The Right Coast

November 10, 2005
Time for France to make a whole new set of mistakes
By Tom Smith

I am no expert on France, but not every single thing they do is wrong. In the firelight of all those burning cars, various pundits are now opining grandly on the futility of the "French model." But not everything about the French model is so bad. The French may have a cumbersome state the stifles economic growth at every turn, but they also have a sense of equality and citizenship that needs to applied, not abandoned, and from which we could learn a thing or two. The IHT column linked to above argues that the French have to adopt the multi-cultural policies that have worked so well in the rest of the West. I wonder what country the author is thinking about? Quotas and cultural diversity celebration is going to bring angry French African Muslim youths into the program, how exactly?

I am not optimistic, but what France needs is not US or UK style multi-culturalism, which seems its own brand of abject failure, at least if you like subways without suicide bombers on them, but a strong dose of market medicine. Stagnant economies breed frustration and rage. If they had real jobs, and not some state boondoggle or the dole, children of immigrants around Paris and Toulouse would feel differently about their homeland. The cultural part can take care of itself.

Just because the social problems in France are grave does not mean they can't be made worse by the most ill-considered of the half-baked solutions the US and the UK has been confusing themselves with for the last three decades or so. The French should ignore most of the advice they are getting in the media from our shores. In this case, we are fortunate that they are likely to do just that. Sometimes it pays to think you are better than everybody else.