the dance in france


Some sort of negotiations will take place. What can the negotiations do? The UMP and the MEDEF want to restrict the discussion to this one law. Don’t stop there, many signs read: get rid of the CNE, too. The Socialist Party has regained some momentum by picking up that popular slogan. But the insecurity for job seekers and established workers won’t go away if these new kinds of contracts disappear. Something must be done to reduce the unemployment rate. ‘Flexibility’ is not the answer; France has had 30 years of it. Casual labor is also a fact of life for Americans. Most have fewer protections than the CPE offered. After all, the CPE paid at least the minimum wage (eight euros an hour, which translates into $9.20) with some severance pay and access to national health insurance. Many workers in the United States might, in fact, find such a contract attractive. For France, though, the alternative policy– increasing deficits to drive growth up–is out of the question. The European Union simply won’t allow it. There must be a massive program to rebuild the aging public housing and provide more unskilled jobs, but France can’t increase its budget deficit without violating the guidelines for the euro. Some talk of a compromise, Scandinavian style: more ‘flexibility’ in firings, more guidance for those looking for work, and better unemployment benefits. Accept that radical uncertainty is built into capitalist economies and manage it better. If the negotiations got that far, they’d be remarkable–and they still might leave the demonstrators feeling betrayed.

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