What American despairs that the French are having problems with their youth? Who among us laments that the snooty French, who look down their long noses at all things American (except when they need us to liberate them from their enemies and their own unwillingness to defend themselves), are paying the price for years of socialism? Surely, they are delighting in our pro-illegal immigration demonstrations, so let us gloat over their current difficulties, as payback just for their being French.
The massive demonstrations throughout France have further undermined the weakened government of President Jacques Chirac. The government is trying to enforce the First Job Contract law (CPE), which allows employers to end job contracts for people under the age of 26 at any time during a two-year trial period, without prior warning and without having to give them an explanation.
French unemployment is 9.6 percent. For young people it is 20 percent. Chirac's government believes that by scrapping the old job-security contract (for French youth who are able to find a job), the youth employment picture will improve because the focus will shift from the job itself to the quality of the worker. A recent opinion poll indicates that nearly two-thirds of the French people oppose the CPE. That is probably due to the ideological grip socialism has on many French citizens and French culture.
The demonstrations, some of which turned violent and required riot police to put down, followed last year's riots by Muslim immigrants who damaged the French psyche and caused businesses and politicians to worry about a decline in tourism and further harm to the economy.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has offered to meet with union leaders to discuss the new law, but so far the leaders have refused. Villepin, who is expected to run for president in next year's election, offered to modify the measure, but his conciliatory effort was rejected. There have been calls for Villepin's resignation, which is not the image one wants on TV before an election campaign for higher office.
Villepin is watching his back because his expected and main presidential rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and Sarkozy's Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), are urging Villepin not to make haste to enforce the law, but to allow for the possibility of further negotiations.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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