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Good one, andré, well spotted and well debunked.

It really is a hit piece. One thing that struck me was how she uses the concept of "world": It is a world..., in this world, etc, like when the media is taking us for a trip to some really weird place which totally differs from anything normal and comfortably well-known. Of course it's a distorting device here, to accentuate a supposed huge difference between France and the rest of the Western world that doesn't in fact exist.

Oh, of course, France is stranded in some time warp from way back in an epoch when, would you believe it, people practised Keynesian economics, oh the humanity! The fact that both the UK and the US (you know, the tomorrow's world countries) have recently gone in for a considerable amount of Keynesianism (861,000 public-sector jobs created in the UK under New Labour, continual increase in public spending under Bush) just flies under the radar.

The killer factoid to prove the difference is, as usual, the poll in which the French only scored 36% when they should have scored at least 60% to be members of today's human race. That poll has been constantly quoted since The Economist put it into their leader the other week (see brunoken's diary here.) Three things I think about the poll (by GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland, Jan 2006. Link here) :

  • However smart the polling, I don't know seriously such sweeping, trans-world polls should be taken;
  • the question was not (as misquoted by The Economist and every journalist I've read since who has taken their cue from that magazine of reference), "that the free market was the best system available", but "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world". There's a fair amount of difference between those two statements, and maybe that darned French education system made the French respondents capable of taking in the whole of a long question (?)
  • a second set of data was not cited by The Economist, nor by anyone else :

The director of political analysis for the study said this:

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: "In one sense we are indeed facing what has been called `the end of history,' in that there is now an extraordinary level of consensus about the best economic system. But this is not the victory of one side of the dialectic. While there is overwhelming support for free markets, there is also near-unanimous rejection of unbridled capitalism, with people around the world overwhelmingly favoring greater government regulation of large companies and more protection of workers and consumers."

Now, I don't see how this can be, if people are getting their economic education right and proper as they should -- not like those pesky French... ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 9th, 2006 at 01:06:53 PM EST

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