Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, April 10, 2006

One last time for the road: the Times on the French protests

Elaine Sciolino again.

President Jacques Chirac crumbled under pressure from students, unions, business executives and even some of his own party leaders today, announcing that he would rescind a disputed youth labor law intended to make hiring more flexible.

Pussy. Imagine a democratic government backing off a policy in the face of widespread popular opposition. It's so French.

The new law was intended to give employers a simpler way of hiring young workers under the age of 26 on a trial basis without immediately exposing companies to the cumbersome and costly benefits that make hiring and firing such a daunting enterprise.

Oh those cumbersome and costly benefits and job protections.

Opposition to the law reflects the deep-rooted fear among the French of losing their labor and social protection in a globalized world.

Poll data please, Ms. Sciolino? Are you sure opposition to the law doesn't reflect a deep-rooted agreement among the French that it's a bad fucking idea?

Now for the climax:

To replace the defunct youth labor law, senior lawmakers from Mr. Chirac's party presented a much weaker draft law to Parliament today.

The new proposal would give employers financial incentives to encourage the hiring and training of young workers, and give job seekers more guidance and increase internships in professions where jobs are relatively plentiful, including restaurants, hotels and nursing.

There will be temporary subsidies or tax breaks for companies hiring unskilled young workers permanently. The cost of these measures, about $363 million a year, would be financed through an increase in tobacco taxes.

You have to be completely high to describe this set of proposals as a "weaker" law. When Chirac proposed reducing from two years to one the period during which employers could easily fire their young employees, that was a weaker version of the same law. This, on the other hand, is a completely different approach to the problem, and in many ways a much more aggressive one.

And finally, the denouement:

Perhaps the most surprising setback for the French government during the crisis over the jobs law came when some business leaders, who were supposed to find it easier to hire young workers with the new law, began to criticize the government's handling of the dispute and warned that a prolonged crisis could damage France economically.

Not surprising at all, actually. Only surprising if you think business leaders should automatically sign onto any neoliberal policy, no matter how small the advantage to them (and frankly, the ability to fire workers under age 26 wouldn't really help them all that much) and no matter how great the cost. Businesses don't think like that. Ideologues think like that.

Tags: French protests, France, New York Times, Jacques Chirac, Dominique de Villepin


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