Thursday, March 30, 2006

Communism, not just for the Communists any more

It looks like those in and around my generation in France may be attempting to revive communism.  Or if not communism, then at least the Iron Rice Bowl.
French youth have been protesting a law, passed out of the French Assembly, that would make it easier for employers to (among other things) fire those under 26.  Because apparently, it's really hard.  But it sounds like its not just hard to fire those under 26.  It sounds like it's hard to fire anyone in France.  Several generations of strong unions--and the union-culture considering the getting of a job a lifetime appointment--have pushed the French economy to the breaking point several times in the recent decades.  (For more, see "The Commanding Heights" by Daniel Yergin.)
It's interesting that since the new year both segments of France's youth population have been rioting in the streets.  First it was the children (or grandchildren) of North African immigrants who believe they should have the opportunity to become French citizens and participate in the economic and political transactions of the country; and presently, the "French" youth who are terrified that they wont be able to receive lifetime appointments from their employer (who apparently is expected to operate more like a politburo than a business, but I digress).
There are, of course arguments to be made in favor of the present French system.  Many of them involve preserving French culture and traditions.  But the downside to that is that the French will preserve them as they currently exist for a couple of years and then lose them into the depths of the past, or allow changes bit-by-bit and continue to have a working economy.  Ultimately, I guess it's their choice.

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