Politics in action.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has provoked a storm of protest by suggesting west German states have fallen into decay because of the vast amount of public money that has been ploughed into former East Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall 19 years ago.
Merkel, who grew up in the communist east, told a political affairs monthly that states in western Germany had a "backlog of need" following the transfer of a total of €1.5tn to boost the former eastern states.
"When I travel through the old federal states [western Germany], I see many town halls, schools and public buildings dating back to the 1960s and 70s while much in the east is new," Merkel told the magazine Cicero.
Several leading economists jumped to her defence, saying that parts of west Germany suffered from a lack of modern infrastructure while much of east Germany now boasted new roads and modernised town centres and railway stations.
But Merkel\’s remarks were judged to be "stupid", "dangerous" and "divisive" by a range of politicians who said she had broken the unwritten rule in German politics not to stir the enduring rivalry between east and west Germans.
You mustn\’t mention the truth, or even discuss what is the truth or not, for you might upset people.
It\’s why politics is so often a very bad way to solve problems, for certain problems are simply written off as being ones we\’re not allowed to talk about.