November 16, 2005

Is France’s Present Problem Just An Hors De Ouvre?

The online Opinion Journal reran an 8 November Op-Ed yesterday by Joel Kotkin that gives thoughtful insight into the poverty that has been attributed as a root cause of the Muslim riots in France(we all know what I think about that), and from my read doesn’t indicate any sort of optimism regarding any economic turn for the better for either French Muslims or for France.

The French political response to the continuing riots has focused most on the need for more multicultural “understanding” of, and public spending on, the disenchanted mass in the country’s grim banlieues (suburbs). What has been largely ignored has been the role of France’s economic system in contributing to the current crisis. State-directed capitalism may seem ideal for American admirers such as Jeremy Rifkin, author of “The European Dream,” and others on the left. Yet it is precisely this highly structured and increasingly infracted economic system that has so limited opportunities for immigrants and their children. In a country where short workweeks and early retirement are sacred, there is little emphasis on creating new jobs and even less on grass-roots entrepreneurial activity.

Since the ’70s, America has created 57 million new jobs, compared with just four million in Europe (with most of those jobs in government). In France and much of Western Europe, the economic system is weighted toward the already employed (the overwhelming majority native-born whites) and the growing mass of retirees. Those ensconced in state and corporate employment enjoy short weeks, early and well-funded retirement and first dibs on the public purse. So although the retirement of large numbers of workers should be opening up new job opportunities, unemployment among the young has been rising: In France, joblessness among workers in their 20s exceeds 20%, twice the overall national rate. In immigrant banlieues, where the population is much younger, average unemployment reaches 40%, and higher among the young.

Read the rest of the Op-Ed here.

by @ 4:08 am. Filed under Weasel Country Affairs
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