Exit and Voice

Two million French can't be wrong, right?

All of this is, of course, precisely what previous generations of European politicians have feared. For the past decade, French, German and other European leaders have tried to unify European tax laws and regulations, the better to "even out the playing field" -- or (depending on your point of view) to make life equally difficult everywhere. The emigration patterns of the past decade -- and the past five years in particular -- prove that that effort has failed. Sarkozy's election campaign, if successful, might put the final nail in the coffin.

The political and economic consequences of this new mobility could be quite profound. Countries such as Poland and France may soon be forced to scrap those regulations and taxes that hamper employment, however much the French unions and the Polish bureaucracy want to keep them: If they don't, their young people won't come home. Leaders in those countries may also have to alter their rhetoric. Sarkozy's Socialist opponent, Segolene Royal, now uses words such as "entrepreneurship" at least some of the time, too.

(yeah yeah, the Cato guy essentially made the same quote, but its the money graf as the kids say)

It's also apropos of the recent Will Wilkinson post where he totally pwns one of Ezra Klein's cobloggers on the subject of whether or not France is 'just fine, thanks', whereby a quote Will's quote of Edmund Phelps:

Why does it suck so bad there “compared to the U.S. and a few other countries that share the U.S’s characteristics?”

In my thesis, the Continental economies’ root problem is a dearth of economic dynamism–loosely, the rate of commercially successful innovation. [...]

Further, I argue that the cause of that dearth of dynamism lies in the sort of “economic model” found in most, if not all, of the Continental countries. A country’s economic model determines its economic dynamism. The dynamism that the economic model possesses is in turn a crucial determinant of the country’s economic performance: Where there is more entrepreneurial activity–and thus more innovation, as well as all the financial and managerial activity it leads to– there are more jobs to fill, and those added jobs are relatively engaging and fulfilling. Participation rises accordingly and productivity climbs to a higher path. Thus I see the sort of economic model operating in the Continental countries to be a major cause– perhaps the largest cause–of their lackluster performance characteristics.

Sparing you further recursion of other people's posts and points, I think it bears remarking that despite the fact that 2 million French have left for bigger and more dynamic things, those remaining in La France happen to be replacing them at a decent clip (for Europeans, anyway)- so I wonder if the anecdote Anne's seeing here is simply the latest iteration of a trend that's been going on for roughly 3 centuries now- the dynamic folk of Europe *and* their misfits leave (coming to the US or anglosphere), contributing to and amplifying the dynamism of their new homes, while those remaining make the old country ever more of what drove the others out in the first place, in which case the effort to harmonize the crappiness everywhere won't work, and America and Europe's civic cultures will continue to diverge as there's self segregation of dynamists and stasists. Inwhich case Anne's conclusion will probably not come to pass, so long as the conservative types stay at home and the liberals all leave...

Share this

Actually, Sarkozy's plan for

Actually, Sarkozy's plan for Europe is to use it politically so that those pesky neigbors stop having lower taxes than France. Once, Europe was about free trade and freedom of movement, now it has become political and its really about creating a "cartel of state" which is obviously bad for the people.

Yeah, Sarko is not the big

Yeah, Sarko is not the big liberal hope, but he's probably marginally better for France and the world than Sego.

Matthew Parris had an

Matthew Parris had an interesting piece on this at the weekend: He reckons that France isn't ready for Liberalism yet and needs to be really, really disabused of the notion that Dirigisme can work. In his view, the UK was ready for Thatcher's reforms after the disastrous Labour government of the mid to late 1970s - they were heartily sick of the power of Labour Unions - but they hadn't been ready in the early 1970s when Ted Heath came to power (incidentally: to my mind this is overly flattering to Heath who was, in my view, a standard issue 1970s corporatist rather than a reformer). So, even though he favours reform for France he's rooting for Sego. As he concludes:

France is on the road to that knowledge, rejection and despair, but it is not there yet. Ms Royal, still passionate for l’exception française, is the leader to take France all the way. Onward, Ségo, I say: onward to the presidency. And after that, onward to the buffers. And hit them good and hard.

Who didn't see that coming?

Except for, of course, The Economist Magazine, which I used to like before I ran into some major editorial blind spots, such as its infatuation with the European Union and its support for strict gun control. Sorry, I guess I shouldn't be sharing my history so publicly, but it really hurts to remember the feeling of betrayal and disappointment. :-)