Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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