While America is busy trying to sort out health care reform, you may be wondering what a country like France is up to, now that their health care debate has long been settled. Here’s a look at what has been making news in France in the past week:
France Telecom suicides: Twenty-four employees of France Telecom (a previously government owned enterprise) have committed suicide in the past 19 months. But the rate appears to have picked up in recent weeks – with the latest one plunging rather publicly to his death a week ago.
When I appeared on French national TV recently, the debate focused on what the company was doing wrong, how it could prevent further suicides, and whether the number of suicides is higher than the national French average (in fact, it’s lower). Some Socialist Party politicians have called for the head of France Telecom’s CEO, who has since had to report to the government over the issue.
My response was that suicide is a highly personal decision. How exactly can you hold anyone else responsible – let alone an employer? Some people run out to buy a new product when they see an ad on TV, or when they see that all their friends have something they don’t. Others see colleagues they don’t even personally know offing themselves, and feel some bizarre compulsion to do the same. Even if you hate your job, you don’t have to follow suit and kill yourself over the situation – you can tell your boss to shove it, and move on. Besides, it’s France – the largest social safety net in the world will catch you, unless it’s off an actual bridge.
Crackdown on soccer game violence: France’s new Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, is going after soccer hooligans, saying that stadiums are no longer places families can bring kids because of the violence. Hortefeux is fresh off a stint as France’s Immigration Minister, cracking down on all the cultural non-assimilators. He has since segued nicely into picking on the ultimate vision of leftist multicultural utopia. If you squint hard and ignore the violence, it’s really beautiful – all the different cultures coming together to practice nationalism and tribalism around the common cause of watching a ball being kicked down a field. According to leftist theory, all the Minister should have to do is tell them to hold hands and sing Kumbaya.