To each according to their dream?

Upon learning about the French students' violent reactions to the proposed labor reform--whereby employers would have had to option to lay-off the newly hired any time during the first two years of employment--I thought to myself:

How can it be that smart and educated people, who take the brunt of high unemployment, are so reactionary to a proposal addressing their problem and supported by most evidence?

Then I started pondering: How similar are the French youth and their American counterparts? The former appear to embrace the statist model, despite data pointing to its lack of sustainability. In turn, the latter appear to dismiss the inequality-attribute with which the US is associated, and are firm believers in the American Dream, despite indications that fewer and fewer have been achieving it. To return to the question, an answer could be deduced from the success ratios with which the French and American youth fulfill their aspirations. Alas, such answer would say little about the costs of failure or the attributes of those aspirations--e.g. how great or noble they are.

On the one hand, making it in today's France consists of: an undistinguished job for life, with lengthy vacations and no overtime, and mostly undifferentiated access to good education, healthcare and pension. On the other, failing the American Dream will not only make one's net worth so much less than Bill Gates' or a regular partner's in your typical i-bank, but most likely affect one's education, healthcare and pension. Thus one may conclude, once again, that the French are risk-adverse while the Americans are gain-seekers.

Knowing how human loss-aversion is, not only can one see how different the Americans are, but also why the French youth feel entitled to the French Dream; In both instances, at least for as long as the laws of economics permit.

4 comments:

fCh said...

Another paradoxical parallel could be drawn between the size of the bureaucracies in the two countries. In the US we want to say we have a small government, at least relative to France's. On the other hand, when considering the US legal system, excessive by comparison, as complement to the government, our bureaucracies may not be that different, in relative size or cost, that is.

gavrila said...

It is worth considering the relative degree of sophistication averaged out over a sizeable sample within each of the two populations:
The French youth, by dint of their cultural/social heritage, expect a level of satisfaction accomplished both by working conditions/arrangements and by state run/funded social programmes that their American colleagues are not totally aware of.
Reduced to a nutshell, knock on the door and it will/eventually/be open. Employers, whether they be institutional or private, and governments only provide when employees demand their rights and entitlements.
Americans lack an organised workforce that can speak as one to their employers and the latter can only take advantage of the lax industrial relations available to them- it's called the competitive advantage/one may wonder, whose advantage?!.

fCh said...

gavrila, how would your observations change should globalization become part of your considerations? in other words, what if after several knocks the open door will show a global workforce ready to supplant the local one? to some growing extent that's already been the case in the US, and the trade unions can do little if anything about this situation--as in "organised workforce that can speak as one to their employers."

gavrila said...

One can see some attempts by big states' governments to protect what they deem assets of vital/strategic national interest. A similar effort, achieved by re-tuning the tax system with a view to encourage more investment at home + spending for reconversion of industries/workforce might have an overall benefic effect on our depressed societies. Whilst at it, education spending should be easily doubled to keep up with tomorrow's demands.
As for the rest, good luck and steer the Earth away from any sizeable incoming asteroid/comet.

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