Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 26, 2007 / 12 Elul, 5767

What French prez won't change

By George Will


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | PARIS — French libraries are said to file their nation's constitutions — there have been more than a dozen since 1789; the current one is a relatively ancient 49 years old — under periodicals. Now Nicolas Sarkozy, France's peripatetic new president, has created a commission on constitutional reform. The commission includes Jack Lang, who, as minister of culture in 1983 under President Francois Mitterrand, staged a sublimely unserious conference on the (supposed) world economic crisis, featuring the likes of Sophia Loren, Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer.


Is Sarkozy a serious man? Some American conservatives consider him a kindred spirit and think they see in his election a heartening portent of their coming revival: He succeeded an intensely unpopular two-term president of his own party (Jacques Chirac) by promising bold reforms. Perhaps.


But Guy Sorman, a conservative writer who has known Sarkozy in politics and, he says, as a friend for 30 years, believes that like most politicians the president is not a man of culture and ideas, but unlike most French politicians "he does not pretend to be." He is, Sorman says, a "Keynesian" — a believer in using government to regulate the economy by managing demand — "who doesn't know who Keynes was."


Sarkozy does know of Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, who was one of Margaret Thatcher's intellectual heroes. Sarkozy has, however, said, "I don't wake up every morning asking what Hayek or Adam Smith would have done." That is, unfortunately, obvious. A fountain of suspiciously opaque formulations (he advocates "regulated liberalism" and "humane globalization"), he is pleased that "the word 'protection' is no longer taboo." (When was it ever taboo in France?) He is committed to continuing protections of the most cosseted French faction, the farmers. When calling for a "genuine European industrial policy," he asks: "Competition as an ideology, as a dogma, what has it done for Europe?" Worse, he wants to curtail the independence of — that is, politicize — the one institution that can save France from itself, the European Central Bank, which can restrain France's ruinous preferences for a loose monetary policy and inflation as slow-motion repudiation of debt.


FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO INFLUENTIAL NEWSLETTER

Every weekday NewsAndOpinion.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


In Sarkozy's book "Testimony," he notes that 30 years ago Britain had a gross domestic product 25 percent lower than that of France. Now Britain's is 10 percent higher. What happened? Margaret Thatcher did. But although Sarkozy vows a "rupture" with the past, he is not bold enough to affirm an affinity with her and to seriously challenge the consensus at the root of France's social sclerosis: Both left and right reject economic liberalism, the left because of its regnant socialism, the right because it regards statism as a prerequisite for national greatness.


France's unemployment rate has not been below 8 percent in 25 years — not since 1982, when Francois Mitterrand inadvertently did what Thatcher intentionally did: killed socialism. Elected president in 1981 promising a "rupture with capitalism," he kept that promise pitilessly. He had the broadest program of nationalizations ever proposed for a free economy; he increased pensions, family allowances, housing allowances and the minimum wage. The franc was devalued three times, and soon he was forced to adopt "socialist rigor" (austerity).


French leftism is perfectly reactionary. Wielding a word with semi-sacred connotations in France, socialists say they are "the resistance." They are not for anything; they are against surrendering any of their entitlements. They stand against three menaces. One is "neoliberalism" — markets supplanting the state as the primary allocator of wealth and opportunity. The second is the Americanization of culture by imports of American entertainments (see the third). The third is globalization (see the first and second).


In May, in an election with the highest turnout (85 percent) since 1981, Sarkozy's socialist opponent, S�gol�ne Royal, a princess of vagueness, won 47 percent of the vote for, essentially, "resistance." Remarkably, she defeated Sarkozy among voters ages 18 to 59 — the working population. It does not bode well for reform that he won by winning huge majorities among those most dependent on the welfare state — 61 percent among those 60 to 69, and 68 percent among those over 70.


One in four French workers is employed in the public sector, which devours 54 percent of GDP. (The U.S. percentage is about 34.) The fact that for 15 years France's GDP and output per hour worked have been declining relative to those of Britain and the United States surely is related to the fact that 60 percent of the French respond positively to the word "bureaucrat." American conservatives should seek happy harbingers elsewhere.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

Archives

© 2006 WPWG

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles