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Macron Vowed to Make France a ‘Startup Nation.’ Is It Getting There? (nytimes.com)
131 points by rmason on May 27, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 311 comments

I run a machine learning company in France. Call it a startup or not, doesn't matter. Most of what I read in the comments here is not exactly true nor relies on statistics (sound like my story is...).

For companies acting within the science or innovative space, France is a haven. CIR is a tax return that covers 30% of R&D personnel, JEI is a status that halves the taxes on personnel for 8 years, and nullifies gov taxes the first year, halving them the second year. Add to this the region and gov backed projects that match 50% of your investment in a project.

The truth is it is much much cheaper than in the US, and probably unmatched in Western Europe. Now, all this preexisted Macron.

Some hurdles remain investment, low margins for companies around 20 employees and 2M yearly, they get stuck at that stage and lack of transparency.

One major pain is interacting with large French corporations, with payment delays unheard of in the US. This slows many startups down when it does not kill them. Once bootstrapped it seems to get better.

I'm not sure what a startup nation is not whether I'd like to live in it, but France is certainly in good position to fuel early small innovative & scientific companies, not more but not less :)

> The truth is it is much much cheaper than in the US, and probably unmatched in Western Europe

Business formation (i.e. forming a legal entity, getting a bank account, hiring your first employee and getting paid for your first service) in France is much more expensive than in Britain, Luxembourg or Poland. And the U.S. is faster and cheaper still.

That said, if you have the right connections, it can be a haven. There is a lot of inefficiency in the French economy. And it contains an incredibly well-educated and commercially-reasonable population.

Can you form the company in e.g. Luxembourg and then operate in France? I feel that this is the sort of thing the Single Market was supposed to make easy.

France will force the hell out of you to open a branch in France. I have a company in Estonia and France is the only country that asks me to do such thing in the EU. Luckily I live in France, you'll need an address here, and have fun opening a business bank account with papers in, say, Estonian, or even English for that matter. Spent thousands in translations, whereas creating the company in Estonia was over the Internet and under 300 EUR. France will do all it can to drag you into its bureaucratic hell.

I costs £12 to register a company in the UK. Is the US cheaper than that? If you pay £100 you can get a same day registration, is the US quicker than that?


You don’t need to pay 100£ for a fast turnout, my company was registered in 3-4 hours paying 12£..

I am mistaken—the UK is faster and cheaper than Delaware. Thank you for the information.

$10 in Colorado. I'm pretty sure every state has their own price for it.

CIR is a huge joke, it doesn't help small companies that much. Big companies are far better at collecting it than start-ups.

On paper, CIR is for research and development efforts, basically it's for efforts that improve the state of the art.

But in practice CIR is a tax break/subvention in disguise for medium to big french companies like Orange, Thales, bnpparibas...

Just to give you an idea, at one of my former job, an email was sent to every employee of the division. This email asked us to provide our CV rewritten with "research terms" (ex: replace implementing by prototyping, debugging by experimenting, etc). We were CIRing projects in pure maintenance, we were CIRing the same thing over and over each years. It was clearly abusive.

I've heard stories that are even worst than that, like banks CIRing an overall of their website.

The fact that big companies are using CIR as a mean to get money from the government does not imply that it does not work for real research companies.

It's even worse than that because CIR is correlated to having people with the highest degree, which creates a perverse incentive to have over-qualified staff. It subsidizes long studies implicitely and distort the job market.

Regarding the CIR abuse, in my first internship at Bull, my colleagues had to log a part of their time as "research", whatever they were doing (usually maintenance or development), in order to claim for CIR.

"One major pain is interacting with large French corporations, with payment delays unheard of in the US. This slows many startups down when it does not kill them. Once bootstrapped it seems to get better."

I need to second that. I really struggle with working directly with big companies. My own case, a big engineering company in Germany is quite putting my business at risk. Others have paid only after I send them a letter from a lawyer. And so on.

A friend of mine got his whole business busted by the EC itself. The processes are sooo burocratic, so that he got his money after two years. But he closed the company meanwhile. Impossible to sue the EC itself...need another 10years....

I don't think it's a French or German, or even European specificity.

I've seen payments delay happens with French companies (one of my last jobs, we were blacklisted from buying servers from Dell directly, the company was a bit short on money, so this late payment was in fact an internal unsaid policy to reduce the need for working capital).

But I've also seen it with a big US company, professional phone subscriptions of all employees were suspended for a day because of late bills, and we were afraid at one point to have some of our racks cut-off because unpaid datacenter bills. I don't know in that case if it was because of an internal policy or plain old bureaucracy and internal delays in this company.

>The truth is it is much much cheaper than in the US, and probably unmatched in Western Europe. Now, all this preexisted Macron.

Not only Europe, but much of China as well. Besides the basic "no tax for a new company below $N annual revenue for 5 years," there are megatons of all kinds of obscure, but very generous state grants.

If stars align well for the company, it can effectively live off grants while having 0 revenue. This was most extreme during "The Solar Bubble" when companies were collecting from $3m to $6m for just having word "solar" in company name.

The oversight has since improved a little little bit, and you are less likely to get money with 0 revenue company.

The point I want to convey however is this: a functioning business is not supposed to be a vessel for collecting grants/tax credits/funding rounds from sucker investors, but producing something useful.

Another one: China is a high tax country. Scoring one or another double digit tax credit may be a matter of life and death for a company. The party nominally wants to enable the new business formation, preferably in high tech sectors, but on another hand makes it near impossible by demanding that each company wanting to do so to have more lawyers and "government relationship" staff than coders and engineers, shuttling centimetre thick stacks of legal papers to offices of MofCom every week.

It sounds like you have to spend a lot of time proving that what you are doing qualifies for these bonuses. Seems mostly like a haven for those who have the connections and know-how to get through the approval process.

In Scandinavia, there's a thriving cottage industry of "government grant consultants". They'll fix up all the paperwork for these bonuses, for a low % success fee. No bonus, no fee. I'd be very surprised if France didn't have the same.

Writing the applications is really easy, when you have already written a few dozen and have the templates ready.

Yes, there' the same in France. It's the most efficient way to get started really, otherwise you'd waste too much time learning the process. And as you say, once you've done it a few times it can be done internally.

Never heard of that, what keywords should I search for, if I want to get in contact with someone who can assess if my company is eligible for a government grant and help me write one?

They have this in most EU countries. They work fine and it is worth the no cure no pay fee as they usually score while small companies on their own usually do not.

The same thing happens in the US. Management at my company spends time maximizing deals with government to get bonuses and tax breaks etc. I would be shocked if this isn’t the norm

And programmer salary can be rock-bottom too, it's not unheard of to hear people earning 20k€/year (at a cost of ~28k€ top for the employer thanks to CIR). In US dollar that is $33k. (that said, retaining developers is very very hard)

At these salary levels? What do you expect?

Higher salaries do exists, so people will move away as soon as something better shows up.

What companies paying 20K€ end up doing is provide "free" training and experience, to the benefit of the companies that ultimately will end up signing the employees, paying what they are actually worth.

The main problem with France is the employment laws. Start-ups in other countries don't have this problem to the same extent. The secondary problem is that there is a lot of capital floating around in France with 'strings attached', great to get you going, but a huge problem later on.

People like to make a big deal of France's employment laws like there are some extraordinary overwhelming problem that businesses must struggle to overcome. This is silly. France is the 5th largest economy in the world. Finding highly educated, hard-working engineers is straightforwards thanks to the coordination between the government employment agencies and the excellent universities. Just like in America or anywhere else if you're engaged in high-tech work you're going to vet your potential employees to make sure there's culture and skills fit. And in the worst case scenario you need to fire somebody there are several agencies who will help you "transition" people out of the company. In the end the employment laws are not a big issue for most companies and certainly not an issue for most startups and small businesses under 10 people.

As a french developer with a 10+ years career, I second that. I've also been a CTO, so I'm well aware of the employer point of view.

I've seen many people worrying about not being able to fire people once hired. But what I've seen in facts are only two people needing firing, and it was done without any problem. What I saw incredibly more often is company getting into panic because their good developers would leave. It's not firing that is hard, it's retaining.

As a developer in France, and to compare to OP of this thread: I got fired because I created a company without telling my company. So I have both views in this matter. I got fired because there was a clause of "non-concurrence", but the market focus was different, geographic focus was different, all different except for doing tech. I brought it to court, it's ongoing.

Why did they do it? Because they were downsizing in the region (we went from 100 employees 6 years ago to 3 currently). So claiming I created that company to damage them, they pay 0€ as opposed to ~20000€. Now, make it times 100 and you got a non trivial amount of money even for a relatively big company. People were constantly "encouraged" to leave, benefits cut, comité d'entreprise dissolved they day we hit 49 employees, they accounted losses from other branches so we didn't get profit sharing either, and I know quite a few cases like mine with a variety of wonky excuses.

Now, in my own company I don't have a salary. Can't afford it, it's so insanely expensive to pay a salary, we're talking each month you pay total twice and a half as much as the employee sees BEFORE TAX. We don't hire people, we hire other companies and freelancers to do the job, then take dividends. There's no other way unless you're a cash flow workhorse.

Also, Paris might be different, but here all startups I've seen quickly moved to London or Berlin in the moment they got VC funding. It's just so expensive that even cities with significantly higher wages are cheaper.

> we're talking each month you pay total twice and a half as much as the employee sees BEFORE TAX.

I'm in Paris and here how my salaries break down:

Currently I'm at ~50K a year "Brut" (before taxes on the employee side), which means ~35K a year "Net" ("go home" salary).

I'm costing ~75K per year to my employer in term of salary (before taxes on the employer side).

My other taxes are around 6K per year.

I'm an SRE/software engineer with ~8 years experience.

I'm not sure ~75k is that expensive compared to other European countries, let alone Silicon Valley salaries.

Sorry to hear about your abusive firing, wish you success.

> all startups I've seen quickly moved to London or Berlin in the moment they got VC funding

Are you sure this was related to the cost of employees? As pointed in the article, London is the historical tech hub in europe, so moving to London after funding can have many reasons.

You're right though, having employees is really expansive. I'm afraid it's not just a France problem, though :) It costs you double than what employee gets pre-tax, but all in all it's not more expansive than in other countries. In US, a good dev salary is $100k a year (€85k).

EDIT: for non french people, a good dev salary in France is €45k, so it may cost at most and roughly double than that, but you have a lot of tax cut you can take advantage of to reduce it

Actually, I double checked (can't edit anymore), the total cost is the double of net salary, not brut salary. Employer taxes are 43% of the brut salary.

Bottom line : a good dev salary of €45k costs about €65k, before any tax reduction.

> Are you sure this was related to the cost of employees?

Not completely sure; the best case I know is of a company where one of the founders told me such thing. It is a very technically advanced and polished ride sharing app, made to solve very particular problems in this region, investors had a look at the product, at their books, and offered 2M/year for 3 years on condition of moving it to Berlin or Sofia (Bulgaria, don't ask me why).

> People like to make a big deal of France's employment laws like there are some extraordinary overwhelming problem that businesses must struggle to overcome.

For small start-ups these problems can be debilitating. For large companies they're a non-issue, they can afford it. But when you're somewhere between 10 and 20 employees this can be a real problem. To pretend there is no problem is causing the problem to persist. Source: know a lot of French start-ups, have seen more than one struggling with letting go of people that do not perform once outside of their trial period.

The size of France's economy has nothing to do with any of this. What is telling is the average pay of very good French developers, which is a small fraction of what they get abroad.

> And in the worst case scenario you need to fire somebody there are several agencies who will help you "transition" people out of the company

Whaaa? As a fellow european, this sounds too bizarre to be true.

> Most of what I read in the comments here is not exactly true nor relies on statistics (sound like my story is...).

Neither does your comment...

The best thing is that you can get away with paying a good software developer only €2500 per month. You can get four French developers for the price of one American.

This is below France median salary. If you think you can get away with that, you either :

- Have developers that are actually not that good

- Have good developers that will realise that you are vastly underpaying them and will jump ship

Salaries in France are lower than in the US, but if you think good developers are settling for remunerations below the median salary of the country they live in, you will get a wake up call sooner or later.

Corollary: If you are a good developer in France, working for 2500 EUR / month & is looking for a raise, send me a message ;-)

I'm in the UK (not France) and I make ~3050EUR a month (pre tax), I take home after tax ~2400EUR.

I've been making money from selling code since 1996 and a full time developer over a decade.

While my salary would be low in London (I'd be worth at least another 10-15K down there) in the North of England and particularly where I live that gives me an excellent standard of living, rent on a decent sized two bed is <25% of my salary alone (excluding my partners entirely) about 15% if we include hers.

US Salaries are way higher than UK salaries even in London and if you exclude London then the gap is hilariously bad.

Average software engineer in my region earns £25K.

I could move down south but frankly I don't want to, I like it up here, I have a good mostly low stress 9-5 job.

There is more to life than take home pay.

Additionally I have complex (therefore potentially very expensive) health issues that don't affect my ability to work but would affect my ability to get healthcare insurance in the US - if I adjust for that then things look much better from this side of the pond tbh.

I am a contractor in the Netherlands and I believe it is the best possible place for a developer. We have a very high quality of life and a good balance in income and spending.

As a contractor you can earn near 20k per month pre-tax (around 7k per month post-tax) and live in a big home that costs you 1k per month in mortgage. That leaves you a lot of money for your spare time, fun activities and early retirement. I'm planning to retire at 35.

Is this for real? I mean is this common? That's €240k, which is starting to near SF levels of pay. I've got a hard time believing this but will look into it more thoroughly. As a data scientist in Finland, I've been under the impression that the best places for a developer in terms of compensation in Europe are Switzerland, Norway and London (if one gets a good contracting gig there).

Hourly contractor, so you don't get any of the social safety net, you have to arrange your own pension, no pay on holiday, no sick days, no company car, no company laptop. You have to take care of all that yourself.

A little calculation for your average senior developer in a corporate for-profit environment. On average you can do about 1850 billable hours a year, which means you are taking 7 weeks off for holiday, illness, courses, certifications. At an average rate of 90 euro per hour, that is €166,500 per year. With VAT added you can bill the customer €201,465 per year.

Is it really that common for French developers to get a company car? What on earth is it for? Driving around in meatspace to meet clients for consulting-firm type gigs?

I was talking about the Netherlands. Here, a company car is a normal perk for consultancy developers. Even the type of consultants that work 9-to-5 at the same customer for a couple of years and only have to drive to and from the customer. But they are usually allowed to use the car for private use, once they pay a monthly company car tax (100-300 euro for a normal car).

But other tech companies are also starting to give away company cars as part of the compensation package, to attract developers.

That's pretty bonkers. Is there some bizarre tax incentive that makes this more attractive (for somebody presumably? the company? the employee?) than just paying them more and possibly reimbursing them for mileage?

For the company it doesn’t matter. If they give you a VW Golf or Volvo V40 they are out €800 per month, if they reimburse your travel expense they are also out €800 per month.

For the employee it is cheaper to have a company car than to buy one yourself if you want a brand new car. If you don’t care about driving an old car it could be cheaper to buy your own car and get the travel reimbursement of €800 pre-tax.

The big thing about company cars is that for most it’s a status symbol. Straight out of university and you will have a brand new car with all the bells and whistles. You don’t have to save money and it will not impact any credit scores.

And if the engine blows up or you drive into a lake, you will get a new car one hour later. At most it will cost you the €100 deductible if you were in neglect.

Also, golden cage. I know some developers that don’t want to switch to a better job without a company car because then they will have to spend a couple thousand on a “dirty old used car”.

While is it always EUR800? There's no option to simply reimburse their mileage (kilometerage?) ?

I.e. "You submitted your mileage report to the payroll department and it said you drove 214km on company business since last pay period, so your paycheck will have an extra 214 * 0.29 = 62EUR in it."

Actually, in the US it need not even be that complicated. If you are using your car for work purposes, you can simply claim the mileage once a year when you do your taxes. Company cars are, as you mention, mainly a status symbol for high-level executives, possibly including a driver. Even then, I've only heard about it in movies and books. All the real executives I am aware of just get paid enough that they can definitely afford a BMW if they want one.

[I use EUR0.29/km here because it is the US Federal mileage rate (54.4 cents per mile), converted for currency and units. With gasoline prices much higher (not sure about insurance, maintenance, etc) in Europe, I would imagine the reimbursement rate would need to be higher.]

Also, who pays for the gas? Do you get a company credit card for fill-ups?

We call it a mobility budget. Lets say the amount is €800. You can get a company car such as a Volvo V40 or a VW Golf. If you only drive for business purposes you don't pay tax, so you pretty much drive a car with pre-tax money. If you drive for private purposes you need to add 22% of the MSRP of the car to your yearly income. So for a Golf you need to add about €8000 a year to your taxable income resulting in paying about €3300 per year in extra income tax.

Or you can have the company just pay you the money. If you do 2000 kilometers per month of business travel, you can have 2000*0,19=€380 paid out tax free and you need to pay taxes over the remaining €800-€380 = €420. Worst case you are in the 52% bracket and you post-tax "mobility budget" is €600.

Also with a company car the company pays for everything, including parking and gas.

>As a contractor you can earn near 20k per month pre-tax (around 7k per month post-tax).

Does that mean that taxes are (20 - 7) / 20 * 100 = 65% in NL?

I knew that taxes in some EU countries (west, north) were high, but didn't know it was that high in NL. (I am aware that you get many benefits in return for the high taxes, but thought it was in the range of 40 to 50%, in some of those countries - per what I read.)

First of you have 21% VAT. You have to put this on your customers’s invoices and then transfer the tax directly to the tax office. From whats left, we have an income tax bracket system. From 67k you pay 52%. So in this case the total tax rate is roughly 40% because a big portion of your income is in the 52% bracket.

It’s a lot but life is good here. Wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

Thanks for the info.

"Purchasing power parity" is extremely important for comparing these things, especially when it comes to housing. I get the impression that Silicon Valley is a place where $100k isn't quite enough to not have to share accomodation. It's certainly the case that London-weighted salaries don't make up for London-weighted house prices.

One of these days remote working will start to make a difference in this inequality.

Agreed, Near where I live I can buy a nice three bedroom house in a decent area for less than a 1 bedroom flat in a good chunk of London.

http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-654846... round the corner from the street where where I grew up, it's a nice solidly middle class area with decent schools, parks.

200K for a detached 3 house with garage and a reasonable garden, In a good chunk of London the equivalent would be 2-4x more expensive and in the city proper more than 5x.

So suddenly £32K where I am starts too look pretty good compared to 55-60K in London.

Also it's not just the housing that is cheaper up here, almost everything is cheaper.

Wouldn't one of the primary effects of remote work be to put downward pressure on salaries in high cost of living areas?

Possibly but that would also put downwards pressure on the rents/house prices in the high cost of living areas.

Supply and demand, if I could earn 90% of a London salary in the North of England I'd be about 13500-20,000 better off.

This is the "net" of a senior researcher (very competitve position, people are about 35-40 year old, about 10-15 years after a good PhD) in public institutions (see http://www.emploitheque.org/grille-indiciaire-etat-Directeur...) and more than most "researchers" in public institutions (http://www.emploitheque.org/grille-indiciaire-etat-Charges-d... -- 5-10 years after a PhD).

This includes researches in CS and AI.

Nope,these prices for researchers are meant for academia jobs.

Researchers in companies, especially in AI fetch between 60% and 100% more.

Median income is 1772€ per month.[1]

According to [2], 2500€ is top 85%, way higher than median!

(Numbers from 2013 and sources in french but I guess it is understandable for everyone. I expect salaries to have slightly increased in the last 5 years but not moving by +40%) [1]https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/1370897


I think the 2500 € is before income taxes, whereas 1772€ is after the income tax

> This is below France median salary.


Young french developer here (1 year experience). I earn 45k€ (52k$) per year "good software developer only €2500 per month" is a bad joke you should not tell.


30k a year is the salary of a junior developer after employee taxes, and it's the low end of the spectrum.

A company will at least pay 50 to 60k euros per year in total for a junior developer.

> A company will at least pay 50 to 60k euros per year in total for a junior developer.

It depends on the company, as a junior I'm only getting 36k/year, before income taxes.

36K was my starting salary to when I started working about 8 years ago.

In the Paris area it's a standard salary for a junior developer fresh out of engineering school.

It can be higher if you are coming from a top school like Centrale or Supelec (~38/40k). It can also be higher if you work in banks/finance.

I'm not 100% sure, but 30K could be a medium salary for students fresh out of IUTs (2 years professional formation after high-school). But most of the time, the best students will continue for another 3 years in an engineering schools.

But keep in mind that 36k a year before YOUR income taxes ("salaire brut"). Before that, the employer has to pay his side of the taxes/social security ("charges patronales"). In the end, he has to pay around 4 for 5k per month if I recall correctly (sorry, I don't have the exact figures), which means roughly 50k to 60k a year. You can take a look at your payslips for the exact figures.

Thank you for your informations, they are in line with what I've seen so far.

> But keep in mind that 36k a year before YOUR income taxes ("salaire brut"). Before that, the employer has to pay his side of the taxes/social security ("charges patronales"). In the end, he has to pay around 4 for 5k per month if I recall correctly (sorry, I don't have the exact figures), which means roughly 50k to 60k a year. You can take a look at your payslips for the exact figures.

I've recently checked and, for my salary of 36k, my employer has paid 54K.

Hiring and firing people in France is particularly hard. Most companies do not scale beyond 10 employees as after this threshold the regulatory burden increases dramatically.

Taxes on small to medium businesses are downright confiscatory.

Most French people still see business owners as exploiters of their workers.


In French culture the “boss” is traditionally considered as an asshole.

While I’m not saying there aren’t bad bosses out there, this kind of hostile culture towards management doesn’t really help anything.

Taxes are awful as well, and filing them is a pain, even for a sole trader.

The social ladder is also broken. If you don't have the right diploma, no matter what your skills are you will never make it to the top.

There is a real mindset of "Us vs Them" where "Them" is your boss or manager and you should despise them no matter what.

I have left France 5 years ago due to those issues, I am now much happier in a country where your skills come first and nobody cares what you did before so long as you can do the job that is required of you.

France will most likely never be like that.

The "glass ceiling" statement is true in big corporations (you'll never get to the top if you have not graduated from the top Engineering Schools, even if you have the skills).

However, in Small & Medium Businesses, the startup movement has changed that a bit and the diploma is way less important than before.

In terms of mindset, it seems that it is an important part of our culture: Philippe d'Iribarne calls it "The logic of Honor" [1].

To sum up the differences between French and US management (at least, according to Iribarne)[2]:

- French relies on the concept of honor and duty. French employees consider that their honor and rank is way more important than their contract. You must manage with this in mind, and accept to be flexible in order to show consideration. You must also explain what are the limits so that employees will not go over them. Managers must give free space to their employees, being "invisible" when everything works out, respecting their honor, but must also go on the field when it goes wrong in order to show "how it's supposed to be done" and to inspire respect by example.

- US relies on honesty, and on the transparency of a work contract. Managers must control the work on their contractors on a periodic base in order to show interest and respect, as part of the contractual relationship.

=> In France, according to this study, the "Us vs Them" should be accepted by management as long as the companies goes well.

[1] https://www.ecole.org/fr/662/VA021205-ENG.pdf

[2] http://lirsa.cnam.fr/medias/fichier/diribarne2html__12633047...

The same happened to me. The French megacorp I was working for told me that my diploma level had a wage ceiling that they couldn't break. They offered to pay for training so I could get the required diploma in parallel of my work over a year or two. That was actually a very decent offer, but I was fed up with studying at the time so I just left.

Now I'm working in the USA where nobody cares. I don't consider myself a rocket scientist, but it's still quite sad for France to see all the comments about other French people that were similarly pushed out.

Last time I went to a meetup in SF about tech work in France, one of the French employers advertising there answered a question about the FR/US wage gap with "we aren't looking for mercenaries", essentially trying to fault workers' character for daring to ask for more. If I ever go back to France, it will be with solid plans on how to work remotely for a foreign company if the situation hasn't changed.

No change then years ago I interviewed with a uk subsidiary of a French company traveling 3-4 hours down to the south coast to do that.

When they found I had not been to university - they looked at me like I had just taken a dump on the floor.

No change - if anything, it's even worse, as the education requirement now means everyone has a degree (even though they might not have the passion nor the actual skill for it), and since the requirement no longer works as a filter for good candidates (I'd argue it never really worked, but now it's even worse) they are now requiring education and experience (for the same pay an intern would get in the UK).

Even assuming you have a degree, how are you supposed to get the experience when pretty much all the jobs require previous experience? And no, the trick of applying despite not having experience and making up for it at the interview doesn't work - job requirements are very rigid in France; either you'll get rejected right at the start, or if you do make it through all the interviews they will still reject you at the end once they find out (and possibly even consider you as a fraud for applying anyway despite not having the experience).

It can be an issue everywhere, not just in France.

I make a decent business bringing European developers — especially Germans — without degrees into the UK where nobody gives a shit.

That's funny because I used to work in a shop that send ppl the other way around after a 6 week bootcamp... Anecdata and all... I don't think there are many ppl in either de or uk who emigrate for purely economic reasons - it's for the adventure first, and of course more money is always nice.

What does the start-up scene in France look like in comparison, in regards to requiring the right university background? Do investors react similarly or do they care less about that?

I think it really depends on which start-up (and investors) you look at. I work at one that has two developers with no university degrees, and it wasn't an issue recruiting them, and I don't even think investors know about this. Implementation details, sort of.

So how do new people get in? Vitamin F, for family and relations. If you can go through a company and alot of people have the same name, you strt to grasp how such systems work.

It really limits how far and where you can go to whoever your parents and family had connections to.

Helps to goto ENA :-) though the ENA students we had at BT where uniformly great

ENA is a shit school that has been producing pre-formated political cronies since its creation.

Totally agreed, and I left France as well for similar reasons.

As an anecdote, even with my current experience (mid-range backend engineer) I would be struggling to get any IT job in France (because I didn't spend 5 years in higher education, which for them would trump my actual experience), and if I do get one by some miracle I'd be paid around the same that an intern would make in my current country (UK).

Yep you've highlighted the main issues here.

Kidnapping a CEO because the company isn't making any money and shutting its doors is the culmination of an ultra-unionised population.

Don't get me wrong, unions were vital in the 40-70's as there was a clear abuse of the workforce. But today, the workforce can't wrap their heads around how a balance sheet works.

And all those social laws make hiring and firing very hard, which is at the core of startup culture.

Abuse of the workforce didn't start in 1940 and end in 1979. Some labor innovations you may enjoy:

  - Weekends (40 hour week)
  - Minimum wage
  - No child labor
  - Workers compensation
  - Not being massacred by your employer¹
Don't be so glib about the necessity of unions -- the Fair Labor Standards Act was written with blood.

¹ See, e.g., the Ludlow Massacre, the Thibodaux Massacre, Battle of Blair Mountain.

There is still research continuing into the Thibodeaux Massacre - https://tulane.edu/earth-beneath-dumpsite-offers-clues-racia...

The 40 hour week is still not guaranteed. Especially in startup environment overtimes are quite common. In US more so than in Europe, you can easily be pulling 50h+ in a startup with all that overtime not paid for. So it's not like we don't need unions anymore.

On the other hand pulling 50h+ on a shoestring budget is exactly how many startups grew into successes we know today. If that's problematic, one shouldn't work at a startup: it's part of risk-reward equation.

But some want the potential (low probability but out-sized) upside at no risk and strain.

I'm not anti-union per se, but I am familiar with the economics literature, and the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, and lack of child labor are artifacts of economic development. People don't want their kids to have to work, so when societies become wealthy enough that they don't have to, they stop sending their kids to work, and around that time manage to also ban child labor (which has little effect at this point in the development of societies, and some of the effect it has is negative). Same with the 40-hour work week (and again, some of the effects of enshrining this in law are negative). Similar with the minimum wage, with some variation by country (and yet again, to the extent the minimum wage is above the market clearing wage, you end up with negative effects, as locales that have drastically increased theirs have seen).

>the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, and lack of child labor are artifacts of economic development

The economy hasn't stopped developing however. 80 hour work weeks at the factory have been replaced with 40 hour weeks with 20 hours of unpaid overtime. Child labour has been replaced with unpaid internships. Minimum wage often doesn't match increases in inflation and cost of living, not to mention regional changes in cost of living.

Also productivity has practically doubled in the UK since 1980, yet labour laws have largely stayed the same. It could be time to implement 32 hour weeks, or ban unpaid overtime, or raise the minimum wage. All of these require strong unions IMO.

"Unpaid" internships are good -- they allow people who don't provide much value to learn and build their capital. People who want to work more than 40 hours should be allowed to work more than 40 hours, and should be allowed to make agreements with their employer that don't double their expense per hour at 40 hours. The minimum wage is just a price floor, and doesn't actually determine wages for more than an extremely small margin of workers, and raising it can increase unemployment among the most vulnerable populations.

Unions have the economic effect of boosting working-class wages and well-being for people in a particular group: high-skill working class people. They depress wages, increase unemployment, and reduce well-being for the most vulnerable groups, particularly minorities and those with low education. There is no broad positive effect on labor from unions; we know from the data that the benefits accrue to a certain type of worker, and it's nowhere near the lowest classes of worker. These gains are relative, and do not enlarge the pie.

(EDIT: Downvoting me doesn't make the economics literature less conclusive on this point, and there's no reason why we should expect it to be otherwise. The labor struggle is an intra-class struggle between the more-employable working-class subset and the less-employable, which is exactly what you'd predict looking at who makes up the groups.)

FYI, wasn't me who downvoted you (check my karma, I actually can't)

But one by one:

>"Unpaid" internships are good -- they allow people who don't provide much value to learn and build their capital

Unpaid internships are not available to anyone who doesn't have the necessary capital to go without income for a year or so. Which is very few people, and mainly the rich. Or people who can take internships near their parents home provided their parents earn enough to support them and provided they're not in an abusive family situation which is still far too exclusive.

>People who want to work more than 40 hours should be allowed to work more than 40 hours, and should be allowed to make agreements with their employer that don't double their expense per hour at 40 hours.

Sure, but that's still paid overtime, I was talking about unpaid. And a lot of the time it's not a case of "people who want to work more than 40 hours" it's "people who have to work 40 hours". I didn't get a choice at my last job, I either did it or I got fired, and that was with the EU working time directive (it wasn't very effective)

>The minimum wage is just a price floor, and doesn't actually determine wages for more than an extremely small margin of workers, and raising it can increase unemployment among the most vulnerable populations.

A fifth of the UK workforce earned less than the living wage in 2017 [1] and the living wage here isn't that much higher than the minimum wage. I wouldn't describe that as a small margin. All those workers would benefit from increasing the minimum wage. Furthermore regarding increasing unemployment, this isn't a valid argument: it's well established in quite a few countries that minimum wage is not enough to actually live on, so if a business cannot afford to pay the minimum wage people need to survive then they are not an effective business. I really can't emphasise that enough. If people are unemployed because of reasonable increases in minimum wage, it is entirely the fault of the business owners for not being profitable, not the fault of minimum wage law.

>Unions have the economic effect of boosting working-class wages and well-being for people in a particular group: high-skill working class people. They depress wages, increase unemployment, and reduce well-being for the most vulnerable groups, particularly minorities and those with low education. There is no broad positive effect on labor from unions; we know from the data that the benefits accrue to a certain type of worker, and it's nowhere near the lowest classes of worker. These gains are relative, and do not enlarge the pie.

Source please.

>The labor struggle is an intra-class struggle between the more-employable working-class subset and the less-employable, which is exactly what you'd predict looking at who makes up the groups

IMO plain wrong. The labour struggle is between workers and owners of capital, in fact pitting the working class against each other has been a tactic those in power have used for millennia.

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-populati...

There is poor evidence to support your points. And what about Switzerland that has very low union membership, have pretty much 40 hours weeks, no child labor, and the highest compensation across Europe despite having no minimum wage? It does not add up if we follow your narrative.

Switzerland is an exceptional country that has a political system far removed from the rest of the world. Democracy in Switzerland is so direct that there is a much higher level of engagement of the voters with the issues at stake.

You can't take something that works in Switzerland out of that context and then apply it to some other country with the arguement 'it works in Switzerland'.

Of course you can. The above narrative clearly implied that unions are the motor of social progress while it is blantantly false. Economic development is what brings social progress. And the richest countries in the world are the ones with the best working conditions, regardless of unions power.

> Economic development is what brings social progress.

Not necessarily. Economic development can be limited to the owners of the companies whilst exploiting the employees. That is what gave rise to unionization, it was a reaction to abusive practices.

That unions later on became self sustaining and that they work against the interest of some of the people that are employed (seniority system for instance) has nothing to do with why they exist in the first place.

> Economic development can be limited to the owners of the companies whilst exploiting the employees.

This is often heard but there is little truth to it. The more developed a market is, the larger the opportunities for employees to move to other jobs, and therefore exploitation is a problem that goes away by itself. Many countries in South East Asia have close to zero unions yet benefit from very high living standards and reasonable working hours (at least very much equivalent to the US).

If the "union" theory had any truth in it, then you would expect unions to be everywhere in the world before and during economic development to lead social conditions improvement. Yet social/working conditions improve regardless of unions presence.

It would be interesting to explore. How did Sweden come to a 40 hour week via parallel means?

Sorry I wasn't trying to undermine the power of unions and what it did for the population in the last decades. I grew up in Europe. But also grew frustrated by the impossible situation it puts startups in, to achieve anything and remain viable.

That unions make startups unviable says something about the startup industry...

The unions in France are currently crapping our transportation system with their unlimited strike 2 days out of 5, all because the unions are clinging to their power. Unions in France has stopped caring about workers a long time ago, they just want to have unionized worker in order to get their (and the gov's) money.

Unions are not necessary at all in any country that has decent and enforced labor laws. In developed economies they only serve as a levelling mechanism, which also make it impossible to fire anybody. The only people they serve are unproductive and incompetent employees.

> Unions are not necessary at all in any country that has decent and enforced labor laws.

I suppose no political organizations are necessary in places where there are decent and enforced laws, not even political parties, but that's not how humans work. Decent laws aren't the result of generosity from those in power - decent labor law isn't a result of corporate altruism - but of political struggles between different elements of society. Democracy doesn't work magically; it works by the people who have a seat at the table competing and negotiating. Those without a seat are ignored - their obvious needs, their priorities (you can always identify those without a seat: the others say about their needs: 'they're exaggerating; it's not that big a deal'), and needs that only they have the experience to know or anticipate. Individual factory workers don't have a seat, but their union does.

The rest of the parent is just hyperbole.

This comment sounds a lot like hyperbole to me. People have a seat at the table, that’s how democracy works. People also have an incredible amount of entitlements and protection in the labor market. The labor laws in the west are generally quite good, most of the reasonable criticism you could direct at them comes down to enforcement. If you have a problem with them, then participate in your democracy.

In economies where minimum entitlements are sufficient to protect workers from exploitation, unions serve no useful purpose at all, they are simply leveling mechanisms. Meaning the do not protect workers from getting less than their worth, they simply pull people down and prevent people from advancing themselves beyond the average. Worst of all they make it nearly impossible to fire the incompetent, which itself seems like exploitation to me, forcing the component to pick up the slack of those who aren’t.

> In economies where minimum entitlements are sufficient to protect workers from exploitation, unions serve no useful purpose at all

They serve the purpose of making sure workers get their legal entitlements.

For example, Unions right in Australia are tackling the problem of underpayment of legally mandated wages “wage theft” and have succeeded in getting a state government to adopt as policy the treatment of deliberate underpayment as a criminal matter with criminal penalties.

>most of the reasonable criticism you could direct at them comes down to enforcement

Sounds like you agree with me. In a democracy, unions are just about the least efficient way you could possibly address inadequate enforcement of labor laws. If all you want is a workers lobby group, then why do you think the best way to achieve that is with organisations that exploit people with collective bargaining agreements, and enforce a tyranny where nobody can be fired? Want to know why it’s so impossible to fire a corrupt cop? Unions. Want to know why incompetent teachers can last a whole career defrauding our children? Unions.

There’s no rational connection between wanting to better enforce labor laws that are already on the books and wanting unions. Democracies offer many far superior ways to address such issues.

I have no first hand experience with unions protecting the rights of labor in the US, but I do see that nobody else is doing it while unions have receded. Forced arbitration seems like a significant problem, which is far more deserving of the visceral outrage you express towards unions.

I gave you a concrete example of the good work unions are doing and you responded by just calling it inefficient and saying "many far superior ways" without outlining any. The reality is it was a thing that was happening and unions took a leading role in the political process to fix it. Unions are people participating in democracy.

Not only that, you seek to put words in my mouth about exploitation and tyranny.

I'd also like to point out that beyond your (in my view) irrational distaste for unions, you have a very US-centric view of what a union is. Those of us looking from the outside in are constantly bemused by people like you.

Please only respond to the things I actually say, not the things that you think I will say in the caricature you have built.

> The labor laws in the west are generally quite good

According to who? By what standard? And regardless of their current state, shouldn't workers get as much as they can for themselves, just like everyone else? Corporations sure do everything they can for themselves; IMHO even enlightened self-interest, such as net neutrality or reasonable tax laws, is not a limitation.

> Unions are not necessary at all in any country that has decent and enforced labor laws.

You clealy have no idea about what you're saying. For your comment to make any sense you need to believe that any worker acting exclusively by himself has the resources to enforce those laws agains any company and suffer no repercussion during the process. This idea is utterly absurd.

Meanwhile, unions do offer specialized legal services and do pressure managers to not overreach or overstep their authority, and do so as a proxy to any employee and even while preserving his anonymity if needed.

In fact, if anything you've said made any sense then unpaid overtime or unpaid weekend work would be unthinkable, but instead it's the norm in some abusive companies without any union.

>you need to believe that any worker acting exclusively by himself has the resources to enforce those laws

Yes because that’s how laws work, it’s up to the individual to enforce them...

Literally no laws work this way.

> Yes because that’s how laws work

Again, you clearly have no idea about what you're talking about. It's quite obvious that a law means nothing if you have no way to enforce it or if there are serious repercussions if you try. The moment a lone employee acting alone creates a problem for his immediate supervisors or higher ups, he singles himself out as a target. In jurisdictions that follow an at-will employment doctrine, where any employee can be immediately fired without any justification, then any employee that raises any problem to the company's managers can be fired just for being a nuisance.

How can you accuse me of not knowing how labor laws work, and then try to suggest that it is up to employers to enforce employment law/regulation? It is employers role to comply with the law, the department of labor enforces it. You don’t need your employers permission to report law violations to the department of labor.

I have always assumed that, since lawsuits and whistleblowing leave public records, that employers can and do blackball employees who cause trouble. Or worse in some cases.

> How can you accuse me of not knowing how labor laws work, and then try to suggest that it is up to employers to enforce employment law/regulation?

That's not what I said at all. Please don't attribute to me a claim I never made.

> It is employers role to comply with the law, the department of labor enforces it. You don’t need your employers permission to report law violations to the department of labor.

Again, you keep missing the point. What I've said is quite obvious: an employee acting alone has very few, if any, resources to go against his employer, and in the rare cases an employee goes against his employer then even if he wins he is left wide open to repercussions. I don't understand how you failed to get the point I've made when I've mentioned the effect that at-will employment doctrines has on this.

That is exactly what you have said, you keep trying to imply that the only way for an employ the address labor abuse is to complain to their management. This is in outright lie. There are entire government agencies devoted to enforcing labor abuse, and anybody can file a complaint with them at no cost at all.

In addition to that, it is also trivially easy for an employ to launch a civil suit. Any case with even an ounce of merit will attract lawyers willing to work on commission.

Even further, you have offered no justification at all for why you think unions are necessary to enforce the law, instead only resorting to the fallacious line of reasoning that it is up to employees to argue with their employers for minimum entitlements.

> In addition to that, it is also trivially easy for an employ[ee] to launch a civil suit. Any case with even an ounce of merit will attract lawyers willing to work on commission.

Lawyer here. Your second sentence is incorrect: (1) Litigation is far more expensive that you seem to realize; most rank-and-file employees can't afford it – when my wife, also a lawyer, and I were younger, we used to joke that we couldn't afford us. (2) The default rule in the U.S. is that each party pays its own attorney fees unless otherwise stated in a specific statute or in a contract. The availability of class actions helps plaintiffs' lawyers achieve cost savings and increase the likelihood of getting paid, but the conservative wing of the Supreme Court just helped put the kibosh on that by ruling that employers could avoid class actions by insisting on one-at-a-time arbitration, which results in massive duplication of costs. (3) An individual employee's likely damage award is almost never enough to entice a lawyer into taking the case on a contingent-fee basis, i.e., where the lawyer only gets paid if the employee prevails. (4) Consequently, it's extremely difficult for an employee to find a lawyer to take on a garden-variety case against her employer.

The corporations also organize themselves to influence politicians. Big companies even have their own lobbyists.

In addition you get all the "retirement" packages where former politicians are hired by the companies they were supposed to regulate.

Why shouldn't the employees have the same right?

It sounds like you’re comparing cartels to unions in respect to corruption and inefficiency. Well, I certainly agree with you there. Both are a threat to an efficient free market.

Laws aren’t permanent. They can be, and in fact often are, rolled back or abolished. See Glass-Steagall Act and the much more recent Dodd-Frank rollbacks as examples.

The fact of the matter is that when you make progress in an area you can’t just sit back and relax. You have to continue to work hard to prevent regression, especially when there are strong economic pressures in that direction. This is why unions are as important today as they were in the mid-19th century.

The perpetual cruft stacking seems to be a far greater problem of passing large laws like eg Dodd Frank. In terms of regulation, the biggest problem the US has, is a century of cruft having built up, and the rarity with which it gets fully removed or even looked at + questioned for whether it should be on the books at all. The perpetual, hilariously absurd expansion of the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations is a nice example of that in action (180,000 pages).

My favorite example, that does a wonderful job of pointing out the absurdity of this endless stacking, is the Twitter account A Crime a Day:


Who is going through and removing all of that trash? Nobody, it's perpetually expanding.

They almost never actually remove large bills like Dodd Frank from the system, they stack more cruft forever on top. If you want to roll back a section, you add 20 more pages of cruft to do it.

May 17: "18 USC §§2340 & 2340A make it a federal crime for a person acting under color of law to commit torture overseas."

...That doesn't seem to fit the general "frivolous law" theme...

The point was hardly that every law on the federal books is bad. If you read the first 100 tweets on that account, my opinion is maybe 90 are bullshit that shouldn't be on the books. Nobody is going through all of those and removing the trash. Every little thing doesn't need a law, everything shouldn't be a federal crime.


"18 USC §1465 makes it a federal crime to produce an obscene, lewd, lascivious, or "filthy book" for sale in interstate commerce."

"10 USC §2674(c) & 32 CFR §234.11(a) make it a federal crime to drink alcohol at the Pentagon without written authorization."

"40 USC §6307 & 36 CFR §520.4(h) make it a federal crime to play a ball game at the National Zoo, except in an officially-designated ball game area."

"21 USC §§331, 333, 343(g) & 21 CFR §139.150(b) make it a federal crime to sell "egg noodles" that aren't ribbon-shaped."

"18 USC §46(b) makes it a federal crime to knowingly barter for out-of-state water chestnuts."

"16 U.S.C. §§707(a), 718g & 50 C.F.R. §91.14 make it a federal crime to submit an entry in the Federal Duck Stamp contest that you copied from a picture on the internet."

I disagree with treating every specific refinement or implication of an age-old law as some irrelevant newfangled detail we don't need.

I looked up "21 USC §§331, 333, 343(g) & 21 CFR §139.150(b) make it a federal crime to sell "egg noodles" that aren't ribbon-shaped."

21 USC §331 is just about regulating fraud in commerce. It starts:

"The following acts and the causing thereof are prohibited:

(a) The introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.

You could show that to someone a couple thousand years ago, and nothing would prevent them from understanding the purpose of it. You could probably get someone from the time of Hammurabi to understand the concept.

21 CFR §139.150(b) doesn't make it illegal to sell egg based pasta that isn't ribbon shaped, it defines "egg noodles" as such, as opposed to tubular shapes which are not "egg noodles". Standards to facilitate commerce are normally considered legitimate even by libertarians who wish to radically shrink the federal government. So unless you are an anarchist or particularly wish to abolish egg noodles or inhibit commerce in them, I don't understand where you're coming from.

Good on you for highlighting the Thibodaux Massacre - I was just reading about it the other day in a New Orleans free paper.

On an unrelated note, can we talk about why aviation has moved away from the biplane? Biplanes gave us the first heavier than air flight. Therefore we should keep flying biplanes forever, because they gave us these great gains in our lives.

The comparison doesn't really make sense.

OP seemed to be arguing that because unions provided benefits in the past, we should keep them around now even regardless of whether they can provide current day benefits on order with their earlier benefits.

There needs to be a large safety net for people to fall back on, and then companies should be free to hire/fire as needed. Right now we have the gig economy trying to extract blood from a stone, and dinosaur unions that are inflexible, basically two extremes.

And (in France), there is also a large social safety net, which is near UBI-level.

> Kidnapping a CEO because the company isn't making any money and shutting its doors is the culmination of an ultra-unionised population.

I've heard about 'bossnapping' - is it literally as described? How on earth does this not end in bloodshed? If someone tried to kidnap me I would be immediately fighting for my life. Do the Police do hostage rescue? How are people not getting hurt?

Because it's mostly a stage play.

My father was the lead of Human Resources (don't know how it translates in English) in a bank.

He was once hold for a night during a strike, with 3 other persons. The union leader told him "It's not you sir, we like you as a person, but it's what you represents that we hold here".

So they ordered pizzas and managed to sleep on coaches and were "freed" the next day. No one was hurt.

He didn't liked it in any way, but what was the point of torching the offices down ?

For the record, it was in the French West Indies, where unions are far more powerful than in metropolitan France.

Stage play or not if you want to hold me against my will you'd better be prepared to back that up. Really, I understand the demands but if it has nothing to do with me personally then there is no need to hold me personally.

Besides that managers have kids & spouses to get home to as well.

Kidnapping is kidnapping no matter how nice the the kidnappers are.

If you're being held at knifepoint by a mad man in a home invasion, your best course of action is to take the first opportunity to either escape or neutralize the kidnapper with violence.

When you're symbolically held in an office for press coverage and you know you'll be fed, and released in a few days, your best course of action is to sit down and play on your phone for 24h.

I'm not pro union, but is that so hard to understand? Are you really going to make a keyboard warrior claim here that you'd stick a fork in the neck of a union member holding you 'hostage' the first opportunity you get?

No, it's not hard to understand: it's illegal. If someone restricts your movement against your will then depending on how much force they are prepared to bring to bear they should let you go or suffer the consequences. There is nothing symbolical about this, it is actual kidnapping.

OK, it's actual kidnapping. And it's illegal. Now walk me through this:

1. you are held hostage in a home invasion. You kill a kidnapper. The police won't arrest you (in the Netherlands - maybe other European countries they will, I don't know many details of all EU countries - but this is just for argument's sake anyway). Most likely you will not be convicted of anything (depending on the exact circumstances).

2. you are held hostage during a strike by a union group. They put you in an office, bring you some water maybe, then lock the door (or let's make it more extreme - let's say they tape your hands together, just like the burglar in the scenario above). You wriggle yourself out, take the knife on the side table that is usually used to cut cake for someone's birthday, and when the door opens, you stab the guy on strike in the eye and run out.

What do you think will happen? Will you be charged and/or convicted in this second scenario?

If there is a (in terms of legal repercussions) difference in outcome between the two scenarios, why do you think that is? Would the defense in the court be 'oh but I was actually being held hostage, this was justified self defense'?

(note that I'm not talking about what 'ought to be' here, I'm talking about 'what is'. I'm not interested in arguing hypotheticals based on legicentric fantasy legal theory. Although one might argue what a person in such a case could reasonably expect to happen, which is a real consideration in a legal argument on self defense.)

Being completely realistic, what I would do would be to just attempt to leave.

If they locked a door I would try to break it down or break a window to get out. They'll either let me leave, or they're going to have to start to use force to stop my leaving, right? At that point they're the ones escalating it. The more force they used to try to stop me leaving, the more force I'd try to match it with.

If they get to the point where they're trying to make me stay using a knife, then yes I would literally stab them to escape, which would be totally reasonable force.

If it's really as 'just a prank bro' as you say, I guess they'd just let me leave at the point where I start breaking things to get out. If they're willing to use violence to keep me then I'm going to try to overmatch that with more violence.

The problem with just sitting there and accepting being captured is that you don't know how far it will escalate, and you have no control any more over what happens to you. You need to resist when you have the chance, not leave it until the point where things turn really ugly.

There were several cases of bosses being stripped recently weren't there? They must have been terrified they were going to be raped. Any reasonable person is going to fight for their life in that situation.

You're setting up an elaborate false dichotomy.

If they tape your hands together it is probably game over anyway, short of you being McGuiver. But before they tape your hands together they will have to resort to force and I'd be more than happy to escalate that gradually right up to the point where they'll fuck off. And if they don't that's their problem, you have a right to defend yourself against attackers with proportional force.

Stabbing someone in the eye sounds like it is a step too far especially since you have the option to threaten with the knife first. Holding someone against their will is not a 'play crime' but a very serious one.

> When you're symbolically held

It's not symbolical if the person is not allowed to leave.

Well, there's a manager at Air France that lost his shirt in that type of labor dispute; it does not always end up peacefully.

Really you know the definition of a low key civilised union strike is in the US "no ones been shot at yet"

I don't see how firing being harder is an issue. In France it's standard with the first several months being a probationary period where you can let the person go on the day, and only after that does it transform into a CDI. This period can be extended once.

You can't really blame legislation for needing more than 6-8 months to realize that an employee is not a good fit.

It's much more difficult to justify making someone redundant (licenciement économique) or to fire someone who has become an asshole or isn't performing. In other jurisdictions where I've worked, the employee gets their notice period. In France, the employer is often under implicit threat of an inspecteur du travail, a government work inspector, who will wrap the company up in shitload of bureaucratic audits.

The likelihood of an employer firing people abusively is much greater than an employee being an asshole.

It can indeed hinder start-ups a little because of uncertainty in any new ventures.

But keep in mind that the vast majority of workers are not working in a startup environment. Relaxing a law to fit the legitimate needs of a small number of start-ups with an even smaller proportion of the work force at the detriments of the vast majority doesn't seem like a good idea.

And I've seen people getting fired when redundant and/or toxic for the company. The administration will keep an eye on you if you fire more than a dozen employees per year (for a 1500 employees company), when firing "en masse" (ironically named "plan de sauvegarde de l'emploie") an employers has some obligations like giving opportunities for training, maybe finding another position in the firm, firing people close to retirement with some compensation until their actual retirement (pre-retraite).

Lastly, this protection goes both ways, if you, as an employee, you end-over your resignation, you must remain in the company for 3 months, that way the employer has time to find a replacement and schedule a knowledge transfer in good conditions.

>>The likelihood of an employer firing people abusively is much greater than an employee being an asshole.<<

Not my experience in the jurisdictions where I've worked, but certainly a widespread belief among many French people.

>>Relaxing a law to fit the legitimate needs of a small number of start-ups..<<

I think the French labour laws need to be relaxed for the good of the French economy, not just for start-ups. The current system benefits those already in employment by entrenching their positions, but to the detriment of younger people seeking work.

The employee knows about probationary periods and adjusts his behavior to them.

People can, and do, change.

Corporate tax rate is at 33% and 16% for small business, that doesn't strike me as particularly high, especially considered what it used to be in the US. There are many taxes on employee's but they fund their benefits, so that's something you don't have to provide separately to your employees and you can basically see it as part of the salary.

It was increasingly a problem for US competitiveness. The US was bleeding a lot of successful companies to other countries for tax purposes, and it was getting worse (Pfizer tried to flee to Ireland).

The average national rate in Europe is around 18%, and 21% for the EU.

France is competing with this:

Austria 25%, Spain 25%, Netherlands 25%, Italy 24%, Norway 23%, Denmark 22%, Sweden 22%, Portugal 21%, Slovakia 21%, Estonia 20%, Finland 20%, Iceland 20%, Russia 20%, Poland 19%, UK 19%, Czech 19%, Switzerland 18%, Ireland 12.5%

Armenia 20%, Belarus 18%, Ukraine 18%, Romania 16%, Lithuania 15%, Albania 15%, Moldova 12%, Bulgaria 10%, Hungary 9%

Staying up in the 30s would put France at a severe disadvantage vs the rest of the EU and Europe. Germany will also be forced to lower its rate eventually.

The world average was near 40% ~35 year ago. The rate in the US came close to matching with the world average in the late 1980s. After that, the world average began declining consistently while the US remained high. When the world average is 22% and you're at 35%, you have a problem.

You're comparing the maximum rate for France with average rates in the other countries, which isn't really fair.

The actual average in France is 23% (in 2016, it's probably lower now) so nothing really extraordinary. The maximum rate is also being progressively brought down from 33% to 25%.

What is the source of this information? In Estonia corporate income tax is essentially 0% - all re-invested income is tax-free, you only pay taxes when you eventually decide to pay out dividends (or salary). Which can be years, decades or never.

It's derived from KPMG's global tax tables for 2018, and confirmed from:


Estonia's corporate income tax rate is not essentially zero, unless you plan to never distribute any profit. Otherwise it's 14-20%. It would be unusual for most businesses to never distribute profit.

Last year Estonia collected something like €368m in corporate income taxes. Or €283 per capita. Equal to about 4% of their budget. Not a huge sum, also not anywhere close to zero. In the US for 2018, corporate income taxes will be about 5% to 6% of tax revenue (4% to 5% of the budget). The US corporate income taxes collected, broken down on a per capita basis, will be around $650 to $700 for 2018, for comparison.

You can plainly see that Estonia collects corporate income taxes:



The primary unusual thing Estonia does, is not tax profit until distribution.

Estonia's corporate income tax is set at 20%: https://europa.eu/youreurope/business/vat-customs/company-ta...

As for the budget share, a significant part of that is going to be govt-owned corporations that are used as cash-cows, for example the energy production / distribution monopolies, national lottery, Tallinn Port etc. Last month's news - this year they contributed 157MEUR dividends: https://www.aripaev.ee/uudised/2018/04/19/riik-votab-ettevot...

In the end, "regular" companies end up paying less than you imagine. I think it could be a sign that the policy is working - companies are investing into the future and "paying it forward". Or they are doing creative feats like taking out profits as loans to parent companies, which is also known to happen, specifically the big Scandinavian banks here.

Specifically for startups, it is going to make a big difference if you do not need to pay yearly corporate tax at an arbitrary date (in relation to your business) and can a) postpone this until profitability or b) never pay a dime if your idea never pans out. You can even steer your company towards an exit without ever having to think about it.

Many people I know personally only distribute as much profit as they need for themselves. It is not double taxed with personal income tax, so it is spending money already after paying the corporate tax. This has lead to a debate as to whether this actually constitutes "entrepreneur salary" with entrepreneurs therefore paying less taxes than employees (the salary taxes are much higher: http://palk.crew.ee).

That is why for a startup you can "essentially" forego thinking about it. When you do, you know you have made it :)

I'm currently trying to understand estonian corporate taxes so your comment was helpful. Thanks.

The question I have is whether you're required to claim a salary (instead of capital gains) as a sole employee of your corporation if you're a full tax resident there.

This might be too specific for HN discussion, but feel free to email me.

Most corporate tax systems don't count re-invested income for the purposes of taxation. It's why Amazon has such a low tax bill.

I wonder how big the contractor market is in France. I mean, contractors are easy to hire and fire so it could be a good compromise (at least in the short term).

[I'm french] The contractors market is BIG in France. At least in the computers industry. And it's getting bigger and bigger.

The current trend is to externalize ALL the computer-related work, which is crazy as in the companies I've worked at, we (contractors) were in charge of the "crown jewels" of the company; without us, nothing would have worked. Nothing. So, yes, we are easier to fire (by simply stopping a contract), but our knowledge is lost, so the productivity takes a HUGE hit everytime (and don't ask me about documentation or knowledge transfer, those are considered a loss of time by the management!)

There are laws against it, to prevent the "disguised worker" phenomenon, but those laws are useless and ignored or there are work-arounds. The truth is, when you stay for more than 3 years in the same job (like I did), it's obvious that you ARE acting as a regular salaried worker.

Nowadays, it's much more difficult to find a job at a company than it was 20 years ago (or more). Consulting/contracting companies have replaced all those workers. with HUGE negative consequences on productivity, loyalty & workers' attitude.

In the -big- telecom companies I've worked at, as a contractor, you had 50% to 80% of contractors in the teams!

About 15 years ago, I worked in a BIG telecom company, who stopped ALL their contracts before the end of the year (to have numbers that looked "good"). All activity ground to a halt, because the people who "did stuff" were the contractors. Nothing was done during the 3 months period it took to rehire (mostly the same people). Salaried coworkers who were there during that period told me that the corridors were empty, and that it felt really weird to come and work in mostly empty buildings... Of course, they lost many people who had started other contracts. A smaller company would probably have gone bankrupt.

Actually we have two common cases which make it harder to work with contractor.

1. If your contractor has just you as a client for a long time, if you stop the mission he can sue you for « economical dependance »

2. The real estate market does not let you rent without a solid employee contract, making it very hard to independent contractors to find a house.

The important market is not in contractors but rather in « contractors supporters », basically buying contractors time and selling it to big corporations.

These « middlemen » take the juridical risk, which make the big corporations accepting the contractors, and help the contractors finding missions.

These middlemen also take fees on missions.

> If your contractor has just you as a client for a long time, if you stop the mission he can sue you for « economical dependance »

Here in the UK, if your contractor works for you for a long time the government could argue that they're a "disguised employee". This a type of tax dodge, so they will come down on them like a ton of bricks, and might come after you as well.

>The real estate market does not let you rent without a solid employee contract, making it very hard to independent contractors to find a house.

My previous employer found this out the hard way, as they tried to get a developer to work in Paris for a few months. But because he was employed by the London office and not the French one, they didn't want to give him a French work contract. The whole thing fell through when the developer did a lot of research (which I feel the company should have done before making the offer) and said he wasn't going to move unless they helped him with all of the paperwork to make it fully legal. The company realised how much work was involved and then said he didn't have to come, haha. They also looked at renting AirBnB rooms for the whole period but Paris is clamping down on AirBnB so it wasn't worth it.

>These « middlemen » take the juridical risk, which make the big corporations accepting the contractors, and help the contractors finding missions.

Yeah, contractor recruiters are very big in IT here, especially in London. Most IT contractors use recruiters because they do all of the legwork, and also take most of the risk. But the government is starting to put a lot of pressure on them because they are so worried about disguised employment (which to me seems like a non-issue anyway).

> making it very hard to independent contractors to find a house

This kind of thing is a subtle form of protectionism at the local level, IMO; it makes it hard for people to move about the country for work, let alone from outside.

This is before we get into the question of immigration rules with circular dependencies ..

Being a sole trader is a pain in France, and the taxes are outright robbery. The taxman feels like "hold on, this guy is actually making money... let me add a few zeros to his taxes to make sure he goes down!".

Here in the UK STs get hit with the higher tax brackets simply because they are not treated as a separate company, so all money earned is income. It's stupid to do things as a ST, unless you only take cash as then it's easier to lie about your income. Is that similar to how it is in France?

Not living in France, but Belgium (similar market to some extent): 99% of people don't want to work as a contract. They want a long term, "indefinite" employment contract.

This, exactly. France (and Belgiul as it seems) is a country where most people goal is to work for a government job, or equivalent.

The status of a job for government is tha tyou CAN'T be fired ! Whatever stupid thing you do, whatever you work or not, you can't loose the job.

It's also less payed than a job in a private company, and you almos know exactly what will be your income on the last year you'll work, but it's safe.

And for big companies, the union are mandatory, so it's almost the same. Hard to be fired.

And that's why beeing an entrepreneur in France is so hard and not understand by most people. Why take risks ?


Brazilian here. It seems that we have a lot in common.

However, entrepreneurship and self made man/business culture has been getting increasingly popular (mostly at São Paulo) although lawmakers have not been following the trend.

edit: formatting.

That's because everything is structured around that, especially housing and banking, there is ZERO flexibility there.

My major fear living in Paris is losing my apartment while being between jobs or even still in the trial period.

Hah, yeah I suppose that would be far more attractive :)

It's literally the only way my French company can pay to get work done, having employees is too expensive unless you have solid and constant cash flow.

Just sharing another experience:

I am a technical manager at a small-size big data company. We opened a new office in Paris three months ago and our largest struggle by far is recruiting talent. Despite what other comments here are writing, the startup scene is booming. Station F[1] is huge. The four WeWorks are full and they are opening two more soon. Global companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Naver are growing their presence. New companies are popping up all the time. Despite the academic strength of France in Computer Science, there is simply not enough supply of senior engineers in France to meet the demand. A couple of years ago Paris was lukewarm and we managed to open up in the midst of frying heat. I have met both Berliners and Parisians who say that there is more happening in Paris than Berlin right now.

The language divide is definitely a thing. We are an international English-speaking company and that works both for and against us.

(We're called Kaiko[1] if anyone reading this wants to reach out and connect)

[0] https://stationf.co/

[1] https://www.kaiko.com

Correction, there are enough devs but the salaries are too low, so they go elsewhere like I did. I am not going to work 40+ hours a week or more to make 2500 euros and pay 1000 euros of rent in Paris. Whats the point?

Also, Paris is a crime-ridden city that is way overpriced.

Exactly, there's a lot of cool stuff going on in Paris, but seriously it's underpaid for the price you have to pay to live there.

From where I live I could work in Paris with the same commute time than I do by working in Luxembourg, but I get a better paycheck.

Renting a 2 bedroom costs 700€ a month where I live, in Paris it would cost 2 to 3 times this.

I don't get the "there's not enough engineering available", this is just not true, reality is that people will earn a lot more in London, Luxembourg, Switzerland, so they chose that.

>I don't get the "there's not enough engineering available", this is just not true, reality is that people will earn a lot more in London

Not by much [1][2], and rent is worse in London[3]. I think income tax is fairly comparable.

From personal experience the same salary goes further in Paris and quality of life is better than in London, although I never officially worked in Paris so can't comment too much. The nightlife is certainly better. Also Switzerland is crazy expensive so even if you're earning more it won't matter, pretty much everything you buy day to day is about 2x as expensive compared to anywhere else.

[1] https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/london-software-enginee... [2] https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/paris-software-engineer... [3] https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

Confirmed. I'm far from Paris, my company proposed me to change client and relocate to Paris. Had a look at rent prices and traffic. Next thing I ask is if I'm getting some kind of salary raise, and they look at me and replied with the classic "bah, écoute...", obviously I declined.

"our largest struggle by far is recruiting talent"

So, proof of the pudding and all - how much are you paying a senior engineer? To make it easier to compare, take an hypothetical software engineer with a cs degree and 10 years of experience in mainstream technologies?

I am french and two of my friends left for the US because very large companies I won't name made them offers that are impossible to match in Europe. There is no lack of produced talents here, they just won't stay because they don't get paid their true market value.

> there is simply not enough supply of senior engineers in France to meet the demand.

This argument is ridiculous, the problem is that you are not willing to pay enough. (I am working in Paris)

I'm curious: What is "enough" for someone with eq of an MSc in CS and a couple of years work experience with big data and distributed systems? I realize Glassdoor and similar sites aren't the best source of information but 60K EUR per year seems to be "normal" pay for such a profile and offering above that hasn't helped us.

We're having trouble even finding relevant people to open up the conversation with. I am interviewing pretty much daily and I can count the number of candidates that we have even been talking salary with on my fingers. I bet it's a different story with web or app devs, though.

Good enough will be by definition, the minimum salary at which somebody is willing to do that work for you. There's no a priori number that is appropriate, and it has nothing to do at all with the level of studies of your candidate, only with the job market.

If there are few candidates, of course you'll have to pay a lot of money.

I'm earning a lot more than that in Berlin, which is a lot cheaper than Paris from what I've heard. I had a year of software engineering experience when I started, and an MSc in CS in an unrelated specialisation.

That seems decent but I don't know much about this space (I know that 60k€ as a PHP/Symfony developer is kind of a hard to break ceiling no matter the experience).

Do your ads have a salary range? Employed people tend to ignore those who don't.

I don't know much about the startup landscape in France (or anywhere in the EU), but I've always heard that it is difficult to incorporate a small company and hire employees due to large regulatory/bureaucracy hurdles. The "move fast, break things" pattern of setting up a Delaware LLC and getting an angel seed in a matter of days/weeks really just doesn't work.

Can anyone comment on this? Is this way off base?

Recently helped a friend launch a French subsidiary. It is a pain.

First, you must pay a lawyer or formation agent to write and register your by-laws. Next, you must seek an introduction to a bank manager. With that secured, you get to draft a book report of a business plan. This is tedious and pointless. Once completed, the bank manager reviews it. (They will also ask for lots of personal documents, each requiring expensive notarization.) If they approve, you get a business bank account. Into this account you must deposit no less than €4,000. Unfortunately, these funds are frozen until you get your extrait Kbis. That won't happen for at least two weeks.

Now you have to buy an ad in a French newspaper. These are expensive. After a week or two, papers will arrive in the mail. You take these to the Commercial Court, where a bunch of agencies on different floors will stamp them. With those stamped papers in hand, your €4,000 will be unfrozen. (Usually. On the next business day.) Finally, you have to appoint a French accountant. They continually monitor your business and continually charge you fees. Now you can business!

Meanwhile, in Delaware, 24 hours and a few hundred dollars buys you an LLC. A bank account, set up online or in person, can get you going the next day.

And that is not the worst part. When you sell your company, you may have to wait between 6 to 9 months to get your money!

Basically, taxes are always delayed and to calculate the exact amount that you owe to the diverse government agencies, it takes an army of accountants.

Even sometimes the accountants do not know what is going on as the tax laws are always changing, sometimes at the last minutes. Meanwhile, you have sold your asset, your money is stuck in escrow for more than 6 months, you have no revenue and no money. Welcome to France!

Source: my parents sold their business in October last year and just got their money a week ago.

The advice I was given, by a competent European lawyer, was to set up a Luxembourg S.A. which, in turn, was to hold asset-light subsidiaries in each country. (This is how Spotify is structured.)

The problem is, when you're resident, it looks like you try to avoid taxes.

And government doesn't like that. At all. So if you're small, they won't miss you when they backfire at you :-)

1. No need for a lawyer to draft the bylaws, you can copy-paste from various resources.

2. The newspaper ad thing still exists, is a reminiscence of the past but only adds 100 euros or something to the overall cost.

3. "Into this account you must deposit no less than €4,000." = probably if your company's capital is $4000. You can start with 1 euro of capital if you wish (but that's probably not the greatest idea).

4. Overall, the easiest way is to first find a good accountant, and let them deal with the administrative side of things for ~1000 euros or less. If you do everything by yourself, you're probably good with 250-300 euros of expenses.

See https://www.service-public.fr/professionnels-entreprises/vos...

Even taking your lowest-cost professional estimate, which deviates from experience and ignores several practical, if not official, costs, we’re talking about 2 weeks versus 24 hours and 4x the cost, with reference to Delaware. It’s a shockingly messy process compared with the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong or even Luxembourg.

My experience is not as painful as yours, but I do not know the Delaware process.

I incorporated a "SAS" in France with the help of an online accounting service. It cost 500€ in fees, required a few hours of paperwork and the company was ready 2 weeks afterwards (KBis, bank account…).

Now I pay 90€ / mo for the accounting service, and 10€ / mo for the (online-only) bank account. That's it.

Note that you do business alone, with not too much volume, you can opt-in for the easier "microentrepreneur" status. It has low taxes, easy accounting and is straightforward to set up.

May I ask what is that online accounting service?

Here it is: https://www.dougs.fr/ (there may be referal bonuses if you want to subscribe, we can PM each other)

Thanks a lot! I don't plan to subscribe right now, maybe I will in the next 6 months or so.

> Meanwhile, in Delaware

More worryingly for the French, it’s as easy as it is in Delaware in other nearby EU countries, and cross-border EU commerce is easier than cross-state commerce in the US

> and cross-border EU commerce is easier than cross-state commerce in the US

I'm curious where you get this impression. Cross-border commerce is very lightly regulated in the US. For most industries, you literally have to put zero thought into the matter.

Don’t bank transfers take 3-4 days?

> Don’t bank transfers take 3-4 days?

Uh, what? What does this have to do with interstate commerce? ACH doesn't operate on a state by state basis.

ACH can take a couple of days to clear (usually 2), but that's not really relevant, because most business isn't done through bank transfers. And for invoices that are due net 30 or 90, having a two day latency for the final transaction doesn't make a difference.

Interstate commerce in the US is generally trivial, mostly because the Constitution makes it very clear that states have next to no ability to regulate or prevent it. The only main exceptions are industries that are heavily regulated within a state (ie, if you want to set up a new health insurer in a state, most states require you to get a license from that state - which isn't really regulating interstate commerce, but having state-specific regulations you need to be aware of. This is uncommon).

For general businesses like we usually talk about on HN, there are very few barriers to interstate commerce in the US, especially compared to the EU.

Fedwires clear instantly between banks; for the end user, within about thirty minutes (to give time for approvals). (Some banks bulk wires to the end of the day, but that is a cost-speed trade-off.)

speaking from italy here, but I think the experience can relate.

even before getting your idea down you'll have to handle a monstrous bureaucracy. incorporating is easy given enough money but you'll need some expert to handle all the paperwork for getting your tax exemptions properly. also handling vat moss requires some specialized knowledge, which as a specialized programmer one is likely missing. hiring is quite complex too, and even if you don't want to dive into payrolls contract works are quite the paper generators too, so you're looking at a huge overhead - garage startup are basically nonexistant.

there are venues by which you can get seed funding for your ideas. you start, you get traction, and then there's the second issue: your market is way smaller and more fragmented than the american. each country expects being serviced in each language, with a large upfront cost if you aim to reach a wide audience.

say you grow, you reach a point where your idea is out there, the model is valid and your leverage positive, so you could really start pushing the growth. there's the third issue: private ventures are way smaller than american, the one that are here almost inaccessible and quite risk averse. so you'll have a very hard time to get that critical first round to push your growth.

and then, after all the effort and sweat, an american startup comes to realize that the same need exists (because startup aren't generated in the void) do all the same but with 10x the seed and an easy first round and you'll find yourself competing with a company that has twenty times the employees and a monthly adword budget that's your yearly revenue.

Well, many private European VCs are pretty willing to have you incorporate as a Delaware C-Corp or a UK company (don't remember what's the most popular structure for these).

I say private VCs, because there are quite a few pseudo-VCs funded by public money. They're usually pretty constrained in how they can deploy the funds. People will often end up with pretty unfundable structures (amongst many other issues). I can't speak for all countries, but in Poland it's an absolute scourge on the startup industry.

In germany it has gotten a lot easier over the years.

There is the so called small entrepeneur, which costs about 25€ (depending on which commune you live in) and require relatively little paper work (taxes are a simple Profit-Costs calculation). You're also liable for stuff which some people don't like.

There is also the entrepeneur association with limited liability (also called "UG (haftungsbeschränkt)", you can't omit the word in the parens). It requires a base capital of usually 1000€ but atleast 1€. Atleast 25% of all yearly profits must be held back and added to the base capital until you reach 25k€ after which you can in future years spend the 25% otherwise, increase the base capital or convert to a regular LLC (GmbH).

Both are largely simply a case of "walk into your local people record office (Meldeamt) and deposit whatever money necessary" until you can do business. (And of course filing taxes)

Get a French accountant to do it for you. It costs virtually nothing, and they will take care of all the paperwork for you.

Costs virtually nothing? I had to pay an accountant almost €1500 just to set up an SAS for a small bed and breakfast business. And it took months.

To those who talk about the administrative & HR issues in France: these are definitely true.

However, the government is running two programs that will try to improve these elements[1][2].

For instance:

- the French Public Investment Bank (BPI) will receive more money in order to create a better leverage for fund raising, co-investing with private funds in startups;

- France will work with European Union to create the european equivalent of the DARPA challenges;

- France Expérimentation will provide exemptions to some startups trying new business models;

- new APIs will be provided to help accomplishing administrative tasks automatically;

- public contracts will have lower entry barriers;

- public aids (which are really important in France) will be simplified;

- the HR thresholds will be reviewed in order to promote startup growth;

- a study will be conducted on "renting contracts" for startups (most contracts have a 3/6/9-years engagement clause, which is not adapted to startup growth);

- corporate tax will be lowered;

- ...

This is not perfect and we are indeed accustomed to a lot of rules and administrative work, but still: it is good and motivating to see that the government is trying to do something.

Moreover, we have great landscapes and food, so let's give France a try :).

[1] https://www.numerique.gouv.fr/actions-startups/elements-de-p... (in French)

[2] https://www.pacte-entreprises.gouv.fr/

[edit] styling

It has historically been difficult to fire employees in France, compared with the US. Apparently they considered relaxing this policy on 2016 [1], but IDK whether their efforts were successful.

Considering the Silicon Valley mantra of “hire slow, fire fast”, it will be interesting to see how things evolve in France. Will they relax their labor laws/customs, or will they find a different way for startups to grow?

1: https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-05-13/france-employers-reso...

There has been an "Auto Entrepreneur" status created a few years ago (2010?) that is used by many startups (mainly gig-economy like drivers/delivery/...) which has helped a lot to get started. It's not an employee status, more like a contractor status. It's easy on the company, but not like freestyle though as abuse could be re-qualified as a regular contract ("CDI" ie. employee contract) by a judge.

Regular employment is still much protected for the employee.

Yes. If you have only one client, it's considered as desguised employment.

The difference is that the wellfare taxes as Auto Entrepreneur are very low compared to en employee, for the same service in hospital or doctors.

I'm using this for a software business and it's easy as pie (but less than in Delaware says the thread).

I doubt that France will be able to do this - they have many disadvantages comparing to USA:

- high taxes

- a lot of buerocracy

- language burden to attract high qualified foreign employees

- lower salaries

- fragmented political system in the EU

- much lower population in France comparing to USA and if you want to cover the entire EU, you have to support many different languages, currencies, etc...

As a French, it saddens me a bit to say that but you also missed one point: culture. My background includes some grad school experience at a top French university and then at a top US university. One big difference, which became even more obvious to me after I crossed the Atlantic, is that there is (almost) no hustle culture in France.

Make fun of the stupid apps and the copycats but so many undergrads at my American alma mater were trying something, and that is already so much more than what I saw in France. I have seen some undergrads in America make serious money through their side projects and big companies are more often seen as a stepping stone towards something else. In France, the holy grail is to get a CDI (permanent employee contract) at a big company and that’s often pretty much it. They can be great employees but making money within a structure simply does not require the same resourcefulness. I don't know if the culture is contagious once you arrive in a country, or if universities attract different profiles (probably both), but I thought it was also interesting to note that the immigrants were often resembling the locals in both countries.

In my opinion, even the best version of Macron’s plan is bound to produce underwhelming results. While French taxes and bureaucracy might not help entrepreneurship, I do not think that’s why France isn’t a startup nation. Rather, it’s the fact that France isn’t a startup nation that explains why bad policies and bureaucracy have been tolerated for so long. Understand me well: my comment is the opposite of an attempt to diminish the accomplishments of French entrepreneurs, who exist and face higher administrative hurdles than their American counterparts, but is simply written to share some observations on campus culture and entrepreneurship at two top schools.

> In France, the holy grail is to get a CDI (permanent employee contract) at a big company and that’s often pretty much it.

Well, there are reasons for this. Good luck getting a loan for your next house / car / whatever if you don't have a CDI.

The question is, why are these based on CDI? I believe the parent is making a good point: if this is a cultural thing, the first question that comes to your mind is "why are not being as conservative as everyone else and not just going for an easy employment?"

You specifically refer to Undergrads as an example of hustle culture in the US, this is true as it's mostly bred into them by the all-achieving american mindset of making a name for oneself ("I'm not a millionaire...yet!"). As a post-prepa engineering school graduate myself, that can hardly be compared with the undergraduate culture we have here for top talent. We have a far stronger culture of learning theoretical sciences in depth (Prépa) and French engineers/quants are well-known worlwide for having a strong academic background in math/physics. We specialize later in school for most people, while early "tinkerers" or programmers may have chosen other paths (IUT/Epitech/...) instead. Not to say one is better than the otheer, but you'd better build a strong academic track before you're 23 (Prepa -> Top school = right signal for employers) or risk experiencing a glass ceiling regardless or your actual skills. The culture is there among students but the corporate hierarchy is still stratified at the top. Regarding the expensive top business schools, a cushy CDI remains the best way to pay off your student debt if you took out loans in the first place. Overall as a young educated graduate in France you'll be bound to expect some struggles as you try to swim against the current. As I remember the words of a dual-degree graduate from Stanford/polytechnique (Antoine D.), "«En France, j’ai appris à apprendre. Aux Etats-Unis, j’ai appris à rêver». There's room for both here but it won't be easy

In short: it’s indefinite pessimism vs the definite and indefinite optimism of the US. See Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One for more details of this theory.

Dunno at which you were or when, but where I was (ISEP in 2010-2015), I knew some students who were making serious money in their side jobs.

Bureaucracy... not so much. Things have been drastically simplified.

Until you deal with a bank.

Simplified is very relative. Also, while there might be slightly less paper, attitudes are the same.

High taxes is both a blessing and a curse. Depending on what the taxes are spent on, they can really help. For example good safety nets for unemployment means you can risk failing your startup without being broke. Second, free higher education means the chance that the right entrepreneur gets the right education is higher.

> fragmented political system in the EU

To be honest it feels about as fragmented as US state law is.

> language burden to attract high qualified foreign employees

Language burden is very much still an issue for France. It's getting better but english is still not fluent even with younger people. I'm unsure if I could move there to work and never even worry about not speaking a word of the local language (like you can if you move to e.g. Amsterdam or Stockholm). I'm guessing english works OK for small Paris startup now, but moving to work with a larger company would probably require French?


Also do remember that the US isn't really a startup heaven: the US hasn't got THAT many startups per capita. Just a lot of people and few per capita. One should probably be careful in assuming that the environment for startups in the US is the one to aim for.

> feels about as fragmented as US state law is.

Under-rated point, this. California is a single giant market, but for lots of services the US has much less of a "single market" than the EU. Especially banking, finance, insurance, healthcare.

To be fairly honest, sinc I start reading HN and some post about burocracy in the US, I started to think that France may not be THAT bad.

It's bad, but perhaps not as bad as I thought it was (disclosure : I'm a French business owner)

> - a lot of buerocracy

This is actually good news for Macron. Because that is something he can fix.

I actually looked into this with the local France Business startup organization. At the time, I was young (30, I am now 31) and started learning French with hopes of trying out a alternative to Anglo culture.

But reality hits hard. I don't know how I would be able to adjust from living in a multicultural and laws where minorities are protected and enforced to a republic where it is not. Once you are in France, you are expected to become fluent to the point of having no accent, because god forbid if you come from Quebecois speaking region you will get bullied and made fun of.

So it's like wtf???? Here I am learning your culture and trying my best but it won't mount to shit if it's not French.

Very dangerous to set elusive set of criterias based on ethnocentric ideas and see what sticks.


The most crazy part is that it's other minorities attacking other minorities in France.

Be lucky you don’t have an Algerian sounding name.

This is just outrageous. The republic tries to protect everybody. If you expect us to drop our wit and our views on a proper lifestyle to be more inclusive, indeed please move along. Globally we still despise politically correct as a poison to our freedom. And most of us are fine with that. Little anectode here: in IT I've worked with people of all backgrounds and never saw any issue. Young people's pride can turn them into divas...

Not outrageous at all; France really has specific problems dealing with multicultural society. The meritocratic republic is such a great idea, that people fail to see that it doesn’t always work out in practice. Fighting racism (for example racial profiling by the police) becomes a low priority, because there isn’t supposed to be any!

As a white foreigner working in France, it remains pretty benign, but quite visible--i.e. the boss laughing about your accent.

Racial profiling by police is indeed a non issue. Was born and raised in the suburbs, the most dangerous ones, and the profiling is done according to the attitude and the clothes, mainly. And thats the experience from my friends, with différent backgrounds. And boy do people in the suburbs have a bad attitude ! Quit providing excuses for criminals, it is a disservice To them. And overestimating the racial issue is the best way to isolate groups according to race, and in the end, create a hate able to cause civil wars

> And overestimating the racial issue is the best way to isolate groups according to race, and in the end, create a hate able to cause civil wars

holy fuck

Indeed it erodes solidarity, little by little.

> but quite visible--i.e. the boss laughing about your accent.

Yeah, this kind of shit made me appreciate North America a lot more and made me realize I am living in possibly one of the most open and accepting societies West has to offer.

Let us all remember all Dave Chapelle's jokes, Eddy Murphy's jokes which where related to accents. So your society does the same, it's absurd to say otherwise. And recently Trevor Noah had a french dude in the audience and made fun of his accent. No offence was taken. Quit the safe space madness, thanks.

Young people vote with their feet and the brain drain in France is very much real according to a co-worker.

Give Belgium a try, maybe? People still speak French, but it has a TON of accents from people all over the world (at least in Brussels, that is).

Will do, are there any specific tech hot spots in Belgium? I no very little about the country but so far very disappointed with what France had to offer to startups.

Brussels has a lot of opportunities. Change your LinkedIn location to Brussels and watch the recruiters salivate.

You can look for jobs on http://www.actiris.be/ce/tabid/93/language/fr-BE/Offres-d-em.... I once submitted my resumé to one company, and it somehow got shared with other companies and recruiters and I had a flurry of offerings.

Most of what I receive is for the Brussels metropolitan area, but sometimes I get stuff from Antwerp, Ghent, Liège/Leuven.

okay you got me interested. Tell me, what are the attitude towards East Asians in Brussels?

I guess it's fine, I've seen few east Asians at work and they seem to fit in just like everyone else. I've been to lots of businesses owned and operated by Asians, and customers treated the very politely and with smiles.

I have more contact with Indians, as TCS (Tata) has A LOT of contracts with clients, and they're treated just fine.

I'm South American and haven't faced any issues.

That is not to say some people won't have some prejudice, or bias. Belgians like to parrot that they're very open and welcoming to foreigners, but I was treated to some very open prejudice/bigotry by Government employees when I arrived.

All in all, I like the city and the country very much, lots of beautiful and interesting places with a lot of history, lots of art, lots of music, lots of entertainment, good public transportation.

I just don't like the absurdly high the taxes. https://www.belgiumtaxcalculator.com

France has regional accents too, none are as different as a Quebec one though.

I understand why a small percentage of startups could benefit from being in San Francisco and similar and want to enjoy the ecosystem, hire people, etc.

However, I have no idea why any early-stage startup would go to France and last 3 months, while with the same money they could go to Poland and enjoy the same level of support from the government, availability of highly-skilled tech people, and twice-4 times the buying power compared to any other similarly attractive country in Europe.

While I've never even come close to creating an even barely successful anything, I would think that being able to survive for 6 months can make the difference compared to running out of money after 3 months. I mean, the 3-months guy would totally miss a big contract at month 5.

The risk of going to Poland is that the government of Poland is currently expressing views that are extremely hostile to the EU, and therefore you must take into account the political risk that Poland might try to pull a stunt like Brexit -- at which point you find that you have been building a business on the assumption that you are inside of the EU, and now you suddenly find yourself outside of the EU.

I have thought about setting up an office in Krakow. I've been impressed with every software developer I've worked with from Poland. But settling there has some serious political risks.

Poland seems to have the best of both worlds, with an independent currency, but otherwise inside the EU. It is worrisome that the Poles feel the desire to destroy this.

You believe what you believe because you read European newspapers, which are anti whoever doesn't comply with what Germany says.

Poland is absolutely NOT hostile to Europe, on the contrary (sorry, I couldn't find a source right now). Italy and other countries are a huge percentage more against Europe than not Poles.

Poland simply doesn't need to lower its wages like Germany did, and has therefore no interest in letting in any of the extra hundred of thousands of migrants that hang around across Europe thanks to Germany opening the borders to them. That would significantly increase crime--which is virtually not-existent in terms of personal safety in Poland--like it happened in Italy and I assume other countries, and cost a ton of money that is currently put into much better and more productive use.

The government is extremely stable. If you read about extreme Catholic-based laws, it's just because that's what they believe in, and after a few years of "West no matter what" following their independence from the Soviets, they are now trying to find their own identity--which is like it or not extremely Catholic and nationalistic. I don't necessarily love those laws, but I'm not Polish and I have different values. The US has it even worse, with laws dictating what sexual positions are legal and which ones are illegal in many states--and no one is complaining.

From a business point of view, I have a company that I opened in 1 day. You have the right to issue invoices from the minute you apply, the government has 1 week to send you a tax ID # (I got mine via email after 3 days). Everything is done electronically, via a trusted profile like your bank account. It's extremely efficient. Taxes are a joke compared to what I'm used to (Italy at 45%): 19% flat. My accountant is EUR 40/mo., but you can find cheaper ones (by comparison, my accountant in Italy cost me EUR 120/mo. because of the bureaucracy involved).

Many people don't know a lot about Poland, and what they know is pretty far from the truth.

> The risk of going to Poland is that the government of Poland is currently expressing views that are extremely hostile to the EU

Are they? Or are they simply not bowing to the will of Germany?

I think the political risk to the EU is coming from Italy and Germany at the moment. I see less risk of political problems in Poland than with

First of all, that doesn't happen suddenly, you have time to relocate in a different EU country. Look at Brexit. Then a startup always means risk. Political risk is one of those.

The EU is not that rosy, not for Eastern Europeans anyway. It works fine for Germany but the other countries, Central and Eastern European ones specifically are second class citizens in the EU. Fortunately most of us still have our own currencies and are not totally at the mercy of the EU. It's still better than being "friends" with the USSR though.

My experience as an anglophone, non-French entrepreneur living in France is that the regulations and business climate reflect the belief system of the population. There is a fairly widespread acceptance, even among well educated French people, in several of the following beliefs:

- Companies are exploitative of their workforce and should be strongly regulated to protect workers;

- Excess company profits are a sign of unfairness and abuse, and maximum profits should be controlled to protect against such unfairness;

- The role of an organisation is to provide employment;

- Unemployment can be reduced by making it more difficult to fire employees or make their positions redundant;

- France's international uncompetitiveness, especially vis a vis Germany, could be solved by making other countries similarly uncompetitive by imposing similar burdens.

My partner is French and a Human Resources consultant to medium and large organisations. The horror stories she recounts would make most entrepreneurs run a mile.

My business is online and I can locate it anywhere. I've chosen Ireland for a variety of reasons. Eurozone, English speaking with good multilingual talent availability, good international transport and relatively light touch regulation. Tax rate wasn't a significant factor because the effective rate of tax (after factoring in state subventions) is relatively similar between the two countries.

France is a great place to live but a terrible place to run a business or to hold capital assets. The high taxes pay for a very good public health system and a good transport system. Unfortunately, they also pay for a huge amount of public sector waste.

France for startups works well if you're well connected, in which case you're made. Connections are, however, largely forged early in life, in Lycees and Grand Ecoles, so connections and networks are much more difficult for an outsider to penetrate.

As an example of French business mentality, my friend's business (online/social) has few actual users and no paying users and is 100% supported by a mix of grants and supports from a myriad of government organisations, and by large corporations who are obligated by government to set aside an annual budget for supporting such endeavours. My friend's business is considered a success in France. I consider it a personal success for him, insofar as he has navigated the system quite well. But it's not my definition of business success.

I am French, but what you wrote is exactly how I feel the French mindset is. Thanks for writing it.

Since you live in France, wouldn't your business be considered French as well, assuming you don't have employees/associates in other countries? Since the corporate tax residency cares about where the activity is directed from.

It's not real. If it was, YC should be involved (because they are the best at that). It's a old story because he needs to talk about something.

The previous governement created a fund for that. It is nearly totally unaffected (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bpifrance).

He does nothing because there is nothing to do. France destiny is sealed by european threaties. To change something the treaties must be broken but people are afraid by that. France is in a waitstate until something happens at a global scale (like a war).

I'll go ahead and be 'that guy' and say it: I don't want my country to become a startup nation. I don't want management methods and labor laws to be reformed, or modernized, or to mimic those in the US. I don't want corporation-friendly tax rates to be enacted. I don't want regulations to be lifted.

There are, give or take, 65 million people in France. (Incidentally, this number is also, give or take, the amount of Americans who live in the most abject poverty seen in the developed world.) Not everyone among these 65 million is fit to 'move fast and break things'. Not everyone wants to be flexible, adaptable or able to sell themselves in a world of fast hires and firings. Not everyone is a young and dynamic entrepreneur full of 'innovative' ideas (whatever that means). In short, not everyone is a twenty-to-thirty- something with a moderately high level of education and relative affinity with the tech world.

On the other hand, everyone needs a steady job to make a living. Everyone needs the healthcare, retirement plans and other benefits our current labor laws entail with that steady job. In short, everyone is a human being with basic human needs.

Startups have one thing in common - they tend to fail. Maybe your average HN reader will be able to endure the typical working conditions with no guarantee of a stable income in the future, but they are the exception, not the rule. It is preposterous to imagine that an entire country's labor laws and regulation should align with the needs of such a narrow demographic so that foreign investors will maybe deign to notice it and shower said demographic with money.

Yes, there are many things wrong with our current labor laws. Yes, maybe some regulations are needlessly tight and stifle the growth of blooming startups full of bright people. No, that does not mean the US as a 'startup nation' is an example to follow. And if that means the next Facebook or Instagram won't come from here, so be it. Many of these startups tend to produce services that are superficially useful at best or actively harmful at worst. We don't need them.

As a french I'm accustomed with this point of view, but I think it is too often based on a false vision of what is France and what does french people truly want. France has not always been the country you describe. Even if France never leaded the french revolution and always been more attracted to the philosophical or political side of things, France hosted a lot of technical revolutions and even be part of a "startup culture" in some domains, like automobiles. I invite you to read the bio of Louis Renault or André Citroën. They were true pionners and they share some life events and a mindset very similar to those of a web entrepreneur. Today, we tend to despise all those huge industrial automobile, food, or aviation companies that didn't really innovate anymore, and it's normal because they're symptomatic of the collusions between state and business, but we forget too often that they started like startups, at a time it was possible to make of a small company in a disruptive domain a true unicorn. And many of these companies are the root of the social rights we beneficiate today. If we can't build new big companies anymore, our social system (which I'm fond of by the way) is doomed. I believe France was at this time much more confident with technological progress. Maybe because time was more hopeful, company management more patriarcal, inequalities where less important, and examples of bad conduct from great companies less visible. Anyway. But the roots of innovation are still here, and on the contrary, all the social regulations are not necessarily a true part of what a complex country like France means to be. We must find the balance.

(By the way, I have a familial anecdote (really not significant, it's just pretty fun) on was I said about confidence in technological progress : my great grandfather was a blacksmith, as his father, grandfather, great grandfather, and so on. And what did he do when automobile replaced horses ? He became a car mechanic.)

We must find the balance.

I think so too. Not being French but reducing France to just being France if it keeps it's inefficiencies is what made it take the role of "Europe's sick man" from Germany.

As if having a permanent base of 20% unemployed youth (and 10% in general) is a price worth the cost of being a "well-meaning" nation.

PS: And no, youth unemployment is not a new thing in France as it stood around 27% in 1997. Pre-Euro and Pre-German-Labor-Reforms.

As an American, kudos for appreciating what keeps your country on solid footing, versus a culture that is essentially a lottery with more flash.

France is a combination between Philippe le Bel, Zinedine Zidane, Louis Renault, Serge Gainsbourg, Marcel Dassault, Jean Jaurès, Auguste Renoir, Blaise Pascal, Napoléon, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles de Gaulle, and so on. Current social rights are not more a part of french culture than anything else and I think most of the current conflicts come from the thinking than progress is acquired and a marxist point of view (which is very valid and important, but not the source of all answers). We tend to forget than France existed before 1945.

> There are, give or take, 65 million people in France. (Incidentally, this number is also, give or take, the amount of Americans who live in the most abject poverty seen in the developed world.)

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States 65 Millions is a bit exaggerated but not too far from the truth.

> 65 Millions is a bit exaggerated but not too far from the truth.

The only objective number mentioned in wikipedia's article is 43 million, but apparently that figure appears to be made up, as it is based on a single citation of an obscure and unavailable document published by an organization that calls itself Talk Poverty.

Nevertheless, even if we take that 43 million number at face value, that means that OP's exaggerated number would have an absurd margin of error of around 50%.

Cry me a river.

It's data from the US Census Bureau, it took me 7 seconds to find the correct reference: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publicatio...

It does not matter the guess was a bit off, the argument still stands.

I think the "most abject poverty seen in the developed world" needs citing.

Funny how Americans get so shocked about it, while it is quite clear to the rest of the world. Honestly when I was visiting the US the first time, I was shocked how Second World everything was. Most people live in poor areas (of course most well off Americans don't travel to these part of towns so they don't see it). Many non-chain shops are struggling. Food prices are ridiculously high in comparison to the not that much higher pay Americans receive for the same job. Even the electricity system looks somewhat like Vietnam or India.

When I travel in Europe I see significantly higher prices for food than in the US.

I'm neither American, nor shocked at the idea that America has poverty. I am, however, a bit of a stickler actual information. Pointing to general issues does absolutely nothing to help source this claim.

The claim was that ~65M people were in "who live in the most abject poverty seen in the developed world."

The actual figure for a poverty measure is 43M. However, that's not what the claim was - it's not simply that people are in poverty but those that are are in "the most abject poverty seen in the developed world".

Either we can find actual information and have a real discussion, or we can throw around vague unsourced claims and get nowhere.

That's false. France has a higher cost of living and higher food prices [1], with a considerably lower overall median and full-time median income level, versus the US. US GDP per capita is also currently 50% higher than France. France has an unemployment rate ~120% higher than in the US. US wage growth has been roughly 8x to 10x that of France over the last 20 years (France only averaged 0.5% annual wage growth over that time).

So let's recap. France has: far lower median wages, far lower wage growth, a higher poverty rate, a higher homelessness rate, dramatically lower GDP per capita, and an economy that hasn't net expanded in over a decade.

In 1980 France had a higher GDP per capita than the US. In 1990 France was just barely behind the US on GDP per capita. Today it's about $40,000 vs $60,000; that gap is persistently widening, with France falling down the global economic ladder by the year. It also explains why wage growth has been so extremely low in France over that time.

[1] https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings_by_country.js...

Please mind the difference exchange rates make, otherwise comparisons over time are meaningless. France it's GDP per capita was not higher in 1980, the relative gap was similar to today.

Furthermore, median wage growth has done much better there than in the US over that period. Also poverty rates are set by national standards not international, they're hard to compare unless when it's between EU members for example.


If you wonder why your comment got downvoted, let me come with a quick answer.

"The level of discourse you're pursuing isn't tolerated on HN. It should come as no surprise to you that no one is engaging with you- that is, of course unless you're being serious...in which case I feel dreadfully sorry for you."

:D :D :D

But don't worry. This weekend I will start a HN-Exiles invite only alternative and there would be only creators and no "priests". It is obvious that coexistence is no longer an option.


Great. A whole bunch of downvotes and not a single decent argument :D

The level of discourse you're pursuing isn't tolerated on HN. It should come as no surprise to you that no one is engaging with you- that is, of course unless you're being serious...in which case I feel dreadfully sorry for you.

Here are some numbers (even if I'm not sure about the use of comparing # of people in France and # of Americans in poverty):


TLDR: Depending on the criteria, 12.7%/43.1 million or 14%/47.5 million Americans are living in poverty. About half of which in abject poverty (under 50% of the poverty level).

And this attitude is precisely why I just moved from France to Silicon Valley. I want to be around people interested in creating the future rather than recycling the past.

What kind of future, though? Don't take this the wrong way, but to me Silicon Valley seems like the most hypocritical and cynical place in the developed world today. Just take a look at the social issues and inequalities in the area, but I think you're already aware of that.

The false dilemma of Silicon Valley being the only possible model to "create the future" sounds like a classic pompous Valley view, maybe the US can afford part of a state to be like that, I don't know if I want that for France. And this is coming from someone who made a startup in France, and is currently working in the industry.

" Many of these startups tend to produce services that are superficially useful at best or actively harmful at worst. We don't need them."

says the commenter on Hacker news, without a single ounce of irony.

> There are, give or take, 65 million people in France. (Incidentally, this number is also, give or take, the amount of Americans who live in the most abject poverty seen in the developed world.)

Your claim about American poverty is beligerently false. The US poverty rate is below both the French [1] and Canadian [2] poverty rates. It's also below the rates of poverty in Spain and Italy.

France also has a higher rate of homelessness than the US. There are 550,000 homeless in the US, that's a rate of 1.7 per 1,000. France has 140,000 homeless persons, a rate of 2 per 1,000. The French homelessness problem has been increasing dramatically (a 1/2 increase since 2001), while the US rate of homelessness has been persistently declining for decades.

The French poverty rate is ~14%.[1] The US rate in 2016 was 12.7%, and will probably hit near or below 12% in 2018 at the rate it has been falling [3].

The rate of US poverty has seen a large improvement over the last 30 or so years (as one example, childhood poverty has been nearly cut in half since the early 1970s). It routinely goes unheralded, however government / welfare programs targeted at reducing poverty have been tremendously successful.

[1] https://www.thelocal.fr/20160907/over-14-percent-of-the-fren...

[2] https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/census-children-make-up-one-qu...

[3] https://www.npr.org/2017/09/12/550492811/u-s-census-bureau-r...

[3a] https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-25...

I don't think this makes a lot of sense. Poverty line is defined as < 60% of median income. Median income in France is heavily influenced by the minimum wage income. As a consequence, anyone working part time will be considered under the poverty line.

And in France, making less than 60% of median wage certainly doesn't make you rich, but you still get access to basic need (healthcare, even housing in some cases).

I'd rather be piss-poor in France than in the US.

> Poverty line is defined as < 60% of median income.

Therefore that indicator doesn't reflect poverty, it only reflects income inequality. Income inequality has absolutely no impact on your ability to meet your basic needs or even having disposable income.

Just because your neighbor can afford to buy a boat it doesn't mean you're suddenly on food stamps.

The poor in France still have access to education, healthcare, etc. These rates are not comparable.

Are you denying the existence of public education, Medicaid, etc. in the US?

In French media (newspaper, TV), it is usual to state there is no medicaid, nor medicare in US ("pas de sécurité sociale, pas de retraite").

I guess it is a way to make people to not complain, because...

* The widely praised "sécurité sociale" does not reimburse much and nearly nothing for common health problems and not everybody has acces to it. The CMU was voted in France only in 1999 when Medicare exists since 1965.

* Every employee pay for a "mutuelle" (it is mandatory by law!) even if employees pay already high taxes for the "sécurité sociale".

* As for the "retraite" (medicare) most young people will get only half of what people like me receives, because of a convergent string of laws that were initiated 25 years ago.

70 million people in the US get free healthcare via Medicaid + CHIP. That nearly covers 2x the poverty rate.

move fast and break thing

Especially now we are seeing what that really means: fake blood labs and the brakes on cars disabled. Do we want a world where nothing can be trusted because it was all just a fantasy to defraud gullible investors to start with? I think most people don’t want that.

I don't think it's reasonable to reject some vague concept of American style capitalism based on Theranos and Uber any more than it would be to reject "German-style" capitalism based on Dieselgate.

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