To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Paris au Printemps and Autumn for Socialism?

France today took a big step away from socialism by electing Nicolas Sarkozy by a decisive margin in an election characterized by intense public interest and a huge turnout.

I watched the pivotal televised debate between Sarkozy and socialist opponent Segolene Royal. It was fascinating to watch as they debated, passionately, issues that Americans and the British debated and settled in the early 1980's with the elections of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The most emotional and tense exchange was about the French rule that makes it a crime to work more than 35 hours per week. Royal defended that rule with vigor, arguing that it allows people to spend time on family and other pursuits. Sarkozy eloquently countered her, saying that the rule was a violation of individual freedom and the ability of a person to work hard and excel and, yes, make money.

I know a woman from Breton whose family owns a bistro. One worker requested to work extra during the week before his vacation so that he could make more pay. The owner agreed and was turned into the authorities by another employee. His bistro was shut down and he spent most of his savings in court trying to defend himself. My friend, who is left of almost everyone in the US, decried the 35 hour week as a fascist nightmare that almost destroyed her family business. France yesterday agreed with her and took a step toward sanity.

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