Au Revior and All That

My stay in Paris comes to an end tomorrow morning -- all in all, nine days. So what's doing in modern France? How's the welfare state going? It's going great for rich people and entrenched bureaucrats -- they never had it so good. The rich and politically connected in France have the life style reminiscent of Louis the IVth. Their so-called "socialism" is essentially a giant cage for everyone else to live in.

Their are no jobs for young college educated, unless their parents are members of the elite. Opportunity is so bad for young people here that is not uncommon for youth to live with their parents until almost middle age. There are no Steve Jobs or Bill Gates or any of that. The best entrepreneurs here are street hustlers and con artists. The government doesn't seem to restrict their activity like they restrict the activities of ordinary legal businesses.

The newly elected President thinks you can create growth by raising marginal tax rates to 75 percent and protecting entrenched bureaucracies whose main role is to snuff out any hints of entrepreneurship. Good luck with that. This place is a throwback to the Middle Ages. But, when you ask a Frenchman, what's so great about France, the conversation inevitably drifts back a couple of hundred years to Napoleon or Voltaire or some such luminary.

This place is like the rest of Europe, frozen in time, with no future. Sooner or later this society will be swept into obscurity by its massive social obligations which, like every other European country, it cannot afford. Unfortunately for France and it's fellow Europeans, creditors are beginning to get wise. But, like Italy and Greece, it's a great place to visit. Lots of sights to see and its getting cheaper by the day.


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