Germans Vote With Their Feet:

This article in the Independent (a left of center British paper) documents how high-achieving Germans are voting with their feet to escape their government's flawed economic policies (hat tip Instapundit):

For a nation that invented the term "guest worker" for its immigrant labourers, Germany is facing the sobering fact that record numbers of its own often highly-qualified citizens are fleeing the country to work abroad in the biggest mass exodus for 60 years.

Figures released by Germany's Federal Statistics Office showed that the number of Germans emigrating rose to 155,290 last year . . . which equalled levels last experienced in the 1940s during the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War....

Stephanie Wahl, of the Institute for Economics, based in Bonn, said that those who are leaving Germany are mostly highly motivated and well educated...

Fed up with comparatively poor job prospects at home - where unemployment is as high as 17 per cent in some regions - as well as high taxes and bureaucracy, thousands of Germans have upped sticks for Austria and Switzerland, or emigrated to the United States.

The article emphasizes the potential damage to Germany from this "brain drain," and it is indeed true that the German economy may be hurt by losing some of its more productive citizens. In the long run, however, this kind of voting with your feet might actually help Germany by giving the government stronger incentives to change its policies. A government faced with the prospect of losing a large part of its tax base has strong incentives to clean up its act. And, as I explained in this article, among others, foot voting has significant advantages over traditional ballot box voting because foot voters have better incentives to become well-informed about their options.

Not all is sweetness and light for the German emigrants, however:

Switzerland already has a resident German population of 170,000. Its presence has even provoked a xenophobic backlash in the country's tabloid press. Earlier this year, the Swiss newspaper Blick ran an anti-German campaign which spoke of a "German invasion" and quoted readers who claimed they found the German immigrants to be "arrogant and rude". Many immigrants, however, say the benefits of lower taxes and pay up to three times higher than at home far outweigh the occasional xenophobic outburst.

The Swiss backlash is ironic because German-speakers are the majority ethnic group in Switzerland already. I was a visiting scholar in Germany in 2004. While there certainly are some "arrogant and rude" Germans, on the whole I found the people to be extremely polite, friendly, and helpful - more so than in most of the other countries I have been to, Switzerland included. I am a great admirer of Switzerland and its political system (which is a model for the containment of ethnic conflict through federalism and limits on government power). Sadly, however, not even the the Swiss are immune to anti-foreign bias.