#63: Spargel, new stadium, wages up
But also just how bad inflation is
Hey 20 Percent!
It’s that time of year again: Spargelzeit. A period when Germans suddenly lose their Scheiße over a phallic white vegetable. The bizarre ritual usually irks me because it just seems so over-the-top. You can’t go anywhere without running into the pointy stalks:
“How are you doing today? Would you like to see our asparagus menu?” is the common refrain.
“No thanks,” I often answer. “I just want to pick up my dry cleaning.”
But this year I feel different. I’m welcoming the reports on how the asparagus harvest is going, the unique cultivation ideas and even historical articles on this oh-so-Teutonic custom. I even like how it links Germany’s capital to the rural town of Beelitz, where it seems all of our Spargel sprouts.
Germans love asparagus, my German wife once told me, because it reminds them of spring. And now I love Germans freaking out over the vegetable because it reminds me of spring too.
Or maybe the blue sky last night affected me.
Have a good weekend,
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, April 8
Received booster: 59.8% (59.5% April 1)
New cases in one day: 4,974 (6,557 April 1)
Total deaths: 4,406 (+22 over April 1)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 752.3 (915.8 April 1)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 14.6 (18.4 April 1)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 8.7% (8.8% April 1)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Bad day for a strike
A controversial Thursday strike by Berlin’s teachers’ union — the GEW — led to at least two high-level resignations. About 2,000 teachers protested at the Rotes Rathaus in Mitte, according to Tagesspiegel, pushing for smaller class sizes to reduce the stress and improve the health of teachers. But the timing couldn’t have been worse — presentations for Abitur — the German school-leaving test that is more holy than the above-mentioned Spargel — began at many schools Thursday, forcing already stressed teens to reschedule their presentations. Teachers are also working to help integrate Ukrainian refugees and many teachers are out with corona. The head of one GEW committee, Gunilla Neukirchen, as well as a past deputy chair, Green politician Sybille Volkholz, both left the union in protest over the poor timing.
A new Hertha stadium?
After years of trying, Berlin’s other professional soccer club, Hertha, may get a new stadium because playing in the historic Olympic Stadium isn’t good enough. Sport minister Iris Spranger (SPD) Thursday told RBB the club could use part of the Maifeld, an area west of the current stadium with playing fields and some equestrian activities. However, Hertha would have to commit to playing at their current location through 2030 and reduce the size of their planned stadium. Hertha is currently battling with owner Lars Windhorst over its poor performance (currently 17th out of 18 teams) and it recently failed to buy nearby land from a cooperative housing company because the company was skeptical it could find new apartments for its renters. Officials from the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf aren’t so confident about a new stadium in the Olympiapark — they say historic preservation laws as well as noise concerns make it unlikely.
Regardless of what it feels like, you’re earning more
Good news! You’re now earning about as much as you were before the pandemic. Real wages, earnings adjusted to account for inflation, rose 1 percent last year, according to the Berlin-Brandenburg statistics office. The office surveyed 2,000 companies with more than 10 employees. Excluding inflation, wages rose an average of 3.8 percent in the capital last year with some categories like skilled workers (IT anyone?) seeing an above-5-percent jump, according to the Morgenpost. Inflation last year came in at 2.8 percent in Berlin.
The scooters aren’t going away
Electric scooter companies do apparently make money. Sweden’s Voi Thursday told Berliner Zeitung that it was profitable last year and that its membership numbers in Berlin had tripled. In Germany, nearly 1 million people reportedly used a Voi scooter last year, twice as many as in 2020. The company said it had reacted to criticism that its scooters were often in the way by prohibitng their return in parks or on riverbanks. Police statistics recently showed that accidents with e-scooters — the kind you stand on, not the Vespa-like scooters — jumped to 819 in 2021 from 325 in 2020. 96 people were seriously injured in the accidents last year, up from 34 earlier. Most accidents happen in Mitte.
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Prices for consumer goods jumped 7.9 percent in March over a year earlier, according to the statistics office, led by a 40.7 percent leap in energy costs as well as a 7.3 percent increase in food costs. The office keeps crazy statistics including the fact that tomato prices are up 59.6 percent over March 2021 and flour costs 22.6 percent more. Check back next year to see how that affected your real income.