BIO 2006 Vignette—France Is Falling Apart

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Chicago–April 12–The Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual convention attracts thousands of biotechies from around the world. I happened to sit down at lunch today beside Emmanuelle Voisin. Mme. Voisin runs her own consulting company in Paris where she advises firms on how to conduct clinical trials.

Naturally I asked her what she thought about the recent labor protests in France. Mme. Voisin's face grew grave. "We are completely shocked," she said. She explained that the unions now run her country after French President Chirac backed down on the new labor law that would have allowed employers to hire and fire young workers at will.

"People want to get paid, but they don't want to work," said Mme. Voisin. She also said that when she has had to fire people for not working, she has to pay them up to a year's salary just so they won't sue her. "France is falling apart," she glumly said. Finally, Mme. Voisin saId, "My children will not live in France." I asked her where her 15 and 16 year old kids will live. She gestured down to the floor and declared, "Here!"

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  1. It must be bad in France if she wants her kids to live at McCormick Place.

  2. Clearly the French government is using immigration as a safety valve to avoid reform. Send ’em home!

  3. Why would she want to send her kids here when the standard of living is so much better in France?

  4. I wish I were born French.

    JMJ

  5. Well,

    Jessee if there were 100s of thousands of Frenchmen marching in the streets shouting that its their land and the border crossed them, you might have a point. The better question is why do we have an immigration system that gives us millions of illegal unskilled latin americans when there are millions of highly skilled Europeans who would move here in a minute if they could just get a green card. Something tells me this woman’s children won’t go on welfare or join La Raza.

  6. In Chicago? Why doesn’t she just take her kids somewhere nice like Rwanda?

  7. JD the New Yorker, pot, kettle, very dark shade.

    Chicago is a natural, with all of its French roots. Now that New Orleans is gone, we need a new location in the U.S for French cuisine purposes. Otherwise, we’ll be forced to annex Montreal. It’s an oral imperative.

  8. “Why would she want to send her kids here when the standard of living is so much better in France?”

    Interesting. Every index that I’ve just managed to google shows the US with a higher quality of living. I’m not sure how those indexes are guaged but I’ve looked at 3 just now and France is lower than the US in every one.

  9. JMJ,

    So which do you prefer, the blatant racism against blacks and muslims, the high unemployment rates, or the tanking economy? I DO like the cheese, though. And France is probably tied with Japan for a close second to America with regards to film.

  10. Eric,

    I dislike the racism – and yes, there’s a lot. It’s ironic because it ws French colonialism that gave them their racial demographics. But hey, that’s everywhere you go in the First World.

    What I like about France is the way they live their lives. Happiness is more important to them than money. We could use a hell of a lot more of that. And egalitarianism, positive true nationalism, etc.

    JMJ

  11. eric mattingly, we are believing in ourselves that you are harshly in the neglecting of the glory of Bollywood.

  12. “Why would she want to send her kids here when the standard of living is so much better in France?”

    Interesting. Every index that I’ve just managed to google shows the US with a higher quality of living. I’m not sure how those indexes are guaged but I’ve looked at 3 just now and France is lower than the US in every one.

    Umm, Emme, I was being sarcastic partially in response to a post in a France bashing thread the other day that stated the French had a better standard of living than we do.

    I was being deliberatley troll-like hence my moniker of Lurker (now a troll) Kurt.

  13. “Umm, Emme, I was being sarcastic partially in response to a post in a France bashing thread the other day that stated the French had a better standard of living than we do.

    I was being deliberatley troll-like hence my moniker of Lurker (now a troll) Kurt.”

    My bad gee.

  14. What I like about France is the way they live their lives. Happiness is more important to them than money. We could use a hell of a lot more of that.

    I’m pretty darn happy living in my suburban home, driving my 16 mpg SUV, and cleaning my 2 assualt style weapons, and taking a hot shower every day (or more if I want to!!).

  15. Not to sound like one of those “if you don’t like my country then leave!” ignoramuses, but I do find it interesting that, for all their bitching about the US being the worst country in the world, etc, few if any liberals actually go somewhere more to their likings. Not that I think they should (ok, maybe Noam Chomsky could end his golden years in an Asian Marxist paradise); it just seems odd that nobody actually ever moves to Canada or France even when they say they would rather be there.

    India,

    I’m sorry. To be honest, I’ve never seen any Bollywood– though I’ve seen “The Life of Apu.” Great movie.

  16. “People want to get paid, but they don’t want to work,” said Mme. Voisin.

    But to get paid and not work is what it means to be French.

  17. ProLib: I’m with you on Italy, though I just heard it referred to as the “sick man of Europe” because their economy is apparently flat and their lunch is getting eaten by Asia. Would love to participate if you get such a grant from RPPI. Maybe we could infest a whole village!

  18. Happiness is more important to them than money.

    Mmmno. Not sure how you calculate this. In France, easy money is more important than earned money. Hence the protests we just witnessed. Am I watching the same news?

    Sheesh.

  19. It would be fun to hang out in Paris with Ernest, Hadley, Scott, Zelda, and Gertrude without visible means of support. Drinking absinthe and saying witty things.

    Too bad that was eighty years ago. Back when being an ex-pat American was the coolest thing to be on the whole planet.

  20. Yeah, Italy’s the sick man of Europe alright. What’s so sad, is it’s the Sick Man among Sick Men. Now that’s lower than low.

  21. emmajane, the Free Village in Italy Project? Carving out a libertarian enclave in Italy? With great food and wine?

    Sure, why not? I’m tired of the law, anyway.

  22. And egalitarianism,…

    Except for “les beurs”, of course.

  23. My bad gee.

    NP, emme.

    I meant to put ‘:-)’ at the end of my post. 🙂

  24. …it just seems odd that nobody actually ever moves to Canada or France even when they say they would rather be there.

    Those that do often find that they are not as happy as they thought they might be.

    Strange, people tend to like what they are familiar with.

  25. Pro Libertate,

    Drinking absinthe and saying witty things.

    Did the Lost Generation ever drink absinthe? I believe France had outlawed it by the ’20s, and Hem never mentions it in any of his books that I can remember. I’m not trying to show you up; I’m just curious where you may have read that.

  26. The smug sense of entitlement, having done nothing to earn it, is so grating. I’ve come to experience great joy in every sign of France’s economic ruin—just to teach them a lesson that nothing in life is free. Even though, I AM a big fan of le vin.

    I thought of something this morning. Hopefully, it’s catchy enough to catch on. France’s economic ideology should henceforth be called “Lazy-Faire”.

  27. “Lazy-Faire”.

    Good one, Evan.

  28. Amanda Hugginkiss, I think there are references to it in Death in the Afternoon. I looked on the web a bit, and there’s mention of it being discussed in For Whom the Bell Tolls, too. I’m just guessing, but I bet he drank it in Spain. Makes sense if it was illegal in France at the time.

    Oh, well, I could skip the absinthe and drink cheap wine instead 🙂

  29. In Moveable Feast he drinks anything that isn’t nailed down: wine, beer, brandy, aquavit, etc.

    I’m sure he imbibed it somewhere in Europe.

    Oh, and I’ll take northern Italy over France any day of the week. I’m also partial to the German-speaking Alpine parts of the continent, but that’s because I’m a neat-freak.

  30. i’m not sure that i will ever understand our country’s fascination with france – pro or con.

  31. Anectdotal evidence is the best, I always say. Facts are no fun.

  32. Amanda,

    It wasn’t the lost generation who made Asynth famous it was the late 19th century generation that did. Arists, Van Gogh and the like were heavily into it because it was cheap and very high in alcohol content.

  33. Pro Libertate:

    The Italians have the best brand of libertarianism. They systematically disobey the government or pay is scant attention.

    There is delicious scene in Carlo Levi’s “Christ stopped at Eboli” Levi had been sent to “internal exile” by Mussolini’s government and he goes on a visit to Rome with two guards.

    One guard, when they get to Rome, goes off to see his wife, leaving both Levi and the other guard, after begging them not to turn him in. The other guards goes to see his family, with his prisoner in tow, but because he is ashamed to let them know that he works as a prison guard, he asks the prisoner to pretend that they both work in the same office, which the prisoner doess gladly.

    This in Mussolini’s Italy, he of “nothing outside the State, nothing above the State”. It was just wishful thinking of poor Benny’s part….

  34. The Italians have the best brand of libertarianism. They systematically disobey the government or pay is scant attention.

    I have noticed the same thing. They may have many laws on the books but they are treated with a wink and a nod.

    My brother moved to a new apartment in an Italian town some years ago and failed to register his new address with the local police within seven days as required by law. When the local cop came around about two weeks later he simply dated the form so no infraction had occurred. No bribe, no demand of any kind. Just the kind of thing anyone would do for a nice young fellow. North Africans and Gypsies do not get the same consideration though.

    I have often observed that as bad as it might be it could be worse. We could live in a place where European laws are enforced by American cops.

  35. I wish I were born French.

    Its never too late to start on your dream of being a Frenchman, JMJ.

  36. Happiness is more important to them than money.

    As long as someone else is paying the bills.

  37. “Umm, Emme, I was being sarcastic partially in response to a post in a France bashing thread the other day that stated the French had a better standard of living than we do.”

    Is this in response to me? If so… if you think that questioning why France is not in a complete shithole, when Libertarian thinking seems to imply that it should be is saying that France has a higher standard of living than the US… well, then you might have drunk too much Kool-Aide.

  38. you guys should try life in japan for a while. the anti-libertarian paradise. there’s a ton of regulation, and all of them are followed to the letter. it’s a little odd at times…

  39. I’m amazed by the number of Americans that probably have never been anywhere else than America, yet say stuff like “I wish I was born in France”. I grew up in France but I’m American, born in the USA ! And proud of it ! Every day I hear some comment about America and Americans, FRENCH HATE AMERICA. And all those kids ( becuse they were kids ) that were in the streets here in France, well…what they really want is Marx to raise from the dead and lead them to communism. That’s it.

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