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Triple Play

by Jerome a Paris Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:18:09 AM EST

Today, the 3 main "serious" papers in the US opined on the French demonstrations. It's not pretty.

French protests again (IHT, i.e. the NYT)
French Take to the Streets to Preserve Their Economic Fantasy (WaPo)
The riots of spring (LATimes)

As the titles suggest, neither paper is favorable to the demonstrations.


Let's start with the Washington Post - the view of the establishment?


Ah, springtime in Paris.

The sight of riot police outside the Sorbonne.

The smell of tear gas wafting along the Seine.

The sweet sounds of hypocrisy floating from the National Assembly and the Elysee Palace.

And, next Tuesday, a national strike, perfectly timed to create a four-day weekend.

Again, that image of lazy, frivolous, selfish strikers. The usual intorduction to any American article on the strikes, it would seem.


What inspired this season's revolutionary festivities is a radical new law that would give employers up to two years before deciding whether to give new young employees the kind of lifetime job security conferred by French law.

What lifetime security? really, is it ignorance or wilful lies? I'm still willing to bet on ignorance as, after all, everybody else repeats the same thing, but it's still damn close to incompetence.


To those of you brainwashed by Anglo-American market capitalism, this might appear like the sort of labor market flexibility they babble on about at meetings like this week's European summit -- the kind that might actually entice a French company to create a new job.

France doesn't create jobs, it just hangs to those that were created, somehow, in the 50s. And any criticism of the law is racist anti-Anglo-Saxonism...


But when viewed through the dark prism of the French imagination, these aren't real jobs -- they're "garbage jobs" and "slave contracts" meant to undermine the birthright of all Frenchmen to be shielded from all economic risk. Give in on this, and who knows what could go next? The 35-hour workweek? The six weeks of paid vacation? State-mandated profit sharing? Retirement at age 60?

Yeah, who knows, considering that the current legislature has already dropped both the 60-year retiremement and the 35 hour week (and that we have 5 weeks of paid vacation by law).


What's so galling about the French is that, in the name of equality and solidarity, they are well on their way to creating not only one of the least vibrant economies in the industrialized world, but also one of the least equitable.

Care to substantiate that "less vibrant"? or the "less equitable", for that matter?


The "insiders" of this economy consist of a shrinking pool of older, middle-class workers who enjoy the full panoply of worker protections. Most of them are in the public sector or heavily regulated private industries, with the rest in a dwindling number of competitive private firms.

Ah, the dwindling number of private firms... all created in the 50s, again, presumably.
And why make "heavily regulated" (not that it has any reality, at least no more than in any other country) sound like an insult?


And then there are the "outsiders." This growing pool includes the unemployed young men of the mostly immigrant suburbs who went on a rampage last year, throwing rocks and burning cars. But it also includes the children of "insiders," who tend to hang around the university until they are 24 or 25, then drift between unpaid internships, temp jobs and welfare for another five years before finally getting "inside."

You'd think that, with all that time they spend chatting away in cafes, these young "outsiders" would have figured out by now that this system, which protects and cossets the "insiders" at all costs, is sucking the innovation and vitality from the economy. But rather than supporting the reforms that might generate more jobs and more income, the outsiders have bought into the nostalgic fantasy of a France that once was, but can never be again, making common cause with the very "insiders" whose selfishness and pigheaded socialism have left them out in the cold.

Hah. Pigheaded socialism. (Does that mean that plain "socialism" is okay?) And selfishness. Riiight. And the reform will generate "more income". Again, any substantiation?


That said, you can hardly blame the kids for being confused about their economic predicament.

After all, the supposedly center-right government that pushed through the new youth-employment contract is the same government that adamantly refused to give up subsidies for farmers, stepped in to prevent foreign takeovers of French companies and, just last week, demanded that Apple iPods accept music downloads from iTunes competitors (read: French competitors).

Subsidies to farmers are ONLY provided by left wing governments, of course/ And Sony and Microsoft are well known French companies. And what takeover has been prevented, exactly?


But having declared, in effect, that markets cannot be trusted to generate socially and politically acceptable outcomes, the same government is now shocked to find that it doesn't have much credibility when it asks workers to trust markets when it comes to the terms of their employment.

This sort of calculated hypocrisy among the French political elite, which likes to "talk left, act right," has now completely undermined support for market capitalism.

So, "act right". So are they "supposedly centre-right" or really right wing? It's sooo confusing.


A telling poll released in January by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that only 36 percent of French respondents felt that "the free enterprise system and free market economy" is the best system. That's the lowest response from any of the 22 countries polled and compares with 59 percent in Italy, 65 percent in Germany, 66 percent in Britain and 71 percent in the United States.

Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that Forbes magazine's latest list of global billionaires includes only 14 from France, without a single new entry this year. Germany, a country not twice its size, has four times as many, while Britain, which is about the same size, has 24.

Indeed, when you ask French university students who is the Bill Gates of France, they look at you blankly. It's not simply that they can't name one. The bigger problem is that they can't imagine why it matters, or why that has anything to do with why they can't find a good job.

Yes, the number of billioniares is a good criteria to judge the health of the middle or lower classes. Nice. The fun thing is that the first non-American billionaire is French (Bernard Arnaud, the owner of LVMH), and the top billionairess is French (Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to l'Oréal), so even that argument is full of shit...

Now on to the LA Times


IT'S SPRING, AND THE FRENCH are rioting again. This time, it's students and labor unions protesting a minor reform of the country's employment laws that was imposed to help solve the problems that spurred last fall's riots. If the protesters get what they want and the law is rescinded, the result will be continued high youth unemployment -- which will doubtless spur more riots. And that, Simba, is the Circle of Life in French politics.

Yes, it's spring, and the French riot. Yawn. The law "will solve the problems thart spurred the riots". Wow. quite a statement...


The latest hubbub has been percolating since Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin pushed a law through the National Assembly in February creating a new type of employment contract that would restrict generous job protections for the young workers who sign it.

WHAT "generous job protections"? Can you actually list them? You mean, not being fired because you're black, or pregnant, or unionised? Or not being fired because you've only been in the company for 700 days?


The controversy exploded over the weekend, when more than half a million protesters took to the streets and shut down the Sorbonne. Demonstrations were initially peaceful, but the largest march ended with violence and overturned cars -- frighteningly reminiscent of the riots that tore through the country's working-class immigrant suburbs last year.

"initially peaceful"? So it was mostly violence after that? Riots, even? Hundreds of burnt cars? Hundreds of deaths, maybe?


The students get high marks for civic engagement but Fs in Economics 101. They are furious because the new law allows employers to fire without cause anyone under 26 who has signed the contract and been on the job less than two years. That might not seem revolutionary in the United States, but in France, workers who obtain long-term contracts are essentially guaranteed tenure after no more than six months. In order to fire them, employers must prove the dismissals are justified, plus pay extensive compensation -- and endure all the appeals that fired French workers are entitled to file.

"civic engagement" is a bad thing these days, we know, especially when it goes against the economic common wisdom (the "Washington Consensus"?).

Note the use of the word "tenure", which DOES mean lifetime employment for those that do get it, but, of course, has nothing to do with the reality of work in the private sector in France (which, strangely enough, still exists)


It's little wonder that French businesses are reluctant to take on the burden of hiring new employees. The result is a persistent unemployment rate of 9.6%, and more than 20% for young people (for immigrants in the suburbs it's even worse, at up to 50%). De Villepin recognizes that the only way to change that is to reform the nation's rigid labor laws.

France has not hired a single person since 1957, presumably.


The students are right about one thing: The new law is discriminatory, creating a second class of young workers with less protection than their elders. A smarter response would be for the students to demand that job guarantees be loosened for workers of all ages. Instead, they are simply pushing for the same damaging job protections that allow older employees security at the expense of those seeking work.

Yes, job protections are "damaging". Precarity for all.


France is having a harder time than other European nations adapting to a globalized economy, largely because the French would rather blame "Anglo-Saxon capitalism" (i.e., free markets) for their problems than examine their own self-defeating policies. De Villepin, who is paying a heavy political price for common sense, should hang tough. The youth labor law doesn't go far enough, but it's a start.

What self-defeating policies, exactly? Substantiation, please... or should we rely again, on "common knowledge"?

And, what would be "far enough", exactly?  Fucker.

And no the IHT.


French protests, again

For the second time in four months, French streets are filled with riot police, tear gas and rampaging youths. But the similarity between then and now is deceptive. Back in November, it was the sons of North African immigrants in their dreary suburbs exploding in frustration at lack of jobs, prospects or programs. This time, privileged university students are protesting what they see as an assault on the job security that they consider their birthright. The connection between the two waves of unrest is that the labor reform to which the students are so opposed was proposed by Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin as a partial answer to those who set fire to the suburbs.

"Privileged students"? What the hell? That's the heart of it, isn't it? The middle classes are shamelessly privileged, and that has to go. How dare they pretend to do the same kind of things as the global elites? We must put them back in their place!

That comment is especially silly coming form the IHT, a Paris-based paper where people should know that university students are NOT privileged (these go to the Grandes Ecoles). And "job security as a birthright"? Please. Most students go, as stated elsewhere in these articles, through years of internships and temp jobs. How can they be described in anyway as privileged or coddled?


A new law essentially allows companies to fire workers under 26 within the first two years of employment without having to give a reason. The idea is to encourage employers to hire youths on a trial or temporary basis. There is an obvious downside: young workers could be fired on a whim, or simply to make room for another wave of disposable workers. But the alternative is the current state of affairs, in which jobs are sinecures. Unemployment is at 22.2 percent among the young and close to 40 percent in the poor suburbs, compared to 9.6 percent nationwide.

Unemployment is at 22.2 per cent among th active youth, and 8% among the youth, but why bother with the distinction?


Villepin, a patrician notoriously deaf to the streets, did a bad job of presenting and selling the law to the students, the unions and the general public. The unions are now threatening a general strike unless Villepin backs down, the prime minister's ratings are plunging, and politicians of all stripes are pouncing on him as support for the protests grows. But his law is a valid and necessary attempt to remedy a serious problem, and the reaction of the students, and of labor unions ready to leap on any pretense for a show of force, is selfish and out of line.

The law is "valid and necessary". Necessary to whom? Even the employers don't want it! And the students are selfish and out of line. Strange, I've never heard fund managers being called that way when they ask for an extra percentage point of profitability...


Resistance to the law has been based less on practical pros and cons than on a knee-jerk defense of the job security that the French, or at least those who have a job, hold sacred. That has created widespread support for the protests. In the suburbs that the law was meant to help, unemployed youths fear that if they did get a job, they would be at higher risk than other workers of losing it because of racial discrimination or other factors.

However dramatic the images of the disturbances, the clashes have been localized and relatively brief, the damage far less than last November, the police restrained. Before it gets any worse, students should stop defending their privileges and heed President Jacques Chirac's call for a creative dialogue about how they can help resolve the real problem facing their generation.

Students should stop defending WHAT privileges, exactly?

Damn, this is exhausting.

Display:
This is getting boring and pointless, but that's what blogging is all about, right?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 07:28:12 PM EST
worth the effort. REally it is. The sorts of tropes repeated endlessly are precisely the tripe one gets from colleagues, students, policy-makers etc. Having a resource to direct them is actually I think quite valuable, in the long run.
by desmoulins (gsb6@lycos.com) on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 07:31:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahhh Jérôme's deconstruction diaries in the Spring, full of panache and élan :)) (another good entry, Jérôme)

I just received an email from my buddy working on that Paramount pictures cartoon in Orange County (I mentioned him a while back), and he says that most of his colleagues at work now believe there are riots in France again), because this is what the news on TV is showing.

So when it's not lazy frogs, it's rioting frogs. No mention of the smiling legions of parents out for a nice walk with their kids (and for their kids' future), like my pics of the Toulouse demonstration shows were there.

However we must accept that it works both ways, ie. here in French news, when it's not those barbarous Iraq-invading Americans, it's those damn capitalistic Anglo-Saxons!

When will it all stop??

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 07:35:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you going to submit a LTE, or maybe even a responding article to any of these papers? You could include the productivity and labor cost data from your previous diaries. You could blow the hell out of the "less equitable" argument.
by TGeraghty on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 08:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And don't forget about the France vs US job creation numbers.
by TGeraghty on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 09:17:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you write such letters?

Methinks a letter from an American would get more hearing...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I am going to put one together and send it to the Post or Times.
by TGeraghty on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:44:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the text of the lte I sent to the Post in response to the Pealstein piece:

The French Economy: Productive and Equitable

According to Post columnist Steven Pearlstein, the French "are well on their way to creating not only one of the least vibrant economies in the industrialized world, but also one of the least equitable."

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. As Paul Krugman pointed out in the New York Times last July, the main difference between Anglo-American market capitalism and the French social model is priorities, not performance.

Take the issue of jobs. Between 1994 and 2004, the number of jobs in flexible, market-friendly Britain grew by 11%. Over the same period, the number of jobs in sclerotic France grew by . . . 14%. Youth unemployment? In France it is a modest 7.8% once you account for the many French youth who are in college and not active in the labor force. Labor costs? French labor costs are actually 4.4% lower than those in the United States, according to a recent KPMG study, while labor productivity in France is some 7% higher than the American level according to the OECD.

What about the alleged inequity of the French economy? This is nonsense: the United States has the highest levels of wealth and income inequality in the industrialized world. Not only that, but Europeans find it much easier to climb the economic ladder than do Americans, according to a recent study by Britain's Sutton Trust and the LSE. Europe (and France) also outdoes the United States in terms of indicators of health, educational attainment, stress levels, and environmental sustainability.

So the idea that the French social model is headed for history's junkheap is a myth.

by TGeraghty on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:01:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perfect!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:47:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's not boring and pointless. Without your viewpoint I'd be swigging back the US/US economic liberal "kool-aid" (as our cousins would put it) and internalising the Will Hutton views you so gracefully trashed on Sunday.

Keep at it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 05:26:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all pointless.  I learn a lot from these and greatly enjoy them.  I get very little news on France outside of the occasional NYT article and on the very rare occasion that I buy a copy of the WSJ with an equally-rare article on France.  Usually the WSJ has no stories on the country.  (Their reporters stick to the EU, as a whole, or, now and then, Britain and Germany.)  The morons on the editorial board are usually the only ones to bring the subject up, and you know how they are.  (I swear, I read their editorials, and I've got to believe that the board consists of a bunch of academic-wannabe losers who never got laid in college.  Such an angry group.)  But, hey, what can you expect from a paper owned by Dow Jones?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 24th, 2006 at 02:56:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
cher J, where do you find the time and/or the patience?

doesn't the sheer smug arrogance/ignorance of the piece make your brain lose traction and start to skid?

my hat is off to Jerome, Minister of Deconstruction.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 07:56:47 PM EST
You are aware, I'm sure, that these papers represent the center-left of American journalism. Not meaning to get you even more depressed, but here are some examples of what many Americans will hear:

The center is probably represented well by the Christian Science Monitor:

[The]mass protests are not a repeat of 1968...students are siding with their elders, defending outmoded lifelong job security...pulling their fluffy duvets over their heads...plan a national strike on Tuesday. Is job security at all costs really better than no jobs?

Here's a long tirade from the right:


While French youths are rioting over a proposal that would actually help them get work, U.S. college graduates are about to enter a hot job market. Could it be that the French system is a failure?

An anti-market, welfare state has not served France -- or any other nation for that matter -- well. As we noted on this page Tuesday, the French economy has grown a paltry 1.6% a year since 2001. That's stagnation. Being unencumbered by the grip of cold, unfeeling capitalism, the French have been able fabricate rights, among them the lifetime right to a job. As a result, firing incompetents and underperformers in France is nearly impossible.

That restriction, of course, puts French companies at a disadvantage. Their incentive to hire is undercut because they know that if they hire the wrong person, they cannot fire him or her and replace that worker with someone better. So rather than take a chance at being stuck with a poor worker, they don't hire at all. The inevitable effect of a private sector that can't meet its employment needs is an economy that is chained to the deck.

Consequently, the jobless rate in France is 10%, more than twice as high as America's 4.8%. It's even higher among workers younger than 26, an unbelievable 23%. In the industrial suburbs of Paris and other cities, filled with disaffected Muslim youths, joblessness soars to 50% or more. But there's a bellowing -- and perhaps spoiled -- core of young people in France, hundreds of thousands of them, who refuse to see the economic sense of the proposal. Their response has been to riot in protest of the very thing that will help them.

Meanwhile, 1.4 million U.S. college graduates have their minds on things other than tantrums. American students will be competing for spots in the best job market since 2001 when they finish school in the coming weeks, according to job consultant Challenger, Gray & Christmas. American companies are planning to hire about 15% more new college graduates than they did last year.

Why the big difference? The U.S. system is based on the realities of economics, not the delusions of socialist policymakers who dream up nonexistent rights and believe that labor and risk should not be required to achieve comfort and security.


http://www.investors.com/editorial/IBDArticles.asp?artsec=20&artnum=1&issue=20060321
by asdf on Wed Mar 22nd, 2006 at 10:16:38 PM EST
the jobless rate in France is 10%, more than twice as high as America's 4.8%.

sigh.  I think everyone including Paul Craig Roberts has debunked the magic 4.8 percent, yet it keeps coming back like a bad penny.   PCR wrote in the paper version of Counterpunch (Jan 2006) that to keep up with population growth, the US should create 1,800,000 jobs per year (and that in itself is a frightening statistic).  However, instead a total of 1,054,000 new net private sector jobs were created in the preceding 5 years, and if you add the government-sector new jobs you get a total of 2,093,000 (he is using DOL statistics here).

This five-year figure is over 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth.  PCR asks, how can there be only 4.7 percent unemployment?  And answers his own question:  the figures are cooked.

The unemployment rate does not measure the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs to offshore outsourcing and to foreign workers brought into the US on work visas.  These millions of Americans have exhausted their unemployment benefits and severance benefits and have been unable to find jobs to return to the work force.  Economists refer to these millions of unemployed people as discouraged workers who have dropped out of the work force.  As they have given up searching for jobs, they are not considered to be in the work force and therefore do not count as unemployed.  [my boldface]

Now, this is a fascinating use of language.  People who give up trying to find jobs in a "jobless recovery" are referred to as having "dropped out" of the workforce as though they had wilfully decided to be idle.  People who cannot find jobs and therefore are not "in the work force" do not count as "unemployed" -- now from my admittedly nonwonkish labour perspective, if you are of working age and not in the workforce you are, in fact, unemployed.

In other words the Bushco spinmeisters have pulled another of their HumptyDumpty moves and redefined "unemployed" to mean whatever makes the situation look less dire.  Perhaps we should rephrase the cynical old Soviet saying to something more like, "We pretend there are jobs to apply for and they pretend to offer them to us."  PCR notes that 25,000 people recently showed up to apply for 350 openings at a Chicago Wal*Mart (he does not cite dates or names, so this is anecdotal but believable).  Long lines of discouraged people applying for a tiny handful of jobs -- this is what we used to call Depression.  And what the wingnut press happily refers to as a "hot job market."  Maybe a hot job market for BushCo pundits desperately slapping wallpaper over a crumbling economy, I dunno.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 12:39:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeesh, DeAnander, where the hell were you when I got in a big ol' brawl here over American poverty?  I really could've used the some authoritative backup, I can tell you!  :-)

This thing about the American unemployment statistics keeps coming up.  I keep saying I think the statistics are rubbish, but I only have anectdotal evidence, common sense, and some scattered statistics for poverty and some inner-cities.  Do you have any handy links for where, exactly, the 4.8% is debunked?  I'd be forever grateful.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 01:44:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jumpin' Jehoshaphat, Izzy, where were you when ET discussed these things?1

Take a look at the wiki: Economics Page (scroll down to topic Measuring unemployment and employment). There's a section on America. Also, Colman's diary Comparing unemployment statistics is on America too.

I contributed some information in this comment. It contains links to further information and discussion of American unemployment.

On the "dropped out of the market" people, a die-hard warrior of the marketista tribe, Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute2, makes out that the rise in the number of these "disappearing jobless" shows the success of the American economy, since Americans are now prosperous enough for moms to stay home and bring up their kiddies (which is what they always wanted to do, huh), and for youngsters to stay longer in school.

1I know where you were really, you were in there fighting the good fight!
2The link to Furchtgott-Roth's screed is now broken. The Hudson Institute never seemed very proud of this "rebuttal" to Katharine Bradbury's study (pdf). I had a job getting hold of it, and now they seem to have pulled it. I'll email a copy to anyone who really, really wants one.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:31:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What?  You mean... I was vindicated?  I must have still been loopy.  Thanks, afew!  

D. Izzy

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:45:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
btw, I should explain that I was too exhausted to re-visit that diary or to really read Colman's, which I should have.  The last thing I remember was you and I arguing over whether or not media should provide narrative.  That never was resolved, was it?  It's been nothing but open-thread joking and Olympics since then...

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:49:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and yes please, I'd very much like it if you'd email that to me, but only if it's no trouble.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Shoot, nevermind on the email.  I just re-read and realized it wasn't what I thought.  I really should resist commenting this late at night!

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:55:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sweet dreams!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:19:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Our discussion, which, iirc I dropped because we were stuck in a subthread at the bottom of a mine somewhere, was about whether and how we should use story to counteract the media's use of it. You're right we should pick that up again. I haven't got time right now for a diary. And, to be truthful, I'm not sure my thinking has settled down on this yet.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:18:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the "dropped out of the market" people, a die-hard warrior of the marketista tribe, Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute2, makes out that the rise in the number of these "disappearing jobless" shows the success of the American economy, since Americans are now prosperous enough for moms to stay home and bring up their kiddies (which is what they always wanted to do, huh), and for youngsters to stay longer in school.

Note, however, that in Europe that's called "low labour participation" and a bad thing.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a number comparable to the French one that includes discouraged workers. It's about 10% for the US last time I looked.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:58:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The number of French workers with élan and panache however is through the roof.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:43:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not exactly what we're looking for (I knowwhere it is, somewhere on the bls websire), but this is nevertheless telling:

Bush presidencies = lower labor participation rates

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:51:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:51:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US figures?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:53:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:14:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup, that's an economy doing well and allowing everyone to retire early and stay at home to mind the kids.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:17:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the BLS?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:59:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the look of the graph, yes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 06:10:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whose unemployment is France's normally contrasted with? Is it the US?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:58:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We could also add the extra 2+ million in jail (1.35 million prisoners in State and Federal prisons and an additional 665,000 in state prisons). That's 2 million that could be added to the active population, but for whom there should be no immediate jobs, thus propulsing the unemployment rate up by 1%. Who agrees?

ps: for comparison purposes, since mention of France was made, the carceral population ratio in the USA is 686 for every 100 000 inhabitants, while in France it is 90 prisoners for every 100 000 inhabitants. UK ratio: 140.

Sources:
Wikipedia,  (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_en_France , , French Justice Ministry ((http://www.justice.gouv.fr/presse/conf150206a.htm), http://www.prisonstudies.org/ (etc etc - it's not like this is breaking news)

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:25:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See my unemployment diary referenced above. I wouldn't count all of them, but some certainly. Not to mention the numbers employed in the military, many of whom are from the sorts of background that would otherwise put them at high risk of unemployment or: poor, black and male and young.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:56:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, hadn't noticed the link.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:57:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ah but Alex, many of those incarcerees are in the work force, rented out at subminimum wage to the corporadoes.

google for "prison industrial complex"

I hate it that you Euros are all relaxing at home after a good slow-food meal when I, half a world away, am still at the office allegedly working.  gotta go.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:29:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. college graduates are about to enter a hot job market
This is bullshit. Domestic science and engineering enrolments keep dropping because all the jobs are being outsourced. Students choose Business or even pre-Business (?) as their major because they want to 'make money'. The only thriving market is unqualified jobs in nontradable goods and services.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:07:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed.  The writer says it's "the best job market since 2001," which isn't saying much at all.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:11:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I see. 'Hot' is a relative term.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:15:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What he really meant was "hawt," as in the job market looks really good in a sparkly tank top and tight jeans.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He prolly also meant the Jaw (-dropping) market.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:24:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heheheh.  I saw that piece in the Post and assumed I'd be reading a new deconstruction....

Small point:  while the LA Times and IHT pieces are in fact editorials written by the papers' editorial boards, the Post one is a bylined column written by one Steven Pearlstein and does not necessarily represent the editorial position of the Post.  It might actually coincide with the paper's view, I dunno, but the Post hasn't had an editorial on this subject yet.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 02:33:10 AM EST
Steven Pearlstein is a Business Columnist with a regular spot on the WaPo:

Steven Pearlstein writes about business and the economy for The Washington Post. His journalism career includes editing roles at The Post and Inc. magazine. He was founding publisher and editor of The Boston Observer, a monthly journal of liberal opinion. He got his start in journalism reporting for two New Hampshire newspapers -- the Concord Monitor and the Foster's Daily Democrat. Pearlstein has also worked as a television news reporter and a congressional staffer.

His e-mail address is pearlsteins@washpost.com

This goes beyond a few wingers or WSJ Ed-pages nuts shooting their mouths off. This is about establishing the same false narrative right across the board. Doncha see, this guy's a "liberal"!!??

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:31:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, yeah, it says "business columnist" right across the top of the page that Jerome linked to, complete with a little photo of him.  It's hard to miss.  But my point was that Jerome has conflated Pearlstein's opinions with the Washington Post editorial position, which is inaccurate.

It's a bit like saying that this diary or this one represents the official ET position.

My point had nothing to do with the substance of the column, or with Jerome's objections to it.  It had to do with proper attribution.  That's all.

Actually, I think the fact that Pearlstein is allegedly a "liberal" business columnist does reinforce the point Jerome is trying to make more than it would if the piece had been written by the WP editorial board, which the kososphere continually lambastes for its conservatism.

For the record, I looked them up:  The WP editorial board is here and the NY Times one is here, complete with little photos and bios.  How nice.

The IHT doesn't have its editorial board listed online, but the masthead lists the editorial page editor as Serge Schmemann, and this page gives some info about how IHT editorials are produced.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:50:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, though this is not a one-off op-ed by someone with no connection with the newspaper. Frankly, the distinction between columnists' views and the "official" line of the paper seems to me to have lost importance. Who cares today what the NYT's "official" editorial view is (for example), when the tone of commentary is set by Friedman, Brooks, Kristof, with counter-firecrackers from Krugman and sometimes Dowd? It's the newspaper that chooses the columnists and the balance between them, and that has more effect on opinion (imho) than pontificating official editorials.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:15:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However, editorial board pontificating will be a sure indicator of the bias of news articles.

And whatever the connections, the stormy present is right to call for correct identification.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:19:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tsp is right, but I don't agree with your point about the editorial line prefiguring the attitude of news reporting. The NYT, for example, is more of a "liberal" newspaper in its official editorials, than it is in its reporting.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:23:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, there is theoretically no connection between the editorial positions of a paper and the news reporting.  The different sections of the paper are edited separately.

On a macro level, however, you could probably argue that the editors of the news sections are hired and promoted by the same people who hire & promote the editorial-page editors, so there is likely to be some similarity in their political leanings -- would a raving conservative editor-in-chief who works for a conservative publisher hire a raging liberal as Metro editor?  I doubt it.

But on a practical level, no, the editorial board has no control over day-to-day reporting.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 04:30:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Paris in the spring.

It does seem overwhelming, Jérôme. They just pick up the same pile of crap and run with it. OTOH, this is now at the level of self-caricature. How long have we been saying that the media message on this one is May '68, romantic-but-feckless French doing their thing with élan, flair, and panache, but incapable of seeing what losers they are. And selfish, too. I mean, just look at all the harm the French are doing to the rest of the world, unlike... Unlike who? Who?

Yes, I'm really getting pissed off with this incessant propaganda. Because this is not just laziness and incompetence on the part of journalists, this is journalists writing the received word, the acceptable meme, the message they should keep banging home (failure to do so, or -- horror, shudder! -- an attempt to try to work out what is really going on, will not be good for career prospects or "access" or one's comfortable position as pundit...)

I also find it impossible to read these pieces and not see that there really is an attempt, by the neoliberal forces that control the media, to disqualify France by portraying it as an anti-model (reactionary attitudes to necessary "reforms", subsequent economic failure). This has little to do with the refusal to join the Iraq "coalition" (as per Welshman's DKos diary), and everything to do with promoting the spread of liberalisation, deregulation, globalisation within the European Union.

Those who are tempted to think that Jérôme a Paris is a fiery Gallic defender of his nation and maybe just a bit paranoid around the edges, which leads him into unfortunate UK-and-US-bashing excesses, should read these three articles and realize that the great noise machine of the English-language media really is engaged in constant French-bashing, French-discrediting, French-demolishing, and that resisting it is an ideological fight that has nothing to do with misplaced nationalism.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:12:41 AM EST
Thanks afew.

The most annoying in all that is not the conformist ignorance, which can to some extent be understood, it's the small deprecating lies that pepper these articles and slant perceptions.

To take one small example on the front page of the FT this morning:


Call for talks on labour law puts pressure on de Villepin

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's interior minister, is calling for negotiations with unions on controversial labour legislation that has triggered violent street protests by students and workers.

Why on earth are the demonstrations described as "violent street protests"? Sure, there were violent incidents, but they took place on the margins of what were massive, peaceful, lively demonstrations.

But not, it has to be "riots", "violent protests" to demonise the whole thing. It pisses me off to no end.

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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 03:46:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This sort of calculated hypocrisy among the French political elite, which likes to "talk left, act right," has now completely undermined support for market capitalism.
This description of the hypocrisy of the political class is the kernel of truth in the whole WaPo piece. The thing is, there was never a lot of support for market capitalism, who are they kidding? If you're not a merchant or a capitalist you don't start out supporting it: you have to be convinced. And talking left and acting right is a way to do that, by getting people to associate rightist policy with leftist ideas, so that when they think left they can only imagine solutions on the right.

But it is not working, is it? And the WaPo just gave away the game. It's been going on for decades, as 'talking left' was a way to counterbalance the influence of the existance of the Soviet bloc as an alternative economic model. [I'm not going to get into how sound the model was or how accurate the view of it from the west was: it's the conventional wisdom that we owe a century of social democracy to the revolutionary threat of communism]

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 05:18:40 AM EST
Please post this at Dailykos as well.
More Americans should know about awful US coverage of European affairs.


Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni
by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:14:34 AM EST
Well, here I was reading through the International Herald Tribune over my lunch, when I saw this column by William Pfaff and almost choked on my peanut butter.

Who's Right in France?
What is happening in the streets of French cities is in one sense deeply absurd. The object of the protests is withdrawal by the government of a modest law intended to improve employment chances for poorly qualified young people.

The measure is being attacked by its opponents as reinforcing the precariousness of the lives of those same young people. This is a dramatization in the great tradition of French political psychodrama. What is most interesting, however, has been the revelation of the economic and social anxiety of the French middle classes.

The usual foreign description of the French problem is that the nation and its political and economic elites are failing to confront the demands of the globalized economy, taking refuge in the unrealistic notion of defending a French "social model" that has no place in the modern world. Hence any effort to make the employment market more flexible is rejected, with consequent high French unemployment.

Actually, French youth unemployment is not what it is usually made out to be, since free baccalaureate- and university-level education keeps young people out of the job market much longer than in most countries. As a result, as The Financial Times reported last weekend, the official figures are misleading. The newspaper calculates that 7.8 percent of French under-25s are actually out of work, as compared with 7.4 percent in Britain and 6.5 percent in Germany.

Similarly, it seems to me that the current unrest in France signals wider popular resistance in Europe to the most important element in the new model of market economics, its undermining of the place of the employee in the corporate order, deliberately rendering the life of the employee precarious.

The model's principal characteristic in the United States has been the transfer of wealth to stockholders and managers, and away from public interests (by tax cuts) and employees (through wage-depression and elimination of employee benefits).

In this perspective, what in France seems to be a sterile defense of an obsolete social and economic order might be interpreted as a premonitory appeal for a new but humane model to replace it. It could be Europe's opportunity.


by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:36:43 AM EST
I hope Jérôme will recognise the glass half full in this, not just the glass half empty. (He trashed a previous Pfaff column in Article Deconstruction (vol. 3) - Student protests per IHT.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:43:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr Pfaff's children will be released from the basement where they are being held when he will have written another 2 such columns.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:13:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurrah! In the end we will win, you'll see. The young French revolution will beat back the European monarchies and the international declaration of panache and élan rights will be created.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 07:48:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FYI, in Spanish panaché is the name of a creamy vegetable soup.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:04:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Soup for the masses!
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:12:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
panaché (with diacritic on final e) in France is a non-alcoholic imitation of beer, quite unsatisfying.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:19:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Near-beer for the masses!
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:21:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good for the Islamic masses.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:22:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you hear about Hamas  (tm) brand non-alcoholic beer?  Brought to you by the world's only Palestinian brewery:

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:38:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could they have come up with the recipe alone, or did they pillage the Creative Commons Vores Øl open source beer and forgot to quote the developers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vores_%C3%98l

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:58:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
?? panaché is what's known in Britain as shandy -- ie beer and lemonade mixed. The verb panacher means to mix (originally to mix colours).

Panache as a quality (gallantry) comes from its original sense of a plume of feathers on a helmet.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:43:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We call that una clara.

Apparently if you dilute beer with lemonade, it has too little alcohol to register with Alex's system.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:45:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems you are right, either I have been watching too many Tourtel commercials, or not enough Panaché ones.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:47:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:49:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Btw this is a potential commercial lie.

At the bottom left you see:
"Bière sans alcool" = "beer without alcohol"

But in the center you see:
"Moins de 1% d'alcool en volume" => and this is ambiguous: can mean anything from 0 to 0.9999999999999999999% of alcohol

Thus Tourtels are potentially not suitable for Muslims.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:52:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should have French Muslims sue them for misleading advertising.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:56:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why in God's name would anyone want to mix beer with lemonade?

A "rock shandy" in South Africa is soda and ginger ale or lemonade, with a few drops of Angostura bitters.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:52:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, you tell them stormy! Where do these people get such ideas anyhow, brrrr the shivers, the shivers this gives me.

Mixing beer into lemonade could be ok, but lemonade into beer???

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:54:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's like acid and water.  Do it the wrong way 'round, and it'll blow up in your face.

In Kenya, and I am not making this up, people drink Guinness mixed with Coca-Cola.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:58:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Beats me, it's supposed to be refreshing in the summer...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:56:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, Basque and not a soup at all. I got cheated with my school means when I was 12.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow! What happened? Did somebody persuasive buttonhole Mr Pfaff after his dismal offering the other day (in which he gave the "usual foreign description"), and get him to see the light?

The model's principal characteristic in the United States has been the transfer of wealth to stockholders and managers, and away from public interests (by tax cuts) and employees (through wage-depression and elimination of employee benefits).

In this perspective, what in France seems to be a sterile defense of an obsolete social and economic order might be interpreted as a premonitory appeal for a new but humane model to replace it. It could be Europe's opportunity.

That's well said. They can when they want, can't they?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe Mr. Pfaff has been lurking here on ET?

Anyway, I was actually surprised by his earlier piece, as IMHO Pfaff's articles are usually OK.

But the IHT is only read by cheese-eating, latte-drinking, liberal elites, anyway.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:27:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Skim milk in that latte, please.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:40:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, we only stock non-dairy creamer.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:44:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What the hell kind of elites are you?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:54:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a feeling that Le Pen's presence at the 2002 elections would rekindle the flame of 'No Pasaran!' politics in France, last seen in 68 and 36.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 08:45:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's more:

The French themselves have a theory that their nation is in decline, although sometimes this amounts simply to an interiorized version of the foreign accusation that France's problems come from its refusal to adopt the Anglo- American model of market capitalism.

He must have met Jérôme in some effete Parisian cheese-and-wine bar between articles.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 09:09:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now commented in this diary on dKos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/3/23/9228/10461


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 09:15:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Since we are already talking about the IHT, there was another article about the French protest yesterday in that paper. The author is William Pfaff, and the article is here .

Now, William Pfaff has already written another article on this matter several days ago, deconstructed promptly by Jérôme. So one could wonder why does he needs to repeat himself so often. And the start of the article seems to be a repetition, complete with reused phrases (in bold):


Who's right in France?
William Pfaff

PARIS What is happening in the streets of French cities is in one sense deeply absurd. The object of the protests is withdrawal by the government of a modest law intended to improve employment chances for poorly qualified young people.

The measure is being attacked by its opponents as reinforcing the precariousness of the lives of those same young people. This is a dramatization in the great tradition of French political psychodrama.What is most interesting, however, has been the revelation of the economic and social anxiety of the French middle classes.

He then proceeds to investigate this "revelation".


....

The events of the past week in France have been a reaction to the threat of social descent and economic precariousness.

Saturday was for the French middle classes the counterpart of the car-burning late last year by the young of the poor immigrant suburbs. Both sent messages. The message of the suburbs - immigrant assimilation - was understood, although whether the public response will be adequate remains to be seen.

Oh dear, so the purpose of a street protest is to sent a message. What a discovery!

He then goes on to explain that the law "gives employers the right to offer beginners jobs with a two-year trial period, during which they can be fired without formal cause" and to say that


Never mind that a job with a two-year trial, possibly leading to permanent employment, is surely better than the succession of dead-end, short-term jobs available today. (Seventy percent of the jobs currently proposed to the young in France offer short, fixed-term work, sending people back onto the dole afterwards.)

Now, he does have a point there, maybe the only one that can be made for this law. There are companies that are quite fond of so called "stages". But it can be argued that the only thing  the CPE will do will be to erase the other 30% of jobs, as these companies will always prefer to hire interns if it can pay them less. Note also that he actually  agrees that the present situation is not all milk and honey and jobs for life for the french youth.


The usual foreign description of the French problem is that the nation and its political and economic elites are failing to confront the demands of the globalized economy, ... etc

So is he starting to have doubts about this description?


Actually, French youth unemployment is not what it is usually made out to be, since free baccalaureate- and university-level education keeps young people out of the job market much longer than in most countries. As a result, as The Financial Times reported last weekend, the official figures are misleading. The newspaper calculates that 7.8 percent of French under-25s are actually out of work, as compared with 7.4 percent in Britain and 6.5 percent in Germany.

Well, at least is a good thing that he started to read something about the things he talks about.


A larger explanation occurs to me, that France is the coal miner's canary of modern European society. France's rejection of the European Union constitutional treaty two years ago caused an international shock because the French rejected the view, all but universally held among European elites, that continuing expansion and market-liberalization are essential to the EU, indeed inevitable. This proved to be untrue, to the general relief of the European public.

I find it interesting how the referendum last year can be alternatively used to stab the "European elites" or to support the view that Europe is getting more protectionist and reactionary against the forces of the globalisation. Anyway, is the Gran Finale that really blew me off:


Similarly, it seems to me that the current unrest in France signals wider popular resistance in Europe to the most important element in the new model of market economics, its undermining of the place of the employee in the corporate order, deliberately rendering the life of the employee precarious.

The model's principal characteristic in the United States has been the transfer of wealth to stockholders and managers, and away from public interests (by tax cuts) and employees (through wage-depression and elimination of employee benefits).

In this perspective, what in France seems to be a sterile defense of an obsolete social and economic order might be interpreted as a premonitory appeal for a new but humane model to replace it. It could be Europe's opportunity.

No comment!

I read again his last article and I have to say that I am totally confused. Really,  they don't seem to be written by the same person.

Comments?

by Deni on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:32:28 AM EST
As discussed here and at greater length by Jerome here.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:39:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We pretty much wrote the same story! We're all pretty surprised on the site by this new article, as you cna see on the various threads that discuss it...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 10:45:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good work for your first comment, Deni!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 11:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary, and thank you, Jerome, for firing back at the obnoxious slobs who wrote these.  The WaPo one was just annoying to read.  I've never read an op/ed with such an elitist tone, but I suppose that's Washington.

I think you're confusing the definition of the "Washington Consensus," though.  My understanding of the Consensus is that it deals with developing countries: Balanced budgets during recession and (often) a pegged currency.  It's a different topic.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Mar 23rd, 2006 at 11:01:21 AM EST


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