Friday, November 11, 2005

Will Europe Return from Post-Capitalism?

Daniel Henninger of the Wall St. Journal thinks a major part of the problem with Muslim rioters in France is lack of economic opportunity. This is an additional consideration to go with theories about the lack of religious freedom in the public square, too cuddly multi-culturalism, and plain ole Muslim cussedness. Henninger terms the last "the young Muslim solution," which is "to burn down the house and rule the embers." The columnist doesn't dwell on these other notions, though, because he is more interested in the economic question. And in that area, he thinks the problem is Europe-wide and applies to more than Muslim immigrants.

Henninger's contention is that Europe is a museum, economically speaking, trapped in the period when Marxism was a putatively serious option. The result, in Western Europe at least, is that unemployment is high and economic opportunity is artificially restricted. In the end, a nation like France, which translates worker demands into law as though wishing makes it so, strangles its own economic future and expedites the process of transforming France into Franceland, an interesting place for tourism, but not for starting businesses or trying to maintain a payroll.

What of Eastern Europe which has experienced the less diluted form of state socialism? Those nations have taken a different course, choosing low, flat tax rates on both corporate and personal income. Result? Businesses, instead of Muslims, are moving east toward greater economic freedom.

5 comments:

James Elliott said...

plain ole Muslim cussedness

A lot of Maghrebins are Christians. The riots have literally nothing to do with radical Islam.

James Elliott said...

Thought you might like this bit by Philip Gordon of the Brookings Institute. He largely agrees with Mr. Henninger, though not neglecting the cultural angle.

"Less attention has been paid to the ways in which the riots challenge traditional French economic thinking, but in the long run the issue will be just as important. After Hurricane Katrina revealed America's own ugly underside--appalling poverty and inequality in one of the country's great cities--the French comforted themselves that their superior economic model spared them from the ravages of U.S.-style capitalism. French politicians from across the political spectrum have engaged in a competition to see who could best reassure voters that they would protect the country from economic globalization. On the left, one former prime minister, Lionel Jospin, reentered the political fray with a book denouncing the costs of globalization even as another, Laurent Fabius, laid the groundwork for an upcoming presidential campaign by lashing out against free-market economics. And on the right, President Jacques Chirac reminded voters that he was against "ultra-liberal Anglo-Saxon" economic practices, while Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin sought an advantage against his rival--Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy--by promising to preserve a French model that protects the disadvantaged parts of society.

"The ongoing street riots render this case much harder to make. A vivid reminder that unemployment levels among the youth in some immigrant communities are upwards of 40 percent, the riots underscore that by failing to produce jobs the French economy produces plenty of economic losers, and those losers are now out in the streets--because they have nothing further to lose. If the protesters were trade unionists or farmers, as they often were in France's past, the case could be made that more protection or social welfare would buy them off. But such measures are unlikely to work with unorganized gangs of kids who have no jobs and little cause for hope.

"The problems of France's immigrant suburbs can thus no longer be ignored and cannot be solved in the absence of major change. In the short term, the government is right that a firm hand will be necessary and that law and order must be restored. But dealing with the problem in the long run--and ensuring that France's immigrant suburbs do not become breeding grounds for the jihadists who would love to make inroads there--will require French leaders to address issues that have long been taboo. They will have to make French labor markets more flexible and cut bureaucratic red tape in order to create jobs; and they will have to take dramatic, far-reaching measures to promote opportunities for Muslim minorities, even at the risk of shattering traditional notions of social integration. Sarkozy has in the past hinted at a willingness to challenge the status quo both on economic management and social integration, and his all-but-certain presidential campaign next year will be an important test of whether such ideas--which seem all the more necessary now--can be sold to the French."

Hunter Baker said...

Good stuff from Brookings. I may be wrong, but I think Cheney was once a fellow there. I once had a prof who claimed to have been there with Cheney. I asked, "So why aren't you in the cabinet?" He said, "We (the Democrats) haven't been in power."

That quickly changed with the election of Bill, but my prof did not head off to D.C..

James Elliott said...

Cheney was a fellow at AEI, not Brookings, AFIK. He used to do lunch with Kristol and Scalia, according to Kristol's Neoconservatism.

Hunter Baker said...

James, do you read Irving Kristol?!!!