Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Jérôme, a meta-comment: you link to Andreani's op-ed through the subscriber URL, but non-subscribers can get to the page at this address.

The Le Monde readers' discussion you link to is in fact the discussion on Le Boucher's article; the Andreani discussion is here.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 03:33:38 PM EST
I've corrected the link. It's an annoyance on Le Monde's website, i.e. links are different if you are a subscriber or not, and I need to modify them manually. Sometimes I miss one.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 03:47:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for correcting the links. I was getting confused.

I am not surprised by the Le Monde readers' reaction: yes, the neo-liberal themes are hammered out everywhere in the French media, so people start believing  them.

This said, I always have mixed feelings about these "things are not so bad" pleas, as they can easily slip into excuses for not changing anything.

One day, we could start a discussion over what effectively needs to be reformed (warning, loaded word) in France, if such a debate isn't too boring for our friends.

Oh, and what about Austerlitz? OK, this may have been a brilliant tactical maneuver, but it was part of Napoleon's expansionists wars and was fought far away from our borders. For the rest of us who are not history buffs, Austerlitz importance is not comparable to, say, Valmy, or the Liberation celebrated last year (and rightly so).

by Bernard (bernard) on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 04:36:32 PM EST
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You're right about the "things are not so bad" approach being potentially stagnating. An approach which I, for one, often lazily adopt.

Reform is in essence always necessary, as a country needs to adapt to changing demography, technology, and socio-economic contexts. And I think that, as I know this, it's somewhat unconsciously that I slip into the "things are not so bad" approach, more as a retaliation against an opposite argumentation which I find to be difficult to accept as being true, especially when hammered by the media, business representatives etc

If I were to reform France's economic structure, I'd start by finding a way to distribute shares to a majority of employees rather than to a majority of obscure share-holders, on a basis that can be discussed in another thread. I indeed believe that one of the main reasons why French companies are reluctant to recruit, is not necessarily, as we're brainstormed to think, because French employment contracts are rigid ... but probably more because companies are scared of taking risks in general, seeing as how the global context is unpredictable, local competition is often fierce, and most importantly because they are told by share-holders that immediate cost-reduction and profit-generation is more important that long-term planning.

In Airbus alone, there are currently 60 executive positions that have been unfilled for over a year, because the job descriptions ask, in language that I'll translate here, for someone who's available 24 hours a day, aged 25, with 40 years of experience. You can see where this is going ... On the opposite end of the scale, CEOs are given massive benefits when laid off and thus don't frankly give a damn where it all goes.

Now if employees held shares, wouldn't a new recruit be less likely to be a slacker, being motivated by the prospect of earning more for himself/herself? Wouldn't a majority of employee share-holders vote against, as much as is reasonably possible, layoffs and such? This is debatable, of course. It's just as equally possible that current employees would be power-hungry, want to keep all the shares to themselves, and be even more afraid of recruiting new people.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 05:23:09 PM EST
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PS: I was told that the new Airbus CEO has been given the mission of doubling share values within a year. How will he do that? How can you do long-term planinng and develop your business acument, when your mission is only to generate money at all costs (no pun intended)?
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 05:25:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry for the typo, business acumen, not acument.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 05:26:54 PM EST
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