France's flirtation with and eventual embrace of socialism goes back more than a century. The late President Francois Mitterand effectively implemented socialism as national policy in 1981 when he issued his "110 Propositions," which included a program to nationalize many industries. Seven of France's largest 20 conglomerate industrial companies were nationalized, as were 36 banks and two finance companies. Mitterand's misguided plan was designed to ensure that the government would have sources of capital for the nationalized sectors.
The French state accounts for about one-fourth of the industrial output of France. Among those employment enterprises with 2,000 or more employees, one-half are in state enterprises.
In typical socialist fashion, Mitterand tried to reverse a stagnant economy with collectivist tactics instead of using capitalist tools. As would be proved in other socialist states, a heavy government hand stifles initiative, restricts capital creation and leads the worker for the state or state-subsidized enterprise into a false sense of job security. It also makes it more difficult for one to achieve independence and success, as part of an upwardly mobile career in a position that produces products and services consumers truly want and need. In a socialist society the reverse always occurs, resulting in despair, high unemployment, mutually shared poverty and riots in the streets to protest the broken promises of the state.
Reuters quoted one French political analyst as predicting the government would eventually be forced to give in to the pressure, especially in view of the new opinion poll indicating widespread opposition to the CPE.
Of course the French will surrender. They always do, don't they? But surrender won't solve the problem. Capitalism - with its associated free market - will.
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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