As all the world knows, students and union workers have taken to the streets of Paris to protest against a law that would allow French employers to fire young workers during their first 3 years on the job. These events reminded me of an encounter I had more than a decade ago when I was on a European vacation. While traveling in Greece, I met a 20-something Spanish guy who had just been hired by Guinness for their Asian office. He frankly told me that it had taken years for him to finally get a "real job." Why? Because he explained, employers can't fire people after they hire them, therefore they are very careful about the few people they choose to employ. He laughed and predicted, "I'm the last European that my division will ever hire."
Claire Berlinsky, writing in the Washington Post's Outlook section yesterday, cites a wonderful and telling line from one of the young protestors:
[T]he students on the streets today espouse economic views entirely unpolluted by reality. If the CPE [the new law] is enacted, said one young woman, "You'll get a job knowing that you've got to do every single thing they ask you to do because otherwise you may get sacked."
Indeed, just imagine.
The fear of the mob has created a cadre of politicians in France who are unable to speak the truth and thereby prepare French citizens for the inevitable. No one in France–not one single politician, nor anyone in the media–is willing to say it: France's labor laws are an absurdity, and if they are not reformed at once, France will go under.
Whole thing here.