Sunday, November 06, 2005

Why the Paris Riots

The Guardian printed an article on the Paris riots a couple of days ago. The money quote -

The country's immigration and integration policy is based on one of the founding principles of the republic that all its citizens are equal. Few politicians will yet admit, however, that radical and anti-republican measures such as positive discrimination may now be unavoidable.
Why “positive” discrimination? The reason these guys are chronically unemployed is that French labor policy – the one based on the republic’s founding principles – ensures that the young and in-experienced are kept out of the market by forcing prospective employers to pay far more for their work than the value it adds to the company’s bottom line.
I’ve been to France a few times and one of the little differences that illustrate my point is that, except in large chain stores like Carre-Four, French grocery stores do not have baggers. You’ve got to do it yourself. Now you might say that’s not a particularly important job and you’d be correct. It’s why the French don’t do it – the French consumer is not willing to pay for the service at the prices the government demands so businesses won’t include it. But it is a source of job experience nonetheless, one of many denied by the French governments “egalitarian” policies.
Britain, for example, doesn’t seem to have too large a problem getting immigrants working. They’re getting roughly 16,000 a month from the former Eastern Bloc countries and are still maintaining an under 5% unemployment rate. France on the other hand has given approximately 700 work permits in the last 10 months – permits the British immigrants don’t need.
There’s no need for the French to give up their principles of equality and liberty, merely that they actually live up to them. Get rid of your ridiculously high minimum wage, limits on hours worked, and actually let employers fire non-performers, and then lower your barriers to entrepreneurship and you’ll see your economy flourish – able to absorb the immigrant influx without so much as a burp.
France’s current problems are caused by an excess of government intervention. Don’t let them make it worse by allowing more in the form of Affirmative action and Equal Opportunity laws.

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