Our second day in Berlin was quite amazing. Besides the fact I got to play the role of TV star and sit behind the podium at Parliament, we also got to learn a few neat things from our German friends.
Lesson 1: Efficiency can be aesthetically pleasing.
Take for instance this beautiful photo of the renovated interior of the Bundestag Dome. The dome has a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. The main hall of the parliament below can also be seen from inside the dome, and natural light from above emits down to the parliament floor. A large sun shield tracks the movement of the sun electronically and blocks direct sunlight.
Lesson 2: The German Toilet Tax is a real money-maker. Imagine $1 USD (. .50 Euro) per trip per toilet per establishment. I'm guessing the toilet tax brings in millions if not billions a year in local economic activity. If the USA could adopt such a measure, we might be able to fund more infrastructure and educational initiatives to get growth going, or hey, maybe even pay for Obamacare. I know, who would have thought toilets could be such an enterprise? I cannot believe our Junior Achievers haven't thought of this yet!
Lesson 3. Understanding the past and embracing the present can connect us to the future. Steve Jobs once said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." Americans tend to tear down and rebuild instead of preserving. The photo to left is of a window overlooking a courtyard at Bundestag Parliament. The stones represent where the Berlin Wall used to divide East versus West. A tunnel used to connect the buildings until it was refurbished in 1999. In today's usage, the term Reichstag refers to the building, while the term Bundestag refers to the institution.
Efficiency. Taxes. Change. Come to Berlin!