Can't We Just Be More Like the French?

In this case I'm not being sarcastic. Yes, the French (read: "the F-R-E-N-C-H") might be moving slightly away from socialism just as we are diving head first into it. What did it take for them? Riots and massive unemployment? It looks like it. Hm, just what will it take for us to decide to "calmly step away from the socialism"? The French President Sarkozy is resisting calls for an "Obama-style" stimulus package for France!

He's cutting the government! He's cutting spending! Imagine doing all that, right in the middle of Europe, right out in the open! And people in France are marching in protest. Sarkozy appears to be biting the bullet, accepting a temporary contraction of the French economy instead of piling on punishing levels of debt!

An interesting question is: Should we believe the Union's crowd estimate, the Interior Ministry's crowd estimate quoted in this bit from the article linked above:
LYON: Prime Minister Fran├žois Fillon on Monday rejected demands that the French government seek to stimulate consumer spending, rather than follow his plan to stimulate corporate and infrastructure investment, to lift France out of its economic slump.

"It would be irresponsible to chose another policy, which would increase our country's indebtedness without having more infrastructure and increased competitiveness in the end," Fillon said in a speech in Lyon.

More than 1.1 million people took to the streets across France last Thursday, according to the Interior Ministry, with unions putting the number of protesters at 2.5 million, to call on President Nicolas Sarkozy to stop cutting government jobs, increase the minimum wage and spend more on households as the economy enters its first recession since 1993.

Opponents of the government have been calling for an "Obama-style" stimulus plan, one that puts money directly into the pockets of working people.

French unemployment rose by about 45,000 people in December, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Monday, taking the jobless ranks to the highest level in about two years.

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