Young French Workers Vote With Their Feet

Illusion vs Reality

As expected, France's April 22n, 2008d runoff election narrowed the field to the two candidates everyone has been predicting would be the final two to face off for the coveted prize in the May 6, 2008 final election. The two winners of the runoff are the Socialist party candidate, Segolene Royal, and Conservative party candidate Nicolas Sarkozy. The media, of course are playing this as a classic left - right contest when in reality it is a left - left contest with the main difference between the two candidates is how hard each promises to tighten the noose of government regulation and taxes around the throat of an economy already gasping for air.

While the media fixates its attention on the ballot box, increasing numbers of French youth, having given up hope that any candidate or party can or will make the changes necessary to revive the French economy by freeing it from the crushing burden of regulation, have voted with their feet and left the country. A recent Reuters news report on Yahoo News cited reports from the French Consulate in London that there could be as many as 300,000 French citizens, most of them young, living and working in Britain. The lack of jobs and opportunity in France is driving these young people to the freer and more dynamic economy of Great Britain. With both France and Britain being members of the European Union such a migration is no more difficult than an American moving from high tax New York to lower tax Arizona.

Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Segolene Royal
Segolene Royal

The Welfare State Doesn't Create Jobs

France's overly generous labor laws guaranteeing secure employment, high minimum wage and a 35 hour work week may sound very attractive but the reality is that these are the things that drive up unemployment, which is currently 21.7% for people in the under 25 age group in France, as employers are unable to absorb these costs and still remain competitive in a global market. No one disputes that the work week is longer and positions less secure in Britain, but in Britain you can get a job while in France, for young people, that is practically impossible.

It is the illusion versus the reality that is the key here. While the press, politicians and intellectuals praise the French government for their, admittedly very enlightened, labor laws and policies, it is the more market oriented British and American economies which actually deliver jobs and a decent living for ever increasing numbers of workers. As the Canadian Supreme Court observed in its striking down of a key feature of another sacred cow of the left, Canada's highly praised universal health care system, a year ago, the right to stand in line for free health care is not the same as actually receiving health care.

How Far Would You Be Willing to Move to Find Good Work?

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© 2007 Chuck Nugent

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