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Monday, May 07, 2007
In case you haven't heard, over the weekend the French elected Nicolas Sarkozy as their next president. Sarkozy is of the Union for a Popular Movement political party. It's considered the "right-wing" party in France, but that is like calling Barack Obama conservative in comparison to Dennis Kucinich. So, while Sarkozy is much more "pro-America" than most French and has stated some very positive goals, such as eliminating the 35-hour work week limit and promoting freer, more liberal markets to help lower their awful unemployment rates, he is still quite leftist in most of his beliefs and would align much more closely to Democrats in this country on social issues. However, on foreign policy, economics, and crime he is relatively conservative, which will make it interesting to see what kind of reforms he can implement to clean up the corpse that is the French economy and welfare system. Much of it will depend on how the French people vote regarding new Parliament members. If they fill up Parliament with other like-minded Sarkozy supporters, he should be able to get some work done. However, if they do as voters did last November here in Minnesota and elect a conservative leader but a liberal supporting cast, I find it unlikely that Sarkozy will have much success. Echoing these thoughts, Mark Steyn wrote an Op-Ed piece today for The New York Sun in which he surmises that Sarkozy will likely have the "Shortest of Honeymoons," to quote the title. Unfortunately, he's probably correct.
Is the French election a belated acknowledgment of reality or the latest attempt to dodge it? In other words, is it Britain voting for Mrs. Thatcher in 1979 and America for Ronald Reagan the following year? That's to say, the electorate understands the status quo is exhausted and unsustainable and that unless catastrophe is to be avoided radical course correction is required.
They're sick of crime and unemployment and on the whole could do with rather fewer Muslims on the streets, but they're not yet willing to give up on the economic protectionism and lavish social programs that lead, inexorably, to the crime and unemployment and a general economic and demographic decline leaving the nation dependent on mass immigration and accelerating Islamization.

In my recent book, whose title escapes me, I cite one of those small anecdotes that seems almost too perfect a distillation of Continental politics. It was a news item from 2005: A fellow in Marseilles was charged with fraud because he lived with the dead body of his mother for five years in order to continue receiving her pension of 700 euros a month.

She was 94 when she croaked, so she'd presumably been enjoying the old government check for a good three decades or so, but her son figured he might as well keep the money rolling in until her second century and, with her corpse tucked away under a pile of rubbish in the living room, the female telephone voice he put on for the benefit of the social services office was apparently convincing enough. As the Reuters headline put it: "Frenchman Lived With Dead Mother To Keep Pension."

Think of France as that flat in Marseilles, and its economy as the dead mother, and the country's many state benefits as monsieur's deceased mom's benefits. To the outside observer, the French give the impression they can live with the stench of death as long as the government benefits keep coming. If that's the case, the new president will have the shortest of honeymoons.


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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »