This article appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, 17th March. Its title, "Help the Nation!", took me by surprise. The under-title reads: "Germany's economy is not moving forward enough, and the politicians can't fix it by themselves. Every German must ask himself if he has an idea about what to do."

German humor relies a lot on subtle irony. I am sure a reader of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Allgemeine would receive this article in the same spirit; but economists and observers have asked these questions in earnest for many years. Germany needs another "Gründerzeit", or in English, "Foundation-time", the period in the late nineteenth century, in which Industrialization spread rapidly.

Instead of calling it the "Gründerzeit", however, historians should call it the "Begründerzeit", for the capitalists and entrepreneurs who founded Industrialization. Government administrators need them to work their classical capitalist magic: The entrepreneur comes up with an idea for manufacturing steel, making shoes, or car tires FBC, "Faster, Better, Cheaper". The capitalist gives him the start-up capital for plants, equipment, and R&D. It happens all the time.

The best suggestion, in this context, is "Lassen Sie es geschehen!" Let the people make lots of money and keep it. In Germany, at present, there is little incentive to become wealthy, since the tax structure allows the government to take most of what its citizens earn; but if they have an incentive to invest their earnings, they can let money work for them. Let Germans experience the pleasures of investing. Once they get a taste of the money, it will come more naturally to them.

The German government needs to guide its people out of their post-World War, collective-guilt syndrome. So many undeserving people would gladly let Germans stew in their guilt, in order to make them easier to manipulate. Browbeating the Germans with war-guilt damages their long-term prospects as a nation. Ask the Japanese about war-guilt for their treatment of the Chinese and prisoners-of-war, and they will ask "What guilt?" Ask the Turks about their terrible treatment of the Armenians, and they will likely ask you, "What terrible treatment?" Unlike them, Germany has paid through the nose for its terrible treatment of people during the War. Now it needs to move beyond that. Only the government can initiate it.

When a regional war destroyed my great-great-grandfather's hometown Erfurt, Germany, in 1080 a.D., the regional bishop in Mainz decided to rebuild. He knew Erfurt needed several measures to accomplish this. It needed a protective wall around it to guard it against invasion. To develop Erfurt, he had to increase its wealth. To do this, the bishop initiated something called the "Freizinsrecht". He enabled Erfurters to lease land owned by the church. To maintain their ownership, the citizens had to pay a yearly tax, or "Zins". Otherwise, they could do whatever they wanted with the land--build wagons, raise chickens, cure leather, plant orchards, or forge metal-products.

The bishop elaborated on his plan and defined its underlying principle as "libertas et iusticia", i.e. liberty and justice--for all! Refugees from other destroyed communities flocked to Erfurt for the protection the wall offered. As more and more people created more businesses, they needed more space; so the bishop--now a hundred years later--commenced work on a second wall. They needed one other element to sustain all these transactions: they needed a currency.

Every city in Europe had its own coinage in the 13th-century. They used coins of similar size and with similar silver or gold content. It facilitated the development of markets farther and farther from Erfurt. Under the ruins of one old building in Erfurt, for example, modern archeologists found a stash of silver coins from nearly every major city in Europe, all from the late-13th and early-14th century. Think about it! In the late 13th-century, trade with Erfurt had reached far-away places like the Netherlands and Normandy!