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Capitalism in France vs. China

From today’s Financial Times($$$ link):

Disillusioned France hungers for reform without revolution
France’s students are in revolt. Its urban ghettoes are sporadically aflame. Its trades unions are planning national strikes on Tuesday. Its discredited 73-year-old president, Jacques Chirac, is serving out his time. An opinion poll, published by Le Figaro newspaper on Saturday, showed that 50 per cent of French people did not have faith in the market economy – compared with 20 per cent in communist China. One of history’s eternal questions resounds around Paris once again: can France reform itself without revolution?

What a tragedy for France, and what a leading indicator for China considering most of the population of China is still outside the city centers, with little or no exposure to a vibrant market economy.

Schumpeter was right – as capitalist societies advance their tolerance for risk and disorder declines, ultimately resulting in a repudiation of capitalism. 100 years ago France was at the vanguard of science, engineering, and risk capital. Since their massive nationalist and financial failure with the Panama Canal, their national intolerance for bold financial, military, and scientific risk has been the primary result of their decline as a relevant world power.

My son starts preschool in the fall. When the teacher informed us the children learn French the first word out of my mouth was –


There is a weekend Chinese school where I live. I think it is time to look into enrollment options for children of a non-native speaking family.


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  1. It’s not so clear cut. The EU absorbed Eastern European countries recently, major manufacturers in Europe transferred their factories to Eastern Europe.

    They were supposed to bring cheap labour to Europe, they are cheapER but not the cheapEST. So EU companies still make their worldwide products in Asia, all that happened was they transferred their EU operations out of France, Germany and Holland to Hungary Poland and Romania. etc.

    So France finds itself subsidising it’s eastern competition via EU development funds, while at the same time losing its factories to them. Very bad leadership decision, so now every little issue results in a riot from the frustration with the EU/FR leadership.

    Also, there’s no such thing as spoken Chinese, this page might help you understand:

    They’re not really dialects. We have a number of Chinese friends and when they speak together, there’s a sort of verbal handshake that occurs at the start of the conversation to find a common language.

    Posted by njjj | March 27, 2006, 11:13 AM
  2. Good catch on ‘speaking’ Chinese…. I meant Mandarin.

    When it comes to subsidies and France, they are a net importer of pork with their ridiculous agricultural subsidies. No sympathy from me.

    Posted by Andrew Schmitt | March 27, 2006, 11:43 AM
  3. I think France needs to go through some introspection on where the country is heading with the current policy thinking. While I was in France, I felt that normal people are way to comfortable with the Social Security System and the government’s bent toward socialistic ideas to allow for radical change. My own thoughts on the challenges that the French Software Industry faces.

    Posted by Ujwal Tickoo | April 18, 2006, 2:33 AM
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