Monday, March 27, 2006


1) Steven Pearlstein: French Take to the Streets to Preserve Their Economic Fantasy

A telling poll released in January by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that only 36 percent of French respondents felt that "the free enterprise system and free market economy" is the best system. That's the lowest response from any of the 22 countries polled and compares with 59 percent in Italy, 65 percent in Germany, 66 percent in Britain and 71 percent in the United States.

Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that Forbes magazine's latest list of global billionaires includes only 14 from France, without a single new entry this year. Germany, a country not twice its size, has four times as many, while Britain, which is about the same size, has 24.

2) BBC: People power grips France by Caroline Wyatt

"I haven't studied hard to get nothing at the end of it," says Marion, with indignation. "I've earned the right to a secure job."
A recent survey suggested that for most of the young in France, the real dream is to become a civil servant - a fonctionnaire. To work in government offices with regular hours, long holidays, and a 35 hour working week.

3) Washington Post: For the French, Joie de Vivre Fades Into Fear

The European media carry a steady diet of stories about the erosion of French business and the workforce -- increasing numbers of companies deserting or avoiding France because of inflexible labor laws and high costs, French millionaires moving across the border due to high tax rates, and a brain drain of French youth to neighboring European countries in search of jobs.

4) Washington Post: Help Wanted as Immigration Faces Overhaul

Businesses say they already patrol job applications to sift out counterfeit documents. At least four out of 10 applicants for jobs at Harry's Essential Grille in Vienna present work documents that look like frauds, such as Social Security cards that feel too thin, said Jason Steward, manager of the restaurant.

5) New York Times: Poverty of the Mind: Disconnection of millions of black youths from the American mainstream by Orlando Patterson

I call this the Dionysian trap for young black men. The important thing to note about the subculture that ensnares them is that it is not disconnected from the mainstream culture. To the contrary, it has powerful support from some of America's largest corporations. Hip-hop, professional basketball and homeboy fashions are as American as cherry pie. Young white Americans are very much into these things, but selectively; they know when it is time to turn off Fifty Cent and get out the SAT prep book.

For young black men, however, that culture is all there is — or so they think. Sadly, their complete engagement in this part of the American cultural mainstream, which they created and which feeds their pride and self-respect, is a major factor in their disconnection from the socioeconomic mainstream.

6) Claire Berlinski: Paris Burning, Once Again

That's because France is still in the grip of precisely the political mentality that has prevailed here since the Middle Ages. As the protesters themselves cheerfully declare: It's the street that rules. Today's mobs, like their predecessors, are notable for their poor grasp of economic principles and their hostility to the free market. Only wardrobe distinguishes these demonstrations from those that led to the invasion of the national convention in 1795, when first the mob protested that commodity prices were too high; when the government responded with price controls, it protested with equal vigor that goods had disappeared and black market prices had risen. Similarly, the students on the streets today espouse economic views entirely unpolluted by reality. If the CPE is enacted, said one young woman, "You'll get a job knowing that you've got to do every single thing they ask you to do because otherwise you may get sacked."

Imagine that.

7) New York Times: Anti-Semitism Surges Among Children of Immigrants

Ianis Roder, 34, a history teacher in a middle school northeast of Paris, said he was stunned by what he witnessed after Sept. 11, 2001. The next day, someone spray-painted in a stairwell of the school the image of an airplane crashing into the World Trade Center beside the words "Death to the U.S., Death to Jews."

When he told his class months later that Hitler had killed millions of million Jews, one boy blurted out, "He would have made a good Muslim!" Mr. Roder told of a Muslim teacher who dismissed her class after a shouting match over Nazi propaganda. The students said the offensive images accurately depicted Jews.


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