Saturday, April 22, 2006

French say "Adieu" to globalized economy--and their future

This is old news, but I felt the need to comment on it. The French have again rejected practical, rational measures intended to spur economic growth. The outpour of anger and protests by youth over reforms such as making it easier for employers to fire youth in the first two years of their employment is astounding. This is what I say--Grow up and quit complaining! The French are have remained trapped in time, in their imaginary, utopian bubble of socialism and welfare-state economics, while the rest of the world has become more integrated with supra-national economies and globalized markets. The French have the longest paid vacations--8 weeks--and if you are under 30, it is impossible for an employer to fire you during your first two years on the job. And people wonder why France has recorded zero economic growth, a stagnant GDP, and unemployment over 10 percent. These same youth who complain about the lack of jobs don't seem to understand that employers are extremely relunctant to hire workers when the government regulates their ability to fire unsuitable workers. Chirac gave it to these whiny brats and while some other European nations are at least inching forward, France has gone several yards back in economic competitiveness and modernity.

These European nations are facing large aging populations nearing retirement age and fewer workers. Their welfare states are at the point of collapse, but they are hesitant to take bold reform. Germany's population is also refusing to recognize the remedy for their economic ailments. Both Germany and France still have failed to privatize their massive, government-controlled steel and lumber industries, and even private corporations such as Airbus (rival to American Boeing) are heavily subsidized by European nations such as France. The effort to move towards free trade and end tariffs will not work as long as some nations, especially those in Western Europe, refuse to make much needed reforms in their outdated workplace and labor laws and stop giving preference and funding to their home-based companies.

Now, free trade and reduction of tariffs ARE the answer and much needed, but these methods only work with nations that are willing to work with us (while western Europe still has a long way to go, their leaders recognize their problems and they are starting to reform--however extremely slow that may be). Yet China continues to undervalue its currency to give its industries a massive trade advantage over our counterparts, and allows its companies to counterfeit and produce goods stolen from the concepts and designs of American companies (clearly contrary to WTO laws). China joined the WTO, but has consistently defied its laws and refuses to play by the rules. The punishment should be a series of tariffs designed to hurt the sale of Chinese goods here in the states. We can only play fair when others are also willing to play fair.

No comments: