Friday, October 15, 2010

France and Two Cow Economics

If writing a simultaneously coherent and searchable blog was an easy task, I’d start out with the line, “France is filled with idiots.”

But since it really is a frustratingly difficult task, please accept this alternative beginning instead…

I’m sure that most of my elite (read: small) group of readers have heard of two-cow economics, the short and simple explanation of the often confusing world of government policies.

I’m unfortunately going to have to ignore the new – for me – Californian one, hysterical and sadly accurate as it is. But I will give you a taste of a few of them all the same…

Two Cows, One Really Stupid Country (i.e. France… OK, and Maybe the U.S., Which Makes Two… But More so France)

DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours the milk down the drain.

AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.

FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.

France’s Obsession with Strikes… Makes Ya Wonder How They Have Cows at All

I didn’t have to include all of the above and I do realize that it took up a decent amount of space, but they lead into each other so nicely and, overall, so accurately that I had to include a few more than just France. (Though I’d add a few provisos to the Republican one, of course. Still, even that one makes me laugh.)

I firmly believe that human nature is the same across the board. It doesn’t matter where you go or who you study, you’re going to inevitably find that people run off of the same emotions and needs as everybody else. They just have different ways of expressing them.

Or so I thought.

After the last month or so of seemingly never-ending strikes in a supposedly enlightened part of the world, I am going to have to revise my previous assessment of the global population.

I firmly believe that human nature is the same across the board, except in France, where they appear to be unusually lazy and stupid.

Before I go any further, let me assure you that I’m not normally Francophobic (My own word. Pretty neat, huh?). I thought the whole “Freedom Fries” movement was ridiculous when France refused to support the U.S. in Iraq. And since I’ve never been to France myself, nor can I recall really running into any truly, bonafide French people, I normally hold off on expressing any concrete opinions of them.

No more. I will be very blunt in my criticism.

They’re idiots.

At least, according to polls, two-thirds of French citizens take issue with President, Nicholas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. They also don’t care for his attempts to do the same to when people can retire on a full pension, from 65 to 67.

Umm… Guys, your country is broke! You kinda need to do something!

If That’s the Way France Wants it, Say Goodbye to France

For a summarized explanation of what France is doing wrong, I’m going to turn to a piece Jeffrey Folks published this past May on American Thinker. The whole thing is well worth a read, but I’ll only quote a few paragraphs.

“Taking into account higher taxes and inflation, French per capita GDP is $32,679 versus $46,381 for the U.S. (2009 IMF figures). Ranked by purchasing power, France comes in at #21, while the United States is first among major economies. The reasons are not hard to find. It is certain that the French do not work as many hours as do Americans, and it is doubtful whether they work as hard. National workplace regulations make it difficult to fire incompetent or lazy workers. As a result of overregulation, French industry is slow to adapt and innovate. While unionized workers enjoy full benefits, early retirement, and guaranteed annual vacations of five weeks, France as a whole pays the price of significantly lower growth rates than America.

“There is, unfortunately, one area in which the U.S. already resembles France all too closely. As in the USA, France has piled up increasing amounts of unfunded liabilities in its retirement schemes. President Sarkozy has proposed reasonable reforms that would ensure adequate funding of government-run pensions. An obvious solution for a country in which workers retire at age 60 is to gradually raise the retirement age to at least 65, a level comparable to that of other developed countries. Union response to this proposal has been to schedule a nationwide walkout on May 27. As in Greece, it appears that French workers would rather wave their little red flags and shut down the economy than negotiate a practical means of funding their own retirements.

“Perhaps this is because they ‘know when to quit.’ Unfortunately, their knowing when to quit – that is, at age 60, with full benefits regardless of years of service – has bankrupted the pension funds that must support workers for an extra five to seven years beyond those in comparable economies. The result is that France's pension funding is now deeply in debt – a debt level that is projected to reach $127 billion by 2050. Predictably, unions have called for more taxes on the rich and, implicitly, for increasing the national debt. In return, they offer little or nothing in the way of compromise.”

In other words, France is practicing socialism at dangerous levels. And what country can survive off of socialistic policies for very long?

History shows none so far, and I don’t think that France will prove any exception to the long-standing rule.

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