March 25, 2006

In Protest of Progress

Hundreds of thousands of “Students” have been protesting in the streets of France attempting to make sure that the status quo stays firmly in place. They are not advocating some new radical social policy, protesting human rights abuses, or any anything else so lofty. They are protesting new legislation which would make it easier for French employers to fire an employee, which currently is nearly an impossibility. Under the news laws, there is a possibility that a French employee would not have a guaranteed job with the same company for life.

In a country with 10 percent unemployment and a growing and obviously discontented Muslim minority population who essentially are not allowed to participate in the French job market, you would think that the populace would wise up and allow their government to take steps to rectify the situation, as this new legislation is attemping to do. In France, no such luck. Protesting and the flipping of cars seems to be France’s national pastime at this point. The average person on the street seems to be of the mindset, “protest first, ask questions later.” In France, if you are one of the 75% of people with a good job guaranteed for life regardless of your ability to carry out said job, then everything for you is fine. As a result, French employers are actually less likely to even hire new employees, or as many employees because once a person is hired it is nearly impossible to fire them regardless of their job performance, proficiency, or competence. I can see why there is an emotional knee jerk response to want to see that the status quo stays firmly in place because, no one wants to be out of a job. But beyond the surface, eventually there has to be the realization that an open, performance based job market is more beneficial to the French economy because it allows French businesses to be more competitive with businesses overseas who are not hamstrung by and beholden to a paternalistic “cradle to grave” government which makes sure that most of its citizenry has a guaranteed job for life at the expense of its own global economic competitiveness.

For the moment at least, it appears as though the romance of protesting against the French government has won out over logical and prudential policy, which is what happens when a country fails to embrace capitalism and instead clings to the tenets of “cradle to grave” leftist thought and the flawed principles of socialism.


Editor - said...

It's true; the old ways are changing.

On the other hand, Laetitia Casta rocks.

Jaz said...

It’s now two days later, and I’m still watching footage of major nationwide protests and riots in France, which has at this point officially become a nationwide work stoppage and strike. What a wild country. I’m watching footage of French police massing in riot gear and then charging into the crowd to break it up. (This is new crowd dispersal tactic that I’ve heard of where the police team masses in a scrum like a rugby team and then sprints into the crowd as a large, protective gear clad, mass of humanity. It’s pretty cool to watch actually.) In the crowd, every other person has either a digital camera, a full fledged video camera, or a cell-phone camera and are snapping away while the police are being pelted with paint bombs, rocks and bottles. Some 200 thousand people are protesting nationwide at this point. This country is officially going crazy. The poor policemen, who are under attack because they are doing their job, are Frenchmen as well. I’d like to think that law enforcement would never receive such poor treatment in America, especially after 9-11. Just think of the heroism of cops and firefighter in New York after 9-11. Cops are your own fellow countrymen, working class people doing a difficult job.

France is certainly a unique country and it is going in so many different directions with so many civil disturbances lately that they make what is going on in America seem to be calm and peaceful. Perhaps Americans have a better ability to carry out a debate on whatever issue in a relatively sane manner.

To Thanks for reading, I’ve added a link to the site you’re in charge of on this blog under the sidebar heading: "Recommended". It’s refreshing to see liberals who are proud to be referred to as such. And Laetitia Casta is very hot, yes.

Editor - said...

Thanks for the link; if we ever get around to doing them I'll return the favor. Just haven't done it.

I admit that I like the French; I'm probably the only American that does. They're kind of crazy in a way that I like.

They've had relatively great job security for ages, and they're afraid of suffering the outsourcing -- and accompanying pay cuts and standard of living cuts -- that we have. We probably don't agree on it, but I can see their point. It's hard to think about the "greater benefits" of capitalism when it's your paycheck and family.

The clashes with police are bad; they might be hoping the police will take their side, or that they can scare the government into protecting jobs. They may be right.

Chris said...

Jaz, very good insight. I think I'm in total agreement with you on this.

Chris said...

I can't believe that I'm not on your allies list :)

Jaz said...

Thanks MJ. I beginning to think that conflict is not always desirable over concurrence in Blogworld. On that other thing...done and done.

Kent said...

No wonder the French are pissed. Until now they've been allowed to do a bad job and still be guaranteed their jobs. Plus universal benefits, plus five weeks of paid vacation a year. Not a bad deal.