Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Costs of Saying No to Capitalism

French youth took to the street to protest free market policies...Washington Post's Steve Pearlstein does not find it so difficult to understand what caused these kids to take to the street to express themselves: The French see the free market as a villain.

"A telling poll released in January by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that only 36 percent of French respondents felt that "the free enterprise system and free market economy" is the best system. That's the lowest response from any of the 22 countries polled and compares with 59 percent in Italy, 65 percent in Germany, 66 percent in Britain and 71 percent in the United States."

Pearlstein also pointed out, correctly I think, the government is to be blamed in causing such riots as well.

"After all, the supposedly center-right government that pushed through the new youth-employment contract is the same government that adamantly refused to give up subsidies for farmers, stepped in to prevent foreign takeovers of French companies and, just last week, demanded that Apple iPods accept music downloads from iTunes competitors (read: French competitors). But having declared, in effect, that markets cannot be trusted to generate socially and politically acceptable outcomes, the same government is now shocked to find that it doesn't have much credibility when it asks workers to trust markets when it comes to the terms of their employment."

But this is the sad part of the story:

"when you ask French university students who is the Bill Gates of France, they look at you blankly. It's not simply that they can't name one. The bigger problem is that they can't imagine why it matters, or why that has anything to do with why they can't find a good job."

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