Thursday, 18 December 2008

Newspapers : 18th December

Even Sarko has started talking like a lefty. Charles Bremner, The Times (en)
" ... The European Parliament voted yesterday to end Britain's exemption from the maximum 48-hour working week. A bit of Euro-fudge with the member states should water this down, but across the Channel they are wondering why Britain bothers.
Since the early 1980s, les Anglais have been lecturing Europe on the virtues of long hours as the path to prosperity. While the grasshopper French were awarding themselves a 35-hour week in the 1990s, the British fought for the right to sweat away 24/7 in the name of competing with the emerging ants of Asia. Now the boot is on the other foot ...
... France has been profligate. It has piled up national debt and keeps a heavy trade deficit. Labour taxes are extraordinarily high, even by European standards, and red tape stifles entrepreneurs. But it has been helped by the conservative institutions and attitudes that looked so old-fashioned to the outside world. It has especially been protected by the strong euro -- albeit kept that way with the help of German austerity.
Against all the prevailing doctrines, France resisted investment-funded pensions, kept its big car industry, its generous welfare state, its 80 percent nuclear-generated electricity and expensive high-speed trains. And it has managed this while working the world's shortest week. Writing as a new-poor Brit in Paris, there may be a lesson here, or perhaps this is just another exception française ..."

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