France Starts To Get It…

The Guardian has an interesting article on the wave of self-doubt sweeping France:

Launched against a background of top-level disillusionment with Europe, accelerating unemployment rates, spectacular company failures and a stagnant economy, the books – by some of France’s leading social commentators – have added an incendiary factor to popular protests over reforms that could end the 35-hour week, cut social security benefits and introduce across-the-board austerity.

Having recently emerged battered from national education strikes and months of street demonstrations over reduced retirement benefits, Jacques Chirac’s administration is looking on with dismay at media encouragement for right-wing intellectual claims that France is now the weak man of Europe, mired in hypocrisy nationally and internationally, indifferent to popular needs such as care of the aged, and shaken by the aftershocks of vain defiance of the US-led war in Iraq. In short, that France is going down the pan.

As they say around here, “Well, duh!”

France has tried desperately to pain itself as a power equal to that of the United States. Instead the French economy is in shambles due to a labor market that makes business expansion almost impossible, an aging population demanding more largess from the government putting more demands on the French treasury, and a foreign policy that consists little more of reflexive anti-Americanism.

The reaction from a America has not been one of acquiescence towards the French – rather it’s been the middle finger. Tourism and trade with America is down, which is only adding to France’s problems. France’s attempts to prevent the war in Iraq and the liberation of the Iraqi people have failed miserably. Dominique de Villepin has become a walking caricature of the arrogant, vain, and pseudo-intellectual Frenchman. Jacques Chirac is viewed as more of a weasel than a stateman.

The fact is that the only thing that can rescue France is an infusion of new blood into the ossified corridors of French power. The French system of government is based on the idea that those in power rule and the people follow – an idea that is virtually guaranteed to produce arrogant government. Instead, many Europeans are looking to America, where the lure of smashing politics as usual runs deep in the American psyche. France badly needs a Margaret Thatcher to keep the powerful French syndicats from becoming an unelected branch of government, reform France’s horribly ossified labor market, and inject a new sense of dynamism and optimism into French politics. Unfortunately, it remains to be seen how bad things will get before that actually happens.

4 thoughts on “France Starts To Get It…

  1. So let me get this straight. American tourism is “down” in France this year, which is harming their economy…..while America is stuck with more than $100 billion of “unilateral” debt for waging a moronic war with a coalition of two. Seems like France ended up with the better deal of those two, but more than anything else, it seems as if the prediction was right that George Bush has hijacked a trillion dollars from the world’s economy with his war.

    If only you dedicated 0.1% of the time and effort you expend obsessively scrutinizing the French economy on an almost hourly basis towards scrutinizing the impending disaster zone that is the American economy, you may have more credibility than the average partisan hack. Of course, that won’t happen so long as Bush is President and Congress is controlled by Republicans. In all honesty, the meltdown of our employer-financed health care system and the multi-trillion dollar price tag of waging “preventative war” against all of the world’s dissenters threatens to bankrupt America long before France goes broke.

  2. I do agree with you that J.Reno definitely overstates “Thierry L’Hermite”, but the first played the role in “La totale” that Arnie played in “True Lies” !

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