Saturday, September 2, 2017

Viva La Macron

France is such a wonderful country.  Unfortunately, their economy is not as wonderful.  Unemployment in the U.S. is only 4.4%.  Germany's unemployment is about the same, but unemployment in France is a staggering 9.5%.  GDP growth is slower in France than Greece right now.  What is retarding the economy of such a wonderful country?

One new statistic illustrates the problem.  The percentage of workers with "temporary" employment is 16.2%, compared to only 6% across the Channel in England.  In France, regular employees are treated like spoiled brats, who cannot be denied.  Who wants to hire workers like that?  Temporary workers bring far fewer problems.

Whereas most capitalistic countries believe "the business of business is business,: France seems to believe the business of business is the care & feeding of its employees.  There are about 150 thousand legal cases filed each year for "unlawful dismissal."  Regular employees are lifetime employees.  A common joke among French businessmen is that is far easier to divorce your wife than to fire your employee.

Labor unions have been strangling the economy for decades, further evidence that there is no good intention that cannot be corrupted.  Unions take to the streets in protest over every perceived slight and have run several French presidents out of office.

Four months ago, youthful Emmanuel Macron became president.  The level of optimism was palpable.  Since then, his public support has plummeted, as he has tried to equalize regular employees and temporary employees.  Unions are already threatening more crippling strikes, some starting next week.

What is he trying to do?  First, he wants to make it legal for small businesses to negotiate with local non-unionized workers, instead of "negotiating" with the national labor union.  How does a small shop negotiate with a national labor union?  Imagine not being able to hire local workers who come in and apply for jobs!  Second, he wants to put caps on the amount of court-ordered fines awarded during layoffs.  Apparently any caps are unreasonable.  Layoffs occur when businesses are struggling.  Punitive fines of unknown amounts only make it worse.

Even if Macron is successful in making these modest changes in France's labor laws, he will have barely begun, but I wish him well.  He is honestly trying to "Make France Great Again!"

In America, unions have done a great deal of good.  Let's keep it that way!

Happy Labor Day!