The Trabant wasn’t a totally dreadful car, or at least it wasn’t when first launched in 1957. It was cheap, easy to drive and repair, and for its size it could haul a decent load.
Problem was that by 1991, it remained essentially the same two-stroke, 26 horse power motor it had been back in 57. In East Germany innovation was just too difficult. It didn’t have the investment in research and development; it didn’t have a culture that encouraged critical thinking and experimentation. And people weren’t able to look over the borders at what others are doing and copy them.
East Germany was too heavily centralised for that, all important decisions were sucked to the centre. Sadly, for all the talk of localism, and freedoms and flexibilities, British local government remains heavily centralised too. It’s nothing like East Germany thank goodness, but even though we are elected, councils remain agents of central government as much as we are the servants of the local people who elect us. Continue reading