Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Leaving France

Hopefully, their president’s antics are distracting the French people from the calamity that their nation is fast becoming. While the Hollande-Trierweiler-Gayet threesome plays itself out, more and more French citizens are leaving France. Mostly, the emigrants are young and talented. They are not looking for a younger mistress, but for economic opportunity.

In an indignity that only the French can truly appreciate, they are finding it in Great Britain.

Paul Krugman notwithstanding, it’s not the austerity that is driving them away. It’s the high taxes, coupled with bureaucratic regulations that make it nigh unto impossible to run a business.

Newsweek has the story:

With 70 percent of the French thinking taxes are "excessive" and 80 percent believing President François Hollande's economic policies "misguided," they are attracted by the benefits of a less regulated economy, more relaxed labor laws, a more meritocratic society, a lively business networking scene, a large pool of professional talent, and easier access to investment capital. 

The differences are not limited to government policies. French and British culture are markedly different. Some British academics did a cross cultural study:

The French entrepreneurs had found a noticeable contrast between "a neoliberal model of an economy characterized by meritocracy, flexibility and a willingness to recognize talent in individuals" (Britain) and a system they see as "rigid and profoundly hierarchical" (France). The French are mired in what Mulholland calls "qualificationalism" - a preoccupation with diplomas and certificates from the right institutions "which bear no relationship with the talent within the individual," resulting in "a kind of nepotistic social elite."

England offers a free market economy, a place where all have the opportunity to compete fairly. French society is based on family ties and credentials.

It’s difficult to know exactly how many French people are living in London—the European Union has open borders—but the numbers are certainly in the hundreds of thousands:

… the French consulate estimates that London, with a population of 7.6 million, is home to between 300,000 and 400,000 French residents, which is more than live in French cities like Bordeaux, Nantes or Strasbourg. By contrast, there are just 8,500 Brits living in Paris.

One Frenchman, who emigrated before the current Hollande regime, explained the difference:

"I did part of my studies here in England and then went on to work in the city. I guess with hindsight my opinion of France now is the same or even worse. I have met a lot of young French people with really excellent ideas, especially in the high-tech sector, but they get no encouragement in France. It's a country run by civil servants for civil servants.

"What is really outrageous is that pretty much everyone in charge [of France] come from the same background, and none of them have any experience in the private sector.

"Employment flexibility is one of the key differences between the two countries. In France what you pay the employee is doubled by taxes. In Britain the burden is much more moderate, so you can hire people quickly and easily."

Unfortunately, this sounds familiar: a government run by bureaucrats and for bureaucrats. Where else have you heard of a government directed by a ruling class of bureaucrats that has no experience in business and no understanding of it?


Anonymous said...

Ummm… I'd like to take a stab at this final clue, Alex. What is the Obama Administration?

I'm wondering when these statists are going to wake up and forbid people from fleeing their materialist paradise.

Are not the people of France receiving extraordinary value from their tax contributions? It's only supposed to be targeted at "the rich," right?


Mark said...

A few observations:

I grew up in London in the '50's and 60's (with an interlude in Paris in 1968). In recent years I've lived in Houston, the Hague, London and New Jersey; so I have some perspective. This is the most dynamic time in London's modern history. There's a buzz which is due to the mass influx of young adults from all over the world, but especially from eastern europe. The French are very welcome as most Londoners are complete suckers for all things French - me too. The 2 hour 15 minute train ride to Paris is an important cord and many are weekend commuters. Cheap flights go from many UK airports direct to many parts of France. Hence it feels quite natural for young France to permeate urban south east England as old England used to permeate rural France.

The UK is a socialized, rather bureaucratic society compared to 1950's America, but America now has become somewhat nightmarish with the implacability of its bureaucracies, the dullness of some of its government workers and its trend to conformism and guarded speech in the workplace.

I'm pretty confident that America will rescue itself from its present sickness, but I'm glad that my children have dual nationality!

Fred Z said...

I live and do business in Alberta, Canada, which is, supposedly, the most free economy anywhere. Not sure of 'most', but it's pretty good here.

I have family in the UK, Germany and Switzerland, presently or formerly in business, and they tell horror stories. I personally find all of the UK very hard to do business in.

Anyway, my point is that, wherever I go, the real problem is always the bureaucrat and his unholy alliance with the crony capitalist. Bribes are never paid directly, at most plenty of golf games, sponsored conferences and food and booze.

However, the unspoken bargain is that regulators require and get large budgets, nice offices, big salaries and good looking secretaries.

As a result, I believe we need term limits for bureaucrats much more than for politicians, and even laws prohibiting the children of bureaucrats from any government employment until their parents have been retired for at least 20 years. 10 years in the civil service, then gone. Will we lose expertise? No. Skilled private sector people can be brought in. Nobody is irreplaceable. The ones in place will find it wise not to fcuk up the economy. Right now they destroy the economy without a care because they have a positive incentive to do so. Madness.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect analogy for what's going on in the US, with folks fleeing from liberal, high tax, nanny states like New York and California and moving to places like Texas and Florida.