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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

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 30, 2007 / 16 Elul, 5767

Ethic of work has vanished in France

By George Will


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | PARIS — "We," the finance minister says, "have a terrible past." She also says: "In a way, we've had it too easy." Christine Lagarde is correct on both counts.


Her first "we" refers to Europe, the second to France. Both Europe's cataclysms and France's comforts condition the context for reforms.


Lagarde, 51, has a more informed affection for America than anyone who has ever risen so high in this country's government. She was an exchange student at a Washington prep school and a Capitol Hill intern during the Nixon impeachment proceedings. As a partner in a large law firm based in Chicago, for several years she lived in, and loved, the most American city.


Today, her challenge is defined by this fact: France's welfare state, which has enabled many to have it "too easy," is incompatible with the welfare of the state, and of society. The government, preoccupied with propitiating dependent groups that it wants to proliferate, is big but weak. And the welfare state weakens its clients. "The ethic of work," Lagarde says, "has vanished."


Recently she threw the intelligentsia into a tizzy by saying: "France is a country that thinks. . . . Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves." Proving her point, intellectuals here theorize about why President Nicolas Sarkozy's jogging is unprogressive: It involves "individualism," "the cult of performance" and "management of the body," whereas walking is "sensitive." Rolling up one's sleeves is, however, almost illegal because of the statutory 35-hour workweek. Lagarde's response to this "stupid" (her word) law is "a law in favor of work," one implementing a slogan that helped Sarkozy get elected in May: "Working more to earn more." What a concept.


Lagarde has undertaken to subvert the 35-hour restriction, which has been enforced by government agents snooping in companies' parking lots for evidence of antisocial industriousness. Overtime work will be exempt from taxes and social insurance charges. For this, she has been abused in parliament by socialists — their invective is as stale as their doctrines — who compare her to Marie Antoinette.


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Why not just repeal the law? Because, Lagarde says, the left considers this "an accrued right." Think about that — a right to be forbidden the right to choose to do something elemental (work). French intellectuals are adept at thinking themselves into such tangles. "They," Lagarde says, "want to bring people down to solidarity." And "they regard work as alienation in the old Marxist understanding."


France's problems actually derive less from a 19th-century German than from a 17th-century Frenchman. Lagarde works in an office complex with portions named for Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, two 20th-century French pioneers of Europe's path to a single market. But another portion is named for Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-83). On behalf of Louis XIV, Colbert practiced mercantilism, using subsidies, tariffs, price controls and other regulations to manage the economy. The French tradition of dirigisme — pervasive state intervention in the economy and society — lives.


Two years ago the newspaper Le Figaro inveighed against "the American ogre" Pepsi, which was interested in buying Danone, the yogurt and bottled water (Evian) company. Practicing "patriotisme ?conomique," Sarkozy, then a cabinet minister, urged mobilization of Danone shareholders to block the sale.


Such "patriotism" aggravates France's social sclerosis and is inimical to Europe's project for burying its "terrible past." In 1951, war-weary Europe, groping toward transcendence of nationality and hence the furies of nationalism, created the European Coal and Steel Community, an attempt to weaken control by nations of two primary commodities for their war machineries. This was the tentative first step toward today's European Union, which limits — although not nearly enough — the ways states can intervene in markets.


These limitations serve Lagarde's project of prying the fingers of politics off vast swaths of the economy. She favors slashing inheritance taxes and preventing any person from paying more than 40 percent of income in total taxation. One index of her success would be decreased emigration by young college graduates, driven abroad by the fact that French unemployment has not been below 8 percent in 25 years. Since, that is, 1982, when President Francois Mitterrand, a socialist, was keeping his 1981 campaign promise to "break with the logic of profitability."


Another French citizen with a deep understanding of America warned about France's "regulating, restrictive administration which seeks to anticipate everything, take charge of everything, always knowing better than those it administers what is in their interests." So wrote Alexis de Tocqueville 150 years ago, defining France's problem and Lagarde's challenge.

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.

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