Is There Any Hope for France?

Credit: Matthieu Riegler/wikimediaCredit: Matthieu Riegler/wikimediaIn an article for Reason’s April 2014 issue Veronique de Rugy outlined the awful situation France finds itself in, highlighting the country’s 11 percent unemployment rate and its annual growth rate of 0 percent. The article also mentions the fondness for tax increases displayed not only by the current Socialist President Francois Hollande but also his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The article hit newsstands about a week before the second round of French local elections, which resulted in losses for the Socialists and gains for the right-leaning Union for a Popular movement and the nationalistic and xenophobic National Front.

In a blog post written after the elections, British libertarian-leaning Conservative Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan highlighted the shocking level of industrial action in France:

Only 40 percent of French people are in work of any kind, as against 60 percent of Swiss. More days are lost through industrial action than in any other EU state:  27 days per thousand people per year, as opposed to 3.4 days  in Germany. The French state last ran a surplus in 1974. The money has run out.

Hannan went on to write that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, pushed for economic policies "arguably to the Left of the Socialists":

It is important to understand that Marine Le Pen positioned herself to the Left of the UMP and, at least on economics, arguably to the Left of the Socialists. She railed against capitalism and globalisation, called for higher expenditure, and supported state-run energy, healthcare, education, transport and financial services.

The French National Front is not the only nationalist European political party pushing for more government involvement in the economy. In the U.K, the xenophobic British National Party advocates for the abolition of university tuition fees, protecting “British companies from unfair foreign imports,” and other big government policies.

Despite the dismal state France finds itself in de Rugy believes that “For cockeyed optimists, there are still slivers of hope”:

During his New Year address, Hollande turned into a rhetorical supply-sider, making the case for cutting taxes and public spending, improving competitiveness, and creating a more investor-friendly climate. He also promised French businesses a "responsibility pact" to cut labor-force restrictions and thus promote increased hiring.

While free market economists don't believe a word of this, it is worth noting that France has reformed successfully before. Both the 1980s and the '90s saw large waves of privatization, marginal tax cuts, and slighter spending increases. To secure robust prosperity for new French generations, leaders should extend the lessons of these brief shining moments by seriously tackling government spending and reining in destructive tax rates.

I hope the French Socialist president will learn from the past, but I'm not getting my hopes up. 

More from Reason on France here.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No.

  • Brett L||

    I guess we're excluding scenarios where they speak German?

  • Pro Libertate||

    This is incorrect. They could be bailed out by Germany, with perhaps a later bailout from the U.S., though that's increasingly less likely as we attempt to become France.

  • Vulgar Madman||

    More like argentina, only with nukes, and worse food.

  • Winston||

    So will lead in the musical? Peter Mayhew?

  • Vulgar Madman||

    He can play Debbie wasserman-Shultz!

  • Steve G||

    Is there any hope for PM links?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    It got filed in 24/7 again

  • Brett L||

    April Fools, libertardians!

  • Brett L||

    Alright, Feeney. Way to find the actual racist and statist British National Party! I thought for sure he was going to have another shot at the UKIP. See how easy it is to provide evidence of xenophobia when it exists?

  • rts||

    Whenever I read Bastiat, it's so hard for me to remember that he was French.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's just like Scotland--where did all those guys go, anyway?

  • rts||

    Reminds me of:

    When we consider the founders of our nation: Jefferson, Washington, Samuel and John Adams, Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and many others; we have before us a list of at least ten and maybe even dozens of great political leaders. ... At that time, there were only about two and a half million citizens of the United States. Today there are about a hundred times more. So if there were ten people of the caliber of Thomas Jefferson then, there ought to be 10 x 100 = 1,000 Thomas Jefferson's today. Where are they?

    - Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World : Science as a Candle in the Dark

    (I had to truncate it to get it to post. Whole quote here)

  • Pro Libertate||

    In a bunker 10 miles under Idaho?

  • Zeb||

    Or possibly commenting on H&R?

    Today's Jeffersons probably decide that politics is hopeless and focus on writing and engineering instead. There are probably well over 1000 people of the caliber of TJ today. Even in Jefferson's own time he didn't do that well once in actual office.

  • Pro Libertate||

    From a bunker ten miles under Idaho. Why aren't you here, anyway?

  • Juice||

    Uh, maybe they aren't so prominent because there are 1000 of them?

  • Paul.||

    Only 40 percent of French people are in work of any kind

    That many?

  • Paul.||

    Both the 1980s and the '90s saw large waves of privatization, marginal tax cuts, and slighter spending increases.

    So did we... so did we...

  • Winston||

    You Know Who Else that France was in Trouble and Needed Real Reform?

  • Brett L||

    You accidentally the verb in that sentence.

  • Winston||

    You Know Who Else thought that France was in Trouble and Needed Real Reform?

  • Paul.||

    Hitler.

  • lap83||

    Asterix and Obelix?

  • The Laconic Marc F Cheney||

    QUALITY OF LIFE. QED.

  • Zeb||

    Yes. I hope France fails spectacularly so people can stop pretending that they are a real world power.

  • ||

    LET IT BURN. Burn baby burn. Let the suburbs around Paris burn down the city. LET IT BURN.

  • Invisible Finger||

    its annual growth rate of 0 percent.

    Hollande is an abject failure.

    The leftist dream is negative growth.

  • LarryA||

    So which "country" is worse off, France or California?

  • jmomls||

    France has been doomed since 1916, when the last of its decent men were slaughtered en masse. Since then, it's all been a slow motion collapse, as the generations bred from the detritus left over has run the nation into the grave.

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