Tuesday, June 10, 2014


The Mittelstand is the historical heart of the German economy. Small firms, with about 50-100 workers, say, that we have never heard of, still make quality products sold all over the world. Eberhard Voit, a Professor at Georgia Tech who models metabolic systems in the Bioenergy Science Center, gave me a cute example of this in the bar last night.

Eberhard comes  from a town close to Luedenscheid in North-Rhein Westphalia. During the industrial revolution  folks there started working with metal, and someone found out how to make nice buttons. They made more and more of them, saturated Germany, then started exporting. By 1860 millions of Luedensheid buttons were being sent everywhere, equipping even the Chinese military.

Did workers in this small town, as 100 years ago they were packing boxes full of buttons to be sent to some "exotic" location,  dream of what it would be like to actually go there?

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