France’s chronic malaise

Dalrymple notes that among the country’s problems are

  1. its frightful battery farms of resentment, trafficking and delinquency — in atmosphere if not physically, worse than anything in England
  2. the decay of its vaunted educational system thanks to the belated adoption of gimcrack theories
  3. its appalling modern architects, who are among the worst in the world. After 1,000 years of successful practice, the French now cannot build a decent house
  4. its rigid labour laws, social charges, regulations and legal bias against small businesses that inhibit efforts at expansion and reward idleness

On 4. Dalrymple writes:

Only three weeks ago, two small businessmen — one a forester in the depths of la France profonde, the other a Parisian taxi driver of Vietnamese origin — complained to me that, after 40 years of work and paying taxes, their pensions would be no larger than those who had never worked in their lives. (The taxi driver said that if, in the second round of the election, it came to a choice between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, he would vote Le Pen.) I did not ask them how many people they knew of pensionable age who had never worked; but certainly I know people in France who regard a two-year sabbatical on unemployment benefits as their right rather than as a shameful act of exploitation.

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