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Signs of the Times for Mon, 10 Apr 2006

Signs Editorial:

Henry See
Signs of the Times
10 April 2006
Oh, the pundits are upset. The idea that the world has changed, and we should all be thankful for a job, any job, has so oozed its way into minds that it is taken as a given, as a fact of life. Eric Margolis, a journalist who shows great lucidity at other times, put it this way:
"Mon dieu! The riots in France continue. It's not revolution, but a combination of spring fever and counter-revolution designed to protect the perks of those who have cushy lifetime jobs and lavish pensions. It's a 'cri du coeur' of anguish from all those sociology and cultural anthropology students who are discovering that they may not have jobs when they graduate."

"Counter-revolution"??? When students and workers take to the streets to demand their rights while more and more state money is being used to finance the private sector and French resources such as EDF/GDF are sold off?

Margolis' words sound like those of an American attacking the so-called leftism in US universities. Disdain for sociology and anthropology students replaces any serious critique.
Another commentator, this one British, had this to say:
Youth unemployment is at a terrifying 23 per cent and rises to 50 per cent in some suburbs; and yet there is almost no way of getting these people into jobs, because in France there is almost no way of getting the shiftless and idle out of their jobs, especially in the state sector.
In order to fire someone, French companies with more than 600 employees must go through legal procedures lasting 106 days. It costs French companies 2.6 times as much to fire a 35-year- old as it costs an English company; and of course there may be some people out there who are sometimes nervous about losing their jobs, and might wish that they had the kind of protections enjoyed in France.

But that is to miss the central economic reality, an understanding that was at the heart of the British labour market reforms of the 1980s, changes that have been very largely responsible for the 52 consecutive quarters of growth enjoyed by Britain and unemployment currently low by European standards.
The point is that if you make it easier to fire, you also make it easier to hire: and that is the way to get the economy moving. Anyone who cares about the future of the European economy - and it matters deeply to us, the fate of our leading trading partners - should get out to Paris and support de Villepin in a counter-demonstration.

All because he is upset at French service on Air France. "It matters deeply to us, the fate of our leading trading partners" he opines, and once again the debate is reduced to the economic level, that god of modern life, Mammon. Worker needs to be set against worker to destroy any solidarity and its concurrent power against the owners and government. With a divided working class, the elite function with impunity. They certainly are allowed to have their lobbies and hunting clubs and golf courses where they do business. They have million dollar and more golden handshakes when they are fired after running a business into the ground. When they go into government, their holdings are put into "blind trusts" where their cronies ensure a level of plausible deniability when companies in which they have holdings just happen, surely a coincidence, to be awarded huge government contratcs. Think Rumsfeld and tamiflu and Cheney and Haliburton.

While we doubt a just and equitable society will ever be, or could ever be, constructed on our poor planet, as long as each of the 6 billion individuals on it remains tethered to the base desires of one's personality, we are happy to see that there are still people who refuse to take the blathering idiocies of economic liberalism as a given, simply because the government and the media tell us so. The French are still able to think for themselves. They are showing us that the future is not yet written. Resistance to globalisation is possible. Resistance to American, pathocratic values is more than possible, it is necessary.

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