The IHT is reporting on what they term, a "very large" strike that is looming in France.
Now, I don't know and will not pretend to know all of the intricacies of this issue. And it doesn't really affect me as much as it does someone from France. But what I do understand is that March 28th is the date that has been set, for students and unions opposed to the new labor law that allows more flexibility in terminating younger workers, to strike. And I do understand, the business community is contending that they will be able to hire more young people on a trial basis, instead of using temps.
But I cannot understand what the big deal is here. In America, this is the norm. In fact, most places that hire young people in this country have a 60-180 day probation period, which is substantially less time than two years.
Regular readers know how I feel about socialism and the sociological attitude it creates among the work force, on a macro level. If you are relatively new to PYY, here are some past posts that I feel both illustrate and demonstrate my feelings, with very lttle doubt.
But, understanding that there is no pure capitalism and no pure socialism (except on paper), we must understand that the answer is lies somewhere in between. Where the contention lies is: Where does the pendulum need to rest?
But before we can answer this question, we have to imagine a spectrum similar to the pH scale in chemistry, with the socialism on one end and the capitalism, on the other. In chemistry, all matter and all compounds fall somewhere between the extremes (bases and acids). And so it is with political and economic spectrums, in that, all ideologies, philosophies, and policies fall somewhere in between the left and right.
Europe in the post-modern era has leaned to the left of center, with the pendulum more towards labor, than business. Some EU countries are more so than others. For example, the continent leans further left than UK and Ireland and the eastern continent leans even further, than the western part (which is why Eastern Europeans are trying to migrate westward). Britain and Ireland lie to the right of the continent and yet to the left of the U.S. (which has vascillated somewhat in the post WWII era and rests just right of center, here in the present day).
Looking at the unemployment rates for the EU (figures in this link are from July 2005), we can see that those countries leaning more to the the left of center (towards labor), tend to have a higher rate, than those states more toward the right (towards business). The U.S. during this time period was somewhere around 5.4%, if my memory serves me correctly. I have often wondered, how is it the Europeans are more willing to tolerate a higher rate than what we in the U.S. are willing to tolerate? Additionally I have wondered, just how long will they continue to tolerate it, without taking some measures to swing this pendulum back toward the right?
France appears to be willing to do this, but as you can see from the labor unrest they have been experiencing, they are meeting a good amount of resistance to this new law. Something has to give. If it doesn't, with France just under the 10% point, may very well see unemployment back in double digits real soon.