Note: I spent nine days in Great Britain visiting my daughter. These are some observations about the events that unfolded while I was there.
Paralysis in France and Italy
In Western Europe, you see paralysis. The recent Italian elections went in the direction of the leftist Romano Prodi and away from the ruling center-right coalition of Silvio Berlusconi by the narrowest of margins. The election showed Italy evenly divided as a people and not yet committed to the needed reforms to move their economy forward.
In France, mob rule dominated the day as angry young workers, including many unemployed, protested the moderate reforms geared to increase their job prospects. Call it the protest of the unemployed to stay unemployed.
The problem for both France and Italy is that their economies, along with that of Germany, are limping along with high unemployment nearly double of that found in either Great Britain or the United States. Italyâ€™s economic growth has been half of the rest of Europe for nearly a decade, regardless of whether a right-of-center government or a left-of-center government ruled. With taxes high and government over regulation stifling businesses, Italy is an economic basket case.
The dilemma for the French is that the labor market is too rigid and the government too highly involved in the economy. It is virtually impossible to fire someone. When the present French government decided to make it easier for businesses to fire workers under age 26, the goal was to make it more economically viable for French businesses to hire inexperienced workers. With overall unemployment hovering around 10 percent, the unemployment for younger French workers under 25 is nearly 2 1/2 times higher than the general population.
With a fast growing Muslim population becoming more alienated from the greater society and with even fewer job prospects than native born French workers, France is sitting on a powder keg that could explode at any instant. With an inflexible labor force, France is moving backwards in its economic race with the Anglosphere and, in the process, hurting the entire European Unionâ€™s ability to compete with the rest of the world. Europe is slowly being remade in the image of France, a France that is no longer capable of leading and that is sinking slowly into the abyss.