European Union

A Time for Choosing, En Francais

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The Wall Street Journal editorial page says its "cautiously optimistic," but it's giving Nicolas Sarkozy's domestic reform agenda speech high marks. Indeed, such rhetoric would have once been considered political suicide in France. From the WSJ:

The new President declared that France's generous welfare state is "unjust" and "financially untenable," "discourages work and job creation," and "fails to bring equal opportunity." The result: France's jobless rate is the euro zone's highest. The President wants "a new social contract founded on work, merit and equal opportunity." He promised to loosen restrictions on working hours and toughen up requirements for jobless benefits, to ease hiring and firing rules and reduce incentives to retire early.

Now for the skepticism:

One of the biggest threats to Mr. Sarkozy's revolution may yet be from Mr. Sarkozy himself. In his first four months in office, the President has revealed a populist streak. He browbeats the European Central Bank to lower interest rates and sticks his nose into big business. Such interventionism harks back to old-style French economic management and is out of tune with the approach outlined yesterday.

Mr. Sarkozy's long-awaited speech sets the stage for the most important political battle in his first term. Whatever the President does in the next five years, he can't claim to have succeeded unless France breaks out of its economic slumber. His equally ambitious foreign policy depends on it, too. The President's prescriptions for the ailing French welfare state are hard to argue with. Now if only Mr. Sarkozy will apply them.

Whole thing here.

Video of Sarkozy at the G8 summit, after, apparently, tossing back two dozen cans of Kronenbourg 1664.

Bonus video
of Tony Blair congratulating Nicolas Sarkozy on his election victory in French, courtesy of Number 10's own YouTube channel.

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  1. The President’s prescriptions for the ailing French welfare state are hard to argue with. Now if only Mr. Sarkozy will apply them.

    If they’re hard to argue with, why would he not apply them?

  2. Sarkozy is applying his prescriptions, editors.

    He’s just not applying yours.

  3. I’d like to toss back two dozen bottles of the old Seize Cent Soixante Quatre. Good stuff.

    If only I could find it here in Ohio.

  4. Timon19,

    It’s on tap at my local joint. After you’ve had it a few times, meh.

    As far as Sarko’s liklihood of proposing the changes, I’d say it’s dead certain. You know the students et al will demonstrate / riot like two years ago, but since he was elected with this as one of the central issues of his campaign, I’d give him a good chance at passage.

  5. If they’re hard to argue with, why would he not apply them?

    Never been to France have you Dan?

  6. Yeah, I know. The WSJ said “they’re hard to argue with” but meant “we agree with them”.

  7. The French, while obstinate and unduly in love with socialism, are not stupid. Changes have to be made or they’re fucked, so the changes will get done. The usual suspects will wail and rend their clothing, but will then secretly be just as relieved as everybody else.

  8. de stijl,

    Where’s your local?

    I think any beer becomes somewhat ordinary after a few routine times (except for a select few).

    I think that’s why I’m glad Great Lakes Christmas Ale is only available during the Christmas season. No sense in ruining a beer’s wonderfulness through overexposure.

  9. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but awhile ago the french were considering a “probabtionary” phase of some sort that would allow workers to be fired more easily in the first two years on the job.

    A college women was quoted as saying the idea was horrible. She complained that a new hire would have to go to work on time and do whatever the boss said or you could be sacked for not doing your job. It was a horrendous idea from her classically french point of view.

  10. I only wish that I was in France to experience the many (useless) protests that are bound to come out of Sarko’s policies. All of the protests that I ever participated in there were a blast. Usually you have people handing out really socialistic fliers and wearing stupid hats.
    A friend of mine and I, rarely knowing what we were protesting, would merely walk along with them and shout things like “Nous Sommes en Col?re!!”

    Oh, and I predict that most French people will seemingly agree with the policies until it becomes time for the policies to actually be implemented, at which point they’ll start whining.

  11. Any plans for dealing with the mass riots after you tell them to get work for a living?

  12. If they’re hard to argue with, why would he not apply them?

    Because he is not a dictator, and has to go through a Democratic process to change government policy. Sarkozy isn’t Hugo Chavez.

    The French, while obstinate and unduly in love with socialism, are not stupid. Changes have to be made or they’re fucked, so the changes will get done. The usual suspects will wail and rend their clothing, but will then secretly be just as relieved as everybody else.

    It is kind of like Democrats and “Universal Health Care” in the United States. Democrats know they have to be seen “doing something” about health care, but at the same time they don’t actually want to create a Universal Health Care program that will probably fail.

  13. Timon19,

    The Royal Mile in, of all places, Des Moines.

    About 30 beers on tap including 6 hand pulls (mostly Fuller’s) and another 130 bottles; mostly British, but lots of German , French, Czech, etc. My current fave is Young’s Double Chocolate Stout on tap. Upstairs is the Red Monk which is a Belgian bar. Yummy, yummy but watch out for the alcohol content.

    The same guys also own The Highlife Lounge (perfect recreation of small town American bar circa 1966), El Bait Shop (120+ American microbrews on tap), Hessen Haus (traditional German bier keller), etc.

    Disclaimer: I will probably be an investor in their next venture. Arguably I already am based on the profit they’ve made off of me.

    All of the bars I mentioned above are included in Esquire’s Best 100 Bars list except the German joint.

  14. Jesus Christ.

    Makes me almost want to move to Des Moines.

    Almost.

    I probably don’t take advantage of the Akron/Cleveland-area places like what you’ve described, though I doubt there are as many up there on the 100 Bars list.

  15. I moved to Des Moines five years ago from Minneapolis. You know what it was that got me over the top and agreed to accept the offer and move? The Royal Mile.

  16. Sorry. I’m no longer channeling Binky the Clown.

  17. Sarkozy’s so freaking hyperactive, he’ll just outlast the opposition.

  18. [/i] test [/i]

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