On the face of it, he announced at last a seismic change of direction which involves reducing these three apparent evils:
– the size of the state
– the cost and complexity of employing anyone and therefore
WONDERFUL! one might say. Hollande – the archetypal socialist – at LAST comes out with a programme worthy of Mrs Thatcher. And yet ………. an experienced France-watcher is forced to repeat the time-honoured phrase. “Zee proof eez in zee pudding.” WHERE will he find the FIFTY BILLION EUROS of cuts in government spending? Most of this is wrapped up in state employment, so how many of his own supporters is he going to make redundant? Which bits of the French state apparatus is he going to amputate and toss into the furnace of history? On this, there is a deafening silence.
Sadly, as in the UK, there are plenty of morons in France who think that economic problems are always someone else’s fault, in particular, “the rich” – hence the 75% tax rate which has inspired thousands of well-off French people to flee their country, often for the economic freedom of London, which now has a population of 400,000 French.
Back in France, the lunacy of all this will take some time to sink in, but once all the rich have all left or been taxed out of existence, then just the poor and poorer will remain, only even poorer and poorer. At that point the French mob will revolt and guillotine those responsible – and if they can’t find those responsible (their having escaped to Switzerland) they will guillotine someone else.
This is called “socialisme a la francaise”. It is a system that has its admirers, principally Ed “My Dad was a Marxist and I’m proud of it” Milliband.
Francois Hollande is truly amazing, quite apart from the fact that marriage is apparently too “bourgeois” for him to indulge in it himself. His country is in a death spiral and so he announces – after a delay of 18 months while he was thinking about it – reforms worthy of Thatcher – and indeed those arch-socialist role-models Francois Mitterrand and Gerhard Schröder. However, the evil, loathsome, capitalist sector (which just happens by pure coincidence to be the wealth-creating bit of society) is supposed to create loads of jobs NOW, and yet the govt side of the “responsibility pact” won’t deliver cuts to employers until 2017. (Thanks for this bit of data, Roger Bootle). When the employers can’t employ any more people as they are too busy with the paperwork involved in going bankrupt, they will naturally be labelled “irresponsible”.
This really is “Alice in Wonderland” stuff. It is of course, perfectly logical for French socialists, since the problems are all the fault of employers for not employing enough people. There is a certain logic in this:
- Not enough jobs?
- Simples – employers are not employing enough people.
- ERGO -> it’s employers’ fault.
We’ve seen this sort of logic before in the 35 hour week, which went something like this:
- There are too many unemployed.
- We will make those employed work less so that
- Employers will have to employ more people to do the work required.
This hilariously-surreal reasoning is based on the theory that there is an immutable x amount of work to be done, which should therefore be shared out by all those capable of working.
Surprisingly for the highly-diplomaed ENA graduates of the political elite, this cunning plan did not actually reduce employment much at all. This was of course hardly surprising to everyone else, since it was a plan so cunning that Baldrick himself would have rejected it as insane. Still, rather than admit they were wrong, the French elite pressed on with it with gritted teeth and determination; even Sarkozy could not bring himself to abolish it at a stroke, which would have been the sane thing to do.
“It hasn’t had long enough to work its way through the economy,” said my French friends.
However, as I pointed out to them at the time, we dastardly Anglo-Saxons would look at this from another logical viewpoint:
- Forcing people to work fewer hour creates more jobs (according to you)
- The number of hours people are allowed to work is clearly in inverse proportion to the jobs that will be created.
- We therefore propose legally limiting the number of hours people can work to ONE per week.
- This will obviously create absolutely teeming millions of jobs.
My friends looked at me sadly and smiled: “British humour ….”
I was in fact serious – a dose of Reduction ad Absurdum being sometimes required to make a point – but they just didn’t get it – and still don’t. I was as it happens working in France when all this lunacy was put in place, and I remember very well listening to someone from the local Chamber of Commerce coming to explain it to our workforce of 6 people. We sat there for an hour until my head was spinning with numbers of hours worked, holidays taken off and/or added, cumulative minutes here and there, what happened about “overtime” and so on, until I could take it no more and asked:
“Yes, but how does this actually affect ME in practical terms.”
Whereupon this bod said. “Ah, this doesn’t affect YOU at all since you are a ‘cadre’, (executive) and they have a completely different status.” (Everyone MUST have a “status” in France.)
“Well, what am I doing here, then? I do actually have work to do …..” I riposted.
“But you do need to know how the new law works,” was the reply.
Naturally, I wanted to ask WHY I needed to know I (I had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with employing or paying anyone myself) but decided that life was too short and rapidly getting shorter, and so I excused myself and left.
So, from then on the French worked fewer hours but – as far as I remember – without losing any money (THAT would not have gone down well, even with the faithful socialist sheeple), while the rest of the world – and the ant-like labouring Asians in particular – looked on in astonishment and with no little hilarity. “Have the French discovered the equivalent of perpetual motion in employment practice?” was the cry that rang out all around the world.
Well, unfortunately, “No, they hadn’t.”, though it made the new law’s inventors quite famous for a while, except that fame in these matters does have a habit of mutating into notoriety in the face of reality: Russian communism being just another example.
This was all about ten years ago, but nothing much has changed in French logic. “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.” Still, once the French political elite has reduced France to an economic wasteland, it will be so cheap to go there on holiday that millions will pour in from booming Anglo-Saxonia, Scandinavia, Asia and elsewhere to boost the economy, while at least there is the lush farmland to ensure nobody starves, even if half the French population will have to return there to find anything useful to do at all.
Eventually, we will have reached the Socialist Nirvana of 100% taxation and 0% tax revenue – or maybe Hollande will work a miracle?
VIVE LA FRANCE!