Indiana Daily Student

ONLINE ONLY: France: the un-revolution

I'm really not a conservative.\nWell, in the conventional usage of the word, I am; but in reality, "conservative" is defined as "tending to oppose change." But I hardly wish to conserve the present situation of things -- I wish to see change, just not the same change the misnamed "progressive movement" wants. I suppose that makes me a revolutionary of sorts?\nOne thing is certainly clear: the rioters (or "protesters," to sugar-coat the term) in France are anything but revolutionaries. In fact, they are reactionaries opposed to even the slightest change.\nWhat these rioters are actually opposing is the proposed legislation called CPE (Contrat Prémiere Embauche -- First Employment Contract), a bill that allows dissatisfied employers to fire a first-time employee under 26 years old.\nBut shouldn't employers do this anyway for efficiency's sake?\nWell, French labor laws are currently so strict that it is nearly impossible for employers to fire anyone for anything short of mass murder.\nThat's just the tip of the iceberg. France has the highest mandated minimum wage ($6.79 per hour), a guaranteed 35-hour work week with five weeks vacation and 11 paid holidays.\nThe result of this policy has been -- logically -- that employers' hands are tied, and they are consequently less willing to hire inexperienced (and hence, young) workers who may be unproductive, resulting in a 22 percent youth unemployment rate. France's overall unemployment rate is 10 percent and its economic growth over the past three years is 1.5 percent, compared to 4.8 percent unemployment and 3.5 percent growth in the United States.\nIn real terms, the Swedish think tank, Timbro, reported in 2004 that, if France were a state in the United States, it would be the fifth poorest ahead only of Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas and Montana.\nFrench Premier Dominique de Villepin's government was the first to tackle this issue in 30 years, but hordes of students and union workers -- about 1.5 million last Thursday -- took to the streets all across France. Not one to stand up to tough situations, President Chirac suspended the CPE and told his finance minister to negotiate amendments to it.\nIn France, the spirit of 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871 and 1968 is dead -- no longer do rioters effect sweeping changes by taking to the streets; they riot to keep things as they are.\nThe new revolutions are like our own Reagan Revolution of 1980, or the "Revolution" of 1994 -- voters taking back their personal economic freedoms from a bloated and stagnant miasma of government control, of which France is the quintessence.\nFascism is dead; communism is dead; socialism is gasping its last breaths, as we can see in the Europe of Blair, Berlusconi and Merkel. For countries to grow and succeed in the present world, the yoke of big government needs to be tossed off for good. Competition, innovation and desire to profit must be encouraged, and to do so the governments need to ease the grip that the vise of regulation puts on economies.\nChange happens; socialism, "progressivism," big government or whatever-you-call-it has had its chance, but demands change and societies must adapt or face true revolution. The burdensome Fifth Republic just may go the way of the ancien régime.

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