Where's Katie Couric? Not All French Love Country's Socialist Labor System; Some Flee To Capitalism

March 21st, 2007 7:28 PM

Since Katie Couric is so fond of reporting on France’s utopian workforce, will she report French enthusiasm for…the mostly-capitalist England? Couric once salivated over the French socialist version of what the US business could be if only America let go of that ridiculous capitalist "anti-worker" propaganda that brainwashes people into thinking there is nothing wrong with a little hard work and the silly, old-fashioned idea that the customer is always right, not the employee. According to Katie and the other socialist cheerleaders, the French love their worker’s paradise, right? Well, according to this Reuters article on Yahoo, not all of them do:

Even though France has one of the world's shorter working weeks, growing numbers of young French are crossing the Channel to find work in the tougher, but more lucrative British market.

Undaunted by Britain's longer hours and less secure job market, they are in no mood to heed a call by presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy to return and "make France a great nation where everything will be possible."

"It is all very well saying that sort of thing, but why should I go back when I can earn much better money and have a good career here," said Guillaume Noirtin, a 25-year old headhunter who works in London, told Reuters.

"Give us the chance of jobs and good money first."

Reuters surprisingly does what Couric won’t—present the negative aspects of the French system:

Turning his back on France's 35-hour work week as well as the euro zone's second highest unemployment rate, Noirtin is one of some 110,000 French nationals registered in the UK.

While that is already the third biggest French community in the world, the French consulate in London estimates the actual number of French in Britain could be anything up to 300,000.

Youth unemployment is running high in France, with the jobless rate for the under-25s at 21.7 percent, or two and half times the national rate, making low pay or unpaid internships a fact of life for young jobseekers.

Reuters believes that a grim job future for the young in that country explains why the average French ex-pat who moves to the UK is under 30. They are seeking a better life than the government-scripted one that France offers, and they move to Britain ready to work, and to work hard. In England, they can make two to three times more than they could in France. In pro-capitalist framing, the article explains the CPE, a new direction in French labor that was scuttled because of intense opposition, describing the French labor market as more “flexible” in hiring and firing so it will “encourage” higher employment. That is opposite of the usual anti-capitalist, alarmist terms that much of the media use.

Predictably, Reuters downplays the “French youth’s,” as they were often labeled, intense violence and rioting that resulted in the abandonment of the CPE, as simply “resistance," but a different environment can open up the French to other ideas:

...Bernard Cochery, the consul general in London, told Reuters a change of scenery sometimes meant a change of attitude among French workers.

"It was striking to see that young people who perhaps had reservations about the new CPE contract in France could be ready -- in a different context and facing different rules -- to accept more rapid change in their work, longer working hours and more pressure in a permanent evaluation process."

A Parisian working in Britain raises the point that American conservatives and capitalists have made before, many of the people who support "socialism" or Marxism are from the social and financial backgrounds that are not what the average person experiences, and while a few French pols are looking toward capitalist ideas to boost pay and employ more people, they aren't trusted:

Both Sarkozy and his Socialist rival Segolene Royal have floated ideas for boosting pay and getting more people back to work but many young expatriates in Britain appeared unconvinced.

"All the politicians are the same. They all come from the same social class, live in another world and don't see how real French people live," said Vincent Oliver, a 30-year-old Breton who came to Britain with his girlfriend in September 2005.

Nor is there anything in the election speeches to persuade Romaric Boussin, a market researcher, that change is in the air.

"I don't know if France will change in three or four years' time but from what I have seen on the few occasions I have visited home, it doesn't make me want to go back," said the 26-year old Parisian who came to Britain 18 months ago.

Katie Couric misses a great chance to using her trademark wide-eyed wonderment that she employs to emphasize something that she believes important—such as the maternity leave and the near-impossibility of being fired in France (which, considering her ratings, is probably looking better and better). It is just a day dream because Katie would never lend her practiced twinkly-enthusiasm to broadcast capitalism being preferred by French ex-pats over the “fair” French system, especially when they actually…like it:

"I am in charge of two people, one of whom is 40, which would just never happen in France," said Noirtin.

"French people have a different, hierarchical attitude and you won't be given as many opportunities. In the UK, if you are good enough, you can get on no matter how old you are. Sometimes I work 60 hours a week but you do it because if you work hard, you can progress quickly."

Of course, at the end was Reuters’ “on the other hand” portion where a few French complained about the difficulties some unprepared ex-pats meet and returns to form by pointing out that even some of the satisfied don’t think that Britain’s labor model should be exported to France. Overall, the article highlights something that the media rarely seem to—the much vaunted French model of perfect working conditions has a negative impact on the French economy and not everyone in France loves it as much as Katie Couric.