European Union

Sarkozy, on our "immoral system"

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Remember the good old days, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the darling of the American Right? So much for that:

Sarkozy, leading a two-day conference with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the future of capitalism, said the crisis has shown that no country can go it alone on economic policy.

"In the 21st century, there it is no longer a single nation who can say what we should do or what we should think," he said. […]

Sarkozy blamed financial speculators for encouraging a system fueled on debt. He called financial capitalism based on speculation "an immoral system" that has "perverted the logic of capitalism."

"It's a system where wealth goes to the wealthy, where work is devalued, where production is devalued, where entrepreneurial spirit is devalued," he said.

But no more: "In capitalism of the 21st century, there is room for the state," he said.

As there was in the capitalism of the 20th century, too, but never mind the details: Burn the speculators!

Here's how the Irish Times' Lara Marlowe summed up Sarko's noisy and interesting year:

The financial crisis fostered the spectacular conversion of Sarkozy from Reaganomics—one of his campaign slogans was "less government, less taxes"—to state intervention on a massive scale. After claiming, pre-crisis, that government coffers were empty, Sarkozy found 320 billion [Euros] to guarantee interbank loans, and up to 40 billion [Euros] to recapitalise French banks. On December 4th, he announced a 26 billion[-Euro] economic stimulus package that will drive France's budget deficit to 4 per cent of GDP in 2009.

The authoritarian drift in domestic policy created concern for civil liberties. A new law will enable the state to continue to imprison sexual offenders after they have completed prison sentences. Former justice minister Robert Badinter called this "a dark period for our justice system" and noted that "a person will be locked up not for things he has done, but for things he might do…" […]

The number of French people taken into custody doubled from 300,000 in 2001 to 600,000 in 2007, and the police give the impression they are out of control. In November, nine young people were arrested on trumped up charges of "terrorism" in a small rural village. Gendarmes used a sniffer dog and body searches to look for drugs in a classroom of 13 year-olds, and a former newspaper director was taken in handcuffs from his home, stripped and subjected to two rectal searches because a businessman with a fraud conviction accused his newspaper of defamation.

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  1. “Burn the speculators!”

    Would have though “off with their heads” might have been more appropriate to an article about Sarko…

  2. Mmm, tyranny.

  3. The number of French people taken into custody doubled from 300,000 in 2001 to 600,000 in 2007, and the police give the impression they are out of control.

    Godammit, our cops had better get on the ball. Don’t want no goddamn Frenchies getting ahead of us.

    USA, USA….still No 1.

    Hey, I mean we do want to stay No1, don’t we?

  4. He can still be the darling of Republicans. He governs just like them.

  5. The number of French people taken into custody doubled from 300,000 in 2001 to 600,000 in 2007, and the police give the impression they are out of control. In November, nine young people were arrested on trumped up charges of “terrorism” in a small rural village. Gendarmes used a sniffer dog and body searches to look for drugs in a classroom of 13 year-olds, and a former newspaper director was taken in handcuffs from his home, stripped and subjected to two rectal searches because a businessman with a fraud conviction accused his newspaper of defamation.

    I thought you said the American right didn’t like him.

  6. What are you talking about Matt, he could be reading right out of the GOP playbook for the last 8 years. Complete with invoking the term “capitalism” to describe policies antithetical to the free market.

  7. I had a comment but it was essentially the same as Bingo’s.

  8. I always saw Sarkozy as practicing a sort of politics of personality. He reminds me somewhat of Rudy Giuliani. It’s not so much what he does that matters, so long as he does it his way and over everyone else’s objections.

    If he’s going to cut spending (as he did last summer) it’s not just going to be any spending; he has to gut public education and cultural heritage preservation. If he’s going to get tough on crime, he’s going to call Arab-French kids “scum,” and use police dogs on thirteen-year-olds. And if he’s going to intervene massively in the economy (as most developed countries are right now) he’s got to call capitalism an “immoral system.” The man doesn’t do things by halves.

  9. Sarkozy blamed financial speculators for encouraging a system fueled on debt. He called financial capitalism based on speculation “an immoral system” that has “perverted the logic of capitalism.”

    As I’ve said before on these pages, all investments are speculative to some extent.

    For the first time I say, Sarkozy can sure spout some stupid ass shit.

  10. Actually, though I disagree with his conclusion about the state, I don’t think he’s wrong that our habit of fuelling growth with debt has perverted the logic of capitalism. He just neglects to take into account how debt-fueled spending has been promoted by the central banking policy of lowering interest rates to stimulate growth. Not to mention the perpetual deficit driven Keynsianism on crack thing we’ve been doing since LBJ.

  11. Hazel,

    He just neglects to take into account how debt-fueled spending has been promoted by the central banking policy of lowering interest rates to stimulate growth.

    I don’t think he does; rather, I think he does take that into account: “It’s a system where wealth goes to the wealthy, where work is devalued, where production is devalued, where entrepreneurial spirit is devalued,” he said.

    This looks to me like it fits in perfectly well with the observation that cheap-money policies encourage people to chace paper profits instead of production.

  12. Lara Marlowe? Ugh. I hope she’s not your friend, Matt. The worst kind of parachute journalist.

  13. The paint on my house is bubbling on the south side. I blame speculators.

  14. I thought you said the American right didn’t like him.

    They’ll like him more now that he’s proposing massive government intervention.

  15. The paint on my house is bubbling on the south side. I blame speculators.

    I blame black people. And poor people. And Chris Dodd.

  16. joe: And how does the Keynesian “lets get them consumers spending again by throwing money out the window” philosophy value work, productivity, or the entrepreneurial spirit?

    The nanny state is stifling to entrepreneurialism. Not to mention the basic ability of people to take care of themselves. Dependency on government breeds helplessness and a lack of initiative.

  17. Hazel,

    Counter-cyclican spending during recession values those things by creating the conditions under which they can flourish, rather than allowing them to be crushed under the weight of economic stagnation that would render them pointless.

    The nanny state is stifling to entrepreneurialism. Not to mention the basic ability of people to take care of themselves. Dependency on government breeds helplessness and a lack of initiative.

    I can see your point here, but it would seem to be better applied to policies that apply to the worst-off at all times than those pursued during economic emergencies.

    Think of the difference between an actual nanny and a paramedic.

  18. He just neglects to take into account how debt-fueled spending has been promoted by the central banking policy of lowering interest rates to stimulate growth.

    I don’t think he does; rather, I think he does take that into account: “It’s a system where wealth goes to the wealthy, where work is devalued, where production is devalued, where entrepreneurial spirit is devalued,” he said.

    This looks to me like it fits in perfectly well with the observation that cheap-money policies encourage people to chace paper profits instead of production.

    But he does not blame government/central bank policies for that.

  19. We havn’t been doing counter-cyclical spending. The Democrats policy is to try to prime the pump even during good times. That was LBJ’s “Great Society”. Spend a lot of borrowed money on social program and, somehow, even greater prosperity would emerge from it. It doesn’t work. We’ve been attempting to borrow and spend our way to egalitarian prosperity since FDR.

  20. “in November, nine young people were arrested on trumped up charges of “terrorism”

    They did actually have a stick of dynamite which is a criminal offence in France

    On Sarko
    He’s always been a protectionist and has had big fights with Mandelson when he was EU trade chief over his free trade policies with Africa and Asia.

    I blame Carla Bruni for the recent leftish crap
    If he don’t say the kind of shit that makes the champagne socialist children of Italian uber-rich industrialists horny
    Sarko doesn’t get laid

    It’s actually sad to see what’s happening in France economically. In the 70’s before Thatcher the UK was in a similar situation to France, mass unemployment
    permanent industrial action and race riots. In the most recent review of the UK economy after twenty odd years of Thatcherism, there’s no major difference between racial groups in terms of income but ethnic minorities make slightly higher incomes.

    In the 80’s France had a socialist president Mitterrand who increased nationalization. Ethnic minorities still bear the brunt of the shitty economy he set up. French rich elites sit about complaining about how unfair “capitalism” is whilst poor imigrants are stuck in shitty banliues without a job.

    The biggest reason to hate Sarko recently would be his contempt for the Czech republic. The EU has a rotating presidency. France’s presidency ended on the first of January and Sarko has stated that he thinks he should still be president as the Czechs are incapable of handling the job.

    The man is clearly a cock

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