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France is not in decline and the last thing it needs is 'reform'

by Jerome a Paris Mon Sep 10th, 2007 at 09:01:33 AM EST

Le Monde has been kind enough to decide to publish the article below, written back in April, in its edition dated September 11, with minimal edits, so I am reposting this today here on the front page.

The article mentions neither John's big role in writing and editing this article, nor my position with the European Tribune, but I guess we should be happy that the facts it contains are given a wide hearing. -- Jérôme.

La France n'est pas en déclin et n'a pas besoin de "réforme"
John Evans & Jérôme Guillet
France is not in decline and the last thing it needs is "reform"
By John Evans & Jérôme Guillet
Il est bien difficile aujourd'hui de trouver, dans les médias tant nationaux qu'internationaux, un commentaire sur l'économie française où manquent les mentions obligatoires de son déclin, de la faiblesse de la croissance, ou de la persistance d’un chômage de mass, et qui ne présente pas comme une évidence l'urgente nécessite de "réformes". Entre guillemets, "réformes", car ce mot est devenu un nom de code plus ou moins explicite pour un programme à sens unique: libéralisation d'un marché du travail considéré "trop rigide" via l'assouplissement du code du travail, baisse des charges sur les entreprises, affaiblissement du contrôle de l'Etat, et, naturellement, baisse des impôts. Des travailleurs plus flexibles et moins chers seraient plus facilement embauchés, ce qui améliorerait la compétitivité des entreprises et leurs profits, sur le modèle anglais ou américain. Et évidemment les 35 heures tant décriées, cette « aberration économique », doivent être éliminées afin de remettre la France au travail.

Le problème est que ce programme, qui sert bien les intérêts des actionnaires et des dirigeants d'entreprise, se base sur une description extrêmement partielle et partiale de la réalité économique.

It is hard to find, in the international media, commentary on the French elections that does not suggest national decline, a stagnant economy, a hopeless employment situation, an unrealistic 35-hour working week, and the urgent need for "reform" if France is to get back on the road to growth again.. "Reform" is here between quotes, given the extent to which it has become a more or less explicit codeword for a one-way agenda: liberalizing the labour market, weakening union power and State regulation of business, and reducing taxes. Cheaper workers, it is assumed, will lead to greater competitiveness, higher profits and, therefore, more jobs.

The problem is that this programme is based on a view of economic reality that is neither impartial nor complete.


Le leitmotiv du déclin prend généralement appui sur la croissance plus faible de la France, relativement à celle de pays comme le Royaume-Uni et les Etats-Unis, ces dernières années, et sur la baisse relative de son PIB par tête. Or cette description tronquée de la réalité ne tient pas compte de la distribution des richesses, et de l'augmentation extraordinaire de l'inégalité dans ces économies censées nous servir de modèle. En fait, toute la richesse créée dans ces pays a été captée par une tranche étroite de la population. Les revenus médians sont stagnants, alors que les revenus des 0,1% les plus riches de la population augmentent en flèche, au point d'être passés de 2% à 7% des revenus totaux en moins de vingt ans aux Etats-Unis, selon les chiffres de l'étude de Piketty et Saez. When it is backed up, the imputation of decline is generally linked to lower GDP growth over the past few years, with a drop in relative GDP per capita, compared to countries like the United Kingdom and the United States - constantly touted as models for France to follow. This view is one-sided because it takes no account of internal income distribution, and more particularly of increasing inequality in these economies. In the US, most of GDP growth has been captured by a small slice of the population. Median wages have been flat for a long time, while the income share of the top 0.1% of population (as evidenced in Piketty and Saez's ground-breaking study) has grown from 2% to 7% in under twenty years


"A New Gilded Age"
Martin Wolf, Financial Times, 25/04/2006

Ces 5% supplémentaires captés par les plus riches sont équivalents à l'appauvrissement relatif des français (dont le PIB par tête est passé de 78% à 72% de celui des américains sur la période, en moyenne) ce qui veut dire que la croissance économique a été identique en France - pour les 99,9% les moins riches de la population.... These extra 5% gained by the wealthiest group are equivalent to the drop in relative GDP per capita of France, (from 78% to 72% of American GDP per capita over the same period), which means that economic growth has been roughly similar in the two countries - for the least wealthy 99.9% of the population...


"European corporatism needs to embrace market-led change"
Martin Wolf, Financial Times, 24/01/2007


The same graph for France only, excluding the top 0.1% by income
Le même graphique pour le PIB relatif de la France, excluant les 0,1% les plus riches

L'accroissement des inégalités se constate également à l'autre bout de l'échelle des revenus, où on note un taux de pauvreté infantile de 7% en France, de 16% au Royaume-Uni (le double de celui en 1979) et de 20% aux Etats-Unis (sans oublier les 15% d'Américains qui n'ont aucune couverture maladie). The growth of inequality can also be observed by looking at the lower end of the income ladder. While child poverty is estimated at 7% in France, it stands at 16% in Britain (double the rate for 1979), and at 20% in the USA (without forgetting the 15% of Americans without health insurance).


"An overview of child well-being in rich countries"
UNICEF, Innocenti Report Card 7, 2007

Même en appliquant le seuil de pauvreté américain en valeur absolue (selon un calcul légèrement différent du précédent) il y a moins d’enfants pauvres en France (11% contre 14% - sans parler des 29% du Royaume-Uni), malgré un revenu moyen par tête de 30% plus faible.Most significantly, if the absolute income threshold used for the statistical determination of poverty in the US were applied, there would still be fewer poor children in France (11% as against 14% in the US - and 29% in the UK), despite an average per capita income lower by 30%.


"A league Table of Child Poverty in Rich Nations"
UNICEF, Innocenti Report Card 1, 2000

Chose extraordinaire en temps de paix, les Etats-Unis enregistrent aujourd'hui une augmentation de leur taux de mortalité infantile. Un enfant né dans une famille pauvre de ce pays a aujourd'hui une espérance de vie de 15 ans inférieure à celle d'un enfant né dans une famille aisée. Infantile mortality rates are now rising in the US, a surprising phenomenon in peacetime. Even more impressively, the life expectancy at birth of its poorest citizens is 15 years shorter than that of its more privileged ones..

Il est compréhensible de défendre la liberté des membres les plus dynamiques de la société d'entreprendre et de bénéficier des fruits de leur travail, mais cette liberté accordée sans contrepartie s'accompagne inévitablement de fractures sociales bien plus marquées que celles connues en France. Le choix d'un niveau élevé de solidarité et de redistribution modère les revenus des plus riches, soit, mais, fait moins souvent évoqué, pas ceux des autres. Ainsi, la banque UBS a noté que le deuxième décile de revenus a connu une augmentation de son niveau de vie de 7% en France et une baisse de 12% aux Etats-Unis entre 1997 et 2004, et que le neuvième décile avait connu une augmentation de 12% en France et de 10% aux Etats-Unis. Un Français de revenu modeste ou membre des classes moyennes ou même aisées profite plus de la croissance modérée de l’économie française que son cousin américain ne profite du dynamisme de son pays. Freeing society's most dynamic and productive members to earn more and hold on to the benefits of their efforts may appear a worthwhile policy goal, but it comes at a considerable price which is all too often ignored when discussing the merits of "reform." The other option, that of encouraging solidarity and redistribution, certainly restrains income growth for the wealthiest, but not - a less commonly-stated point - for all the others. A study by UBS, while observing that the income of the ninth decile of the population (the second poorest tranche of 10%, ranked by income) saw its income rise by 7% in France between 1997 and 2004, as against a drop of 10% in the US, also noted that the income of the second richest decile rose by 12% in France, and 10% in the US. The moderate growth of the French economy benefits not just the lower-paid but also members of the upper-middle classes more than the dynamism of the US benefits their American counterparts.


"Unequal Economics"
UBS, 10/2006

Il semblerait donc que, sur le plan des revenus, les très riches forment le seul groupe qui bénéficie des "réformes". Mais cette conclusion ne fait-elle pas bon marché du chômage dont souffre la France?

Tout dépend de ce qu'on mesure. Ainsi, parmi les hommes de 25 à 54 ans, 87,6% avaient un emploi en 2004 en France, et 87,3% aux Etats-Unis, selon les chiffres de l’OCDE. Et pourtant le taux de chômage pour cette catégorie était alors de 7,4% en France, et 4,4% aux Etats-Unis. La ligne séparant chômage d'inactivité n'est visiblement pas mise au même endroit dans chaque pays... De même, le chômage des jeunes touche 8,4% des 15-24 ans en France, contre 5,5% au Danemark, 7,6% aux Etats-Unis et 7,5% au Royaume-Uni, donc pas de quoi crier à la faillite du modèle.

We may conclude that the only group that needs "reform" of the French economy is made up of the very rich. But doesn't that conclusion superbly ignore well-known French problems like massive and especially youth unemployment?

Unemployment figures are bandied about as proof of good or weak economic performance with no concession to the fact that they are not arrived at by the same methods from one country to another. Thus, according to the OECD, 87.6% of men aged 25-54 worked in 2004 in France, as opposed to 87.3% in the US. Yet the unemployment rate for that category then was 7.4% in France, and 4.4% in the US. Clearly, the line between "unemployed" and "inactive" is not drawn in the same way in each country. One could also wonder about the line between "unemployed" and "on Incapacity Benefit" in the UK... As for youth unemployment, the proportion of 15-24 year-olds that are unemployed in France is 8.4%, as opposed to 5.5% in Denmark, 7.6% in the US and 7.5% in the UK - hardly enough difference to disqualify the "French model".


"Déréglementation sans précédent du marché du travail"
Le Monde, 17/01/2006


Simon Briscoe
Financial Times, 20/04/2006

Certes, le taux de chômage est nettement plus élevé, mais cela reflète essentiellement le fait que la population active est plus étroite dans cette classe d’âge en France, notamment parce que moins de jeunes trouvent nécessaire d'occuper un emploi tout en poursuivant leurs études. The unemployment rate is indeed much higher in France, but that's because the active population in that age category is so much smaller - to a considerable extent a reflection of the fact that fewer young people find it necessary to hold down a job at the same time as they study.


Le Monde, 31/01/2006


Eurostat, "Forces de travail 2000"
via Le Monde, 26/01/2006

Mais les Français travaillent moins, nous dit-on.

Même pas (voir commentaire n°10, de Jean-François Couvrat). Les travailleurs français effectuent 37,4 heures par semaine en moyenne, contre 35,6 heures au Royaume-Uni. Les employés à temps plein travaillent effectivement moins longtemps en France (40,9 heures contre 43,2 heures en 2005), mais le nombre élevé d'emplois à temps partiel baisse la moyenne britannique; le nombre d’heures totales travaillées dans le deux pays est à peu près équivalent, pour des populations similaires. Dire que les Français travaillent moins est donc tout simplement faux.

But (shades of the 35-hour week!) the French work less, we are told.

Not so. French workers work more (see comment n°10, by Jean-François Couvrat), on average, than their UK counterparts (37.4 hours per week as against 35.6 hours), according to Eurostat. Full-time workers do work shorter hours (40.9 hours for the French compared to 43.2 hours for the British in 2005), but the high number of part-time jobs in the UK brings down the average; the total number of hours worked in each of the two countries is roughly equivalent, for populations of similar size. The argument that the French don't work is plainly false.

Par ailleurs, la France a créé autant d'emplois que le Royaume-Uni au cours des 10 dernières années: 2,5 millions. La seule différence est que, au Royaume-Uni, la création de postes a été très régulière, alors qu’en France, la quasi totalité de ces emplois a été créée entre 1997 et 2002, c'est-à-dire précisément au moment de la mise en place des 35 heures, et ce alors que la croissance mondiale a été plus forte ces 5 dernières années. Another fact that goes against conventional wisdom is that France has created as many jobs as the UK over the past 10 years: 2.5 million. In the UK, they were created throughout the period; in France's case, they were created between 1997 and 2002, i.e. precisely at the time when the 35-hour week came into force. In fact, the introduction of that law saw the largest ever increase in hours worked in the French economy. And suggesting that this is a simple expression of favorable international conditions is incorrect as world growth has actually been stronger since 2002.


UNEDIC, "Statistiques annuelles des effectifs salariés affiliés"
via Le Monde


HSBC-CCF, Questions d'actualité - le Royaume-Uni en 2004

Plus remarquable encore, la France a créé plus d'emplois dans le secteur privé (+10% entre 1996 et 2002, selon l'OCDE) que le Royaume-Uni (+6%) ou les Etats-Unis (+5%). En fait, le Royaume-Uni n'a créé quasiment aucun emploi net dans le secteur privé depuis près de 5 ans, mais a bénéficié de l'augmentation très forte des emplois dans le secteur public. But that's not all. France created more private sector jobs (+10% between 1996-2002, according to the OECD) than either the UK (+6%) or the US (+5%). In fact, the UK economy has barely created any net employment in the private sector in the past five years, but, thanks to increased public spending, has seen a remarkable rise in public sector jobs.


OCDE, via Hussonet (pdf)

Cela reflète le fait que les croissances anglaise et américaine reposent très largement sur l'augmentation de la dépense publique, qui a littéralement explosé sous Blair et Bush, passant de 38% à 45% du PIB au RU et de 34% à 37% aux EU entre 2000 et 2006. Dans le cas britannique, cette relance keynésienne (centrée sur les secteurs de l’éducation et de la santé) s'est faite grâce à l'augmentation des impôts et à la cagnotte du pétrole de la Mer du Nord, tandis que l'administration Bush a présidé (pour payer sa guerre en Iraq) à une augmentation sans précédent de la dette publique - et de la dette privée, la plupart des ménages se voyant obligés d'emprunter - sur le dos d'une bulle immobilière également sans équivalent - pour compenser la stagnation de leurs revenus. Mais dans ce cas-là, semble-t-il, il s'agit de "dynamisme". Il paraît cependant légitime de se demander quelle partie du modèle anglo-saxon nous sommes conviés à copier... This reflects the fact that UK and US growth rates have been boosted, to a large extent, by massive increases in public spending (from 34% to 37% of GDP in the US, and from 38% to 45% in the UK between 2001 and 2006). In the British case, this Keynesian stimulation (directed towards the healthcare and education sectors) has been paid for by tax increases and the last few years of the North Sea bonanza; in the case of the US, the Bush administration (to finance the Iraq war) has presided over an unprecedented increase in public debt - doubled by a private debt binge, with households borrowing (on the strength of an equally unprecedented housing bubble) to compensate for the stagnation of their income. One really has to wonder what France is being told to imitate: what Tony Blair and George Bush say, or what they do?


"How Labour steered an economy going global"
Financial Times, 19/09/2006

Evidemment, il ne s'agit pas de dire que tout va bien en France, ni qu'il n'y a rien à changer. Mais le mot "réforme" est maintenant porteur d'un tel agenda idéologique qu'on aurait sans doute tout à gagner à l'exclure de tout discours qui se voudrait sincère. A moins, bien entendu, que nous soyons tous déjà d'accord que l'objectif qu'il convient de fixer soit effectivement de faire baisser les revenus des travailleurs les plus modestes afin de réduire le fardeau qui pèse sur les quelques "happy few" en haut de l'échelle des revenus. This is not to say that France has no problems, or is in need of no change at all. But the word "reform" has become the bearer of such an ideological bias that honest discourse would be better off avoiding it. Unless, of course, we all agree already that the right goal is to lower incomes for workers while increasing them for a happy few at the very top, while waiting for a purported (but invisible to statisticians) "trickle down".


"Bush Reorients Rhetoric, Acknowledges Income Gap"
Wall Street Journal, 26/03/2007

Il est tentant de se demander si le feu roulant qui tend à déprécier l'économie française provient de ceux qui ne supportent pas l'existence d'un modèle social différent, modèle qui prouverait que la "réforme" n'est pas indispensable. S'il est possible d'assurer la prospérité de presque tous en décourageant la concentration de la richesse entre quelques mains, cela élimine le principal argument des partisans du capitalisme débridé. Comme l'a dit le milliardaire Warren Buffett, les riches aux Etats-Unis mènent - et gagnent - la lutte des classes. Depuis la chute du mur de Berlin, ce vocabulaire semble décrédibilisé et désuet, ce dont certains ont su profiter. Il serait temps de noter qu'ils n'agissent pas dans l'intérêt de tous, mais uniquement dans le leur. In fact, one gets the nagging suspicion that the French economy comes in for such consistent bashing precisely because it shows that overall standards of living can increase without the rich getting extravagantly richer, thus refuting one of the essential justifications for unbridled capitalism. Warren Buffett said that what the wealthy in the US are carrying out - and winning - is class struggle. That kind of vocabulary went out of date with the fall of the Berlin Wall, a fact that has been taken advantage of by some. It's time to realize they don't act in the general interest, just in their own.

Display:
Please distribute the link to this text widely and post to other blogs. I know it's only facts, and not a narrative, but maybe it will help sway some hesitant voters.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 11:33:36 AM EST
Excellent summary and I think the 'mere' facts (with charts!) offer a far stronger defense of the French system than any rhetorically ehanced narrative. Great work.

Are you going to cross post this at dKos? Would be most interesting if you did.

by delicatemonster (delicatemons@delicatemonster.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 11:52:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/5/4/11552/17444

Thanks for your support

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:21:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you should have removed the french version and i dont know if it because is use my beloved mac, but i cant see the pictures.
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 07:00:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you tried newspapers?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:11:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was sent to Le Monde and to the Financial Times last week, with no response so far.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i sent it to a buch of Aussie Journalists i know.

by the way

last IPSOS 04/05/07

Sarkozy 55 (+1)
Royal   45  (-1)

Sarkozy is going to get a better result that DeGaulle (1965 55.2%).

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 06:35:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by cambridgemac on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 09:33:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that's nothing compared to what goes on in Malta.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 04:04:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you posted this on Desirs d'Avenir, if that is possible?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:30:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A very brilliant analysis, gentleman.  And i'm not certain that it needs a new lede, the title sums it all up quite nicely.

I'll try and post a link at Firedoglake, that some politicos there with interest in the FR election might reframe their perceptions.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 01:03:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great stuff, guys. Great stuff.
by redstar on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:09:23 PM EST
Absolutely great! Someone has to say plainly that France or Europe are doing just fine! The discourse is too much dominated by fearmongers and market utopists of the same colour. Their simplistic argumentation does not have to be right (as the world is more complicated for unsighted consumption to work indefinitely), and most importantly, they are not supported by evidence even now!
by das monde on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 09:46:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the brilliant detailed article which is similar in its point of view to my diary for the Sego-Sarko Debate Opinions.
It is a shame Sego was unable to state what has happened to the quality of life for 99% of the people in the UK and the US and how Sarkozy's similar policies would effect the French in the same way.
by An American in London on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:10:44 PM EST
Notons que Nicolas Sarkozy a préfacé ses remarques sur l'économie française lors du débat télévisé par l'observation que (selon lui) la France n'obtenait pas de bons chiffres de croissance parce que les Français ne travaillait pas assez. (Moins que dans les pays comparables, etc). Un example de plus de la circulation de (fausses) idées reçues à ce sujet.

Nicolas Sarkozy opened his remarks on the French economy during the TV debate by observing that (according to him) France did not get good growth figures because the French didn't work enough. (Less than in comparable countries, etc). Yet another example of (false) conventional wisdom on this subject.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:19:28 PM EST
It is interesting to note that Sarkozy and much of the media has pretty much been able to spew neolib propaganda about the decline of France, unemployment, work values and welfare ("assistanat") virtually unopposed. Royal and co, like the democrats across the pond, have failed to provide a clear alternative discourse to counter the framing of issues by rightwingers.
by Fete des fous on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:53:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crucial point, and perhaps reveals an area where we need to focus. Afew asks the right question- why did Jerome not put this in media's hands, in Royal's hands two weeks ago? And one answer is that she is, in her way, as isolated and elite-bound as the rest. It is very, very  hard to penetrate the cloud of handlers and speechwriters and consultants that surrounds a candidate. And if you have good, compelling stuff, you are usually seen not as an asset, but as an outsider and a threat to the insiders, too often.
Same with a lot of the media- the "not written here" syndrome is powerful. The better your stuff, the more defensively they react. As well, in the united states the Democrats do not yet know neoliberalism is dead, and the media will carry the rotting corpse on their shoulders for a long time to come.
All that said, I think you could do it, Jerome.
"What do you MEAN that GDP isn't everything?" and the steel visor slams shut in the mind.
Pry open the visor. Personalize it.  

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 02:20:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would have thought that the left wing of the PS would let her know of elements of what Jerome describes. It seems to me that if she isn't bringing it up it's per choice, but I'd be happy to be wrong. As for the language of framing, I just don't understand why we let rightwingers use terms like "assistanat" unchallenged in a public debate (it makes my blood boil! :) Seriously, we already concede half the battle if we accept the dichotomy between public subsidy and welfare.

Whatever happens on Sunday, Jerome should certainly keep peddling his excellent work on this topic (and others of course ;). It may even be more necessary to spread it on monday; although, I am an optimist.

by Fete des fous on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 04:20:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't stop them and by using the term you validate their stasis.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 06:41:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They'll only stop if the political price for using it becomes too great. It seems that what "validates" the argument is the history and degree of acceptance of the perspective by the public, which is almost a given considering the role the media plays in propagandizing the commonly held view. Unfortunately, after several decades of seeing progressives ignore the media-propped anti-fiscality/anti-government/anti-welfare discourse of neoliberals I have come to believe that it is better to disconstuct their framing as it occurs to point out the glaring inconsitensies. Once their discourse has taken hold of a large fraction of the public, such as appears to be the case in France right now, we are better off attempting to demonize their disocurse to make them weary of using it. That's my take on it :)
by Fete des fous on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 07:43:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thus the importance of Kellogg's series on Rhetoric, found on the diary list ------>

ThatBritGuy, sometime ago, posted the existence of an everpresent stream of press releases from Right Wing Thinktanks and the paucity, or non-existence, of such from the Left.  

Until we learn how to engage both effectively and consistently we're gonna get our arses handed to us.

This is getting too Off Topic, for me, so I'll let you have the last word, should you want it.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 12:24:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would have thought that the left wing of the PS would let her know of elements of what Jerome describes. It seems to me that if she isn't bringing it up it's per choice,

It's possible. In fact, the European socialists are full of people like Pedro Solbes who are reputed to be "good" economists, but that usually means they are "mainstream" economists and they usually believe what they say. Which means they have all drunk the kool-aid, and they read the FT and The Economist and take them seriously.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 04:41:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not being in France my impression is that this election is not about "facts", but is about something else.

I would guess it is about fears of loss of cultural identity and the usual intergenerational tensions that occur in every age.

For the first time France (and other parts of the EU) is seeing non-western (that is "non-white"), non-Christian population growth and this has produced social strain and xenophobia. The US which has had a mixed population for 400 years hasn't learned to adapt without discrimination so it's not surprising that France is having problems. Earlier influxes such as Russians and Poles during the 1920's and 1930's (and earlier) were small, the immigrants were mostly intellectuals, and they had no trouble fitting in (or at least fitting along side).

I'm guessing that Sarkozy is the politically correct version of Le Pen and is banking on jingoism and xenophobia for his support. This is an appeal to raw emotion (especially fear) and can never be countered by references to logic and factual information.

Royal just doesn't radiate the sorts of head breaking persona that Sarkozy does and there is nothing that can be done about it. Let's just hope that France doesn't have to live through 40 years of Reaganomics before it realizes its mistake.

PS. Jerome, next time you put something like this together get a job on the campaign of the leftist candidate where you can influence the dialog from the beginning.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:21:07 PM EST
PS. Jerome, next time you put something like this together get a job on the campaign of the leftist candidate where you can influence the dialog from the beginning.

Jerome, have you sent a copy of this to the Parti Socialiste, and why didn't you send it to Segolene before the debate?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:29:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Somehow, I have a hard time believing that Royal and the PS do not already know the reality behind neolib propaganda.
by Fete des fous on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 01:08:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I am not mistaken, Royal failed to make these points at the debate, and in particular failed to call Sarkozy on his bullshit about the economy in his opening statement.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 05:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Royal hit a few aspects of the argument, such as about work time and productivity, but what's missing is a full-fledged denonciation of the grand-master plan to assymetric globalization. I assume that in addition to the traditional left, Royal also wants to appeal to the political center, the middle class and business interests ..
by Fete des fous on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 08:13:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think a denounciation of his "BS" whould have deverved her as showing her as willing to keep the status quo, when a large part of the French want changes, whatever the changes.

Sarko is winning because is prensented himself as a dynamic guys who want make changes.

5 or 10 years (presidents are often reelected) of Sarkozyms will probably wake up this bored france.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 08:36:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a really interesting comment.

Are you saying that "a large part of the French want changes, whatever the changes" because France is "bored"?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 08:59:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i think a denounciation of his "BS" whould have deverved her as showing her as willing to keep the status quo, when a large part of the French want changes, whatever the changes.

I fail to see how exposing Sarko's drivel on "full employment" in the UK implies that no reform should be made in France, especially with respect to preparing against unfair competition in a globalizing world

Sarko is winning because is prensented himself as a dynamic guys who want make changes.

He'd be winning because he is a demagogue who exploited the fears and insecurities of the elderly in a fast changing world. In fact, he would have no mandate from the active, vital population.

by Fete des fous on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 11:36:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy voters are the majority in all parts of the population but 18-24 !!!

18-24 are always wrong, not a news, and at this moment they are lazy enough to dream only about being public workers.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 01:41:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IPSOS 03/05 (it is likely to be even more toward Sarko now since he is going above 55% in all more recent polls)

AGE             SR      Sarko

  • 18 à 24 ans   62++     38--
  • 25 à 34 ans   47       53
  • 35 à 49 ans   48       52
  • 50 à 64 ans   44       56
  • 65 ans et plus 34--     66++
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 01:52:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy voters are the majority in all parts of the population but 18-24 !!!

The IFOP poll from April 28 contradicts this: Royal would win. were it not for the +65. by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer on April 29th, 2007.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 04:44:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
get real mates, 75% are not realistic, and with more than 55% voting for Sarko, it cannot be only those who are 65+, they are not that many.
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 10:57:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
18% of voting age population is 65+.

I'd say they're likely to vote relatively more than younger voters.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 12:32:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As I suspected all along, here is another exit poll (TNS-SOFRES) which contradicts IPSOS about the 25-34 age group.

the exit poll numbers (age group, Royal's %, Sarko's %):

  • 18-24 60 40
  • 25-34 54 46
  • 35-49 51 49
  • 50-64 41 59
  • 65+ 36 64

tns-sofres exit poll, see page 2

There is now even less doubt that Sarko is the president of the retirees who were most sensitive to his security/anti-immigration propaganda. The IPSOS exit poll numbers ascribing the 24-35 age group to Sarko at 57% didn't make much sense, and the difference with this poll is so large (an 11 point difference) that one can only wonder what happened ...

by Fete des fous on Mon May 28th, 2007 at 02:35:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These exit polls are all over the place, so it's hard to know what really happened. Two things are cristal clear in all:

  • the young voted strongly for Royal
  • the old voted even more strongly for Sarkozy

In between, it's a lot hard to say.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 28th, 2007 at 04:38:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which exit polls are you talking about? I looked for other polls a couple of weeks ago and couldn't find any apart from the IPSOS one. A 10 point difference among the 25-34 y.o. between 2 polls is huge and cannot be due to random error. Either the methodologies are very wrong or worse.

If I am right that it means the elections were decided primarily by the security/immigration issues, it doesn't say much for the effectiveness of the declinist propaganda.

I note the unwillingness of the media to even mention the age divide in the vote. It seems the left should discuss this point as widely as possible before the legislatives.

by Fete des fous on Mon May 28th, 2007 at 05:20:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The TNS/Sofres poll linked to just above (thanks for the link, btw) may not be an exit poll; according to the fiche technique its a telephone poll conducted on election day.

One could make that case that on a nice spring day, younger voters are less likely to be at home answering the phone and presumably, an actual exit poll has a much lower margin for error since it gets a better (and larger) sample of actual voters, but simple common sense suggests an error in the IPSOS age cross-tabs.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 02:32:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both the TNS-SOFRES and the IPSOS-DELL were conducted over the phone on the evening of the election. They also share the quotas method, the only difference in the method appears to be sample size (1200 versus 3600 people interviewed).
by Fete des fous on Tue May 29th, 2007 at 07:42:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"In fact, he would have no mandate from the active, vital population."

Pure speculation and indeed false. Where did you get such figures from?

by skovgaard on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 12:02:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How can Sarkozy, who was in the government for the past 3 years as Finance minister, as Interior Minister, as Ministre d'Etat... present himself as the candidate for "change", and succeed?

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 04:53:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is the talent to be a good politician but he had to follow what Chirac decided, and Chirac was everything but right-wing.

Chirac has been affraid by the leftists since May68, this period is going to an end, Sarko will be a non-ashamed Right-wing and one of the most, if not the most, important leader in Europe.

By the way, with the disappearance of Lepen, The left will find very difficult to get back in power.

It is really an new era.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 10:55:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: the PS; they certainly know all this -- a lot of them helped create the circumstances that led to this situation.

I know this is going to sound heretical but I wonder if a more receptive audience would not be Bayrou's soon-to-be-established parti democrate. Whats interesting about that effort is that he's not going to have big business and big financial support -- all that money is going to toe Sarkozy's line. Bayrou's not going to have the old Giscardiens around either; they'll all be palace eunuchs in the Sarkozy state. Bayrou's party, if it gets off the ground, is going to be driven by young people with new ideas about politics, media and economics -- and a desire first and foremost to renew French democracy by changing the major institutions of French public life.

My point is that France does need reform; that much is clear from how the last few months have played out. What it doesn't need is the destruction of its public services and a radical redistribution of wealth and power to the financial, commercial and business elites.

Great work, Jerome; here and every time you write these things.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 01:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bayrou economic program = reduce public spending and debt and all will go well for everyone.

Kind of stupid: public debt level has no correlation with economic performance and public debt alone is meaningless anyway since you have assets and total debt to take into account.

I'm pretty sure Bayrou knows this, but spreading fear about debt is well too easy.

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 02:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I agree entirely that the economic "program" he ran on was indeed "kind of stupid", and I'm sure he knows this. Thats precisely the point I tried to make above -- he's going to have to change that since his constituency will no longer be the vestigal Giscardiens but a new generation who have had enough of "kind of stupid" cliches and want to see someone who can assess issues lucidly and propose serious solutions.

Which is what I think JG was doing in his article. So my point was that Bayrou's party, since its new, may be the best opportunity to get past "kind of stupid" economics.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 02:34:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be the first to applause if he changes his line, but he has been running on this "public debt is evil" for all his long political career so far, so I don't hold my breath here :).
by Laurent GUERBY on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 03:10:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Altemeyer - Have you read his web article ;-) - provides the answer.  Inculcating fear into the electorate drives up the RWA vote and shifts the vote to the Right.

I suspect it also tends to depress the moderate/centralist vote by spreading despair -- but I have no proof.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:35:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Outstanding analysis.

May I offer some constructive criticism?

Personalize it.  The best communication does give people the facts (cognitive,) as was ably done here, but also provides a 'way into' the facts based on the reader's gestalt (emotive + cognitive.)  Neo-lib policies have a human cost they try desperately, and successfully, to gloss-over, hide, obscure.  One of the ways we can fight them is to bring the inhumanity of predatory capitalism to the forefront of the discussion.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:31:27 PM EST
Darn it all.

"Foreground" not "forefront"

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:41:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This (from MoDem in the comments o'er @ Dkos)

For the sake of France, Europe, the United States, the the Left, and the entire world, I hope the polls in France are wrong.

We need a model of a what a humaine society looks like.  

Last night, the 10 Republicans fell all over themselves on tax cuts.  Those tax cuts will have consequences for a society considered about life. As I type this in my university office, there are about a dozen waste basket catching water that is leaking in from the ceiling.  Tax cuts have meant no money for repairs in public universities for five years.  And, the building I am in is not the worst.

Also in Missouri, they meant an end to mental health workers that could go door to door helping those in trouble.  The family of the shooter in Kansas City last weekend tried to get help for him, but help from the state was not possible.

is a good example.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 01:07:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome,

Do you have all the deciles for France and the US, you can list when you compared the individual deciles growth in your diary?-

'A study by UBS, while observing that the income of the ninth decile of the population (the second poorest tranche of 10%, ranked by income) saw its income rise by 7% in France between 1997 and 2004, as against a drop of 10% in the US, also noted that the income of the second richest decile rose by 12% in France, and 10% in the US. The moderate growth of the French economy benefits not just the lower-paid but also members of the upper-middle classes more than the dynamism of the US benefits their American counterparts.'

by An American in London on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:35:25 PM EST
Superb.

Impersonal, but superb.  As a comment a couple up notes, it needs something.  I'd call it something "human-scale".  

Perhaps nothing more than changing the lede to something that sums it all up.  

How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds Makes ill deeds done. Shakespeare; King John

by ogre (p-mclaughlin@REMOVETHIScox.net) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 12:40:31 PM EST
Superb, Jerome!

I've been grateful to be able to follow the French elections through your reporting and your links. As a former resident of Paris, I've tried to remain engagée, but of course the press coverage here is scant. Thank goodness for the web.

The EuroTribune has long been featured on my blogroll at The Broad View. Thanks again!

by Ellen en Californie (ednagler [at] mac [dot] com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 03:09:59 PM EST
Rien d'intelligent à dire, juste "bravo".

A paper version would be nice, just to stuff it down the throat of a few deserving ones.

by yabonn (yabonn_fr@hotmail.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 03:58:59 PM EST
Excellent job guys!
I concur with Ellen; Eurotrib has been a vital source of information throughout the entire campaign.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 04:03:49 PM EST
thou dost protest too much

france is demonstrably in decline; no one has any money; there is massive unemployment.

but carry on;  it is always useful to have another model.i am just glad that neither i nor my family have to suffer its consequences. i just visit.

by tomcunn (tomcunn@execpc.com) on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 06:18:37 PM EST
"Demonstrably" without demonstration? Sounds like a belief system.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 02:32:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder which world you people live in. It's caviar-socialist propaganda from one end to the other. I cannot dig up all the figures etc., but when you speak to real, ordinary people here in France, you hear the same song all over - no jobs, no money, those working still living in poverty, unable to pay just a minimal decent living, if jobs are found they are temporary, etc. For those like me who are self-employed, it's living hell with taxes that exceed the income, never-ending bureaucracy, more than 10 different taxes and charges paid to 4 different administrations, calculated differently, based on different amounts, taxing you on what you earned 2 years before even if you have no income any more, self-employed excluded from the income support that applies to everybody else, a working code that makes it virtually impossible to hire staff even if you need it, because you can't lay them off - ever, and it's illegal to make temporary contracts except under very specific circumstances and if you get it wrong, they can claim permanent employment, record high social charges on employment - to pay an employee $1 net, the cost to the employer is more than $2, regulations that kill many activities or make it impossible to start them, an overstaffed public sector absorbing too much money and putting too many obstacles in the way of people and business, incompetent civil servants who sometimes take pleasure in throwing spanners in the works, a "social model" reserved for the protected middle class of civil servants and corporate workers on permanent contracts, leaving low-paid workers in temporary jobs and self-employed out in the cold.

Make no mistake. The French version of "socialism" has nothing to do with protecting the most vulnerable workers. It's about protecting acquired privileges for the 68'ers who are now sitting in comfy jobs while the young cannot get into the employment market.

Corporate France is not doing too badly, but the rules are made for them, not for self-employed and small businesses who pay the price for the privileges of the corporations. When a corporation has a problem, the state throws in a few millions. When a self-employed has problems, he's taxed.

The young have understood that becoming self-employed is financial suicide in France: 75% of them state that their ideal career is to become a civil servant.

The socialist-run département of the Bouches du Rhône (where Marseille is), with the socialist senator Jean-Noël Guérini in the top, has shown complete indifference to my situation as self-employed. You have to be employed, formerly employed or unemployed in France to have any status or get any help from the "social model" - even the basic RMI income support. If you're self-employed, they don't give a damn, whether you have small children to feed and heat. I'd have been better off if I'd shut down my business and then claimed benefits. If you try to create your own financial independence, the socialists show you the door. For people like Royal, you're a "capitalist", even if you earn nothing. That's the reality of the French "social model". There is absolutely no humanity in the way the socialists are treating people who have chosen to work as self-employed instead of employed. Ask just about any self-employed person or small business owner in France and you'll get quite similar answers. France is a disaster for small business.

I could continue, but I think you get the idea.

Those who might be interested in more details about my real-life nightmare starting business in France will find them on skovgaard.org/europolitics/ (in French).

by skovgaard on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 08:32:04 PM EST
this is a very interesting comment.  we had a discussion re: entrepreneurship and small business in France about a year ago.  i had been involved in starting a joint venture between a US and French company, and found the regulations bureaucratic and cumbersome.  In discussion on this, most of the other europeans on the site, mainly the French commented I believe, felt that the situation was not difficult in France.  and in fact that there were a lot of small company start-ups.  your experience seems to be very contrary to that.

I hope others on this site that argued that position will comment.

by wchurchill on Fri May 4th, 2007 at 11:16:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we had a discussion re: entrepreneurship and small business in France about a year ago.

wchurchill, i looked for this but could not find it.  do you have the link by chance?  (you discussed your experiences with that joint venture in that discussion, right?  i am very interested in reading that.)


Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 01:06:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
bruno-ken, I just spent 1/2 hour going through my diaries to see if the discussion was part of one of them.  I didn't find it in my diaries, or in the comments on my diaries.

I don't think I have access to all of the comments I have made over the past almost 2 years now.  they seem to expire on my comments section.  It would probably drive me crazy to go through my own comments over this long of a period anyway--must be well over a thousand.

so sorry but I can't help.  I don't know if Jerome or coleman have any search facilities.  and I don't know for sure who was involved in the discussion, it was so long ago.  I would guess Laurent was involved, but I just don't know.

by wchurchill on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 02:22:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for searching anyway, and sorry for the time you took.

just one point: did you check the "Search Archive" box if you were using the EuroTrib search function?  (if you don't, then the search defaults only to the last month or so of results).

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 02:35:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That 2.5M jobs were created under Jospin and almost none under Chirac/Sarkozy?

That income growth has been better for everybody in France than in the US, except for the ultra-rich?

Decline is relative. Of course France has problems to solve, but it does not appear to be in a worse position than other countries.

"no jobs, no money, those working still living in poverty, unable to pay just a minimal decent living, if jobs are found they are temporary, etc." describes other countries just as well, if not better, than France.

And, btw - my wife is self-employed. I do a lot of the paperwork.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 12:27:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
caviar-socialist propaganda from one end to the other. I cannot dig up all the figures etc.,

"Propaganda" means deliberate manipulation, spin, and use of lies. But you can't dig up any facts against it. I suggest you try.

The only "factoid" you present is a worn-out lie about "75% of them state that their ideal career is to become a civil servant." This canard was circulated by The Economist without actually citing its evidence. Then the number was supposed to be two-thirds, you've turned it into three-quarters. I challenge you to produce evidence of what you assert.

As for your experience, I too am self-employed (and far from comfortable, though of the '68 generation you vomit against). But you're apparently not just self-employed, you're an employer.  It's true there's too much complication and that repeated promises from the right in government to simplify things have never materialised. But you seem to have set up in business without enquiring into local conditions and taxes. The "tax" based on two years earlier income, for example, is social contributions (URSSAF). If I were in charge, that system would be simplified and lightened, since it often causes difficulties for small businesses in the first years. But why is it you knew nothing about it, why were you not prepared and did not make provision?  Did you work with an accountant, did you take advice, get forecast numbers you could work with? An accountant (my wife does this job with small businesses) would have told you you were going to get an easy year before the social contributions kicked in, and would have advised you to ring-fence money against that day. You seem to me like a number of people who come to France and set up in business without really examining the consequences (and yes, there is too much complication, I'll say it again), then get bitter when they learn what local conditions are.

No point, either, in exaggerating. Learn the code and you'll find you it's not true you can "never" fire people. Also there are businesses everywhere in France using short-term contracts, why don't you learn the rules? I also don't get your arithmetic when you say to pay $1 you have to pay $2. (Interestingly, you count in dollars. Did they tell you here it's euros?)

You are wrong to say Royal does not give a damn about small businesses, she has gone out of her way to say that she supports them and would significantly shift the mass of government subsidies to business from the top end to the bottom end. She repeated this again with emphasis during the debate. You must have missed that bit.

(By the way, I am the co-author with Jérôme of the above articles. I am neither a member of the Parti Socialiste, and I have never eaten caviar in my life. Jérôme has worked in Russia and so has probably eaten caviar, but he's not a PS member either. So tone your insults down, please.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 02:20:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Outstanding article, brilliant, definitive.

I linked to it on a couple of forums, including ours.

The form of the debate (that many here praised and which I fiercely criticized) insured that none of those points could be hammered in a reasonably structured form on national TV.

In US terms, Jerome can take Obama to task because he made policy statements that can be objected to. And likely will do so again. We have "content" (as we say), which can be debated.

Here, Sarkozy got away running the clock on the 35 heures, when he wasn't weaseling his way out with his patronizing ways, while Segolene wasted her time talking about escorting female cops and caring for the handicaped (a worthy but marginal issue).

Almost none of the powerful, cogent, well-drawn and documented points made here, made it on national TV where and when it mattered.

by Lupin on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 03:36:55 AM EST
All of these figures appear to be from fairly impeccable sources. The fact that there may be individual anecdotal evidence to the contrary is hardly relevant to the discussion.

John and Jérôme have produced a brilliant overview.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 06:56:44 AM EST
"afew", presenting this selection of facts and concluding from them that France should not be in decline and does not need reform is indeed manipulation. Your article does not present a balanced view of the reality of the French economy.

I'm not an employer, and the chances of becoming one under the present business-killing regime are slim. I would indeed like to hire the day I get the activity level up and need more manpower than myself, but there is no way ever that I'm going to sign someone up on a CDI (permanant contract) in its present form. I'd rather decline business than hire someone on a CDI. Why? Because I can't get rid of him or her if (s)he is not up to speed or my activity changes and I need different skills. You can only fire people on a CDI if you're about to go bust or if they make a very serious mistake, but not if they are no longer adapted to the business or not performing terribly well.

And the CNE (2 years fire-at-will and then a CDI)? It's been struck down in the prud'hommes and employers who have followed the law have been condemned. While awaiting the final decision of its validity from the Cour de Cassation, I'm not going to take any risks with that. Furthermore, it's only a solution for 2 years, because then it becomes a CDI, and you have to fire the person before that happens if you don't want to be tied in to a non-breakable CDI. CDD (temp contract)? It is illegal to make short term contracts unless it is to replace someone, for seasonal variations, or because of temporary increased activity, etc., and if you do it anyway without a good justification, the prud'hommes will quite easily requalify the contract as permanant. I do know the rules, thank you. Besides, the CDD is not useful for varying needs, because you have to book the employee for a fixed period.

If I get the need for employees, it will at least in the beginning be for varying hours and needs, and it's illegal to hire someone like that, so these people will remain unemployed or on RMI instead, and my economic activity will not grow. Because of the harsh employment restrictions. I need to be able to offer the hours of work that are available without being tied in to long term unbreakable obligations before I can hire anyone. The socialists would rather have people remaining unemployed than working like that. What's the idea, if it's not to protect the privileges of the middle class on safe CDIs in the public sector and corporations?

The particular danger when employing someone is that there are many provisions in the Code du Travail that say that if you do so and so and it's found not justified, then the contract can be requalified as permanent. That's a trap for the employer that would make me hesitate to employ anyone.

Indeed, the promises of Chirac and his government to help businesses along have not materialised. But Chirac is not right-wing, as he has adopted a no-action, socialist-inclined policy throughout his reign. Sarkozy has promised to break with that non-policy, but I and many others are sceptical - will he really do it? And who were in power before Chirac came in? The socialists! The misery was already there when Chirac was elected. He didn't create the misery, he simply failed to do away with the misery.

"Set up business without inquiring into local conditions and taxes"? Apart from the taxe professionnelle, the taxes and charges are the same throughout France and do not depend on local conditions.

The taxes and charges depending on income two years before are the taxe professionnelle and the pension contributions. The charges collected by the URSSAF and the medical scheme can now be adjusted to current income on simple demand. There is a minimum charge of nearly 800 euros per year for medical, though, regardless if you have any income, while someone not working can get it free. Add to that a minimum taxe pro of approximately 300, and minimum pension contributions of about 200. It means that you have a minimum of 1300 a year to pay, regardless if you have a deficit, and that if you have a profit, the first 1300 of your profit go to the state, and that you're only allowed to keep the 1301th euro you earn. In the situation where you earn exactly 1301 and pay the 1300 in taxes in charges, the taxes and charges are 99.9% of your income. That's not an exaggeration but the reality for me and many others. Not encouraging for business creation. It's not only in the first years the system is causing difficulties but at any time the profit is dropping, since you get steamrolled with taxes and charges based on the higher income 2 years before.

Why did I not make a provision? How can I make a provision for taxes and charges of money I haven't earned? We're not talking about regularising the charges due for the year 2 years before but taxes and charges payable for the current year - which may be in deficit - and based on the income 2 years before. As for the pension scheme and taxe pro, it is a definite calculation. I did know about it, but I can do nothing to prevent it when my income drops from e.g. 45000 to minus 11000 from one year to the next because of a change of activity. I can just sit and watch the state taking the business apart. No matter how many accountants I have to tell me about the upcoming disaster, they can do nothing to prevent it.

The situation was that I set up business in Nov 2001, started out with an unpredicted IT contract for 18 months that provided monthly incoiving of 9000 a month and then ended from one month to the next. The problem was not to provide for charges of that income, because that was quite obvious. The problems started when the contract ended and I not only had to work up alternative income but at the same time keep paying current charges of a now non-existing income - for up to 2 years. I'm not talking about the charges due on the 9000 / month but the charges due on what was now a deficit. The problem is not lack of knowledge of advice, as I had carefully studied the system, but that the system is designed to crush a business losing income.

Add to the problems the fact that your family allowances from the CAF are only adjusted to such a drop of income 1-2 years later (2 years in my case).

Apart from that, it was the ANPE's advice to create a business. I now know that it's a scam, that they are told to get the unemployed out of their lists by having them become self-employed, regardless of the brutal conditions. They even suggested to my wife - a secretary - to create a business! In fact, the ANPE staff were paid a bonus for having reduced numbers by such means. Once you're out of the ANPE/ASSEDIC system as self-employed, you can't get back in (except for a short period), so the state is making savings on having people commit financial suicide by becoming self-employed. "social model"?

If you read the OECD's report "Taxing Wages" 2005 edition, you'll see that the employer pays €2 or $2 or whatever (the currency is irrelevant) in order for the employee to get €1 in his pocket. The missing €1 is the employer's charges, the employee's charges and income tax. France is the 4th most expensive country in the OECD in that aspect (after Belgium with a `tax wedge' of 55.4%, Germany 51.8% and Hungary with 50.5%). The tax wedge is what has to be paid in employer's and employee's charges and income tax. It does not include salary tax and other overhead. In comparable countries, the tax wedge is 25.7% in Ireland, 29.5% in Switzerland, 33.5% in the UK, 35.3% in Luxembourg. If we look outside Europe, the tax wedge is 17.3% in Korea, 18.2% in Mexico, 20.5% in New Zealand, 27.7% in Japan, 28.3% in Australia, 29.1% in the USA. It is an undisputable fact that France is one of the most expensive OECD countries when it comes to cost of employment. That does not help fighting unemployment.

Royal has not said what she intends to do for small businesses in any useful detail. It's all general promises with nothing behind them. And if she intends to keep the employment regulation and employment costs as is, small businesses will not get out of the starting blocks anyway.

Insults? After the brutal way the socialist system has treated me and my family over the past 4 years, while boasting with a human "social model", I have no problem criticising anyone defending that merciless system, because it's a two-tier system designed only to protect those in safe CDI jobs. We've done all we can to get working, and the system has done all it can to smash us up financially. We should have just sat down and done nothing and claimed a maximum of benefits, and we'd have been much better off.

by skovgaard on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 08:10:42 AM EST
You provide some balancing ... and probably admit that your presentation is not balanced either.

From my perspective, there is much the US could learn from France (Europe / EU) ... yet, there are changes that France could take in adopting lessons from the US.  

Job security is too uneven in the United States, with employees -- writ large -- not having enough basic protection. ("At will states" -- people can be fired, basically with no compensation, for zero substantive reason with no redress ... Not enough vacation ... no guaranteed health care ... etc ..) On the other hand, as per you discussion of Prudhomme, the system can be burdensome in protection in France (although, employer friends explain that, as long as you follow the rules -- which are clear -- it is not a problem to let people go).  And, well, the unemployment benefits in France (generally) seem incredibly over-generous and ...

But, a key item in this discussion, to me, is the importance of broadening our understanding and discussion of how to measure.  "Youth" unemployment in France is so much higher than in the US -- most Americans don't realize that a partial driver of this is that few French children (below 18 and in University) have part-time jobs compared to what happens in the United States.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 09:17:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't claim that my append presents an overall balanced view of France. It was a counterview to the article. Neither do I advocate for US conditions in France. A middle way is perfectly possible, keeping social achievements but letting the creative forces create and work.

Even if the employer finds that he has respected the rules for laying off, the prud'hommes may well not agree with him, as they are quite biased in favour of the employees. In a sense, the prud'hommes (employment court) can go in and take over part of HR management of a company. For a small business, the risks are too great.

In fact, the rules for hiring and firing are so cumbersome for the employers that many of the large state companies like EDF, La Poste and SNCF circumvent the CDI to a large extent, sometimes by abusively having staff illegally on temp contract after temp contract for years (La Poste condemned), sometimes by making temp contracts without proper justification, sometimes by having crowds of external contractors year after year instead of employing staff (SNCF). These state-run companies don't want to get stuck with too much staff either, and in the case of notably the SNCF, they want to have non-striking personnel to keep the business going in case the civil servants should strike. Contractors don't strike. The SNCF even breaches the contractor contracts as they like. The SNCF runs a hire and fire policy what contractors are concerned as you'd expect to find in the USA. To prevent claims of requalification into employment, they play little games like removing contractor names from the doors, putting "EXT" in from of their names in the e-mail directory, artifically defining limited missions even when it's ongoing work, etc. What they are doing is basically illegal, but they make it difficult to prove that it's illegal.

If such large companies find that the CDI is such a problem, then how are small companies supposed to deal with it?

by skovgaard on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 11:47:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You might be right on bias ... although I know people "on both sides" of the equation and people specializing in this part of French law. The impression is not they are overwhelming in favor of employees -- instead, that they are almost all biased, but bias is dependent on who is assigned, there are some that rule all the time for employer and vice versa.  This is 'second hand' and not 'statistical' analysis.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 05:19:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FYI, in California:

  • there is a minimum tax to be paid to the state of California of $800 per tear, even if you make zero money,

  • you collect sales tax (sort of like VAT), and repay it to the State -- very much like here, really

  • they have what they call "self-employment tax" which is the equivalent of French Social Security, ie: retirement in effect your own contribution to the Federal pension plan, based on the gross, whether or not you make a profit, like in France.

The differences between running a small business in France and in California are:

  1. No compulsory health insurance in the US: you sick, you die. If you want some, then it'll cost you about 4 to 8 times more than in France.

  2. The income tax rate & deductions are far more business friendly in the US.

  3. No URSSAF (I think the French should get rid URSSAF entirely but not even Sarko will do that)

I'm not judging; the only thing I'm saying it's not what people here seem to think in the capitalists' paradise either.
by Lupin on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 09:26:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm well aware that the USA is not a paradise either. Neither do I intend to say that all is bad in France and all is good elsewhere. This article claimed that there is no need for reform in France, while I have seen with my own eyes that there is. That doesn't mean that France should blindly copy everything from the USA or the UK. If France let its creative forces work, cut down on public sector overspending (according to the Daily Telegraph today, 52% of France's GDP is spent in the public sector against 42% in the UK) and adjusted the taxes to attract capital and investment instead of scaring them away, then the country and its economy could produce very good results, given that many of the country's resources are badly used.
by skovgaard on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 11:56:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This article claimed that there is no need for reform in France ...

First sentence in the penultimate paragraph:

This is not to say that France has no problems, or is in need of no change at all. But the word "reform" has become the bearer of such an ideological bias that honest discourse would be better off avoiding it.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 12:31:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome's views on "reform" are spelled out (and debated in the comments) here:

A Fistful of Euros: Why reform has become a dirty word. (by David Weman on 8 September 2006).

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 02:55:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]

This article claimed that there is no need for reform in France

This is the exact opposite of what we're saying. What we are saying is that the "reform" (note the quotes - they are in the title, and flagged in the first paragraph of the text) we are being sold is a one way ideological agenda to improve the short term profitability of (big) corporations and lower the taxes of the rich, at the expense of everybody else. And we have the numbers to prove it.

Of course France needs reform - just not the kind everybody has been unthinkingly led to believe are 'inevitable'. Have you noted the Hegelian/Marxist bend of these proclamation that free-market reform is inevitable?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 01:01:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"unbreakable obligations"

Wow.

Only 4% of CDI terminations are contested on prud'homme in France, the rest cause no problem at all.

To rephrase: 96% of CDI terminations go on without any problem in France.

Of these 4%, in 75% the employee wins at least something which mean the employer made zero attempt at negociation and did not follow basic rules.

That leaves 1% of all CDI terminations that end in an abusive recourse by the employee.

Now if you take CDI terminations because of economic conditions, only 3% get to prud'homme.

To rephrase it: 97% of CDI terminations because of economic conditions go on without problems in France. Even higher than general terminations.

And of course you can hire a contractor, no one oblige you to hire an employee. If you consider an employee, that's because you choose it and felt it was an advantage to have an employee in CDI against the "flexibility" of a contractor. Again it's your call here, if you don't want CDI, by all means get a contractor.

About trends, Prud'homme recourses have gone down 7% over the past 10 years in the context of more recourse to justice in the french society.

Data and references available in the comments here:

http://ew-econ.typepad.fr/mon_weblog/2007/03/questions_ouver.html

by Laurent GUERBY on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 01:25:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I looked at that blog. It also says: "Un licenciement pour motif personnel sur cinq conduit le salarié à aller aux prud'hommes, ce qui est beaucoup": 20% of terminations for personnal motives are taken to court by the employee, which is a lot. And: "aux prud'hommes, 96,5% des ruptures de contrat de travail examines sont des licenciements pour motif personnel, contre 3,5% de licenciements économiques": 96.5% of the trials concerning job terminations concern termination for personal motive against 3.5% for economic termination.

If a business is having financial difficulties, it's probably not too difficult to prove it and therefore lay off staff, and the employee seems to understand that his chances in court are slim. The blog confirms that.

The personal motives are indeed the soft spot, as the law doesn't spell out what constitutes a serious and real motive for laying someone off. That's the employee who spends a bit too much time surfing or chatting or who is not sufficiently friendly to customers etc., but who is not committing any serious error. If an employer has a risk of 20% for finding himself in court if laying off someone like that, he has all interest in minimising that risk. The employer cannot get his lawyer paid by legal aid as the employee can in some cases, so either the legal fees come straight out of his pocket, or he needs to pay for a legal insurance (something that I any doubtless many others cannot afford). To avoid that risk, the only way today seems to not hire anyone on a CDI.

Yes, I can subcontract, and that's what I currently do when there is a need. It works well for translation. It may not work so well in other cases, not least because subcontracting is illegal in cases where the subcontractor would work on site as if he were an employee ("delit de marchandage"), since in the eyes of the employment code the subcontractor is taking the place of an employee. So, yes, it's a solution in certain cases, not in others. Some public companies like the SNCF quite happily breach this part of the employment code.

I think one of the problems in corporate-culture France is that the employer is traditionally considered to be in the position of strength, while the opposite is considered to be the case for the employee. The culture has become so that the employee thinks he has all the rights. That equation is often not true in smaller businesses, and by the courts and rules applying rules as if the small business were in the position of strength, the business actually becomes the weak part. Hence, many such businesses don't hire anyone on CDIs. The result can be read in the unemployment statistics.

Without having read the entire blog, it seems balanced though.

The figures you have taken out of that blog are not representative.

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 08:31:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The figures you have taken out of that blog are not representative."

It's just incredible.

"The result can be read in the unemployment statistics."

Which are representative of course.

Well, thanks for the discussion anyway.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I mean is that the figures you've taken from that blog were chosen to give the impression that there should be absolutely no problems with the employment code's provisions on laying off, despite the fact that businesses across the board are calling for more flexibility and many are not hiring because of the restrictions. You've taken the figures for the motives that are causing the least problems, while conveniently 'forgetting' to mention the motives that are causing most problems.

I did not mean to say that the figures themselves are not representative.

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 12:30:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
subcontracting is illegal in cases where the subcontractor would work on site as if he were an employee ("delit de marchandage"), since in the eyes of the employment code the subcontractor is taking the place of an employee. So, yes, it's a solution in certain cases, not in others. Some public companies like the SNCF quite happily breach this part of the employment code.

Just looked that up on Wikipedia.  Wow.

La jurisprudence établit qu'il y a délit de marchandage notamment dans les cas suivants :

  • le personnel sous-traité travaille pour un seul client depuis plusieurs années ;
  • le personnel sous-traité reçoit ses instructions de l'encadrement du client ; le client contrôle lui-même le suivi, définit les tâches et les lieux d'exécution ;
  • le personnel exécute la totalité de sa mission dans les locaux du client, et est soumis à des horaires identiques à ceux du personnel du client ;
  • le client fournit les matériaux, les pièces de rechange, met à disposition son outillage, ses véhicules, des locaux lui appartenant, ses documents, etc.
  • la rémunération du sous-traitant était calculée au temps passé par son personnel.

Get nailed, and you risk 1-2 years imprisonment and/or a $40,000 fine, with or without a ban on using subcontractors for two to ten years.

So if you don't want CDI, hiring subcontractors is not as simple as all that.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:58:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, what's really forbidden is one company selling the work of its employees to another - and even then, only for long timescale. Nowadays all the IT banking system is organised through SSII's, a kind of company that essentially hires workers and then rent them to other companies. But the mission has to last less than 3 years or trouble comes.

self-employed subcontractors aren't really forbidden...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon May 7th, 2007 at 10:50:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, what's really forbidden is one company selling the work of its employees to another - and even then, only for long timescale.

in the U.S., i have worked as a self-employed independent contractor (software developer), at times under all five of these conditions simultaneously (except perhaps the last, and even then it depends on how you define temps passé):


  •  le personnel sous-traité travaille pour un seul client depuis plusieurs années ;
  • le personnel sous-traité reçoit ses instructions de l'encadrement du client ; le client contrôle lui-même le suivi, définit les tâches et les lieux d'exécution ;
  • le personnel exécute la totalité de sa mission dans les locaux du client, et est soumis à des horaires identiques à ceux du personnel du client ;
  • le client fournit les matériaux, les pièces de rechange, met à disposition son outillage, ses véhicules, des locaux lui appartenant, ses documents, etc.
  • la rémunération du sous-traitant était calculée au temps passé par son personnel.

Are you saying that this in fact is perfectly legal despite what the Wikipedia entry says?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Tue May 8th, 2007 at 04:34:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, unless it lasts for a really long time (above three years). My current mission has lasted for one and a half year, under all those conditions, and not as "self-employed" but with labor sold by my employer to the large bank.

I'm not saying that it is perfectly, 100% legal, but that to that point it's a situation that is accepted by the prud'hommes. (and it's not the only way to provide flexibility for the employer : CDD, interim (temp jobs), and partial employment with lot of overtime (think 10 hours weekly contract, with overtime when needed) are other forms of flexibility.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue May 8th, 2007 at 06:00:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
skovgaard, I've looked at your site and read your letter to Prime Minister de Villepin and Finance Minister Sarkozy. I'm sorry you got into the mess you got into, but I don't want to go into a detailed discussion here of your private problems (even if you've put them up on the Net.) Obviously, if I don't debate your points with you, it may look as if I'm copping out, but I'm not. It's just that I don't think it's relevant to the overall subject (get mad if you like, you claim the right to get mad at people you say are defending the system you say oppresses you - OK, be my guest, call me what you like :-)).

As others have pointed out, we said clearly in the article that there are things that need change in France. I said above that, if I were in charge, the administrative complication for the self-employed and small businesses would get cleared up. For the record, I would also shake up or clear out and rebuild the ANPE, which is a lousy employment agency. I would also undo and rebuild the URSSAF (the main social contributions collection agency, for those who are not in the know), which I know from past experience can be monstruous both in terms of incompetence and inflexibility.

But our intention in this two-language article (which was written for simultaneous submission as an op-ed to Le Monde and the Financial Times) was to refute the conventional wisdom one can read or hear in practically the world's media about France. It was not our aim to go into details of what might need change. I have written here on ET in the past about how I would like us to be able to get round to discussing that - but the tide of propaganda (real propaganda, the kind that is backed with big money and power, elaborated in think-tanks and enunciated by pundits and "experts", relayed by the media) is such that we spend our time fighting it. What we're saying above is that the French economy is constantly attacked as "declining", "stagnant", "failing" etc by neo-liberal campaigners who want to bring it into line with American-led globalisation, and who have hi-jacked the word "reform" to mean their programme of liberalisation. The points we make are not cherry-picked as you imply. They are a response to the allegations made overwhelmingly often on the supposed causes of the supposed failure of the French economy.

The problem in discussing this with you is firstly that you situate yourself at one and the same time as a person who has been employed and unemployed, been used as an outsourced contractor by a former employer, and also as an entrepreneur and (potential) employer. The liberalisation you appear to call for as the latter seems in contradiction with your interests as the former. The second is a problem of scale - yes, there are painful difficulties within the French system (and elsewhere; I note from your site that you were unemployed for a year in England before coming to France) - no, that does not prove the propaganda about the decline of the French economy is right.

(I realize I may sound supercilious in what I say, but I don't mean to belittle the problems you've been through. So, as I said above, call me names if you like).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 03:24:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No need for namecalling or whatever. ;-)

"The liberalisation you appear to call for as the latter seems in contradiction with your interests as the former."

Not at all. Whether at any time I'm employed or a (potential) employer, I prefer things to be flexible, as employers are more likely to offer me jobs if they don't fear court action. That flexibility is sorely lacking in the French employment market. You see from statistics (although their accuracy can be discussed) that low-regulation countries like Denmark and the UK have lower unemployment.

I have never been complaining about the risks of being laid off in countries with less job protection like Denmark, the UK or France, or the fact that I were hired on temp contracts in the UK. No one ever promised me job-for-life security; I have always assumed my responsibility for keeping myself employed, although it hasn't always worked straight away. The trouble in France is the people have been told to claim all sorts of rights from the employers, rights that small employers simply cannot provide for them.

There is indeed a need for reform of the French employment market. If you refer to "reform" in a particular context of corporate exploitation US-style, then I will not contradict that. But don't hijack the word reform to mean just that.

But as I've described in the case of public companies, worker protection is now so strong that even major public corporations will not have it. There is a need for deregulation across the board in France. Not complete deregulation, but a need for bringing regulation in step with economic reality. And a need for doing away with the French worker mentality of having the belief that their rights are sacred.

Finally, there is a need for admitting that the "social model" is far from protecting everybody but that it rather leaves the most vulnerable out in the cold (not just talking about self-employed).

There is a need to do away with the dogmas that have frozen the French job market for too long.

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 08:44:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"economic reality"

"frozen the French job market"

I'm speechless.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:45:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently as speechless as Marie Antoinette, except her utterings about feeding the starving people with cakes. It's always difficult for people in protected and/or privileged situations to appreciate the conditions of those less well off.

The heritage of the 68 generation in France, as maintained by the so-called socialist party, is a selfish and cynical society where those who've decided how society is run serve themselves and don't give a damn about others. "Solidarity" has become a joke.

About the cynicism in France, I refer to Éric Dupin's book "Une société de chiens".

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 12:39:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
those who've decided how society is run serve themselves and don't give a damn about others

I think this a good summation of the Sarkozy economic platform; it is very similar to the Villepin/Borloo approach, except that the latter serve themselves and believe that if they could they would like to help others, but they haven't the first clue about how to do so.  

Whats particularly embarrassing about your posts, my friend, is not the substance -- your points about the difficulties of starting and running a small business are important. Whats embarrassing is that you blame these problems on the socialists, who have been out of power for 5 years.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 01:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France has been run by socialists from 1981 to now, so I can squarely lay the blame for the state of affairs on the doorstop of the French super-cynical form of socialism, while it's obviously correct that the so-called socialist party has not been in power the last 5 years. Chirac has been conservative only by name since his election in 1995. He has kept in place the socialist state of affairs and done vitually nothing to liberalise the economy, even stating that liberalism is a dangerous ideology. It has indeed been embarrassing to watch a so-called conservative government do nothing for 5 years. My big question is if Sarkozy will do what's needed, free of Chirac's limitations, or if he will continue towards the economic disaster. With Sarkozy's obvious taste for power and somehow limited statements on economic conditions, I am far from convinced he's the right man. What I am convinced about is the Royal's tax and spend policy will just accelerate the decline. In the case where Sarkozy is not implementing the needed changes, an acceleration into decline might be preferrable, as a quicker bankruptcy might mean a quicker tidying up.

About starting and running a business, it is essentially beneficial for France if people do it successfully. Adapting the situation to allow them to function better should cost absolutely nothing for the state.

Allowing workers who currently can get only the occasional CDD to work on a CDI with less job protection instead of staying on the dole or RMI should also be beneficial. Except that those on CDIs would fear that their CDI also got less secure. Only in France have I seen such obsession with job security, btw. There are significant savings to be had on the social budget if unemployment got down.

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 01:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You see from statistics (although their accuracy can be discussed) that low-regulation countries like Denmark and the UK have lower unemployment.

I am attracted to the "Danish model" and personally wish France would move in that direction.  However, as for the UK, I believe the reason for lower unemployment there than in France is two-fold:

  • a large increase in public, not private, sector jobs
  • although France has added more jobs than the UK over the last 10 odd years, France's active population has grown even faster than the UK's.

Denis Clerc elaborates these points as follows (afew's translation):

Hardly a day goes by without its elogy of the British employment model. Indeed, the British jobless rate of 4.6% (2nd quarter 2004) is enough to make the French dream. Ten years ago, in 1994, the two countries showed similar, poor performance: 12% for France, 9.7% for the UK. So France should be red-faced today.

Not so sure. Over the same ten years, the number of jobs in the UK increased by 11%. In France, by... 14%. That's because of a rise in the number of government employees, reply the free-marketers. Well, no, because the UK is clear ahead of France in this race: since 1997, 45% of newly-created jobs (861,000 out of a total of 1.92 million), are public-sector, while in France, the number of new non-private-sector jobs (including public sector plus ONGs, trade unions, religious bodies) increased by 300,000 during the same period. Doctors, teachers, policemen, nurses... These are the jobs that have been created on the other side of the Channel. <snip> Not surprising, since public services were particularly badly treated by the ultra-free-market governments of the '80s and '90s.

If job creation in France has been superior, how come the unemployment level remains stuck so high, while it keeps going down in Britain? Quite simply because of the increase in the active (working-age) population. The number of job-seekers rose by 12% in France over ten years, as against 6% in the UK. So France needs to create two jobs to Britain's one to bring the unemployment statistics down.



Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 10:20:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a graphic illustrating the first point above that most job creation in the UK over the last ten years has been in the public sector:


(from French economy - fighting the FT version)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 10:27:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed not ideal, but somehow not surprising under Gordon Brown's tax and spend policy. I don't have the similar figures for Denmark. Sweden has managed to drastically cut down public sector spending and employment.

As I understand the Danish 'model', the principle is to attach the security to the person instead of the job, and to give the necessary attention to unemployment benefit and finding a new job. Since laying off is not a trouble area in Denmark, businesses don't hesitate hiring, so the jobless are not jobless that long. These are simplfied descriptions, and I do not have detailed information about the 'model'. The Danish job market is strongly unionised, and many things happen on concensus. Quite possibly, one cannot just copy that model to France, but parts may be usable adapted to France.

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 12:48:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
at Ecotality: What are the metrics? What do we consider? Lessons from Examining the French economic situation?

Very interesting discussion ...

And, writ large, an important point that our "measures" drive much of our discussion and thinking ... yet far too little discussion and thought is given to whether these are the 'right' measures.

And, of course, whether everything that matters can be measured ...

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 09:11:10 AM EST
Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph today doesn't take the view of the authors of this article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/05/05/do0501.xml&page=1

by skovgaard on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 12:27:11 PM EST
The case made in that article is the only one you ever hear in the press, and it repeats all the usual lies about the French economy, precisely those debunked in my text above (that the 35-hour week destroys work, that France creates only public sector jobs, that it has no growth).

Everybody in the press disagrees with me, except that they have their facts (also found in the press, but never put together with the "common wisdom" on France to notice the blatant contradictions) all wrong.

I gave you facts - lots of them, from unimpeachable sources. Which ones exactly do you contest, please? Otherwise you're just repeating talking points or anectodes - as are the rightwing ideologues of the Torygraph.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 12:58:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So which statements in the Telegraph article are lies according to you? It's much too easy to fob off statements you don't like by calling them lies.

As for the 35-hour week, I have nothing to suggest that it has destroyed jobs, but the jobs that the socialists promised would be created have not materialised. But it has frozen wages to compensate for the fact that employers suddenly had to pay more per hour worked. It has caused practical problems in small structures where you can't just hire 10% of a secretary to do the Saturday mornings in a small clinic, for example. So the doctor just has to do some more administrative and manual work himself. Even Royal has admitted that it's too inflexible.

As for your figures, I'm not going to research them in details, and I won't contest or confirm them either. You can present all the figures you like, but I'm personally living the misery created by the French system, and I'm listening to many others who are living the consequences too, whether they are unemployed, thrown out of the unemployment system, on RMI, trying to make a living out of casual jobs, self-employed, small business owners, homeless etc. It's personal misery after personal misery. If France's economic situation really were as good as you try to make it look, it wouldn't be misery all over the place.

As for the symbolic wealth tax that after press reports make nearly 2 French residents emigrate every day and thereby deprive the country of capital, I know from my working with expats that it nearly made a wealthy expat stay away instead of coming to France a year. It turned out that there was an exoneration for his nationality in a tax treaty, so he finally decided to come to France. The damages of the wealth tax far exceed the money it collects, but the dogmatic left prefer damaging employment and the economy rather than scrapping a damaging but symbolic tax. Wasn't it about time the French left got away from their holy cows and took a more pragmatic approach? It's the little guy who actually pays for the wealth tax because of the jobs and activity it ruins. Isn't it the socialists' vocation to look after the little guy?

by skovgaard on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 01:26:06 PM EST
I gave you the numbers in my article as to how many jobs were created in 1997-2002. Do you deny this? All studies suggest that the 35-hour week directly created 400,000 jobs, and contributed to the generally more upbeat mood in France

Again as to personal misery, you point out to anectodal evidence - I pointed you to actual numbers on poverty, unemployment and the like. Do you have any actual macro numbers you'd like to point to? Anectodally, I can point you to just as many inverse cases, which prove just as little as your own anectodes.

As to the wealth tax, do you know how little 2 people per day are? That's 7,000 over 10 years, to be compared to almost 100 times that who have more than one million dollars in net assets in France. so that's like 1% of the rich that moved in 10 years, an insignificant number for people that are anyway on the move a lot (remember what "jet" means in "jet set"?). The wealth tax certainly does not cost more than it collects - unless you can point to actual numbers again, not the spin from politically- or personally- interested operatives. The little guy certainly does not pay for the wealth tax (unless, again, you have actual information to that respect, rather than soundbites and spin).

You want anectode? As a banker, I am paid more in Paris than in London, for the exact same job, after tax, housing and school costs.

and just for your info: France attracts educated foreigners from rich countries, whereas the UK actually exports them:

Give me facts, not anectode.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 02:36:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"I gave you the numbers in my article as to how many jobs were created in 1997-2002. Do you deny this?"

No, and I do not have time for re-researching all your figures. But what matters is how many are unemployed, and that is not pretty reading in France.

"All studies suggest that the 35-hour week directly created 400,000 jobs, and contributed to the generally more upbeat mood in France"

Do you have a couple of links to those studies?

What upbeat mood in France? Where do you find that?

12% of the population in poverty, nearly 9% unemployment, is that an upbeat mood? The fact that you can point to cases of happily employed people doesn't disprove the cases that many are not. It just underscores that France is a two-tier society with some in privileged positions and some left out in the cold. Yes, it's anecdotal evidence, couples with 12% poverty and 9% unemployment. Far from ideal.

Wealth tax: What matters is that the capital and activity disappearing from France because of it exceeds the tax it would have collected. I know from first hand about that person who nearly stayed away because of that tax. I have seen estimates of the cost of the wealth tax, although it's virtually impossible to prove what the situation would have been without the wealth tax. I know from the concrete example that I would have lost income from an important client if he had stayed away because of the wealth tax had he not found the exoneration. I'm one of the little guys who are losing out because that tax keeps certain clients away. Who pays the taxes that France needs to function when the wealthy ones go away or don't come? The little guy! How do you explain that France is nearly the only western country that still has a wealth tax, while even socialist countries like Denmark and Sweden are scrapping it? That tax is nothing but an envy tax that the socialists need to keep in place for dogmatic reasons. In absolute value, it represents very little tax and the revenues could easily be replaced by other taxes that are less provocative. The psychological impact of the wealth tax is much higher than the real cost to the few who pay it. I'll never ever pay that tax but I want to see the back of it asap. Think about it!

"You want anectode? As a banker, I am paid more in Paris than in London, for the exact same job, after tax, housing and school costs."

And so what? What is the point you want to prove with that?

Maybe you have endless time to dig up facts, but I have a business to run that the state is trying to smash up, sorry. "social model" go to hell!

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:02:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Wealth tax: What matters is that the capital and activity disappearing from France because of it exceeds the tax it would have collected.

France is consistently in the top 5 for Foreign Direct Investment, one of the most used indicators as to the attractiveness of a country for capital:

(note that UK's numbers in 2005 are inflated by the 140bn reorganisation of Shell, which was structured as a  'purchase' of Shell UK by Shell Netherlands)

For a complete picture, because I care about getting the facts straight, here's the two way numbers, on aggregate for the past 10 years:

France also has one of the biggest outflows of capital. Should this be counted under "successful internationalization of the big French corporations" , or under "capital flight"?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
from the Financial Times:

Socialism (97-02) sure does not seem to have discouraged foreign investors.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 10:07:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is indeed investment in France, but as your figures show not enough to prevent a net outgoing of capital.

But wealth tax is as you know now paid by corporations but by individuals. I don't get the idea of discouraging wealthy individuals from staying in France with their capital, not least since the wealth tax revenue is negligible in the big picture.

When they move or don't come to France, it's not only the wealth tax they don't pay, it's also income tax. The activity they don't generate in France or that is lost when they leave France means less employment and less taxes on salary and turnover.

If the wealth tax were beneficial for a country, it's very strange indeed that almost no one else has it.

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 12:55:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just as you point out the 'Shell exception' for the UK; the inflow and outflow numbers have to be broken down into what are real inflows of capital vs. outflows of capital and not paper events.
by An American in London on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 06:11:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"is how many are unemployed, and that is not pretty reading in France."

Wrong again.

by Laurent GUERBY on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:47:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine, if you find that 9% unemployment is quite all right and normal, then what can I say? You don't mind about the many jobless; that's your right, as it's everybody's right to be selfish and cynical, caring only about their own privileges.
by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 12:59:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and just for your info: France attracts educated foreigners from rich countries, whereas the UK actually exports them

Actually, unless I am reading this chart wrong, as of circa 2000, France exported more "tertiary-level graduates" to OECD countries than it imports from them: 4.40% emigrated vs. 4.20% immigrated.

(Having said that, the U.K. imports 6.50% and exports 14.90%.)

Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland are the only European countries that import more graduates from OECD countries than export to them.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:48:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Finally, skovgaard, I see I was too nice to you above.

Whose side are you on? Who are you arguing for? Now you quote the Torygraph and weep over the ultra-rich? The wealthy ex-pats that decide France might just be too costly for them without a break or two? Give it a rest.

So let's be clear. You are suffering from the system, you say? I say you got yourself into a lot of the trouble you got into. And I further say you're a confused but right-wing twerp. Stop wasting our time.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 03:43:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm on the side of the little honest guy who's taking responsibility for his own life and trying to make a decent living, not privileged civil servants or spoiled workers who can remain in protected positions with little or no risk while having all the benefits for themselves while denying them to others.

I'm not weeping for the "ultra-rich", and that is a gross misinterpretation of what I said. I'm weeping for the little guy who ends up paying the consequences of taxes like the wealth tax that the "ultra-rich" move away from while leaving the bill to the little guy and taking his job away.

So I got myself into the trouble I'm in? I followed advice from the ANPE and took a risk to earn my earn money instead of just sticking on to collecting money from the state for doing nothing. So does France need to break self-employed apart in order to work? What exactly is the trouble I got myself into? Please explain. What is clear is that if ever I find myself on the dole again and the system is still punishing initiative, I will remain on the dole collecting my rights instead of taking any risks. What is the interest of France punishing risk takes?

You're certainly the confused one if you are defending this merciless brutal system that is destroying family after family in order not to offend socialist dogmas. Have a look at real people around you instead of your statistics. Paper is so nice to conceal human misery.

The state and notably socialist hardliners force me to waste a lot of time for basic survival that the privileged parts of France, including caviar socialists, take for granted - such as heating in winter. I will not stop shouting about these crying social injustices until something is done about them. People like you are protecting only the interest of those already protected, while you don't seem to give a damn about the social disasters caused by the "social model".

Of us two, I am the one defending the most vulnerable, while you want to protect middle-class privileges. What is actually most socialist? The French version of socialism today is nothing more than a joke. It has nothing to do with socialism, really.

by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:14:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the little honest guy who's taking responsibility for his own life and trying to make a decent living, not privileged civil servants or spoiled workers who can remain in protected positions with little or no risk while having all the benefits for themselves while denying them to others.

Exactly how are school teachers or postal carriers responsible for denying a decent living to others?

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 09:50:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By having acquired over the years that job protection and benefits are so cumbersome for employers that they won't hire the necessary staff on normal job contracts but make all sorts of manoeuvers to avoid the CDI, whether the employer is a corporation, a public company or a small business. That means that those not already inside will remain on the outside. In order to get the in, those already in would need to let go of some of their privileges. In the name of solidarity. But the principle of solidarity only applies for socialists when it's about taxing "rich" people or corporations.
by skovgaard on Sun May 6th, 2007 at 01:07:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's much too easy to fob off statements you don't like by calling them lies.

It's caviar-socialist propaganda from one end to the other. I cannot dig up all the figures etc.,

As for your figures, I'm not going to research them in details, and I won't contest or confirm them either.

No comment.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 5th, 2007 at 03:52:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My first read on this website....great article!

Having moved to Paris in the last few months after 7 years in the UK i have lots of "anecdotes" as to why France should not chase the Anglo model and have been trying to tell anyone who'd listen in the last few weeks.

You've put that arguement together brilliantly, lets hope the government elections dont give sarko the free hand for his so called promised reforms.

This article also confirms my suspicions of how out of touch/inept/or pursuing their own agenda most of the mainstream media is.  

by darragh on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 04:12:38 PM EST
Hello, darragh, welcome, and thanks for your support!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 04:49:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We hope to see you around to provide your own perspective on these things!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 04:58:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be interesting to know how you found this article, and of course your will be more than welsome to share your perspective by writing your own diaries.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if this is having an impact... today on iTélé during some debate, a commentator from the magazine Challenges (founded by Mr. Besson of Judas fame) pointed out the 2 million inapts of the UK model...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 05:26:23 PM EST
that data circulates, and the UK press, when it is focused on domestic matters, will highlight such things.

The problem is that that kind of information does not make it into the more general discourse about macroeconomic policy and discussions of international comparisons and globalisation.

It's just like peak oil is being discussed here and there, but not at all taken into account when things like 'the future of the car industry' or 'the future of airports' are being discussed.

How do we bring what are seen as isolated, self-standing problems into the big picture.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:02:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People are not generally able to relate what they know in two different areas. Being able to make connections between disparate information is what leads to knowledge and "insight".

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here are some links on the question of the high numbers of beneficiaries of Incapacity Benefit in the UK:

OECD says ET was right about UK unemployment

The Beatty-Fothergill report referred to in the above diary.

An article written for Bloomberg by Warren Mosler, including: Unemployment has been redefined rather than reduced.

This comment from Detlef adds another study to Beatty & Fothergill : Inactivity, Sickness and Unemployment in Great Britain: Early Analysis at the Level of Local Authorities

The facts have been publicly recognized. See:

House of Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions

BBC piece on a government decision to act.

From the BBC article, there is a near-admission by an official spokesman:

"That core issue is of people in deprived areas being on incapacity benefit an trapped in a vicious circle where they find it difficult to get off incapacity benefit," said the spokesman.

He also pointed out that 90% of claimants want to get back into work. (my bold)

The point (from the angle of comparing economies) is that, in France, most of these people would be classified "unemployed" and thus swell the unemployment rate. It might be argued that the UK has always presented this characteristic and the comparison with France is still valid, but that is not so: the number on Incapacity Benefit in the UK tripled between 1997 and 2002 to attain 2.5 mn. In other words, New Labour's back-to-work drive forced many long-term unemployed out of the unemployment stats and into "inactivity".

Of course, economists and pundits continue to compare official unemployment rates to prove the UK model superior.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:22:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the economists and pundits are either incompetent or lying.

I guess I should get back to my unemployment statistics series at some stage.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 05:26:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
posting again as a diary, to have in a more easily accessible form than a comment deep down this diary.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 07:21:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I enjoyed the article and comments, even though I can't reach the same conclusions as the authors.  Skovgaard, a self-employed guy in France who posted many responses, understands the situation better than most economists.  He doesn't deserve to be ridiculed or attacked for his diverging viewpoint.  Even less so because he brings his personal experiences very generously into the dialogue.

France needs drastic reform.  So does the US.   There's absolutely no risk that one will turn into the other.  The biggest risk is that each doesn't learn from the other.

I'd like Sarkozy to move quickly on his reform agenda, but I'm skeptical about how much can be accomplished.  It's so hard to enact needed change, when so many oppose.  Folks don't seem to realize how fragile leaders are in the face of opposition.  Just look at Clinton's and Bush's attempts to reform the health care system, each with a clear majority in congress in their time.  Although Royal and Bayrou also talked changes, they weren't heartfelt or credible, nor did they make them the centerpiece of their platform, as Sarkozy did.

I may well be embarrassed by my choice in the coming years, as Sarkozy enacts certain things, but overall he'll get this huge oceanliner moving in the right direction.  

by Joebabe on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 06:22:27 AM EST
Again, it is important to make a distinction between reforms and 'reforms'. The latter, in appropriate scare quotes refers in particular to the neo-liberal 'reform' package proposed to right all societies ills: Deregulation of everything, lower taxes, in particular for the well-off, erosion of labour rights, etc. The big winners of the neolib 'reforms' are large corporations and the well-off.

Further, this article questioned whether it is fair to use economic indicators the way the neolibs do in order to show a society in decline. As in, is France in relative terms more 'in decline' than say the UK? The answer is that this depends a lot on how you look at the numbers. As always, it is quite possible to arrange for the data to tell the story you'd like by careful cherry picking the indicators that seem in support. This game can be played both ways, and with slightly different definitions, say the one that excludes the super-wealthy in measures of GDP/capita, we find that France is not worse off than those who are supposedly the shining stars of economic greatness. Do you disagree with this? Do you believe that the indicators chosen, and their use, in the standard neolib argument is the correct one? Would you argue that a class of hyper wealthy is somehow important to the functioning of society, that their enrichment is a goal worth pursuing, and that excluding them from calculations of the 'wealth' of society (as lived by most people) is therefore incorrect? In general, do you have specific complaints about how this article uses available data, and its conclusions that the French economy is in fact not under-performing the ones presented as examples to follow?

You write that France needs drastic reforms. But does it need drastic 'reforms'? What is it exactly that you'd like to see from reforms/'reforms'? Easing the burden (tax/regulatory) on small business? Because with neolib 'reforms' that is a very small part indeed. I am sorry, but there is no way I would support reforms or 'reforms' that might achieve some improvement I would agree with when the collateral damage would be obscene wealth concentration and erosion of social protections for everyone else. This is the neolib way, the small business is not the ones they like to enrich, but the large capital markets, the large investors, and the large multinationals. This along side a race to the bottom on important issues such as environmental protections and labour rights. How to make the world safe for 'profits' to rise and rise, unencumbered by concerns for those that would be exploited in the process.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 08:01:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i came across the article on the UK Guardian website, someone posted a link in the comments section of an article on the French elections

thanks for the welcome, at the moment my new job and trying to learn French is keeping me busy but ill try and offer my perspective when i can

by darragh on Wed May 16th, 2007 at 05:19:34 PM EST
This article and the discussion remain, 2 weeks later, the most thoughtful and informative discussion of these issues I've seen -- including skovaard's rants, which contribute a good deal to the discussion by playing devil's advocate and in a few spots, adding information.

I linked to it in my own contribution on the matter, here.

IS there a way this could be archived in a more accessible format such as a PDF? I'd like to have students in a summer course I'll be teaching on contemporary France read it.

by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 02:32:51 PM EST
I'll see what I can do to put this in pdf, and make it downloadable.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 05:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IS there a way this could be archived in a more accessible format such as a PDF?

Yes. Try this pdf, reformatted from the story... (Somewhat annoying download site, sorry about that. Does anyone know of any other service that allows upload and download of all file formats?)
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 06:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 08:52:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
excellent; many thanks.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 11:57:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
now on Betapolitique a French political website.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 05:17:43 AM EST
I've visited the Netherlands 3 times, Germany twice, Canada once over the last ten years. Also Costa Rica and China. I understand I have lived a privileged life, materially.

I've lived in the USA for the entirety of my approximate quarter century of so-called adult life.

Rose colored spectacles not withstanding, the EU (and Quebec) is an absolute paradise compared to the US. People in the US are angry, empty, alienated, cynical, spiritless, and above all, broke and in debt; no surprise, as they are financially and spiritually raped daily by satanic corporations every second of every day. Unless you're in the top few percent of the filthy rich.

This country is going to hell and they are coming for the EU next.

You the light of the world imo.

Be forewarned Euro dudes/dudettes

by jam fuse on Mon May 28th, 2007 at 01:18:45 PM EST
This is the thing. I grew up in England. I went to a state-funded comprehensive school. Frankly it was near unbearable. I don't have first hand experience of schooling in France so can't comment there, but from numerous visits I personally feel France is a darn sight nicer in most respects to this dirty, backward-looking den of inequity. Economic indicators my arse - I'm certainly not staying in the UK once I graduate.
by roothland on Mon May 28th, 2007 at 04:02:07 PM EST
The point of our article was definitely not to bash the UK (although you may have your own reasons to do so!) or the USA, but to go against the permanent description of France as an economic basket case, and the no less prevalent push for labor market deregulation. France has its problems, but they are not worse than those of the models thrust upon us, and are unlikely to be solved by the proposed remedies.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 28th, 2007 at 04:42:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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