If you grew up in or before the 1980’s you remember the old Warner Brother’s cartoons. One character in particular was Pepe LePew, the French skunk with the Charles Boyer accent, forever amorously pursuing a housecat who he consistently mistook for a lady skunk. Pepe would bound along in blissful ignorance, unaware that the object of his affections wanted nothing to do with him, and oblivious to the people who stampeded out of his odor and way shouting “Le Pew! Le Pew!”
Just as Pepe LePew hopped along unaware of the chaos he was causing, so too does President Hollande and the new Socialist Government traipses is traipsing through the first days of the new French Order, unaware of the smell they are potentially creating.
Members of the Occupy Champs Elysee Movement are undoubtedly delighted with the latest developments in France, but the cooler heads, and what’s left of the Free World should be bolting for the door yelling “Le Pew! Le Pew!
All vehicles on French roads must now have an interlock device installed in them, as per French law. I am sure that you can see the direction in which the French are headed. Chances are you had it figured out in the first sentence of this paragraph.
It is a relatively simple algorithm. Start with a problem, the seriousness of which cannot be contested, in this case drunk driving. Then provide the solution via government intervention. In this case an interlock device. Naturally, anyone opposed to the idea of Big Brother, or in this case Grand Frère shoving his way a bit further into private lives will be vilified as a wanton libertine who wouldn’t give a 0.15 eurocent for the safety of his countrymen.
No one is for drinking and driving, and no one is for the deaths that it causes or the lives that it destroys. I have lost friends to drunk drivers and I have covered the trials of drunk drivers who have killed others because they chose to drive intoxicated. Some of those victims were little children. And France’s mortality rate from impaired driving is astronomical compared to other nations. Some lives will undoubtedly be saved because of this measure. But would it not be prudent to consider the ramifications of how drunk driving is being prevented in this case? The law does not take into account the human factor. If one is selfish and thoughtless enough to drive drunk in the first place, one will find a way around an interlock device. A common charge in United States courts is that of disabling or tampering with an interlock device. And if disabling the device is too time consuming, it is also common for the drunk in question to find someone else to breathe into the device for him. Also note that the emphasis is not on personal responsibility; the message is that the French are so incapable of controlling themselves that the government must step in and drunk-proof their vehicles. And it is interesting to note how quickly the French were able to look to their national government as the default problem solver. Not to local governments, not to the private sector- but right to their Federal Government. Not only will this law be a nightmare to enforce, but the true winners here would seem to be the company that has the contract to manufacture the devices.
It is a perfect example of the socialist mindset. No one would dare speak up and say “You are intruding unnecessarily into my life; go install your device where the sun doesn’t shine!” The backlash would be tremendous. The French are about to learn a hard lesson and it is one that Americans should heed: When the government steps in to control one’s life, it is always for one’s own health safety and welfare. And the French are about to discover that by embracing socialism, and by ceding control of one’s personal agency, even if it is ostensibly for one’s own good, the precedent is set to lift the lid on a Pandora’s Box of intrusive regulations. And the more intrusive they become, the better for the public they will be portrayed as being.
Is France’s trajectory a cautionary tale, or is the country merely mirroring us? After all, we have an administration that wants to dictate what we eat and how we eat; what we drive, the light bulbs we use, the healthcare we access, and how we heat our homes and manage our farms, also for our own good.
On another familiar note, the public broadcasters in France apparently cannot move enough Me Chatouiller Elmo Dolls to pay the bills. So the French government in order to raise 7.5 billion euros is contemplating a tax on computer screens in order to raise 7.5 billion euros in addition to its current television tax to help pay for public radio and television. The cost would be 125 euros in France itself and 80 euros in French territories. To be fair one would not have to pay twice if one has a television and a computer. But take note, the French government is planning to tax a private sector product to pay for public sector broadcasting. Vive la France. And vive the United States.