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Francestein: The Next European Shoe to Drop

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After Grexit and Spain comes the 'Francestein' French monster.

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3. Consequently, in an overwhelming fashion, the French government and Congress are made of attorneys, doctors, engineers, teachers, and professors, but not entrepreneurs. Therefore, most of the legal framework is not inspired by business owners, but by categories telling businesses how to be run from outsiders. In 2009, the French Congress was made up of approximately 20% of current or previous business owners and/or senior management vs. 40% of civil servants and/or teachers, 10% attorneys, and 15% medical professions, followed by farmers, civilians, and other professions.

4. The current executive government of President Hollande's 30 ministers does not include a single former private sector employee.

5, The French (and very much Spanish) elitism runs deep in that pyramidal society and helps explain why minorities (in spite of size and integration) have not found their way into the Congress and only recently into the executive government.

6. I cannot express strongly enough how these factors deeply affect the relationships between the haves and the have-nots, driving a rift between capital and labor. In a Marxist vacuum, France is a fantastic lab study for deeply rooted, antagonistic desires from those who have and those who do not. The entire society has been resting on 1,200 years of protecting estates and wealth through families' first-borns (the haves) and leaving crumbs to the rest. Coupled with the fear of free-enterprise and actual, real lack of credit and resources to launch enterprises, the tension (and sometimes hatred) of capital vs. labor is palpable in France.

7. Citizens are therefore "sold" liberty and equality as propaganda in order to ignore the truth: Capital is all but equal, but the State will make it right.

8. Lastly, there is a deep, drawn-out fascination with messianic father figures in France, from the days of omnipotent kings to Napoleon to de Gaulle. This fascination leads to a constant mental relationship and enchantment with the State and how it actually exists in daily lives. The State educates, protects, serves, and heals. It takes away and it gives back. It restores the balance between haves and have-nots (individuals cannot do this, for the State must do it). In most French minds, for practical reasons, the State "lives." And the State makes all citizens equals. The State is Francestein!

Now let's look at some less covered socioeconomic realities of the French society.

1. In order to select fast and early the "survivors" (engineers, physicians, state servants, or attorneys), most French people have to decide by the age of 18 what they will do for the rest of their lives. Once you pick a career, lateral moves are almost impossible. It is a statistical blunder for a nurse to start medical school at 40, for an engineer to go to law school, or for an attorney to start a business. Being 20 and vocation-less is the surest way to unemployment.

2. The only real labor flexibility is a vertical one in State structures or private companies. You can rise up the ranks, but you can almost never change your life. It becomes yours, forever. The 25-year-old kindergarten teacher almost certainly becomes a 60-year-old kindergarten teacher.

3. Once you understand the 18-year-old's fate, the desire to retire at 60 (or earlier) makes a lot more sense. Just imagine being stuck in the same job, without the real possibility to go back to graduate school, to learn, to move on. While knowing that upon reaching 55, 60, or 62, you will be paid your salary in full forever. From the beginning, the end becomes the goal.

4. Add to the mix the State's influence on how to retire and the need to make everyone equals; then add in the absence of private retirement options, the fear of capital, and the lack of entrepreneurial initiatives, and you have another recipe for failed economics 101. People expect a full salary for 25-30 years after their retirement… for almost as long as they contributed and worked. At some point, the math no longer adds up.
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