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The Best Hope for France’s Young? Get Out (nytimes.com)
61 points by wallflower 1607 days ago | hide | past | web | 94 comments | favorite

Hang on, hang on, let me shed a tear while I contemplate the fact that EVERY French citizen without a job gets a monthly pay check.

It may be subsistence living, but unlike the States where unemployment means credit debt and eventual homelessness, it's living nonetheless, and the state foots the bill, incredible social safety net.

As an expat living part of the year in France it's always shocked me how unemployed seasonal workers get up to 80% of their salary for the 8 months of the year they don't work. Where I'm living (SW France), kids will work the summer season in a restaurant or similar, then come autumn, hey, time to go surfing in Indonesia, "pay" checks mailed to the bank.

Needless to say, the French live pretty well working or not.

Huh, that's simply not true. On unemplyment, you get 57% of your salary for as long as you've worked with a maximum of 2 years. You have to be actively looking for a job, including monthly meetings with the administration and the more you wait, the lower the bar becomes for the job they will force you to take.

This system is far from perfect, and this country is definitely not the best place to create a company. But let's not spread crazy rumors like this.

May have changed, the max percentage, and the rules might be getting more strict, but in the surf region of France, you might say it's a sport working around the system.

When I ask people who have lost their jobs working for Billabong, RipCurl, etc., well, what are you going to do, will you be OK? Nobody is worried in that case as it's 2 years sans travail if you're so inclined.

The system will have to change, but I doubt there will be a radical shift as the French are the striking kings -- no people resist (and succeed in so doing) change like the French; they take to the streets en masse forcing policy makers to relent. In the States we're met with water cannons.

I think he's referring to seasonal contracts, and I think they have a different system.

Unfortunately this may not be sustainable in the long run unless more people create new businesses in France, and starting a business here seems daunting due to the expense for the social and welfare system. The more I learn about the welfare system in France though the more I believe that building a profitable business here is possible, but it takes an understanding on how to work within the system. The problem is that there will continue to be cheaper options by setting up shop outside of France and that will continue to be an attractive option to low-margin businesses.

I guess it depends on what you're used to, but if you are a highly qualified young employee your life is pretty miserable. You make marginally more after tax and expenses (from living in the cities where qualified jobs are) over the unemployed/fraudsters living in the countryside. And you are overworked and overstressed.

For these people the best alternative is just leaving. Which paints a gloomy picture for France's future, as newer generations are brain-drained.

Subsisting is not a particularly desirable situation, and it's not sustainable when more people start jumping on the benefit bandwagon. Eventually the credit money from the ECB will run out and then you have an explosive situation in your hands.

I've never paid more than 12% taxes and I've always lived alone in 50-70 sq.m. apartments (actually I tend to take big stuff because I can, but when it's time to clean I hate it) . I used to eat 5 days a week at the restaurant (but I don't think it's good for my health). And I lived in Montbéliard, Besançon, and Montpellier. I think as a French software engineer I did not have bad material living conditions. And I'm far from skilled. I hired people with good salaries in Montpellier too. But there is one important thing: I move around the country when work calls for it. I don't defend my castle.

Are you married with children ? If you aren't: would you move too if you had wife and children ?

Is being maried and having kids a specific French problem? I don't and that's part of the trick, you can't blame the country or whatever when you consciously took decisions that might hinder your bottom line. And being maried with kids is very uncommon for a young talented developer in this country, we get married and have kids later in life than in the US. That's the post i was answering to. For famillies there are other stuff to funel state money to their pockets.

Being unable to have a decent living space and being unable to start a family are not specific French problems, but they are quite prevalent in France.

It's pretty bad that it's becoming the new normality for a lot of people. And I think a lot of people will have to continue lowering their expectations until they get close to mere subsistence + a few trendy gadgets to keep them busy.

I completely disagree that this a problem for software developers.

Nobody is reducing the problem to developers. It's a problem most of the youth have.

> Is being maried and having kids a specific French problem?

I am inclined to think it's easier to move around with a family in the US than in Europe because of the language barrier.

I'm French and I don't. I've been without a job for 8 months, and I don't feel like seeking one, so I didn't go to Kafka's administration to be treated like shit in exchange for money. I might go there if I feel like looking for a job again.

But it's true that there is a general feeling that there is something more than money to strive for in this country. That maybe this time in the sun with a beer at a terrasse where you are not raising kids or making money is not a complete improductive ritual to be eliminated, but maybe it's part of what makes a free human, time to think, relax, and exchange ideas.

That is spot on, work is not the meaning of life for the French. While for others, being without work is a life without meaning.

I can't say I encounter many unemployed people in France that could in any way be called depressed.

I think I am, but it's a different story, and when I work it doesn't really help my case.

unemployed seasonal workers get up to 80% of their salary for the 8 months of the year they don't work.

My goodness, who pays for this?

It doesn't quite work that way.

First of all, in order to collect unemployment benefits in France, you must be actively looking for work. If you are being offered a job and don't take it, your benefits will be cut.

Second, you generally don't get 80% of your previous income. You get one of the following:

57.4% of your previous salary. 40.4% of your previous salary + 11.57 Euro per day, to a maximum of 75% of your previous salary, and no less than 28.21 Euro per day.

If you get 75% of your previous salary, then only because your income was pretty low to begin with.

(And I'm pretty sure there are more inaccuracies; the GP looks like it's been taken from some tabloid.)

As to who pays for it: The majority of social expenditures are actually for pensions and health. In 2005, France spent about 7.5% of its total social expenditures on unemployment [1] -- and the unemployment rate wasn't much lower back then -- as opposed to 37.4% on pensions and 29.8% on health (I note that France has one of the more efficient healthcare systems in the world, and a rather good one, too).

What a lot of people both in the US and the EU don't understand is that dealing with unemployment in a reasonable way is not actually all that expensive. Full benefits are generally only being paid for a short time, long-term benefits (subsistence level or slightly above) are not very expensive, and the structural costs of not doing it (such as increased crime rates) are probably more expensive in the long run.

[1] http://imgur.com/42DLRK4

Nobody - I'm not sure where he took that from, seasonal workers get an unemployment indemnity proportional to the amount of time they worked during the year, so in this example, they worked 4 months out of 12, so their indemnity would be about 50% of 33% of their salary.

16.5% really isn't a lot.

Taxpayers. And that, people, is socialism.

That's the cycle ---> rich country with strong middle class --> right-wing politicians get less and less popular/elected --> socialists/communists come --> poor country --> right-wing politicians are elected again

In Germany,where i live, you get:

* 2/3 of your last wage for 1 year on unemployment, free health care

* After that expires you get your rent paid, free health care , and 400 euro per month for other expenses - indefinitely

On top of that everyone also gets free additional care when they are old / nursing home.

Also everyone gets a minimum pension once they reach 67 years of age.

Germany has the lowest youth unemployment in europe. it has one of the lowest overall unemployment rates in europe. it is one of the few countries that still had growth in the years past / is not deeply in recession.

Yeah, those are the perils of "socialism".

I liked living in Germany, they have a good work ethics, I really like their service at the bar/restaurant, they come back from the office sooner than the French (I think we have a cultural problem with that), and they know how to have fun, chilling with a beer in the sun, enjoying riversides, simple joys.

How do I convert to German? :)

Germany is doing well, because of : 1. Germans working hard 2. Qualified immigrants from Eastern European countries(and other parts of the world as well). Their labour is cheaper, which in turn is like adrenalin to the economy. I'll let you figure out why.

1) That's actually factually wrong (check EU work statistics) and a little racist -- adopting the stereotype of Germans as working robots. Here's a pointer:

"According to a new research on working hours in countries of the European Union, Greeks work 42.2 hours per week. more than all other Europeans. The research was conducted by the National Statistical Service of Britain for the period April-June 2011. German people work 35.6 hours per week, French 38 hours, the British 36.3 hours, while the Irish only 35 hours. In addition, according to the same research, full-time workers in Greece and Austria are working more hours (43.7) than workers elsewhere in the EU" (from the Guardian).

2) Nope, they mostly got/get lots of unqualified immigrants. Not to mention that the integration of Eastern Germany post 1989 had an enormous cost that nearly toppled Germany's economy.

The cycle in Scandinavia seems to have played out rather differently. The social-democrats (at the time considerably more socialist than they are today) were mostly elected in the 1930s and '40s, when the countries were extremely unequal, with a lot of poor farmers and factory workers and a small aristocratic class. They implemented a sort of welfare-state capitalism, and the countries prospered after WW2, during a period of almost unbroken left-wing rule.

Only after the countries became prosperous, now there has been a political turn moderately to the right and towards some expansion of free-market policies and privatization (Denmark's particular version is called "flexicurity").

> Only after the countries became prosperous, now there has been a political turn moderately to the right

As far as I can tell, the Nordic countries had started to stagnate economically, with a lot of young people emigrating for better opportunities, hence people wanting to change things.

>Taxpayers. And that, people, is socialism.

No. It's just what the civilised West (namely, Europe) calls "welfare state".

And it's very successful, when it's not fucked up by right wing politicians.

"Socialism" was what the old Eastern European countries had.

>That's the cycle ---> rich country with strong middle class --> right-wing politicians get less and less popular/elected --> socialists/communists come --> poor country --> right-wing politicians are elected again

Nope. The cycle is:

rich country with strong middle class --> social left politicians get less popular/elected neoliberals and right-wingers come --> poor country/fucked up middle class --> social left politicians are elected again.

The same way Reagan and Thatcher fucked up the American/UK economy and middle class, and the same way the economy did better under Clinton that under the republicans.

It's sad to see people clinging to misconceptions when you can check your facts in a minute. Thatcher destroyed Britain's economy? Are you serious?

The successful welfare state you are talking about is already considered a failed model, because of the numerous people taking advantage of the system. I am quite sure you don't live in Europe...

>It's sad to see people clinging to misconceptions when you can check your facts in a minute. Thatcher destroyed Britain's economy? Are you serious?

Deadly serious:

"""Looking only at the core measure of economic performance – GDP growth – Thatcher's performance was slightly better than that of her predecessor, James Callaghan, but slightly worse than under Tony Blair, with average growth over her tenure standing at around 2.3% a year.


Perhaps the best look at what Thatcherism meant for British families comes from a series of measures calculated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which calculated household incomes after tax (and any income from benefits), and put them into monetary amounts relative to 2010-11 prices, stripping out the effects of inflation. These figures show families got richer. The median household – the household right in the middle, where half are richer, half are poorer – earned the equivalent of £270.74 a week in 1979. By 1990, this had increased by 26% to £341.58. But, as you would expect, these gains were nowhere near evenly distributed, and the poorest got the least. A family in the bottom 10% had a weekly income of £151.58 as Thatcher came into power. Eleven years later as she left Downing Street, the family had just £158.57 – a mere 4.6% more. The richest families – the top 10% – did far better, with their incomes increasing from the equivalent of £472.98 in 1979 to £694.83 in 1990.


Still, the poverty figures don't look good: the number of children in poverty almost doubled under Thatcher, from 1.7 million in 1979 to 3.3 million in 1990. Pensioner poverty in the same period increased too, from 3.1 million to 4.1 million. Those numbers rise still further if housing costs are factored in.


By the World Bank's measures, industry (including manufacturing) fell from contributing 40% of the UK's GDP in 1979 to just 34% in 1990 – and has since fallen more dramatically still to just under 22%. The consequences of deindustrialisation hit huge swaths of the UK, particularly Wales and northern England, hard. Unemployment soared from 5.3% in 1979 – a level high enough for the Conservatives' "Labour isn't Working" poster to go down in the annals of great election adverts – to peak at 11.9% in 1984. In 1990, the year of Thatcher's departure, it stood slightly higher than when her era began, at 6.9%."""

>The successful welfare state you are talking about is already considered a failed model, because of the numerous people taking advantage of the system. I am quite sure you don't live in Europe...

I very much live in Europe. And it's only considered a "failed model" by neo-liberals and private interests that want to demolish it. The people are very much for it.

In fact, the countries in Europe that are the most successful financially and socially, from Germany to the Skandinavian countries, are the ones with the best welfare states.

Huh? Could you give an example of a country in which communism was established without a violent mass uprising? Here in Western Europe, we have had a few rather stable decades of people voting right and left as they please. Are you aware that there is a world of difference between Socialism and Communism?

Most European countries have a free market economy with some sort of social safety net (that's the socialism right there). Communism has a planned economy, something which is unheard of in Europe at the moment (with the possible exception of Belarus). Also, some countries with strong social safety nets are doing rather well at keeping unemployment at bay. Think of the famous German Kurzarbeitergeld, where the state replaces a part of the pay of workers that work less due to temporary economic circumstances, thus avoiding layoffs.

Well that's obviously not sustainable and part of the reason they can't get full time jobs in the first place.

If you have tremendous productivity in a small portion of your society, it is absolutely sustainable to subsidize the rest of the population on monthly checks. If someone is making 10,000% profit (and completely automated production drives costs to just upfront purchase and maintenance) that profit can provide for millions without them having to work.

I think it is a cultural scar that everyone is expected to spend 1/3 their week laboring for someone else (most of the time). If that labor doesn't produce real value (and a lot of the US jobs market is artificial middle men rendered obsolete by pervasive instantaneous international communication of information) you are just wasting peoples time having them drain their energy and time in a fruitless job, where they might (you never know) take their free time and initiative spent on petty labor and produce miraculous things like new inventions or art or community service.

How long does something stay tremendously productive when it's very highly taxed and disincentivized?

That's the point of the article of course. By leaving !

No, it's not. There is no tremendously productive part of society that generates 10,000% profit. There is a shrinking middle class paying welfare.

And no, people are not going to innovate anything if they are getting taken care of. Entrepreneurship thrives in unregulated environment, which France is obviously not. I mean...you can't even work legally more than 35 hours there, good God!

> And no, people are not going to innovate anything if they are getting taken care of.

HN is full of people who are effectively taken care of yet innovate. For example, many people here have great jobs that provide all they need, yet they are busily spending evenings and weekends working on their own innovate projects.

There are others here who have made enough on start ups to cash out, and never have to work again--and they are busy making new companies.

Very few people innovate because they need to have their material needs taken care of.

Here is some math: first, the graph of business profits as a fracition of gdp is at an all time high :http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/4fe2807feab8eaca7f0...

Profits are only generated in two situations: one, overregulated or rigged markets where competition can't drive prices down, or two, due to market demands that have not yet done long run corrections to push labor into certain high-demand industries.

The problem here is that there is no high-demand industry in need of labor. What is happening is, for the most part, the first (overregulation creating false markets) and if we are going to have that, you need to correct for the siphoning of money into the tiny class of business elites holding ownership of dividend shares in businesses with these margins.

Your two options are to deregulate a large portion of the economy, or tax the rich and give it to the poor. The former would be nice, but I can't imagine socialist-heavy France taking that approach. The problem is I think it might be too late for the former in the first place - the productivity siphon has been in effect for decades due to international manipulation of national law to favor big business that has concentrated wealth and resources too heavily, so even if you deregulated many industries the investment capital in competing with entrenched players in markets, even those with artificially inflated prices just isn't there. When you concentrate money that much, the few with the means have no reason to part with it and drive new innovation outside of the safe law-created false markets they can throw money in and expect money out (the most extreme example is to be a bank getting free money out of the US fed at 0%)

> a youth unemployment rate of 25 percent for nearly 30

What does it ACTUALLY mean to be unemployed in France?

In the US, if I lose my job and cannot find another for a long time, here is what happens:

• I have to start paying for health insurance. This will probably be in the $500-1000/month range.

• Unemployment insurance pays me for a while.

• In a little over a year, unemployment runs out. At that point, I'll be living entirely on my savings.

• When savings run out, I lose my house. Oh, I also lose my health insurance.

• Before becoming homeless and losing most of my possessions. Hopefully, in the prior year I've been eating good healthy home-cooked food to save money, and also hitting my treadmill regularly, and so might have gotten into good enough shape to no longer need my diabetes and blood pressure medicine, since I can no longer afford them.

To sum it up, being unemployed in the US means you are majorly screwed. Our social safety nets are just not very good.

Our health insurance safety net, for instance, is the emergency room. If you show up with a life threatening condition, they are required to treat you regardless of insurance or ability to pay. They only treat you enough so that you are no longer in immediate danger, and then they can kick you out. Given the choice between providing someone with $30 worth of drugs a month that will keep their condition under control forever, or letting their condition become life threatening and treating it with a $5000 emergency room visit every 2 or 3 months to just keep them alive--the US goes with the latter. Giving them a $30/month prescription would be socialism, and we can't have that.

Although you address a legitimate question--how the safety net affects the unemployment market, your description of U.S. Healthcare is largely inaccurate and worth clearing up.

Since the 1980's every state in the U.S. has offered a Medicaid-funded program. These programs would almost certainly cover you in this hypothetical situation, including covering diabetes or hypertension medicine. Yes, a few politicians dislike the program and many vote against its expansion, but belying your use of the "socialism" epithet, the program is widely accepted in the U.S. and ending it is a fringe opinion.

The scenario you describe (ER's provide acute/crisis care to people who have no routine monitoring) does legitimately describe people who (a) fail to properly enroll in Medicaid, or (b) have too high an income for Medicaid but still consider insurance unaffordable. Productive work is being done to address both of these gaps, but your characterization gives the wrong impression about the current state of the safety net.

That is the whole reason people are unemployed in France, you realize that, right? Incentives being what they are, and all....

I think I have to disagree. Not knowing the specifics of French unemployment benefits, here in Germany, the situation is probably closer to that in France than that in the US. If you are unemployed, you still have health insurance, you get some money, and becoming homeless because of unemployment is basically unheard of.

So far, I have yet to meet a person that is happily unemployed here. There is a huge social stigma attached to it and people get depressed because the self-image suffers from being unemployed for longer times. Going a little bit over the top, the whole incentive argument to me sounds like this: Since being miserable does not provide the right incentives for an unemployed person to search for work, the situation must be improved by making them miserable and hungry/homeless.

France is like most countries with high unemployment in that the primary cause of unemployment is that there aren't enough jobs. Germany has the mittelstand which keeps over 70% of the population employed. The US has its own version of the mittelstand with over 26,000 Subway sandwich franchises, so its unemployement rate is only slightly worse than Germany.

Rubbish. There is a massive lack of jobs, just like everywhere else in Europe.

There may be a lack of high-paying, low-stress jobs, the kind that spoiled, study-a-random-field-till-30 university graduates generally feel entitled to, but that's not the same thing.

>There may be a lack of high-paying, low-stress jobs, the kind that spoiled, study-a-random-field-till-30 university graduates generally feel entitled to, but that's not the same thing.

What are you referencing by that? Off the top of my mind I can't think of any low-stress job. Sure, some jobs are less stressful, but I don't think anyone has the expectation to find a job that doesn't conform to general properties of almost all jobs.

Rubbish. There is a massive lack of jobs, just like everywhere else in Europe.

That's what I said. (?)

It's a combination of incentives. Being unemployed is less awful in France, so there is negative pressure on being employed. Additionally, the cost to fund such a program creates negative pressure on increased employment through various means.

By no means am I a hardcore conservative and against these programs (they have their place), but innovation and employment thrives in a less regulated environment. We can argue about the quality of the labor in such systems, but that's entirely different.

An interesting hypothesis. Evidence against it is that Germany has a similar net and yet unemployment amongst the youth is less than half that of America.

Keep in mind that unemployment in France, Belgium and Holland (I'm not very well informed on Germany, only saying here what I've seen directly), unemployment is determined by social status.

In the lower social classes (the equivalent of trailor park in the US I guess), unemployment is somewhere between accepted and encouraged (because it means these people can help eachother out). Amongst the educated, unemployment is a stigma, with possible exceptions for people who are content to beg a life together as "artists" or hermits (these guys are what holds up the science department in universities though). Getting a job and raising a family is what everybody else in the middle and higher classes do.

The problems are threefold. First, the lower classes don't shrink. Well they shrink by birthrate, but not fast enough. Second, people are getting forced into the lower classes (the biggest effects are car manufacturer closings, which destroy tens of thousands of jobs in one go). Far more go into them than ever come out. You can bet though, that the government will find a way to not count these people in the joblessness figures. In Belgium, over 10000 ex-Opel employees got to go on pension, some as young as 38. Real unemployment in France and Belgium is just shy of double the official figures, coming up to almost 25%. Third is immigration. This is not a problem anywhere except the huge cities, but there the problem is endemic. The vast majority of immigrants in Western Europe join the low end of the lower class, where it's almost a crime to hold a job (it'll get you mugged regularly, for one thing).

I don't know what is happening in Germany, but this is what's happening in most of Western Europe, and it won't end well, that's for sure.

Unemployed people I know do not like being unemployed. There are people who don't want to work, and are fine mooching, but it is such a small percentage that it's a cost I'm willing to pay to protect people. Complaining about those "mooching off" of the safety net is like complaining about voter fraud in the US.

Exactly. You'd think for a heavily programmer-skewed community, some users could do basic math.

Giving them a $30/month prescription would be socialism, and we can't have that.

What about Medicare and Medicaid, not to mention Medicare Schedule D? The US has lots of socialized medicine going around. (Whether that's a good or bad thing is not what I'm commenting on...)

I currently live in São Paulo, Brazil...

That infamously is on several lists of one of the worst place to do business in the world (because it is first place in red tape and associated costs, also very high in corruption, tax rate, and so on...)

Yet, I've seen with my own eyes a ever bigger community of french business people here, there are LOTS of rich french, or young french, coming here and doing business here, and some of them I talked, absolutely hate Brazil (regarding business aspects, violence, and some other stuff), but imply (they never reply directly when I ask, and some get offended) that yet Brazil is still better to live than France...

This makes me believe something VERY WRONG is going on there... Usually it was the dream of Brazillians to move to France, not the opposite!

London has been called France's sixth biggest city. According to this BBC article from March 2012 there is an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 French citizens living in London. That's more than the population of Bordeaux, Nantes or Strasbourg.


I know I'm rather late but I just wanted to point out that this number is likely an exaggeration. See this: http://fistfulofeuros.net/afoe/more-like-colmar-on-thames/

When I lived in China I met French people all the time; more than any other foreign nationality. I think they're all over the place.

"France has always been a land to which people dream of coming. Not leaving."

That would be news to my mother and her ancestors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cajun

My dear father [...] you can come here boldly with my dear mother and all the other Acadian families. They will always be better off than in France. There are neither duties nor taxes to pay and the more one works, the more one earns without doing harm to anyone. —Jean-Baptiste Semer, 1766[8]

Also see: Eastern Canada.

(Mind you, this was in the 18th century, but still.)

Cajuns were from Eastern Canada.

True, back there they are called Acadians, but it's the same people.

(French here)

Maybe I think backward, I always wanted to travel and learn from others countries and cultures. I even did an internship in the US in MV and I loved it.

But after reading this kind of article the only thing I want to do is fight for my country, I wouldn't say I'm patriot, far from it, I consider myself European first. But I don't think we're as bad as people (often ones of our owns) try to describe us. So I want to fight against the odds, against our weaknesses and yes we have a lot of things pulling us down but overall I really think there still are plenty of bright minds. I don't want to leave, I want to fight and succeed here.

>But after reading this kind of article the only thing I want to do is fight for my country, I wouldn't say I'm patriot, far from it, I consider myself European first.

What does "European first" even mean, though? To be friendly with other European nations/cultures is one thing.

But there's no such thing as an entity called Europe that cares for all the people's in it -- E.U, for one, isn't it. The larger countries, and especially Germany, control the whole game. And the law making, representation, etc, of individual countries (and people) in E.U is opaque and authoritarian, more bureaucratic than democratic. Nothing like the US in unity, for a thing (except for the bad parts: corporations and private interests controlling legislation and such).

So, I'd say, fighting for democracy and social justice in YOUR country (France in your case) is more important, in the political sense, than any general feeling of "Europeanes".

And, sure, people can always immigrate somewhere else, especially within EU. But if that immigration is not because of personal (e.g cultural) choice, but to avoid hardships and fighting, then it's an easy cop-out -- those people are not fighters and not give a damn for their community, only for their personal well-being. And they would just as easily abandon their new host country too. Remember that in order to there be countries to immigrate to --in the first place--, there must have been people willing to stand for them and improve them.

> What does "European first" even mean, though? To be friendly with other European nations/cultures is one thing.

It's easy, I'm feeling myself European it might seem dumb or impossible to you but it is. I think we're very much alike, we love the same sports and take our holidays in the same places, more often than not people have ancestors from another counry in Europe (mine were from Italy). When I was young I spent holidays in Austria, Italy and Spain, I played with kids from all these countries and it never seemed we were differents. I can tell you growing up in such an environment is probably what's make me think I feel European first. I'm sorry if I don't have a better explanation for what I feel.

>What does "European first" even mean, though?

You could stand for "European" values, those shared by many countries in Europe, such as a need for a strong social safety net, importance in protection of consumer's privacy, and developing a will to work together with people sharing a different culture and (often) language.

Hey doe88,

It's probably too late for you to read this, but I just wanted, as a fellow citizen, say that I totally agree with you.

I am fed up with every article posted here painting France as the worst country that ever was and ever will be for companies or for "bright minds". That's simply not true and I also want to fight against that stigma.

As a matter of fact, after living 6 years in the Netherlands, I am now back in France, and don't mind paying my taxes (I've seen such a comment here) and no, going away is not a solution.


Perhaps its time to heed the advice of the illustrious Christine Lagarde:

  “Il faut cesser de penser et se retrousser les manches.”

  (Roughly translated: "We must stop thinking and roll up our sleeves.")

  In proposing a tax-cut law last week, Finance Minister Christine
  Lagarde bluntly advised the French people to abandon their 
  “old national habit.”

  “France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly.
  “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory.
   We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to 
   come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, 
   already. Roll up your sleeves.”


Indeed, it's a very good advice and I totally agree with her statement and no doubt it must be true. But I can tell you, people I know are really too busy living their life and for instance I'm myself too busy coding or doing other stuffs to really have time to over-think about our expected downfall.

It's interesting to see the EU take form. With the recent finance reforms and articles like this, it looks to me like the EU is becoming more and more like the US with the countries taking the role of states. Moving between US states for the purpose of employment is extremely common. The EU countries have more border autonomy and language barriers that prevent people from moving between them, but it seems similar to the formation of the US and the subsequent 200 years of consolidating power at the federal level. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next 20 years.

Many of the people I chat to from Europe on IRC confirm that notion. They consider themselves E.U. citizens first and foremost.

Of course these are heavily tech-oriented chat rooms so I'm not sure how far that can be applied. But I find it interesting myself, especially given the history of the USA, where right up to the 1870s people considered themselves a citizen of the state first and not the nation... obviously it has eventually inverted.

But should this inversion actually happen, when does the USA get to ask for the E.U. to act as a singular entity for things like Olympics, U.N. representation, and other international protocols? ;)

I can't recall where I saw it, but there was a poll asking people whether they felt European or a citizen of their own country. The "Europeans" were not very high. Definitely some selection bias (firstly, I guess you're talking to people who are comfortable IRC'ing in English).

Also, the EU is already represented as a whole in some int'l organisations (such as the dual representation in the WTO), and economonically the Euro Zone is a block from the outside.

U.N. representation is a really good point, especially with UK and France both having veto power. It will happen when it's beneficial for the countries to be consolidated as one body because they'd represent more economic and political power. Looking forward, I'd guess that this wouldn't happen until India and China and other currently developing nations have bigger economies per capita than France and Germany.

As a French citizen emigrated to Canada, that's a concern I can relate to. The best thing I found to explain what's wrong with France (to quote NYT and add a few of my own: distrust, negativism, elitism, "losing hope", "overcentralized gerontocracy") is this little book:

La société de défiance : Comment le modèle social français s'autodétruit (ISBN-10: 272880396X, ISBN-13: 978-2728803965) English Translation: The distrust society: How the French social model self-destructs http://www.amazon.fr/La-soci%C3%A9t%C3%A9-d%C3%A9fiance-fran...

Its "originality" is that, unlike articles like the one linked here, the authors support their argument with serious economical and statistical analysis.

Montréal-based HNers wanting to borrow my copy are welcome, feel free to contact me at @ronjouch

EDIT: ebook freely available here: http://www.cepremap.fr/depot/opus/OPUS09.pdf (PDF, 5MB)

Can you tell us more?

I'd love to, but I read it a long time ago and I don't have the copy with me. If you can read french, I recommend this review, which is where I got word of the book:


And ooooh NICE, the review made me realize that the book is available for free as PDF :) : http://www.cepremap.fr/depot/opus/OPUS09.pdf , and I'm editing my original post.

The figures for youth unemployment in Europe are shocking.

The percentage of people under the age of 25 who are unemployed:

- Greece: 62.5% - Spain: 56.4% - Portugal: 42.5% - Italy: 40.5% - Cyprus: 32.7% - Rep of Ireland: 26.6% - France: 26.5% - UK: 20.2% - Germany: 7.5% - EU average: 23.5%

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23095198

For reference, the United States' "youth unemployment rate" is 22-23%.[1] And yet unemployment over the age of 25 is 6.3% and falling.[2]

One must wonder to what extent this is the fault of our economy and to what extent this is the fault of the youth themselves. I suspect a combination of both:

1.A lot of people simply don't want to hire "kids" to do anything. 2.The jobs younger people are typically trusted to do are being filled by people with more experience and more maturity.[3] 3a. The most in-demand jobs require a college education, which few 16-19 year old's have.[5,6] 3b. We've seen a cultural shift where these kids see low-skill low-pay jobs like McDonald's as being beneath them. Unfortunately, these are the only jobs for which they are qualified. Fast food service is still hiring. There are plenty of health care aide and fast food jobs available, but no one wants them.[5,6] 4.(Opinion) Gen Y has even less expectation that their children work before graduating college. The youth may say they want a job, but have little motivation.

[1] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t10.htm [2] http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/04/06/number-of-the-week... [3] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-25/why-are-so-many-col... [5] http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/Content.asp?pageid=146 [6] http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2012/01/art5full.pdf

Yes, my fundamental question about this article - where are they going to go?

It's not like there are jobs begging to be filled in other countries, barring perhaps the oilfields in North Dakota.

> Yes, my fundamental question about this article - where are they going to go?

Germany, The Netherlands, Norway or Sweden. Lots of countries left where there is still work.

France is a good example of a country where its citizens and leaders have chosen to protect the status quo at the expense of innovation, advancement and particularly at the expense of our generation (namely those born in the 80s). This is a trend that I find is beginning to happen in the US... less productive (and more expensive) older workers are creating rules & legislation to protect themselves (unions are classic examples of this... AirBnb & Uber are constantly fighting this). We have to stand up for free markets else we'll fall victim on the road to serfdom.

You know, you can think that but, ITER, concorde, ariane, Airbus, M51, part of LHC, some air carriers are created partly here. It's not startuppy at all, but I would not say nothing happens. There is some kind of state driven innovation. I don't like it but it exists and gets shit done.

(French here)

Written by a guy who's never worked a day in his life, I find that article to be very funny.

French bashing is always done better by the french.

Guys, to give you a bit of context, when this guy wrote his first piece last september, the backlash was quite big (which might also explain why he never went anywhere with his campaign at the time).

To me this guy has zero credibility.

> "to give you a bit of context, when this guy wrote his first piece last september, the backlash was quite big"

I appreciate we Americans don't know everything about the system, but you added nothing to my understanding. This is from the article:

>"When the journalist Mouloud Achour, the rapper Mokless and I published a column in the French daily Libération last September, arguing that France was a decrepit, overcentralized gerontocracy and that French youths should pack their bags and go find better opportunities elsewhere in the world, it caused an uproar."

We might gain something if you'd try to explain why you think the view that France is a bad place to live for the new generation.

> To me this guy has zero credibility.

Could you provide an example of an action or stance he takes that makes you believe this?

> French youths lounging on the Champs-Élysées.

The legend of the photo of the article is ridiculous knowing there is 90% of probability that they are tourists.

A bit tangential to the point, but still: get out, wherever you live. If you have the ability (which may be non-trivial), moving country is of a huge benefit. Even if you love the place you live in, you just don't have a comparison if you haven't lived (i.e. had local friends and jobs and dealt with day to day stuff for a couple of years) somewhere else. And just the experience both makes you more interesting and helps you get the experience that makes you better at many higher-paid jobs. Also, having friends around the world can be invaluable if/once you have to get out.

Kind of curious that the article ends with mentions of Brazil and China... I think neither are the best options for young French people right now - for one, wage levels there are significantly lower than in France. Canada, USA or Northern Europe seem like better targets to me.

Hey folks. I have an idea. It's not particularly novel, but this article triggered the thought. Let's try an experiment. For the next month, July, let us post and promote articles that speak well of a country's systems. In every country there is something admirable and awesome about the people/culture/systems. How about we spend just a month educating ourselves about what is good in different parts of the world in the present. Just as an exercise in trying to learn from the good as well as the bad. I'll start.

France gives generous paternal benefits:


One of the big "issues" about Europe were the missing mobility by its citizens. Somehow it seems that the "financial crisis" intentionally or unintentionally has positively brought change to that area.

I approve of this.

Related: Will code Node.js for food if given out of France, wanna hire me?

Oh, well Italy is even worse...

  "And then there is France. In the realms of cultural, 
  diplomatic, linguistic or economic policies, the French
  have long and eloquently insisted on their nation's 
  "exceptionalism." Yet a new form of exceptionalism, 
  no less eloquent, though far more brutal, now burdens 
  them: since 2011, France has seen at least a dozen men
  and women who have either set, or tried to set, 
  themselves aflame.

  The cradle of the Enlightenment, France now glimpses 
  a very different light, one that makes visible the 
  darkness of its economic and social malaise.

  The series of self-immolations has ranged across the
  country, from Flanders in the north through the suburbs
  of Paris to the Pyrenees in the south. No less varied 
  are the workplaces to each of these suicides: a lycée
  teacher, a carpenter, a company manager. Moreover,
  there is a mix of class and ethnic backgrounds: among 
  the victims are so-called "français de souche" (white 
  and native born French) as well as foreign nationals
  who had lived for years in France.

  Beyond the static of differences, though, one can see 
  common and disconcerting themes. In all of these cases,
  the victim was either unemployed or employed in a 
  position whose pressures ultimately grew intolerable.
  In the town of Beziers, a mathematics teacher slightly
  more than a year ago set herself on fire in the 
  school's courtyard--an "act of desperation" that 
  investigators attributed to "professional reasons." 
  Last summer in the Parisian suburb of Mantes-la-Jolie,
  an unemployed man, learning his welfare benefits had
  come to an end, immolated himself outside the local 
  unemployment office. In 2011, a France-Telecom employee
  in the southern city of Orange set a match to his 
  gasoline-drench clothing in a parking lot near his 
  office building--one among several suicides at the 
  company since it began to lay off employees in its 
  effort to restructure."


> she explicitly told the 3.6 million young unemployed people in the euro zone to be ready to move around to find work as the European Union allowed them to and the whole European project encouraged them to.

That's a great suggestion but which one of the twenty-three official languages of the European Union should I start studying ?

The one you apparently already know.

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