Sacra Blue

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The unemployment level in France is 10%, and has not dipped below 8% in two decades. Both youth and foreign born unemployment are twice that, at 20%. Ethnic tensions and anti-Semitism are high, with 34% of the French having unfavorable views of Muslims and 16% unfavorable view of Jews. (US figures 22% and 7%). Americans already have a one third higher income per capita than the French, and yet France only managed to grow at half the US rate last year, with slow growth expected in 05 and 06.

But Hold on! Not incidentally, France shares Paul Krugmans brand of socialism. Therefore he has now decided that France is really doing just marvelously! You see,

�We're talking about two highly productive societies that have made a different tradeoff between work and family time. And there's a lot to be said for the French choice�

The first warning is to use the productivity per hour worked as his �proof�. Taxes and regulations have forced out the low productive workers and prohibited the last two hours worked per day for the remaining. The policies have destroyed much wealth, but �per hour� things look OK, simply because all the zeros are not included in the average. It's just a statistical trick.

Furthermore, there is no �choice� about what is happening in France, unless "choice" is Newspeak for forced regulations. If it really was a choice the politicians wouldn�t need to legislate the 35 hour workweek, people would simply work fewer hours. Krugman also suggest the choice is making Europeans happier. Now here it realy starts getting amusing.

The evidence he refers to is from the Eurobarometer, a survey that among other ask life satisfaction from Eu-members. As it happens, Harris Poll asks the exact same question to Americans. Only a dismal 18% of the French describe themselves as �Very Satisfied with their lives� in this, compared to 44% of Swedes and a solid 58% of Americans. It seems that Americans are much happier than the French.

But what of the great Family Life Krugman was telling us aboubt? Actually it seems the hard working capitalists of Europe - the British and the Irish - score higher in Family life satisfaction, with 52% and 53% very satisfied, compared to 41% for the French (page 25).

The survey sadly doesn�t ask Americans. But according to the 2002 Pew Global survey, 67% of Americans were very satisfied with their family lives, compared to 43% of the French! Given Krugmans article, the only eplanation is false consciousness among the gullible Americans.

Joking aside, the terrible economic performance of the Europeans Welfare system is becoming harder and harder to deny, even for the NYT. Suggesting that the French mix of mass unemployment and involuntarily underemployment is a good �choice�, because it promotes �family life�, seems to me as a sign of desperation.

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Thank you for the take down of Krugman. If Krugman loves family time so much, maybe he will retire soon.


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This page contains a single entry by published on July 29, 2005 10:48 PM.

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