Jewish World Review April 3, 2006 / 5 Nissan 5766
We have seen the possible future of America and it is France! This week, hundreds of thousands of young French citizens took to the streets to demand job security and more guaranteed entitlements, as if they don't already have enough.
If you get a job in France, you immediately get more than seven weeks' vacation each year, and five of those weeks are guaranteed between May and October. Also, short of executing your coworkers or something, the company that hires you cannot fire you. They are stuck with you for as long as you show up.
The result of this insane labor policy is that many French companies simply will not hire young people who don't have solid references and an experienced track record. It's just too risky. So the unemployment rate for workers from 18 to 26 is an astounding 22 percent. Overall, French unemployment stands at 10 percent, as opposed to less than 5 percent in the USA.
So, in order to encourage job expansion, the French government proposed a law that would give employers a little room. A company would be allowed to lay off anyone under the age of 26 without reason within two years of their first day on the job. After that, Jacques and Marie were almost guaranteed a lifetime job, provided the company stays solvent.
Sounds reasonable, right? How'd you like that deal?
But for the young French this is an abomination! This is an insult! They believe they are entitled to a good job no matter how they perform. So they took to the streets.
Those of us in America who have fought our way up the employment ladder are, of course, amused by this display. And we understand that the quasi-socialism France has embraced since we freed them from the Nazis in 1945, has led to this absurd situation.
The French government is now a giant colossus that employs more than 25 percent of the entire French population! Paris pays for health care, provides lucrative pensions, subsidizes a lot of housing, and has set up a 35-hour workweek. In fact, it is illegal in France for any company employee to work more than 44 hours a week.
Viva la France!
There's just one downside to this labor paradise; France is running out of money. As the population ages, the government is not going to be able to pay the freight.
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To tell you the truth, I don't care. France will likely descend into economic oblivion, and other European countries will follow. But my concern is with the USA. Will this country go the way of France?
The far left certainly wants to. They love the entitlement culture. Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman rails against "income inequality." Secular-progressive guru George Lakoff demands "broad prosperity" and "economic justice."
These are code phrases signaling a belief that the federal government should be calling the shots about how much money we all earn and how much profit should be "permitted."
A core holding of far-left portfolio is "income redistribution," where the government imposes sky-high taxes on the affluent and then gives the money in the form of entitlements to the less well off. Thus the liberal hatred of "tax cuts for the rich."
Many Americans watching the French display understand that hard work and ambition are the keys of economic success. The entitlement culture, of course, undermines ambition. Chances are these young French people will spend much of their lives sipping lattes and chanting about how bad America is. Certainly they have the time.
But on the other side of the pond, we Americans must decide whether we want to earn our own stuff, or take other people's stuff. Because, in any language, for each entitlement given, there must be someone to provide it.
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