March 25, 2006
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.