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France slides into fear and depression

Old 03-26-06, 09:09 AM
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France slides into fear and depression

This is a very well thought out and well written article.

Its use of the word "dynamism" suggests that the writer has read Virginia Postrel's book "The Future And It's Enemies."

The people of France are trying to remain stuck in the past. They don't want to adapt to the 21st century. That is why their country is failing.


http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll...603250420/1020

Saturday, March 25, 2006

France slides into fear and depression

Some say the country's social security blankets are crippling France's integration into a new world economy

Molly Moore / The Washington Post

PARIS -- Outside the Grand Palais museum, people stood in line for hours in biting cold this winter to see the city's most popular art exhibit -- Milancolie, a collection of paintings and sculptures evoking depression, sadness and despair.

"It doesn't surprise me that this exhibition is such a success," said Claire Mione, 20, a Web site editor who joined the rush to the show in its closing days. "Melancholy is an overwhelming feeling in our society right now."

Many French agree. In art galleries, on bestseller lists, in corporate boardrooms and on the streets, the country's outlook has become so morose that President Jacques Chirac has urged citizens to stop the "self-flagellation."

By almost every measure this society holds dear -- political, economic, wine exports, art auctions -- France is losing its global dynamism. The recent demonstrations by angry young people across the country are just the latest symptom of angst and fear in the national psyche.

"France is divorced from the modern world of the 21st century," said Nicolas Baverez, author of a top-selling book, "New World, Old France." It describes a country so fearful of letting go of outmoded traditions -- including a hugely expensive cradle-to-grave welfare system -- that it is being shut out of the global marketplace. "We're at a very dangerous turning point," he said.

Ipsos, a French polling institute, recently asked 500 people between the ages of 20 and 25 the question: "What does globalization mean to you?"

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed responded, "Fear."

Fear of what?

Just about everything, according to Christophe Lambert, author of another examination of contemporary France, "The Fearful Society." The country, he writes, is paralyzed by "fear of the future, fear of losing, fear of others, fear of taking a risk, fear of solitude, fear of growing old."

High school and college students have thronged the streets of Paris and dozens of other French cities over the last two weeks to protest a new labor law that the government says would add crucial momentum to the economy by giving employers the right to fire workers under the age of 26 without cause during their first two years on the job. Under current job protection laws, the government contends, employers are reluctant to hire at all, out of fear they'll be stuck indefinitely with unsuitable employees.

The demonstrations are "the expression of a true malaise among the youth," said Eva Nielsen, 22, a student at the French National School of Fine Arts who was marching under an elegantly sketched protest banner in Paris.

Masked and hooded youths who vandalized shops and set fire to cars in the heart of Paris after a march Thursday were also striking out against a government they do not trust, many analysts here said. Police say that some may be from the same poor suburban immigrant communities where violence and arson broke out last fall, fueled by frustration over joblessness, discrimination and a sense of government abandonment.

The French economy grew by only 1.4 percent last year; unemployment has edged up in recent years to hover around 10 percent. For young people under 30, the jobless rate is about 23 percent.

College students -- the standard-bearers for change in revolutions past -- have become the strongest advocates of the status quo. They are trying to cling to the social security blankets that have protected their parents' generation but which many economists say are crippling France's integration into a new world economy.


On Friday, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin met in Paris for 90 minutes with French labor leaders to discuss the controversial labor law. After the meeting broke up, he called it an important first step toward reaching consensus on the law and expressed hope there would be more meetings soon.

But the continuing deadlock opens the way for an even greater challenge to the government Tuesday, when students and unions say they will paralyze the country with strikes and protests.

The European media carry a steady diet of stories about the erosion of French business and the work force -- increasing numbers of companies deserting or avoiding France because of inflexible labor laws and high costs, French millionaires moving across the border due to high tax rates, and a brain drain of French youth to neighboring European countries in search of jobs.

France's most sacred patrimony -- its wine industry -- is losing out in foreign markets to cheaper and more innovative wines offered by upstart wine-producing countries. Between 1999 and 2004, the French share of the world export market for wine declined from 25 percent to 19 percent. France's share of international auctions of contemporary art are a third of what they were a decade ago.

Even the world of haute couture is reflecting the gloom. The Paris fashion runways this season featured Muslim-inspired headwraps and hemlines and tunics splattered with simulated blood in what some fashionistas dubbed carnage couture.

"You are questioning all the elements at the root of French identity," said author Baverez.

Many French citizens and political analysts take the blame for the country's malaise to the top -- with Chirac, 74, a lame-duck president who's held the office for 11 years. In one news poll, only 1 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Chirac if he ran for a third term when his second one ends next year.

"He's a dead duck without a head," said author Baverez

People here also feel increasingly isolated from the European Union. Voters last year defeated a proposed E.U. constitution despite strong lobbying by Chirac. It was a major setback for efforts to further tie together the 25 member states and for the French government's already dwindling influence within the organization. Other E.U. members frequently attack the country for protectionist policies that they say thwart the strengthening of business ties.

Even the French language is under siege. On Friday, Chirac and two cabinet ministers huffed out of a meeting at an E.U. summit in Brussels when the president of a French business association addressed the session in English rather than French.

According to people present, Chirac interrupted Ernest-Antoine Seilliere's presentation and demanded to know "why on earth" he was speaking in English.

"Because," replied Seilliere, "that is the accepted business language of Europe today."
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Old 03-26-06, 09:16 AM
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Even the French language is under siege. On Friday, Chirac and two cabinet ministers huffed out of a meeting at an E.U. summit in Brussels when the president of a French business association addressed the session in English rather than French.

According to people present, Chirac interrupted Ernest-Antoine Seilliere's presentation and demanded to know "why on earth" he was speaking in English.

"Because," replied Seilliere, "that is the accepted business language of Europe today."
PWNT!
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Old 03-26-06, 10:30 AM
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Old 03-26-06, 10:40 AM
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The only thing the French do right is nuclear power.
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Old 03-26-06, 11:35 AM
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The people of France are trying to remain stuck in the past. They don't want to adapt to the 21st century. That is why their country is failing.

And our country is doing just stellar.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:15 PM
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And our country is doing just stellar.
Compared to every other country in the world, yes it is.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Compared to every other country in the world, yes it is.
By what measure?
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Old 03-26-06, 12:24 PM
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By what measure?
Just about every one. Wealth, unemployment, personal income, home ownership, healthcare, standard of living, personal freedom. Those are just a few. There are millions of people trying to come to this country who are taking great personal risks to do so.


I see where this is heading though, this thread is now going to become a magnet to the "Blame America First" portion of this forum.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:27 PM
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Ipsos, a French polling institute, recently asked 500 people between the ages of 20 and 25 the question: "What does globalization mean to you?"

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed responded, "Fear."

Fear of what?

Just about everything, according to Christophe Lambert, author of another examination of contemporary France, "The Fearful Society." The country, he writes, is paralyzed by "fear of the future, fear of losing, fear of others, fear of taking a risk, fear of solitude, fear of growing old."
As opposed to our society? Let's count the ways: fear of terrorism (nuclear bombs, anthrax, hackers), fear of change (healthcare reform), fear of looking foolish (staying the course in Iraq and Afghanistan), fear of natural disaster (HIV, West Nile Virus, SARS, Mad Cow, Bird Flu). "Fear of growing old"? Is this author joking? It's like he's never even heard of Los Angeles or looked through the yellow pages under "Plastic Surgery"?

What do Americans think they know or understand about globalization that the French do not? Not saying that the French are doing fine, but how is it that WE are different or better that we could place judgement on them?

Last edited by hahn; 03-26-06 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Just about every one. Wealth, unemployment, personal income, home ownership, healthcare, standard of living, personal freedom. Those are just a few. There are millions of people trying to come to this country who are taking great personal risks to do so.


I see where this is heading though, this thread is now going to become a magnet to the "Blame America First" portion of this forum.
Wrong. It's about not placing judgement on others, as if we are perfect. Yes, plenty of countries do plenty of things badly. So what? That means we're a superior country? Why do people like you always seem to get such sadistic enjoyment out of putting other people or other countries down? Are you that insecure?

As for healthcare, you've GOT to be kidding. It's sad that as a physician, you're THAT deluded.
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Old 03-26-06, 12:47 PM
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That means we're a superior country? Why do people like you always seem to get such sadistic enjoyment out of putting other people or other countries down? Are you that insecure?
It isn't a matter of insecurity at all, for example, people don't give countries like Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, etc.. a hard time. France is different because they think of themselves as the light of Western Civilization and consider themselves and their culture superior to everything and everyone else. Just look at their ridiculous language rules. It's like sitting in a bullock cart with the ruler of a third world country who tells you that the bullock cart is the most advanced form of transportation in the world.
As for healthcare, you've GOT to be kidding. It's sad that as a physician, you're THAT deluded.

Not at all, people from all over the world come here for healthcare. Even from Canada which has "free" healthcare for everyone. Just a question, I know you were in medical school, are you doing any clinical work at all? Do you practice medicine?
Making people wait years for elective surgery isn't a sign of a good healthcare system.

Last edited by bhk; 03-26-06 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 03-26-06, 01:10 PM
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I don't know hahn was in medical school.
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Old 03-26-06, 01:24 PM
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Interesting take. So, you're saying that quantity is a major factor in determining a good healthcare system. That's kind of socialistic, no? In the US, we call them HMOs, and they take in as many as possible, but the quality isn't that great. I think most people involved with HMOs can say this.

France may be backward, but the US is far from being the Lighthouse of the World where everyone should follow in our steps.

Our country is only a few hundred years old. Almost all other countries are thousands of years old. So, it's really not intelligent to say the US is the best thing around when we've only been here a mere fraction of other countries.

In addition, the US is just now beginning to experience what other countries have for several hundred years.

Give it time. The US will become just as pathetic as those we point our fingers at.
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Old 03-26-06, 01:35 PM
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Our country is only a few hundred years old. Almost all other countries are thousands of years old. So, it's really not intelligent to say the US is the best thing around when we've only been here a mere fraction of other countries.
How long have those countries had a functioning democracy?
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Old 03-26-06, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei

Our country is only a few hundred years old. Almost all other countries are thousands of years old. So, it's really not intelligent to say the US is the best thing around when we've only been here a mere fraction of other countries.
Thats meaningless
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Old 03-26-06, 02:49 PM
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Quickly, name a country with the longest span of democracy on this planet.
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Old 03-26-06, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
I don't know hahn was in medical school.
Yeap. If I recall correctly he is either in residency or finished residency for epidemiology. I think that is how he knows so much about the bird flu and some other topics he has commented on.
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Old 03-26-06, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Tommy Ceez
Thats meaningless
I'm partial to hogwash!
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Old 03-26-06, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
I'm partial to hogwash!
Sorry, that was trademarked by classicmanCorp. and we were all given injunctions against using it (check your e-mail)












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Old 03-26-06, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Just a question, I know you were in medical school, are you doing any clinical work at all? Do you practice medicine?
Making people wait years for elective surgery isn't a sign of a good healthcare system.
well said.
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Old 03-26-06, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by hahn
By what measure?
By economic measures only. When you start looking at social indicators, the US isn't doing that great. And I find it rather sad that a majority of Americans seem to be evaluating a country's "worth" strictly on economic terms.

Last edited by eXcentris; 03-26-06 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 03-26-06, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Not at all, people from all over the world come here for healthcare. Even from Canada which has "free" healthcare for everyone. Just a question, I know you were in medical school, are you doing any clinical work at all? Do you practice medicine?
Making people wait years for elective surgery isn't a sign of a good healthcare system.
And having busloads of senior citizens cross the border everyday to have their prescriptions filled because they can't afford to buy their medecine in the US isn't a sign of a good healthcare system either. Moreover, most polls I've seen show that a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the US healthcare system. Not so in Canada. There are a few problems (which you keep exaggerating) but overall, the Canadian healthcare system is better at providing quality health care to the majority of the population than the US system is.
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Old 03-26-06, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Give it time. The US will become just as pathetic as those we point our fingers at.
Stop brightening my day with your american pride and predictions of terrorist attacks.

Honestly... can we all chip in to get you a "cheer me up" physciatrist?

I like DVD Polizei much better than Political Forum Polizei.
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Old 03-26-06, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk

Not at all, people from all over the world come here for healthcare. Even from Canada which has "free" healthcare for everyone.
So you made a statement which seems to imply that we handle the healthcare for the rest of the world? Care to qualify that with a number? Do we handle 1% of the rest of the world's healthcare? 50%? 90%? Your statement implies that that we do most of it. Do you realize how few people can afford to travel to the U.S. and then FULLY pay for a procedure or treatment here? Plus, where's your evidence that coming here did anything at all for them? Let's talk specifics - what treatments are the ones that you seem to think that people are flocking to the U.S. for. Plus, how is it that you feel that we're handling the world's healthcare when there are 45 MILLION (yes, that's 1/6th of the U.S. population) under the age of 65 (1/4 of the under 65) in this country that are uninsured? It doesn't matter that you can get them into an elective surgery in under 4 weeks if they can't pay for it.

Just a question, I know you were in medical school, are you doing any clinical work at all? Do you practice medicine?
Yes, I was in medical school, as were you (at least I would hope). I'm in pathology and have been practicing for 5 years. I also have a master's degree in public health. I showed you mine, now show me yours. Was the point of your questioning to doubt the credibility of my opinion in regards to our healthcare? You're a GI doc, right? What do you know about surgery? What do you know about OB/GYN? Radiology? Public health? By your argument, if you don't work in those areas, you're not qualified to have a credible opinion about them. So why are you speaking as an authority on the overall wait times for elective surgery? How is your opinion about the OVERALL healthcare system more relevant than mine?

If you think healthcare in this country works just fine, I don't know what to tell you. $2 trillion = that's the national healthcare expenditure this year. $600 billion = that's the amount (out of the $2 trillion) we spend on healthcare administrative things that have NOTHING to do with a patient's actual health. 195,000 = the number of people who die each year from medical error (the figure is widely believed to be underestimating the true figure), which makes it the 3rd overall leading cause of death in the U.S. (after heart disease, and ALL cancers put together).

If our healthcare system is so superior, why is our life expectancy ranked 48th in the world? Infant mortality rate? Out of 28 industrialized nations, the U.S. is ranked 27th.

To be clear, I'm not making an argument for socialized medicine - that's an entirely separate argument on which I actually don't have a firm opinion. My point here is that our own healthcare is severely lacking. New experimental treatments and drugs does not correlate to the overall quality of healthcare. Yes, good healthcare CAN be found in the U.S., but a)it's expensive, and b)access is difficult as well because it's good, and c)only a very small number of people can afford it (see "a"). Simply coming to the U.S. doesn't guarantee good quality care. In fact, if one doesn't do their research, odds are, you're going to get shitty care. If you don't want to believe me, then you should at least believe your favorite media company - FoxNews. If you're in the top 1% of wealth in this country, sure the U.S. is a great place to get healthcare. How many people are? When doctors have such a skewed and unrealistic view about our healthcare system, it's no wonder we have such a high dissatisfaction rate. If you'd stop patting yourself on the back for a few seconds, you might start to see some of the problems.

Originally Posted by bhk
Making people wait years for elective surgery isn't a sign of a good healthcare system.
Offering treatment to people who can't afford it also isn't a sign of a good healthcare system.

Last edited by hahn; 03-26-06 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 03-26-06, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris
By economic measures only. When you start looking at social indicators, the US isn't doing that great. And I find it rather sad that a majority of Americans seem to be evaluating a country's "worth" strictly on economic terms.
Agreed. But there are arguments against the economic measures as well. National debt is $8.3 trillion and climbs by $2.4 billion everyday and no one seems to think that this will ever have an effect on our economy. Our nation savings rate is zero. If Americans one day wake up and decide to stop buying so much "stuff", watch how quick we descend into the next Great Depression.

And no, before someone posts the obvious quick reply, I'm not saying that I would be better off in another country. I'm saying it's foolish for Americans to sit on their laurels and do nothing about it because everything is fine for now.
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