Thursday, March 30, 2006

Eating Cake

You knew it was coming, didn't you?

This is the part of the conversation where the Southern Liberals and the Really Real Conservatives get to spend time doing one of our most favorite-est bipartisan-y things in the world:

Making fun of France.

Seriously, you guys, when over one million of Frech people take to the streets to protest reality, you've already been eating that cake (and drinking Fuzzy Math Kool Aid) for a long, long time.

Luckily, there are still some adults in that country who upheld the legality of reality, and pretty much put the onus onto Chirac to get the kids to move out of Ma-mA's basement, shower, shave and do some work.

I don't even know why politicians and economists are discussing this. If you have a nation that only works part-time and can never get fired, your economy is going to suck. Kruschev wasn't talking crazy when he said the USSR would bury us, he just thought we'd all go the way of France long before now.

Welcome to the real world, kiddies! Life is like one of those old Nintendo games, you never actually win; it just gets harder and faster until you die.

And this brings us to one of our own New Rules: If anyone on this blog, ever, tries to criticize America by using France as an example of how to do things right, you loose the argument, immediately, and SAWB and I get to show up at your house and throw stale croissants at you.


hillary said...

What about maternity leave, jackass?

Patrick Armstrong said...

Nope. You can cite any other country as an example, but you can't cite France anymore. Sorry.

I mean, you actually have to have a job before you can take maternity leave from a job, right? No wonder the French look so progressive...

hillary said...

Damn it. Why can't people make fun of the Belgians? I'm not saying the French are never unreasonable, but that doesn't make their entire society/government out-of-bounds for example.

(Please note: Am half froggie myself)

Dante said...

I think hillary just nominated you, Pat.

Buzzzbee said...

Ok, maybe I just don't get it, but this doesn't seem very smart. This law, as I understand it, makes it legal to fire anyone under 26 for no reason during their first 2 years working for the employer.

So, I'm to understand that it's perfectly all right to just pick out a group of adults and based on age take away their job security for the first two years of a new job.

Once again, I haven't been following this story very closely, but as I understand it based on your links and my own study 15 minutes ago, this would help the economy by stimulating hiring on basis of "well, if things change, I can just fire the under 27 workers". It seems to me, though, that would hurt the economy by causing the under 27 crowd to be less likely to make purchases which would require financing due to their lack of job security. Also, at the first sign of trouble the youth in france lose their jobs. That's bound to have negative effects on the economy as well.

We don't allow companies do fire people for no reason in America, why should they be able to in France. I feel like if this law were being pushed in America, you, Pat, would be one of the first to take to the streets in protest. I mean one of your own links says:

"With his ambitions to succeed Chirac hinging on France's jobless rate, what has Villepin proposed? Instead of bold reform based on what works in Spain, Sweden or Britain (let alone the United States or Australia) he rammed through a mini-measure, a reformette, allowing employers to hire and fire (within two years) any worker up to age 26. Employers were unenthused. Unions rejected the plan. No young people were consulted. Instead of a normal parliamentary debate, or preparing the political ground beforehand, Villepin used extraordinary powers reserved for state emergencies to push through his decree. Hence the protests across France."

Please tell me why young French people shouldn't be pissed. What have I overlooked? The logic behind this move seems flimsy and unethical.

GP said...

We do allow companies to fire people for no reason in america. We just call it laying them off, something that is evidently almost impossible to do in France right now.

Right to work states like Georgia allow employers to get rid of anyone for almost any reason as long as it's not based on race, gender, etc.

Why France wants to apply this only to a certain age group is a mystery to me, but it doesn't seem that bad.

dadvocate said...

I was going to make fun of the Belgians but I kept waffling on which joke to use.

In Ohio anyone can be fired without cause as long as it's not for what gp said, race, gender, etc.

Patrick Armstrong said...

The thing about France and their laws, as I understand it, is as thus: it is extremely difficult to fire anyone for any reason whatsoever, once they are hired.

That means if you hire someone, ever, you'd better be awful sure they're going to work out for your business, 'cause getting rid of them is going to take a chunk out of your bottom line.

What this does is that it makes businesses shy away from hiring anyone under 26 who doesn't have a proven track record. (Along with the Catch - 22 of 'how can I gain experience without actually being hired to do anything useful')

This equals a terribly high unemployment rate among the French under 26. This also means that French businesses are losing out on a very productive demographic, and workers are losing around a decade of work experience in real fields.

I'd call that a downward spiral.

It also exacerbates the problems with the North African immigrant population & their assimilation into the French mainstream. And one of the reasons that Paris was burning back in November wasn't religion as much as it was a lack of jobs.

In America, even for State jobs, there is usually some sort of 90 day 'trial period' where you can be axed for any reason, and I've seen hard working people get fired for any number of stupid reasons.

That sucks, to be sure, but they're hard workers, they go and get other jobs elsewhere.

France is having to face reality: business must be required to follow the rule of law, but there must also be some sort of flexibility for business to respond to economic changes.

France just gets hammered by those changes. Then businesses go out of business, and the people take to the streets protesting that no one wants to buy what they're selling.

The safety net has to be just as flexible. That's why some states require health insurance to continue for months after someone gets laid off. That's why people can still recieve a check from the Department of Labor for unemployment.

Our system is far, far, far from a model, but what it does have is flexibility to respond to rapid changes in economic conditions.

France's system is not as flexible, and the move to restore such flexibility is going to be a long and difficult road of facing reality that they have been able to escape from until now.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Oh, yeah. I did get nominated. I wonder if GP will put me up on the D-bag page too!

And I don't beleive there is any such thing as 'Belgium.' That's just where all the French, German and American foreign service folks go after a three day bender in Amsterdam.

hillary said...

So even if you think it's generally a good idea (this modification of law in France), can you not understand why the youth there might be pissed about it? People here don't always think through all the consequences/motives behind new laws either. And sometimes they act stupidly because of how they perceive things. Does that make the U.S. not ever a good example of anything?

Leave the France mocking to the English. It's all they have. We have a whole world out there to make fun of.

Dante said...

Mmmmm.... stale croissants.

That US sure doesn't know how to win a World Cup. Now France knows about winning a World Cup. Maybe the US could learn a few things from France regarding World Cup winning.

(Could you bring some butter along with you when you come to throw the croissants?)

Patrick Armstrong said...

Do I understand why the youth would be pissed about it? Of course I do. When I had to finally get a jobby job to pay the billz, I was mightily pissed too.

Sometimes I act stupidly because of how I percieve things. It started out being just a hobby, but now its moved on to an almost full time profession.

I tell people not to try this at home.

I also accept most of the ridicule I get for it as righteous. As they say, if you can't take the heat...

Dante said...

I for one do not see why they're upset. If I were one of the 1 in 4 unemployed youth in France, I would be chomping at the bit to get my foot in the door of a company. If I can't keep my job once I get my foot in the door then I'm either not working hard enough or in the wrong profession.

If I'm one of the 3 in 4 that actually has a job already, then I'm going to be excited that those other guys and gals under 26 who are lazier than I am are actually going to have to start working for a living now instead of leeching off the real workers. I've spent too much time in a government job where I've had to shoulder the workload of several people because they can't get fired from their jobs to have anything but good feelings for any system where workers can actually get fired.

Buzzzbee said...

I'm not a big fan of croissants. I never understood the draw of the croissanwich at BK. I mean, you could have your sausage and egg on a biscuit, but you would rather have it on tastless, greasy bread? How does that sell in the South? Anyway, as much as I don't like eating them, I think I would like having them hurled at my head even less.

So, I will concede that there is much to criticize the French for,ex: continually castrating and exploiting the EU at the expense of the rest of Europe, insisting on always being on the opposite side of the U.S. on any issue they didn't think of first, etc. These are mostly issues of the collective arrogance. This makes it hard for us Americans to make fun, because we too are susceptible to affairs of the ego.

You guys have certainly made good points and showed me the reasoning behind your argument. I did forget about the 90 probation. I'm not sure about employers' legal ability to fire without cause, but I know most employers don't think they can. I remain, however, unconvinced. The idea that this law is the solution to their abysmal unemployment problem seems ridiculous. The only way I see this law helping is if it passes, and prompts a change in leadership by angry voters. You also have to consider how much worse their economy would be if they weren't using the Common Agricultural Policy(CAP) to leech off of the other member-states of the EU. As bad as their economy is, it should be worse.

I think this problem is bigger than employers being afraid to hire someone it would be difficult to fire. Much bigger. I also think the negative effects of a 2yr probationary period could very well outweigh any potential positives. The real solution is new leadership, not this.

Dante said...

I have no doubt that this law is not a solution to their problems. However, I think that this law is the best French politicians can do and still get re-elected. There's a big difference. Evene here in the US, we have to settle for many band-aid solutions to our problems because to really fix a system would be political suicide.