Mostly rational politics, with occasional rants about how a few crazy Republicans are ruining the country.
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Wednesday, November 09, 2005
How to fix France, and what's the right economic model?
I agree with the emerging sentiment that the problem in France is not one of racism, though clearly that exists, but of economics. My friend Bryce (B - you need a blog) is right that France's strict employment policies screw up companies' ability to adapt and innovate, creating a stagnant economy that grows minimally and dramatically underemploys its (well-educated) resources.
But let's not throw the baby out with the bath water and say that every step towards entitlement or protectionism is misguided (not saying you said that B). France, in my opinion goes too far... we've all learned by now that capitalism drives innovation which drives progress, and that all of this can be stifled by policies that are too restrictive. But I also strongly believe that U.S. conservatives who regale us with the wonders of the free market take that too far as well. The free market is what caused generations of elderly to live in poverty before Social Security. There will always be smarter people who are able, if allowed, to take complete advantage of their intellectual inferiors. At some point we have to stop the gap from widening.
The sweet spot, I believe, between free market capitalism and socialist idealism, is the guarantee of basic human rights (the simple version): a certain level of livable subsistence, and basic healthcare. On the first point France probably goes too far and we definitely don't go far enough. But on the second point, the U.S. is lagging what I consider acceptable. Which is why I hope universal healthcare is a big part of the Democratic platform when it's rolled out early next year.