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"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.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
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 ]

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