News broke today that Mayor Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee for 17 years and favorite khaki model, is set to be appointed U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.
Luxembourg! There is a country that you haven’t thought of in a while, if ever!
If this date at first glance seems like a pleasant and easy (albeit paved) retreat into retirement, the information we’re about to present to you about this country is unlikely to change your mind. I mean, this job seems to be even easier than being re-elected mayor of Milwaukee, which a single elected mayor has failed to do in the past 105 years. (Socialist Daniel Hoan holds this distinction, losing his 1940 re-election candidacy to Carl Zeidler, and to compensate for this insult, we’ve named the city’s tallest monument after Hoan.)
OK, let’s go to Luxembourg!
Luxembourg is really small. For a country.
Its 633,622 inhabitants (as estimated this spring) lived in an area of just under 1,000 square miles wedged between Belgium, France and the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. It’s just a hair bigger than Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties combined. It is the smallest country in Europe but for a few of the city-states like Liechtenstein, Monaco and Vatican City. A small corner of it, the 50-acre Luxembourg American Cemetery, is home to the final resting place of General George S. Patton. Luxembourg residents speak French, German or Luxembourgish, a distinct dialect that is somewhat of a mixture of the two.
Luxembourg is rich.
The country’s gross domestic product (the sum of its economic output) is about $ 62 billion, which roughly matches the figure of about $ 60 billion for the Milwaukee metropolitan area. Residents of its capital, also known as Luxembourg, earned a per capita income of around $ 88,000 per capita on a purchasing power parity model that allows comparison between economies. It is one of the highest in the world. Milwaukee’s figure for the same metric is around $ 58,000. The country’s economy is driven by financial services, which account for over a third of its business activity, followed by industry and tourism. Agriculture is a small slice of the economy.
Luxembourgers like to drink.
As if the comparisons to the Milwaukee area weren’t strong enough already, there is this. Luxembourg sells the most alcohol in Europe per capita, although this is influenced by the large number of tourists and people crossing the border to buy alcohol. CORN! In a recent survey, more than a third of Luxembourgers say they get drunk at least once a month, the third highest level of craze in Europe. (Watch out for Danish sidewalks, folks.)
Not much is happening there!
No, you haven’t really missed much here. The Associated Press news feed for Luxembourgish topics contains only a handful of low-level stories, despite the Prime Minister having been hospitalized with COVID-19 this summer. The State Department describes relations with Luxembourg as very strong, so… yeah, does that sound like a pretty cool job? Hey, Mayor Barrett, enjoy the European vacation!