This particular stand-off, between the centre-right government of Dominique de Villepin and those protesting against his effort to inject a tiny bit of liberalism into France's rigid labour market, may be defused. The Constitutional Council was due to rule on the legality of the new law on March 30th. But the underlying difficulty will remain: the apparent incapacity of the French to adapt to a changing world....
The delusion is that preserving France as it is, in some sort of formaldehyde solution, means preserving jobs for life. Students, as well as unqualified suburban youngsters, do not today face a choice between the new, less protected work contract and a lifelong perch in the bureaucracy. They, by and large, face a choice between already unprotected short-term work and no work at all. And the reason for this, which is also the reason for France's intractable mass unemployment of nearly 10%, is simple: those permanent life-time jobs are so protected, and hence so difficult to get rid of, that many employers are not creating them any more.
Michael Ramirez agrees:
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