Thursday, March 30, 2006

American Says the French are Right.

This is the first article I find which says, contrary to common wisdom in the US, that the French students and workers are right. You may disagree with this view (I partly do) but it has the merit of giving a bit of fresh air to an otherwise sterile one-sided view of the recent protests through ignorant media anchors.

More than a million people in France have taken to the streets against their conservative government's attempts to change the country's labor law. Here in the United States, these strikes and protests are generally seen as another example of France's inability to come to grips with the reality of "the global economy."
According to the conventional wisdom here, "Old Europe" is in need of serious economic reform. But will the reforms currently on the European political agenda actually help most Europeans?


The idea that labor protections are the cause of European unemployment is part of an overall myth that Europeans would benefit from a more American-style economy. The U.S. economy is said to be more competitive, yet we are running a record trade deficit of more than 6 percent of GDP, and the European Union is running a trade surplus. The U.S. economy is supposedly more dynamic, but French productivity is actually higher than ours. Their public pensions, free tuition at universities, longer vacations (4-5 weeks as compared with 2 weeks here), state-sponsored day care, and other benefits are said to be unaffordable in a "global economy." But since these were affordable in years past, there is no economic logic that would make them less so today, with productivity having grown - no matter what happens in India or China.
French students and workers seem to have a better understanding of these economic issues than their political leaders. Hopefully, the wisdom of the crowd will prevail.


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