France discourages Job Creation with a Short Workweek, Confiscatory Tax Rates and Banning Emails after 6 PM

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 12th, 2014

Week in Review

For socialism to work you need businesses to provide jobs.  Because without people working the government can’t have confiscatory tax rates to fund a massive socialist state.  You’ve got to have jobs.  Which confiscatory tax rates tend to discourage.  For business and rich investors don’t want to pay confiscatory tax rates.  François Hollande ran on a socialist platform in France.  Promising to raise taxes to bring down the deficit.  Which he did.  Raise taxes.  But it didn’t lower an unemployment rate stubbornly staying above 10%.

High taxes and a poor economy caused the socialists to lose elections.  So Hollande is putting together a tax-cutting package.  To reverse their electoral losses.  You’d think the socialists would have learned their lessons that the people want jobs.  And to have jobs you need a business-friendly environment.  Which something like this is not going to help (see France bans work e-mail after 6 p.m. by John Johnson, Newser, posted 4/11/2014 on USA Today).

France already has a 35-hour work week, and a new rule is designed to make sure that it doesn’t start shading toward 40 hours because of work-related e-mail.

The Guardian reports that the rule forbids workers from checking their phones or computers for work stuff after 6 p.m., and it forbids employers from pressuring them to do so.

The move apparently doesn’t affect all workers in France, but it does cover about 1 million workers in the tech industry — including French employees of Google and Facebook…

At Fox Business, a U.S. labor expert finds it hard to believe the IT industry can manage such a draconian shut-off time.

“There’s always something going wrong off the clock — when a computer goes down, it doesn’t go down between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

It’s yet another thing to discourage business.  Things happen after hours.  Can you imagine a business wanting to open themselves to that kind of liability?  Having someone in the company send out an email without checking the clock first?  Or someone working late into the evening to catch up on a project.  Sending out a bunch of emails so people could read them first thing in the morning.  If someone else is working late do they read this email?  Perhaps this person was waiting for this email and would like to address it that evening to reduce his or her workload the following day.  Would this worker have been pressured into reading the email knowing his or her boss would have appreciated the extra effort?

There’s a reason why General Motors (GM) went bankrupt.  Well, there are a few of them.  But one of them was costly workplace rules.  Such as only allowing an electrician to change a light bulb at a work station.  Even if the person at that workstation could have changed that bulb in a couple of minutes.  Instead of waiting an hour or so for skilled trades to come around to unscrew the burnt out lamp and screw in a new lamp.

These little workplace rules add up.  And though seemingly harmless when you look at them one at a time in the aggregate they increase the cost of business.  A lot.  Just ask GM.  Something businesses look at when they are considering the location of a new factory.  Whether to expand production at an existing factory.  Or whether to shut down a factory and move production out of the country to a more business-friendly environment.  Thus killing job creation.  Jobs the socialists need for people to have so they can pay confiscatory taxes on their earnings.

A business unfriendly environment will never lower the unemployment rate.  As the socialists in France have proven.  And left-leaning governments everywhere have proven.  Confiscatory tax rates do not attract businesses.  Or rich investors.  They discourage them.  And encourage them to take their money and invest it elsewhere.  And create jobs elsewhere.  In another country that is a little kinder to business.  And job creation.

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The French boo Socialist François Hollande because of High Taxes and a Bad Economy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 16th, 2013

Week in Review

The Founding Fathers gave us a republic because they feared democracy.  Or mob rule.  In a republic you elect responsible people to represent you in government.  In a democracy it’s majority rule of the people.  Often when they are agitated or angered about something.  Which can trample on minority rights.  If the mob is angry over a group of immigrants working for a lower wage the mob can vote a ban on those immigrants.  Round them up.  And send them home.  Or imprison them.  This is the danger of a true democracy.  Anything the majority agrees on can become law.  Which is why the Founding Fathers gave us a republic.  And prayed that only wise men who shared their Enlightenment views would enter government.

Another danger of a true democracy is that once the people understand that they can vote themselves the treasury they will.  While responsible representatives won’t.  Until people start looking at government as a way to get rich.  And become professional politicians.  Instead of the part-time representatives the Founding Fathers envisioned.  Which transformed the republic into a democracy.  Only it’s our representatives that have descended into mob rule.  As professional politicians buy votes by giving the people generous government benefits that the state will soon be unable to afford.  Which is what is happening in France now (see French president booed at WWI ceremony posted 11/11/2013 on the Associated Press).

France’s unpopular president ignored jeers by protesters as he laid flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier during a ceremony marking the end of World War I…

Shouts of “Hollande resign!” rang out and some demonstrators wore the red caps that have come to symbolize an anti-tax movement that has caused violent protests in Brittany in recent weeks…

Hollande’s popularity has sunk to record lows amid growing dissatisfaction over weak economic growth, high taxes and rising joblessness.

The French people voted the socialist into office because they wanted more free stuff.  Or wanted not to lose the free stuff they already had.  Courtesy of their social democracy.  Which promised cradle-to-the-grave government benefits.  But declining birthrates led to a falling population growth rate all over Europe.  Such that the number of people receiving those government benefits is growing while the number of people paying for those benefits is not.  French president Nicolas Sarkozy tried to be responsible.  While socialist presidential challenger François Hollande (the guy the French now hate) said the problem was that they weren’t taxing the rich enough.  And the other usual socialist claptrap.  Well, the socialist won.  He raised taxes.  The economy tanked as expected.  And now the French people hate him.

This is exactly what the Founding Fathers feared about democracy.  The French republic devolved into mob rule.  And tried to vote themselves the treasury.  Which leads to only higher taxes.  Or cut benefits as the state can no longer afford to pay for these benefits.  Which is where the French are now.  And the Americans will soon be.

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The French People have reached their Limit on Taxes and Protest their Government

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 10th, 2013

Week in Review

The American left wants what Europe has a lot of.  Social democracies.  They want a great nanny state in the United States that provides cradle-to-the-grave welfare.  All funded with lots and lots of taxes.  Look to Europe, they say.  No one there complains about their high taxes.  And they enjoy wonderful cradle-to-the-grave welfare.  This is what the American people want, too.  So they can be as happy and content as Europeans (see French riot police use tear gas on anti-tax protesters by AFP posted 11/9/2013 on France24).

French riot police fired tear gas at hundreds of anti-tax demonstrators in northwest France on Saturday after protesters pelted them and tried to drive a tractor through a barricade, an AFP photographer said…

Demonstrators chanted slogans against France’s Socialist government, which earlier this month suspended the application of the so-called ecotax…

There were more anti-tax protesters elsewhere in Brittany and also around the country, including near the major cities of Lyon and Marseille, and in the capital Paris.

The ecotax, aimed at encouraging environmentally friendly commercial transport, imposes new levies on French and foreign vehicles transporting commercial goods weighing over 3.5 tonnes.

Well, apparently the French have reached their limit on taxes.  And this after they elected a socialist to office.

This is why there is such a sense of urgency on the left.  When Barack Obama became president what did the left do?  Address the horrible economy?  No.  They passed one of the largest welfare programs in history.  Obamacare.  While they held the House and Senate.  So instead of trying to make life better for all Americans by cutting taxes and regulations to stimulate economic activity they rammed Obamacare into law.  While they could.  For it isn’t often when the Democrats control the presidency and both houses of Congress.

And now there is even greater urgency.  For Europe’s social democracies are imploding.  And these nations are even turning away from their socialist pasts.  Turning back towards capitalism.  Which explains the urgency.  They want to hurry up and get a European-style social democracy in America before all of Europe abandons them.  Severely weakening the ‘look to Europe’ argument.  Especially if Europe embraces capitalism following the collapse of their social democracies.

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France tried the President Obama Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction only to see it Fail

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 1st, 2013

Week in Review

All we heard during the debt ceiling debate and the sequester debate from President Obama is that we must have a balanced approach.  Tax hikes now.  And spending cuts later.  Which, of course, means no spending cuts.  Ever.  For why would they cut spending after they got their tax hikes?  Too many Republicans got snookered by past Democrats on that false promise.

President Obama assures us that if we raise tax rates it will solve all of our problems.  But if we cut spending that’s just stupid.  Because government spending creates economic activity.  According to the Keynesian economics playbook, at least.  And President Obama is a Keynesian.  In fact, he’s so much a Keynesian that some would even call him a socialist.  But Keynesian economics hasn’t worked in America.  It didn’t work in the 1970s.  It gave us a dot-com bubble in the 1990s.  And the beginning of the real estate bubble that burst into the subprime mortgage crisis in the 2000s.  So we’ve tried Keynesian economics and it doesn’t work.  And, as it turns out, Keynesian economics that borders on outright socialism doesn’t work either (see France signals shift to tax cuts in boost to business by AFP posted 9/1/2013 on France 24).

France’s Socialist government is hinting it may appease discontent at tax rises by putting more stress on spending cuts in its fight to control the budget and boost growth…

France has so far relied on tax hikes for about two-thirds of its fiscal adjustment. Most famously it hiked the tax rate to 75 percent on income above 1 million euros.

The reliance on tax hikes has also prompted warnings from the IMF and European Commission that it should focus more on cutting spending in order to avoid snuffing out the recovery…

France’s social welfare system is funded primarily by charges on labour, burdening businesses…

A threat to nationalise a French plant owned by steel giant Arcelor Mittal to protect jobs raised concerns among foreign businesses…

The latest purchasing managers surveys by Markit found that while business activity is picking up in the eurozone overall, it contracted at a faster rate in France this month.

Francois Hollande has been president since May 15, 2012.  That’s about one year and three months.  And in that time his socialist government raised taxes.  But barely cut spending.  Just as President Obama wants to do to reduce the U.S. budget deficit.  Despite the fact that it doesn’t work.  As France has proven.

The U.S. doesn’t have to try the President Obama way.  The balanced approach.  AKA, the all tax and no spending-cut approach.  Because France has tried it in a grand way only to see it fail.  It failed so badly that they’re talking about outright socialism.  Nationalizing industry.  Because the economic climate is so anti-business in France that there is no job creation.  Because there is no business growth.  Worse, the French economy is contracting.  That’s right, while the rest of the Eurozone is seeing growth France’s economy is going deeper into recession.  Because they’re doing what President Obama wants to do in the U.S.

It’s time we purge Keynesian economics from our governments for good.  It is the source of all the great financial problems countries are having all around the world.  All it does is empower those in power.  Elevating them to elite positions.  Where they enjoy a life of plenty and extreme comfort.  While their people struggle to provide for their families.  It’s time that we return to classical economics.  Save our money and live frugally.  Creating private investment capital from our savings via a sound banking system.  Where bankers practice good lending practices without governments passing their risks onto the taxpayers.  Which is what gave us the subprime mortgage crisis.  And the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Finally, governments have to spend less.  So we can cut tax rates.  Providing the spark to ignite private investment.  Which drives business expansion.  And creates jobs.  Which is what people want.  So they can provide for their families.  Not more benefits that the government can’t pay for.  No matter how high the government taxes them.

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Raped Woman Charged with having Sex outside of Marriage in Dubai

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 21st, 2013

Week in Review

The political left hates Christianity.  For their opposition to casual sex.  Birth control (where they primarily hate the Catholics).  The morning after-pill.  And, of course, abortion.  They say Christians hate women.  That they have a war on women.  That they are no better than the Taliban.  Which is why the political left bends over backwards to appease Islam.  Not because they like the religion.  But because Islam doesn’t like Christianity.  A little of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Despite Islam doing things like this (see Marte Deborah Dalelv: Norwegian woman’s16-month sentence in Dubai after rape claim draws outrage by The Associated Press posted 7/21/2013 on CBS News).

A Norwegian woman sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai for having sex outside marriage after she reported an alleged rape said Friday she decided to speak out in hopes of drawing attention to the risks of outsiders misunderstanding the Islamic-influenced legal codes in this cosmopolitan city.

The case has drawn outrage from rights groups and others in the West since the 24-year-old interior designer was sentenced Wednesday. It also highlights the increasingly frequent tensions between the United Arab Emirates’ international atmosphere and its legal system, which is strongly influenced by Islamic traditions in a nation where foreign workers and visitors greatly outnumber locals.

That’s right.  In Dubai if a man rapes a woman they charge the woman with a crime.  For having sex outside of marriage.  Strange how in all their campaign messages during the last election we never heard the left talk about Christians doing this in the United States.  Why wouldn’t they do this?  For it would be a powerful message.  Oh, that’s right, because the Christians don’t charge women with having sex outside of marriage after they’ve been raped.  Even with their ‘war on women’.

Christian women can use birth control.  Even some ‘Catholics’ are pro-abortion.  Like Ted Kennedy was.  So women are far freer here in the United States than they are in Dubai.  Yet you never hear the left attack Islam.  They only attack Christianity.  For they may jail women for having sex outside of marriage in Muslim nations.  But they don’t have a war on women like the Christians do in America.  Which is about the only thing you hear the political left complain about when it comes to religion.  Not the oppression and abuse of women in some Muslim nations.

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The Language Police descend upon a Spoon in a Montreal Yogurt Shop

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 22nd, 2013

Week in Review

If you think there is hostility between liberals and conservatives in the United States try this.  Go to Ontario, Canada, and greet someone by saying, “Bonjour personne anglophone.  Permettez-moi de parler lentement alors même que vous mon obtus ami peut comprendre ma langue supérieure.  (Which, according to Bing, translates to “Hello English-speaking person.  Let me speak slowly so even you my dim-witted friend may understand my superior language.”)

Do NOT do this.  Because if you do you may really offend someone and cause an international incident.  For the English-speaking Canadians are not exactly thrilled with French-speaking Canadians and their French language agenda.  Who even have language police enforcing a French-only language law in Quebec (see Quebec language cops object to yogurt shop’s spoons by Giuseppe Valiante, QMI Agency, posted 6/21/2013 on the Toronto Sun).

David Lipper said he had no idea his two Menchies Frozen Yogurt franchises in the Montreal area were carrying potential contraband.

Lipper said he “was so paranoid to ensure everything in the store was in French” that he missed a pivotal item: the yogurt spoons.

Lipper said an inspector told him he violated the province’s language laws and the oversight will cost his head office at least $30,000…

The “cow” spoon is engraved with the words “sweet moosic!” The language inspector who visited Lipper’s yogurt shop a few days ago didn’t appreciate the play on words.

So why are the English-speaking Canadians so upset with the French-speaking Canadians?  Because of things like this.  While every other province outside of Quebec has to be bilingual.  All of their businesses, their courts, their stores and even their road signs have to be in both English and French.  Which costs a pretty penny.  Yet in Quebec there is no English allowed.  Despite Canada being officially bilingual.

So don’t go up to an English-speaking Canadian and say something rude to them in French.  For it is almost certain that they will fail to see the humor in it.

For the record the French were first to Canada.  The lower town of Quebec City dates back to 1603.  So they had a lot of history there before the British defeated them in the Seven Years’ War and made French Canada British.  So you can understand their desire to keep the French language, customs and institutions alive in the heart of what was once New France.  But on the other hand they have imposed bilingualism on the rest of Canada.  Where the vast majority of these people trace their history back to the British.  So it is a touchy subject.  And will forever remain one.  Just be polite and respectful to whomever you talk to in Canada and you can’t go wrong.  For they are a kind people.  And will treat you like family.

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France’s New Socialist Policies are pushing France back into Recession

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 24th, 2013

Week in Review

The French brought back the Socialists to power in France with their election of Francois Hollande.  And they voted for him because he was going to stick it to the rich.  Raising the top marginal tax rate to 75%.  All the Keynesian economists said this would solve all of France’s problems.  It would reduce the deficit.  And increase confidence in the business sector.  Boosting the economy.  When critics of the move said this would drive the wealthy and their money out of France they said pish tosh.  They are patriots.  And will simply whistle a happy tune and pay this new high tax rate.  Time has passed.  And now we can see the economic results of the new Socialist policies (see Recession stalks France as business slump hits crisis levels by Leigh Thomas posted 3/21/2013 on Reuters).

French business activity shrank in March at the fastest pace in four years, defying expectations for an improvement and probably plunging the euro zone’s second-biggest economy into a recession, a survey showed on Thursday…

Separate figures for the services and manufacturing sectors showed that business activity was retreating even faster than economists polled by Reuters had forecast…

That would mean that France, which has already abandoned its 2013 deficit target due to the lack of growth, has entered its third recession since the financial crisis…

The increasingly dire state of French business is all the more alarming as consumers, traditionally a major driver of the economy, are in no place to pick up the slack.

Unemployment is above 10 percent and there is no sign that it will fall any time soon, which is weighing on consumer spending.

It also explains in large measure why President Francois Hollande’s approval ratings are at record lows less than a year into his term in office, which he won on promises to revive growth and boost jobs.

Apparently the Socialists and the Keynesian economists were wrong.

You don’t create economic activity by increasing the cost of business.  And lower the rate of return on investment.  You create economic activity by lowering the cost of business to making it attractive to expand business.  You increase the rate of return on investment capital to encourage investors to take more chances on new startup companies.  It’s not rocket science.  If you increase the price of groceries people buy less groceries.  If you increase the cost of gasoline people by less gasoline.  Because people have limited disposable income.  And the higher the prices are the less that disposable income can buy.

If you increase the cost of business it raises the prices on the goods and services they sell.  The higher prices cause people to buy less.  And if you raise the cost of investment capital by taxing rich people more that will increase the cost of financing for businesses.  Which they will pass on to the consumer in higher prices.  Somehow Keynesian economists just don’t understand this.  But people living under their bad economic policies do.  Because they are always getting by on less because of these rising tax rates.

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The French protest against Gay Marriage and Gay Adoption

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 13th, 2013

Week in Review

Progressives in America lament the provincial ways of the American Right.  Who they feel are so out of touch.  Stuck in the past.  They wish they were more like the open-minded Europeans.  Who have much more liberal attitudes toward sex.  Drugs.  And gay marriage and gay adoption (see Thousands protest against French president Francois Hollande’s plan to legalise gay marriage by Reuters posted 1/13/2013 on The Times of India).

Several hundred thousand people massed at the Eiffel Tower in Paris on Sunday to protest against President Francois Hollande’s plan to legalise gay marriage and adoption by June.

Three columns of protesters, waving pink and blue flags showing a father, mother and two children, converged on the landmark from different meeting points in Paris. Many came after long train and bus rides from the provinces…

Strongly backed by the Catholic Church hierarchy, Barjot and groups working with her mobilised church-going families and political conservatives as well as some Muslims, evangelicals and even homosexuals opposed to gay marriage to protest…

“The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defence of children,” said Daniel Liechti, vice-president of the National Council of French Evangelicals, which urged its members to join the march.

Opponents of gay marriage and adoption, including most faith leaders in France, have argued that the reform would create psychological and social problems for children, which they believe should trump the desire for equal rights for gay adults…

Support for gay marriage in France has slipped by about 10 percentage points to under 55 percent since opponents began speaking out, according to surveys, and fewer than half of those polled recently wanted gays to win adoption rights.

Under this pressure, legislators dropped a plan to also allow lesbians access to artificial insemination.

Organisers insist they are not against gays and lesbians but for the rights of children to have a father and mother.

The audience of the Daily Show will not like this.  They were fine with the French not supporting George W. Bush in some of his war on terror stuff.  Even mocked those who called French fries freedom fries.  But protesting against gay marriage and gay adoption?  That’s just beyond the pale.  Once Jon Stewart makes fun of the French for this his audience will soon be ordering freedom fries instead of French fries.

In all the talk about gay marriage and gay adoption what you hear most about is what’s best for those who want to get married or adopt a child.  Not what’s best for the children.  Which is about the only time the Left is not doing something that is best for the children.  Whether it’s changing the lunch menu at our public schools to banning 2nd and 3rd hand smoke anywhere within a hundred yards of our children to the clamor for gun control.  Everything is always for the children.  Except gay marriage and gay adoption.  That’s for gay adults who want what heterosexual couples have.  Wedded bliss.  And a family.

Whereas in France there are a lot of people who worry about what it may do to the children.  Who are concerned for the children.  Who are fragile and influenced by their environment.  Which is why the Left is constantly trying to protect them.  From cigarette ads.  To violence in movies.  But for some reason they have no concerns of the affects of being raised by gay parents will have on a child.  Who is confused enough with the birds and bees as it is.

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If you Tax the Rich in France at Confiscatory Tax Rates they will Leave France

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 15th, 2012

Week in Review

Rich people won’t leave the country if we raise tax rates.  Governments everywhere say this.  For they will believe that people with the ability to create wealth will just sit idly by while the government takes it away.  So believed the French socialist president.  François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande.  Who said he would tax millionaires at 75%.  And by golly he’s going to do it.  But it turns out those who can create wealth are none too keen on paying 75% of everything they earn over a million to the government.  And they’re saying so.  Not so much in words.  But with their feet (see Gerard Depardieu moves to tiny tax haven in Belgium just 800 YARDS from border where a third of people are French citizens dodging Hollande’s high taxes by Ian Sparks posted 12/10/2012 on the Daily Mail).

French film star Gerard Depardieu has moved into his new ‘tax exile’ mansion in Belgium – just 800 yards from the border with France.

The 64-year-old actor’s lavish home in the village of Nechin – on a street known as Millionaire’s Row – is less than two minutes drive from the French town of Roubaix.

Depardieu is the latest wealthy Frenchman fleeing a looming new tax of 75 per cent on all earnings over one million euros – about £850,000…

France’s economy minister Pierre Moscovici hit out this week at repeated warnings in the world’s media that France’s richest people were fleeing overseas.

He told a conference of business leaders in Paris: ‘I am troubled to read in the papers that the exile has begun, and that companies are fleeing…

His comments also came after Laurence Parisot – head of MEDEF, the French equivalent of the UK’s Confederation of British Industry – warned last month that left-wing economic policies risked turning France into ‘the poor man of Europe’.

She said: ‘Large foreign investors are shunning France altogether. It’s becoming really dramatic.

Now before you say the rich are a bunch of evil unpatriotic people who put their greed before the welfare of their nation answer me this.  Did you buy a lotto ticket for that recent half billion dollar jackpot?  If so, why?  Did you want that half billion?  Or did you want to win it so you could give it to the government to help the welfare of the nation?  Don’t answer that for it’s a stupid question.  People buy lotto tickets because they want to be rich.  So they will support raising taxes on the evil rich right up until the day they win a big lotto jackpot and become one of the evil rich.

Let’s look at what winning that jackpot would be like if the U.S. had a top marginal tax rate of 75% for all earnings over a million dollars.  Based on the 2011 tax rates for married filed jointly, and adding the 75% rate to the top of those tax rates, how much of a half billion dollar jackpot do you think you would be able to keep?  After paying your federal income tax of $374,818,212 you’d have only $125,181,789 left.  That’s still a lot of money.  But how many of you would be satisfied with winning $500,000,000 while only being able to keep $125,181,789?  Not many I’m guessing.  Most probably would say that’s not fair.  Which is what people like Gerard Depardieu are saying in France.  And why they are moving to Belgium.

Being a rich, greedy bastard is a sliding scale.  If you earn $35,000 annually anyone earning more who doesn’t vote to increase tax rates on the rich is a rich, greedy bastard.  Should you win a $500 million lotto jackpot the rich, greedy bastard line moves up.  And only applies to people earning more that $500 million.  So you can keep what is yours.

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Paying French Workers more for less Work is putting France on the Path towards Greece

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 9th, 2012

Week in Review

France is where President Obama is trying to take the United States.  While the French are trying to figure out a way to save the French from the French (see Insight: Making France work again by Mark John posted 12/9/12012 on Reuters).

Yet the overtime episode is a telling insight into a France struggling with itself: the France whose appetite for work sits uneasily with the France whose priority is to sustain one of highest standards of living in the world…

Its welfare system is among the most generous in the world. A road and rail transport network means its companies are within hours of tens of millions of potential customers. It is a leader in luxury goods and is the world’s top tourist destination.

But somehow that Gallic vigour is being lost.

Unemployment is at 14-year highs as plant closures mount, France’s share of export markets is declining, and the fact that no government in three decades has managed a budget surplus has created a public debt pile almost as big as national output…

And it was the cost of that generous welfare state that has raised the cost of doing business in France so much that less business is done in France.  Less business means fewer jobs, less private income to tax and less corporate income to tax.  Forcing the French to turn to borrowing to sustain that generous welfare state.

By 1980, French economic growth had shrunk to two percent compared to its pre-oil crisis rate of above six percent – a rate which France and most rich states have not seen since.

In the years that followed, governments around the world reacted in their fashion: Britain’s Margaret Thatcher faced down Britain’s unions in a drive to free up labor markets, while Scandinavian leaders sought to free their economies of debt.

In France, governments of left and right chose entrenchment: strong rises in public spending which helped ease the social and employment shocks but which sent national debt soaring from 20 percent of output in 1980 to its current record of 91 percent…

The high productivity of its workers might have compensated for their rising cost. But decisions such as the 1997 cut in the working week from 39 to 35 hours meant many French were also starting to work less.

A 2008 paper on “the Liberation of French growth” by Jacques Attali, ex-adviser to Socialist President Francois Mitterand, calculated that while the French lived 20 years longer than they did in 1936, they worked 15 years less over their lifespan – a shortfall he labeled “35 years of extra inactivity”.

“Even given that each French worker produces five percent more per hour than an American, he produces 35 percent less over his working life,” he found in the 245-page report.

You need two things to generate tax revenue.  A tax rate.  And income to tax.  In other words, you need businesses to grow and hire more people.  But when they reduced the work week down to 35 hours that’s fewer hours worked.  And less income to tax.

One of the ideas behind the reduced work week was to force employers to hire more workers.  For example, if a company had 15 employees working 39 hours per week that’s a total of 585 hours a week to complete the necessary work each week.  When they reduced the work week to 35 hours it now took 16.7 workers (585/35) to complete the 585 hours of required work per week.  As you can’t hire 0.7 of a worker that rounds up to two new workers the state believed owners would hire.  The government believed they’ve reduced the unemployment rate.  But they’ve actually increased the unemployment rate.

The existing workers may be working 4 hours less a week but their employers are still paying them the same.  Which makes workers more costly to employers.  For they’re getting paid the same but are working fewer hours.  Forcing the owner to raise his or her selling price to cover these higher costs.  Or laying off a worker or two so their current revenue can pay for their higher labor costs.

So all of the government’s policies intended to increase the number of high-paying jobs actually decreases the number of high paying jobs.  Encouraging employers to hire part-time workers or temporary workers in lieu of full time workers to escape these higher labor costs.  Reducing the gross amount of income in the economy to tax.  Forcing the government to borrow more to support that generous welfare state.  And it gets worse.

France has an aging population.  So not only are French employees working fewer hours there are fewer workers entering the workforce than leaving it.  And those who are leaving the workforce are collecting pensions.  And consuming health care resources.  With these growing expenditures being paid by fewer workers entering the workforce who are working fewer hours each week.  Forcing the government to borrow even more to support that generous welfare state.  Which is why their total debt now is 91% of GDP.

And it will only get worse if France doesn’t make the country more business friendly.  While at the same time cutting their spending.  As French students took to the streets to protest a proposed increase in the retirement age a year or so ago don’t expect either to happen anytime soon.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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