For the last 16 years France has had the slowest rate of economic growth of
any industrial nation on Earth, during this same period it has also had the
most extensive central planing, excepting of course economic powerhouses like
Russia, Cuba, North Korea, and other such bastions of freedom.
The reason France has one of the most highly regulated labor markets in the
world is apparently because they believe that the best way to create new jobs
is to discourage entrepreneurs. The unemployment rate in France is 12.5% and
rising, even though the French work week is only 39 hours long, in the USA
the unemployment rate is 4% , and counting overtime, the average American who
has a job works 20% more hours a week than the average working Frenchman.
Showing a level of intelligence that is rare even for a politician, France's
new socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin figures that the only way to cure
his country's economic ills is to crank out even more regulations. He wants
to decrease the work week to 35 hours and force companies to pay the same
wages for the reduced labor, he wants to do this by Jan 1 2000. Jospin
thinks it's obvious that working less will create more wealth for France,
it's so obvious that there is no need to spell out exactly how.
To help compensate companies for the staggering financial loss they will
suffer the government plans to give them $1500 a year for each employee.
Where the government would get the money to make these payoffs to corporations
Lionel Jospin does not say and does not seem to think very important.
Actually he's probably correct to believe that to be a minor point,
government may have its faults but it has always been able to convince people
to give it money when it needs it, perhaps because politicians have learned
that you can be more persuasive with a smile and a gun than you can with a
John K Clark firstname.lastname@example.org
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