Posted by: bridget | 21 April 2007

French Questioning Socialism as Means to Wealth

As France nears its next election, the French are beginning to demand reform.  Their economy is stangnant: unemployment has not dropped below 8% in over twenty-five years; the costs of hiring (and firing, due to generous unemployment benefits) employees has discouraged job growth; 70% of  new employment contracts are for temporary labour to avoid the costs of hiring and firing employees; and over half the national income is used for public expenditures.  In short, it is socialism brought to its rational conclusion: economic death.

Many French voters are demanding change – but change that does not require them to work past the age of 56 or more than 35 hours a week.

“But at home, questions about jobs and the social welfare system dominate the race. “This French strategy doesn’t work anymore — we have immobility and we don’t want to change, we don’t want to adapt to globalization, we don’t want to decrease public expenditures and reduce taxes,” said economist Marc Touati. The candidates have largely declined to debate real solutions, he said, and have pandered to the belief that “we’re French, and we’re the exception.”

Increasing numbers of French young people and members of the business elite in recent years have voted with their feet, moving abroad in search of job opportunities, tax havens and a climate that rewards risk-taking entrepreneurs and does not limit workers to 35 hours a week.”

Let’s do the math:  if 90% of the population works from age 25 to 55 for 35 hours a week (27 man-years), and then retire from 55 until their deaths at age 80 (25 years), then each worker is, roughly, supporting a retiree – all on the taxes from income of 35 hours a week of labour.  Businesses are only getting 35 hours of labour per week, which (obviously) keeps productivity low.

None of that takes into consideration the fact that, when it’s just as lucrative to be unemployed as to be employed, there is no incentive, save sheer boredom, to be employed.  Was Atlas Shrugged never translated into French? Wealth is gained by production, not government fiat.

“‘If we want real change in France, we need to produce more, because with more production, people spend more and we can therefore create more jobs… It seems simple, but our main problem is the cost for employers to hire people. Employers’ taxes are so high that we are stuck.'”

One of the other problems in France is that people who don’t work long hours do not need (and often cannot afford) to patronise the service industries.  Generally, those who work longer hours (and make more money) are in need of people to clean their homes, cook their food, mind their children, and do their laundry.  This results in job growth in the service industry, which is typically filled with the young, women, and lesser-educated people: those who, generally, the government aims to help with job protection laws.  Paradoxical that such laws end up harming those very groups they aim to help.



  1. I just can’t comprehend how people can’t do the math. I’m not a rocket-science but I understand that the basic math of socialism doesn’t work. will be interesting to see what happens with the election. thanks for the info.

  2. Great post, you have hit the nail square on the head. Too bad that the left in this country can’t transpose that to this country………stevereenie……Next Stop Lauderdale…

  3. I misread your first sentence to read:

    “As France nears its extinction.”

    How true. Your sentence was good too. :-)

  4. I agree with you that Socialism run amok doesn’t work, but the current model in the US is Corporatism run amok, and while it can be argued it may enhance productivity, it suffers from a lack of respect due towards the human condition.

    What has happened in the work place over the last few years has been a paradigm shift away from the rights of workers to the unabridged rights of corporations. By hijacking the 14th amendment, corporations are now proxy citizens, complete with the rights of suffrage. This policy is atrocious, and is one of the worst abuses of the Constitution to my knowledge in the history of our Republic.

    Remember, corporations have a primary loyalty, the profit margin, and they will buy or sell anything to anyone to make that margin, and don’t particularly care about human rights or the working stiffs who typically are exploited for 60 to 70 hours a week. This is what allowed IBM, major life insurance companies and even good ole’ Coca Cola to have very lucrative cooperative ventures with the Third Reich.

    Current rulings since 1970 have changed the landscape in the workforce, and the situation found at this time is not at all unlike the time of the Robber Barons, and we all know what wonderful guys they were, except that in many ways it is worse, particularly since the Courts and the Legislature have figured out that it is financially beneficial to have big business on their side, rather than the common man. Any surprise that the typical CEO who made 20 to 40 times the wage of the worker now makes between 250 and up to 500 times the wage of the average worker? Does the word exploitation come to mind? It should.

    And, before you think that I am way off base as some socialist, which I am not, or anti American lefty, here’s some food for thoughts by some fairly Conservative fellows:

    “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. ” Abraham Lincoln

    The Constitution guarantees protection to property, and we must make that promise good. But it does not give the right of suffrage to any corporation. Theodore Roosevelt (sadly this has already been done)

    The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man’s making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being. Theodore Roosevelt

    I don’t want Socialism, but unabashed Corporatism is equally the evil of Communism, and its power is growing in our society every day.

  5. I personally believe that no “ism” will long be successful without Christian values.
    I would also like to see what would happen with a capitalist society where no-one was allowed to profit from the labor of another.

  6. SST –
    I don’t believe that the profit motive is expressed by the current public policy of granting suffrage to corporate entities. While people who take risks are entitled to the fruits of their investment, what has been allowed to happen by the legal standing granted to corporate interests is the exploitation of the average worker.

    Exploitation is defined statutorily as the selfish utilization of others where the efforts of their labors are circumvented by the rewards reaped by the benefits of others.

    In this case the laborer is being exploited. This is what major companies that hire underage children in third world nations do, after they have laid off workers in this country who would have received a fair wage. That’s exploitation of both the workers here and abroad.

    Then, these same companies use US services, roads, trade laws, the stability of the US to facilitate other nations and companies to deal with them. Hence, they use the resources and infrastructure of our Republic – without paying the same percentage rates in taxation as John Q. Citizen, whom they laid off. That is exploitation of our legal system.

    Then, they are often able to make better tax deals by setting up offices or by outlets to buy their products in revenue zones, which are often free from tax duties or pay a much reduced rate. They put strain on the infrastructure of the community, and while they do generate some income and tax revenue, they are still not paying nearly the same as a smaller store in a zone that has not been typically set up for such enterprises. This is also a form of welfare, and it greatly exceeds the 2 to 3% paid to Title I and other social welfare forms.

    Does it serve a public interest, in ways, yes it does as Hamilton pointed out early on, but since Hamilton’s times, notably since 1970’s the shifting tide has swung well over to the other side. However, these interests are so vastly invested into the political process, and by being given legal standing, which is one of the greatest perversions of the Constitution in my knowledge, under the rape of XIV Amendment, which was to promote equality for slaves, these interests yield a power in the daily governance of this nation greater than that ever wielded by J.P. Morgan and his ilk.
    They are not out for the public welfare, they are out for their own interests. Remember, when our grandparents were dying fighting Germany, IBM, Coca Cola, and a number of Life Insurance companies as well as other interests were engaged contractually with Nazi Germany. These were American based companies.

    That sounds a bit more serious to me than other issues which burn so brightly in the public eye today.

  7. TotalTransformation: I like yours better.

    By the way, when are you going to add your blog to the public list so I can check it on my blog surfer?

    Sunday School Teacher: agreed. Objectively, Judeo-Christian values produce the best societies in terms of equality, justice, liberty, and education. As an atheist, I could conceive of, perhaps, a hypothetical value system that would improve on the current one, but I have no real objections.

    Voice: I completely agree. I do not think that corporations are “people” within the meaning of the Constitution: it’s completely irrational, for example, to state that a corporation has the right to bear arms or may delegate rights to the State (as it cannot vote, it cannot give rights to the government).

    Some of the problem is the 17th Amendment, which centralised power in the Federal government. It’s a lot harder for me to get to know Senator Feinstein than it is to know my local politicians (several of whom I’ve met) – ergo, only businesses are powerful enough to get face time or actually influence the war chest. When Senators were appointed by the state governments, they were accountable to the state governments (which is good) and also had little need for huge war chests.

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments! :)

  8. “By the way, when are you going to add your blog to the public list so I can check it on my blog surfer?”

    It isn’t already? How would I do that?

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