Tag Archives: France

Volte-Face!

François_Hollande_(March_2010)_5Here is some upbeat news for President Obama.  His approval rating now languishes at the level of Richard Nixon, but French President Hollande is the lowest ever in history.  It turns out that business bashing policies and high taxes, while fun to campaign on, are actually bad for the economy.  Unemployment is at a sixteen year high.

The French public has noticed that they are falling behind Europe’s recovery.  So has the bond market, with investors moving to Italy and Spain. This week Hollande pledged to reduce social charges that discourage hiring.  Here is how he explained the about face:

The time has come to resolve the main problem of France: its production. We must produce more and better. It’s on the supply side we must act. Supply itself creates demand. We must continue to reduce the cost of labor.

Whew!  His socialist supporters must have whiplash.  Jeremiah warned President Obama not to follow France into this hole.  Perhaps the president will now follow France back out.

See also:  A Cautionary Tale

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La Voix Passive

François_Hollande_(March_2010)_5Jeremiah does not share the National Front’s view on globalization, among other things, but he was happy to see a party labeled by The Economist as “far right” take votes away from … the left!  We hope this is the beginning of a new dimension in French politics.  It may also mark a setback for President Hollande.

He believes that things will improve, growth will return and problems will be solved.

The president is unconcerned, thanks to his abiding faith in socialism.  “He believes that things will improve, growth will return and problems will be solved.”  This is why your English teacher told you not to use the passive voice.  Problems will be solved … by whom?

Most socialists are cynical opportunists, like Hugo Chavez.  It is quaint that Hollande actually believes the stuff.  That’s why Nigel Farage calls him “the biggest idiot in the modern Pantheon of idiots.”

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Letter from Clara

Last week, we cited the famous Letter from Clara to President Hollande of France.  Below, we have obtained an English translation, so you can enjoy the letter in its entirety.  This appeared in Le Point magazine earlier this month.  If your French is up to it, you might also enjoy reading the comments.

Monsieur le Président de la République,

First, let me introduce myself: Clara G., 20, sophomore in History at Sorbonne University.  I am writing to explain why I would like to make my life elsewhere than in France – like the majority of young French people, if you believe the results of a survey done by Via Voice in April.  To the question, “if you could, would you like to leave France to live in another country?” 50% of those aged 18-24 and 51% of those 25-34 said yes, versus 22% of those over 65.

You see, times have changed.  My grandparents of 1968 wanted a revolution; I want expatriation. My grandparents, who have a nice retirement cottage in the country, dreamt of transforming French society.  I think only of escape.

This may shock you, but my reasons are financial.  Not like Jerome Cahuzac, I assure you, but simply because I don’t feel like working my whole life just to pay the interest on 1.9 billion Euros of debt that your generation has kindly left us as our inheritance.  If you had invested a little of this money in improving the country, so that I might have some chance of enjoying the benefits, then I would not mind paying it back.  But it has only permitted your generation to live above your means, enjoying generous social benefits that won’t be there for me.  It gave you a life I would call “cushy,” but I guess that word offends you.

My work and my taxes must go not only to pay for your retirement, which you did not bother to plan, but also for the health and welfare of additional old people who, in less than twenty years, will make up the majority in our country.  So, how much money will be left for me to raise my children?  I recently read a study by the economist Patrick Artus, which gave me chill, “given the weak growth potential and the aging population, young French people can look forward to continued stagnation of their purchasing power throughout their working lives.” I am not overjoyed by this prospect.

But the most depressing part is, I know exactly what will become of my life, if I stay in France.  Once my studies are over and I have my lovely, useless diploma, I will spend years in the ranks of internships and temp jobs.  I will become, as the experts say, a “variable expense” in the sort of work deliberately organized to exclude young people and protect the salaries of those already in place.  With my tiny, precarious job and bad pay, it will be impossible for me to convince any banker to give me a loan for an apartment in Paris.  And if ever, by some improbable miracle, I manage to make a lot of money, I know in advance that I will not only have to give up most of it in taxes, but I will also endure the general reproach of my compatriots and your personal contempt.

This is why, Mr. President, I wish to leave France.  This is also why your charming Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, should be less concerned about the dangers of immigration, and more about the emigration of the youth of the country.  Where will I go?  To Germany perhaps, of which you often speak ill, but which strikes me as a country with self confidence.  Or maybe farther, to Canada, Australia.  Or maybe to a developing country.  In Africa, why not ?

Thus – as indicated by the Via Voice survey – I am like all young French people.  I do not see globalization as a threat, but as an opportunity. But it is surely not in a France which does everything for its own protection, where your ministers and socialist comrades spend your time saying it is absolute evil, that I will be able to profit from it. So, yes, I am ready to go live in a country where there is growth, where salaries are rising, where to be rich is not considered a mortal sin, a country above all where there is a sense both individual and collective that things will be better tomorrow than today.

You may say that I am lacking a basic sense of national solidarity, that I am frightfully materialistic and self centered.  There is some truth in that.  But my selfishness is nothing compared to the egotism shown by you and your predecessors, who have sacrificed our generation by wasting public money instead of taking the difficult decisions.

All the same, Mr. Hollande, I say that you will indeed “shake things up,” that you will give some hope to a youth that cannot do without it.  I see today that, despite your grand fiery speeches about youth, in one year France has aged ten.  She withers, freezes, and stiffens at full speed.  What a pity! 

That’s what I have to say to you, Mister President, the unhappy citizen who wants to be an expatriate.

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Socialist Brain Drain

lv-luggage1Jeremiah has written before that class war is a distraction invented by politicians as cover for their failed policies.  In Muslim countries, youth unemployment is blamed on decadent Americans.  Here, we blame them, too.  Europe, thankfully, has its own class of rich scapegoats.

Foremost among Europe’s blame shifters is President Francois Hollande.  Addressed to him is this open letter from a student who plans to leave France for a more successful country.  It’s worth reading the whole letter.  English excerpts are here.  This is Jeremiah’s favorite part:

If, by some miracle, I manage to make a lot of money … I will be paying most of it in taxes, [and] I will also endure the general reproach of my compatriots and your personal contempt.

This echoes something we read years ago in the Daily Mail – punishing success will ensure the country has less of it.  President Hollande has tough anti-business policies, and he says frankly, “I don’t like the rich.”  To a young person, this is discouraging.  Here is a French entrepreneur:

I don’t share the values that emerged during the election, the rejection of ambition and success

Clara is at a top school, the Sorbonne.  Marc runs an internet business.  Jéremie started his own investment firm.  It is too bad France is hostile to her brightest children.  These are the ones who create jobs, and they will be gone.

See also:  Welcome to Singapore

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Welcome to Singapore

The Economist has been running a series of articles mocking the new socialist government in France.  They believe President Hollande’s policies will prevent capital formation in France, leaving the government to redistribute an ever-dwindling supply of what Lady Thatcher described as “other people’s money.”   Indeed, France has long been a cautionary tale for left-leaning economists in America.

The latest scandals are 1) the 75% top tax rate, and 2) France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, moving to Belgium.  The Times quotes a Belgian realtor, gloating over the boom in wealthy French refugees.  So far, so normal.  The millionaires and billionaires will pack up and leave the country.  What we found poignant was the reaction of French young people:

I don’t share the values that emerged during the election, the rejection of ambition and success

It’s one thing for the already-rich to flee, but these kids are taking only their talent and leaving on principle.  They are the Arnaults of the future.  One British commentator deadpanned, “well, they won’t all move to London.”

The young man quoted above is going to Singapore.  This resonates because it is also where Eduardo Saverin went, when he left America.

See also:  Relinquishing your U.S. citizenship

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