France Fried: The 2012 Elections & Return to Socialism

Ed Hudgins's picture
Submitted by Ed Hudgins on Tue, 2012-05-08 22:24

France Fried: The 2012 Elections & Return to Socialism
Edward Hudgins

May 8, 2012 – French voters guillotined the reelection hopes of center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy in favor of Socialist François Hollande, putting France on a faster road to national collapse.

The welfare states of Western Europe have practiced milder forms of the statist economics and spiritual collectivism that were found in the former Soviet bloc. They have thus been experiencing a slow-motion version—now accelerating—of the collapse that occurred two decades ago in the East.

For decades the French government has heaped regulations and penalties on wealth creation and entrepreneurship. In the late 1990s, for example, with unemployment chronically at over 10 percent, that government decided to cut the work week to 35 hours, though workers would still get the same pay. Anyone working more than that would actually be punished. In "France Labors at Folly," I examined the très tragique results of this comédie français.

Sarkozy was defeated because of unpopular government austerity measures made necessary by irresponsible government spending and economic regulation. The new president no doubt will try to raise revenue with Obama-on-steroids confiscatory taxes on "the rich." And those targeted productive individuals no doubt will take their wealth offshore or simply not produce as much. Atlas will shrug and the French death spiral will continue.

In a collectivist culture, individuals assume that they are not responsible for their own lives and wellbeing, but that their neighbors are and have a duty to serve them. If everyone thinks that way, then nobody is responsible. The sickening results of such a culture were seen in 2003 when some 15,000 elder French citizens died in a heat wave in part because their adult children just assumed that the government would take care of mom and dad. Read about that horrific story in my piece "France’s Killer Collectivism."

The same culture that killed those elderly is killing the French economy. How much misery and death will result only the outcome of the moral battle between producers and expropriators will tell.

Just as free men are escaping

Mark Hubbard's picture

Just as free men are escaping US, so they're getting out of France:

"What’s really driving my departure is the fact that I don’t share the values that emerged during the election, the rejection of ambition and success,” he said in an interview. “It’s part of France’s difficult relationship with money, but it has reached a new level. Even if it’s utopian, I need to believe for me and my descendants that the sky is the limit.”

Euro Disney!

Damien Grant's picture

The new president is going to face some ugly constraints.

He does not have his own currency, so he cannot print money, the state is close to the market's tolerance for debt, so how is the new government going to pay for its promises?

It can raise taxes but in Europe today that is much harder than it used to be given the free market for capital and labour, so a rise in taxes will bring in less than it used to in the past.

I am actually looking forward to see how this pans out. I am expecting some back-tracking, humiliation, and a heavy diet of Merkel soup for the new president and his citizens. I hope they enjoy it!

It is also hard not to enjoy the Greek debacle. Two decades of fiscal irresponsibility has led to ruin and now they cannot take their medicine, but what choices does a new government have?

It's one of the most interesting political/economic experiments ever, when political dreams run hard up against economic reality.

Who said history was over! There is a bet on ipredict on a new coup in Greece before August this year! (I shorted it when it was at 13%, it is now at 6%, but that is still high.)

No real freedom choice

Ed Hudgins's picture

Yes, Marcus on the mark. No real freedom choice. And as far as I could tell, no one articulating the case for individual liberty.

Two Wretched and Hopeless Alternatives

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Bull's-eye, Marcus! An astute analysis. Star Sarkozy did virtually nothing for liberty.

I even have a bit of libertarian hope for France in that perhaps the French people will be skeptical and wary of Hollande's open Big Brother ideology, and thus watch him more closely, and reign him in more tightly, than Sarkozy. Of course -- that's mostly what I thought about Barack Obama vs. John McCain in 2008, so...

This doesn't change much.

Marcus's picture

Sarkozy said he would be the new Thatcher, but then failed to do anything he promised. The conservatives in France who want to get back to free market economics were let down by him.

He was only considered centre right because he made noises against immigration and multi-culturalism. Didn't really do anything about that either except banning the Burkha in public places. Not really pro-freedom was he? He just became Merkel's poodle. And Hollande will be brought to heel by her too, no matter what he says.

That's why Sarkozy lost. He let down his supporters for change and they subsequently didn't believe him anymore.

If Hollande is Obama, then Sarkozy was George W Bush.

What Would John McEnroe Say?

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

An open socialist is president of France? Why not an admitted fascist, feudalist, monarchist, or theocrat? Why not a claimed werewolf who believes in witchcraft? Ghost

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