Monday, February 12, 2007


Ah, on to the French Presidential elections of April.

If I were French, I would still be in the "undecided" category.

However, I've always been turned off by the way the left-of-center parties in Europe (particularly Britain and France) appear to try to "buy" the election with some relatively small financial incentives. It seems like every time there's a general election in the UK, the Labor party starts talking about a pensions increase by 30p a week...

This morning's FT runs down "the real" start to Segolene Royal's campaign. Among her platform ideas are:

1. a 10K euro interest-free loan for "young people" to start their own companies
2. the state would create 500,000 subsidised jobs for the "young."
3. first-time homebuyers would get an interest-free loans for their mortgage deposit
4. the minimum wage would rise to 1,500 euros per month

DeToc mentions this not because he is a hard-core rightist (or Gaullist for that matter; either way, your DeTocqueville is much more of a centrist), but because the ol' DeToc is rational free-marketist. An interest-free home loan is a great thing to have, but who's going to fund that? Certainly you'd be hard-pressed to find a bank, building society, or even the local circus to put up such free cash. The state, then? Doesn't the state have better things to do than managing free home and business loans? DeToc hopes that his does (though by judging the recent state of affairs, most of the US populace would have rather had W managing loans than a war. At least we'd have only lost a few thousand...).

Let's not even begin to address France's "need" for another half-a-mil civil servants. In a country where some 20% of the workforce is already employed by the state, 500K would add another whopping 3ish% to that realtively inefficient mass.

But there's the word I'm striving for: Inefficient. These parts of Ms. Royal's platform just scream market inefficiencies: if you really want a homeloan, a bank will give it to you at a reasonable rate, and you'll probably make money by the time you sell the house; ditto with a business. Or, if really want to get ahead in life, you won't take the easy way out with quasi-state-sponsered welfare.

While DeToc truly values care for those to whom the market has failed, he doesn't have much pity for those who have failed the market.

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