Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Trickle-down Works in France, Too

When I was a poor, struggling college student, I got a job one summer working for a small factory on the edge of town. It was such a small factory, I was working with the owner.

I spent two weeks loading and unloading bags of cement and other construction materials into trucks. It was hot, hard, back-breaking work.

At the end of the two weeks, the owner of the company reached into his back pocket, withdrew two weeks’ salary in cash, thanked me for my time, and said I wouldn’t be needed on Monday.

I was disappointed. Even though I had been hired very casually, I kinda thought the job was mine for the summer. But, no, he just needed me to get through a busy part of the season and my services were no longer needed.

I was grateful for the work, thanked him for the opportunity, and went out looking for my next job — which I found a few days later. That job — in a local truck stop — lasted me through the end of the summer.

It’s a good thing I didn’t live in France. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had a job all summer.

America’s unemployment rate usually hovers around 5%. France’s is now in the low 20% range. But that’s not good enough. The youth of France will not be happy until they have achieved a full 100% unemployment rate. With the help of French namby-for-president Jacques Chirac, they are well on their way to just that.

France seems to have a law that says that once you’ve hired somebody, it’s really, really hard to get rid of him. You can’t just say, as the factory did to me, I’m sorry, we have no more work for you to do.

No, you’re stuck with him.

When the French government tried to amend the law this spring to give just a little more flexibility to employers, the youth of France did what they’ve been doing since the 17th century. They revolted. And the leadership of France did what they've been doing at least since World War II. They caved.

Socialists gain power by claiming to represent the working class — usually at the expense of business. They have never realized that what is good for business is usually also good for the workers. And what is bad for business is invariably bad for the workers.

Trickle-down economics — like gravity — doesn’t have to be believed in to work.

Policies that are repressive to business — like minimum wage laws, guaranteed employment laws, and employee-financed health care — always look good on the outside but will almost always backfire in the face of the very people they are trying to help.

Thankfully, guaranteed employment laws didn’t exist in America when I was in college. If they had, those trucks would have never gotten unloaded.

No comments: