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Riotous Behavior

For those who didn’t already know, I just got back from Europe, where I had the opportunity to catch the beginning of the French riots. One wrong turn and I found myself heading towards a voluminous cloud of noxious smoke and screaming plainclothes police officers. At the time, I didn’t know what was happening. The last thing I thought was “labor dispute”.

But, alas, that seems to be the case. French youths have taken to the streets to demonstrate (read: riot and loot) against a proposed law that would make it easier for companies to fire anyone under 26.
“‘You can’t treat people like slaves. Giving all the power to the bosses is going too far,’ said a 21-year-old student.”
Claire Berlinski finds some choice quotes of her own for her Washington Post article about the protests.

[T]he students on the streets today espouse economic views entirely unpolluted by reality. If the CPE [the new law] is enacted, said one young woman, “You’ll get a job knowing that you’ve got to do every single thing they ask you to do because otherwise you may get sacked.”

Imagine that.

Berlinsky continues …

France, like every European country, remains blackmailed by its history. French rulers, seemingly unable to appeal to the legitimacy they possess as elected leaders, instead behave as popular kings, or as leaders of some faction — like a king’s ministers. They cannot seem to forget what happens when a king loses his popularity. There are thus two choices for the French ruling elite, as they see it: toady or go under.

What these French students (and by proxy their toadying politicians) don’t understand, or refuse to understand, is that the CPE is intended to revitalize France’s stagnant economy. One of the reasons why European unemployment rates are so high is because European countries have ridiculous, protectionist worker policies. Europe’s average unemployment rate hovers around 8 percent. That’s the average.

When I originally lived in Germany, back in 1998-1999, that country was looking for economic reforms. Helmut Kohl was out, Gerhardt Schroder was in. Schroder’s primary campaign promise was to lower the unemployment rate, as the unemployed had taken to the streets to protest. Of course, Germany’s worker woes were partially borne of re-unification, and partially worker protectionism: in the east, unemployment was often double the rate it was in the west, which only exacerbated the east-west divide.At the same time, France’s unemployment rate was in double digits, yet there were no protests.

Many Europeans are actually content with high unemployment rates. Why? Because employment protection is the primary reason they exist, in addition to generous benefits and wage inflexibility. It is extremely expensive for an employer to terminate a worker, thus employers are extremely hesitant to hire people in the first place. Hence this new law.

Not to be outdone by a bunch of snail-eating twits, America is having its own demonstrations. Students around the country have been marching and protesting against legislation that would strengthen laws against illegal immigrants. In Fort Worth, Texas, students rushed the Dallas City Hall, perhaps mistaking it for the federal Capitol Building. The proposed legislation would drastically penalize anyone hiring illegal immigrants, as well as anyone dispensing aid. The legislation also calls for the construction of fences along parts of the Mexican-American border, in addition to other measures.

The anti-immigration claptrap is so disheartening because it’s so disingenuous and it crosses party lines. This issue isn’t about border safety, it’s about the sheer number of immigrants coming to our country. Now, is this a good or bad thing? If you believe that immigrants risk their lives crossing a border so they can sit on the government dole or steal your job picking pears, you should disabuse yourself of that notion. The majority of immigrants come to America looking for a better life. The work that immigrants initially seek in this country is plentiful precisely because you and I would not do it, yet it must be done none the less.

For the second time, we direct you to this wonderful piece by Glenn Garvin. It says everything that needs to be said about immigration, illegal or otherwise, and the economic repercussions of closing our borders.

And we can be thankful that our protests have been, for the most part, peaceful.

  1. Bill says:

    Seems you have a single minded opinion of immigration. While many people are concerned mainly with the number of immigrants, some people do actually think it is a good thing to control borders in today’s climate. Perhaps there is a reason that the House bill focuses on enforcement… oh yea the last time a “comprehensive” immigration law was passed in the 1980s we “forgot” to enforce the employer section while granting amnesty to millions who broke our laws. While wer’e at this, maybe you can tell us where we draw the line at ignoring laws?
    Finally, the real reason why you and I would not work for poor wages that illegals will. In an economic climate that allows this, no employer in certain industries can afford to compete against a rival who uses illegal labor if they use legals. If we cut off the economics of hiring illegals, capitolism will adjust as it always does to the system in place. Wages, costs, and prices will rise to the level that everyone can work with and we won’t have all the collateral damage that thirty years of ignoring illegal immigration has given us.

  2. Ian says:

    Hard to rush Dallas city hall in Fort Worth.

    You gotta think big if you’re gonna live in Texas.

  3. Olly says:

    That Garvin piece never gets old. This is also good stuff.

    (Although, you know, we must be on the lookout for terrorists entering the country illegally and then registering to vote. Terrorists are apparently becoming quite subtle in their methods.)

  4. Timothy says:

    Depends who you ask, but I’ve never been that impressed with either Fort Worth or Dallas. Many people claim Fort Worth is nicer, I claim all of north Texas bites it.

  5. tyler says:

    You and your “geography”, Tim. But I take note.

    I have a question, though: Is Fort Worth really as big a shit hole as Cops has led me to believe?

  6. Timothy says:

    Hard to rush Dallas city hall in Fort Worth.

    Different cities, same airport.

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