Poland, and the Soviet Union had less glamorous inspection areas,
but with one big difference. They were closer to the large
inspection buildings. (You could see a few cars there emptied of
luggage and people, while the Vopos looked for who knows what.)
Once on the old 1930's design freeway, you drove exactly 100 KPH (62
mph). Not one mile per hour faster, otherwise you got a ticket of
great capitalist proportions. Local owners of Trabants drove flat
out, passing all the Opel's, Benz's, BMW's, VW's from the West
downhill and slowing to under 60 mph going uphill. Along the way, I
passed a lime green Trabant looking like an abondoned horse lying on
its side next to the right lane. Finally, I arrived in West Berlin
and modern freeways, fast cars of quality, and what I hoped was my
last experience with "forced equility".

I was warned the worst was yet to come. You see my return to West
Germany meant that the Communists really, really searched some
vehicles, looking for people escaping to freedom. West Berliners
told me to leave town at 5:00 AM to avoid hours and hours of long
lines at the inspection area. Funny thing, once I got to the
inspector in my line, he was very upset with my passport declaration
and wanted to know why I had no children. I guess he thought I was
a spy or something. I crossed the border into West Germany in time
for breakfast, so happy to be back in the land of "inequality".

What I mean is this and other trips into the East Block areas should
have made me love how everyone was "equal", right? Wrong!
Everytime I returned home to the West, it was like an explosion of
wealth surrounding me. Driving in the East Block is like driving
across a grassy field, with every blade of equal height and
stature. Driving in the West is to experience a vast panoply of
towering redwood trees of great wealth, next to rolling forests of
hardworking maple trees, along side an endlessly changing landscape
of valleys, mountains, and soaring vistas. Never again will I
complain about the great athlete who's inherited genes gave him the
ability to parlay his success on the basket ball court into a
financial empire. He's one of the blades of grass who grew into a
towering redwood! So give me the capitalist world. Tip your hat to
all the new redwoods of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Forbes, etc. Who
knows, if we only had ten thousand of them, perhaps we (the blades
of grass aspiring to whatever level of success we wanted) would pay
no taxes, because our redwood population would be so vast they would
pay it all. And if there were enough of them, their tax share sould
be a fraction of what the few redwoods pay today! Isn't it amazing
what Amphicar is all about?