Friday, March 17, 2006

More riots in France

The new riots in France should not be considered another outburst of anger from a downtrodden group in French society in the mould of the car burnings we saw earlier this year. Graduates of the Sorbonne may face some difficulty finding work with a youth unemployment rate of 23% but as they are emerging from a top university it is far more likely that they will succeed than fail in finding employment. These demonstrations are more in the mould of the regular strikes by French public sector unions defending their interests; they are strikes in the defence of the status quo.

This is significant because if the earlier riots, in the banlieues where unemployment is 50%, constituted a powerful case for reform the new demontrations, and the public support for them, are indicative of the strength of the political forces opposed to such change. The simple reality is that most French people are employed and a large number of the unemployed are safely contained within the banlieues away from the sight of the middle classes. So long as those in work fear reforms which hurt their security of employment more than they do France's present steady stagnation change is unlikely.


Dave Cole said...

An unemployment rate of 23% is unacceptably high; 50% is spectacularly bad. Reforms that decrease job security, however, are not the way forward. The policy does not create any jobs. Not one. Except for in the ministry of whatever, which you'd probably hate.


Matthew Sinclair said...

Reforms that decrease job security are exactly the way forward. At the moment it is very difficult to fire and people therefore do all they can to avoid hiring (and taking the risk of excess workers).

This doesn't create jobs but only Keynesians who have been in hibernation since the 60s and not spotted that even Keynesians don't believe that crap anymore believe in job creation.