April 10, 2006 in Politics

France is a Mess!

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Long before I moved to London, I thought of moving to Paris. I fell in love with the romanticized version of the city. But I never seriously explored a move there, because while I had studied French at University, I never got close to being fluent. I know just enough to be dangerous on holiday, but not enough to get a job and be functional without continually feeling frustrated by the potential language barrier. So recognizing my limitation, I looked elsewhere — London to be exact.
And let me say how glad I am that I never moved to France – even for a short while, as the county is a mess. This is evidenced by the youth riots last November. The issue there was that the youth, many of whom are the children of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East, don’t particularly feel welcome in the country of their birth. They feel disfranchised and isolated in the ghetto suburbs which offer little hope for jobs or upward mobility.
Plus now, there are student strikes supported by all the unions. The mostly middle-class and White student population are striking (who knew students had rights to strike), because the government wants to pass a law giving corporations the right to fire youth employees under 26 years old after 24 months if they are not performing. Apparently this new law is simply too British really American. So they are rejecting it.
Now if the economy in France was prospering, I’d be somewhat sympathetic to the students — but with unemployment rates at 22%, the highest in Western Europe, I’m baffled. Perhaps I’m too much of a capitalist. I just assume that they (the students) would welcome the opportunity for corporates to create more jobs for young people, even if that meant unlike years past, there would be no guarantees for lifetime employment.
My French colleague said they, the students are just lazy and suffer from entitlement syndrome. Thinking she might be right. Plus I think this might just be one of the growing pains of changing from a socialist to a capitalist society. Either way, France one of the leading nations in Europe, and the European Union, which at its core is about helping the nations here to be more competitive in a global market needs to figure out something fast. Because if they don’t, they along with Italy whose economy is also a mess, might spell disaster for the whole union and its single currency.

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