Saturday, April 23, 2005

Vive La France

Watched C-Span last night and saw Jacques Chirac’s TV appearance at the Elysees Palace with a group of young people concerned about ratifying the EU Constitution. Chirac’s performance apparently has backfired, leading to an increase in “non” support for the referendum. It is easy to see why.

This is how the discussion went:

Concerned youth: “I just graduated from university and I can’t find a job.”

Chirac: “I don’t understand the fear in the younger generation.”

Concerned youth: “But what would ratifying the Constitution do for us?”

Chirac: “French values of equality and human rights will be codified as European values.”

Concerned youth: “But what’s in it for us?”

Chirac: “China, India, and the U.S. are getting bigger. We need to get bigger.”

Concerned youth: “But what’s in it for us?”

Chirac: “France will be unified with a greater Europe.”

Concerned youth: “But won’t this lead to more globalization and privatization of the public sector, threatening our security?”

Chirac: “France will make its own economic decisions, even though our unemployment rate remains too high.”

Concerned youth: “But what’s in it for us?”

Both sides talking past each other. Chirac could offer no concrete value proposition to the unemployed youth, and the questioners were less interested in creating economic conditions that could lead to more opportunities than in maintaining their pathetic status quo as a subsidized ward of the state.

It’s clear that the EU constitution was written by and for the technocratic political class, and the younger generation of France has no intention of competing economically on the world stage. Vive la France.