søndag, november 27, 2005

Frankrig II

Jeg har et længere læserbrev i dagens JP omhandlende situationen i Frankrig. Det skal tilføjes at overskriften er valgt af JP ikke af mig.

søndag, november 13, 2005


Optøjerne i Frankrig har givet anledning til mange skriverier om årsagerne dertil. Venstrefløjen ser dem typisk som udtryk for et mere eller mindre racistisk Frankrig, hvorfor løsningen må være mere målrettet offentligstøtte til de misforståede unge. For de kulturkonservative er optøjerne derimod bekræftelsen på, at indvandring, især fra muslimske lande, uundgåeligt medfører konflikt og samfundets sammenbrud (visse er endda gået så langt at sammenligne optøjerne med en intifada).

Ikke overraskende er det i (klassisk) liberale medier såsom Wall Street Journal og the Economist, at de mere nøgterne og velargumenterede forsøg på forklaringer findes. Forklaringer som især venstrefløjens men også de kulturkonservative givetvis vil have svært ved at gendrive.

I Wall Street Journals leder af i fredags kaldet ”How to create a Muslim underclass” hedder det bl.a.:

The first thing that needs illuminating is that, while the overwhelming majority
of rioters are Muslim, it is premature at best to describe the rioting as an
"intifada" or some other term denoting religiously or culturally inspired
violence. And it is flat-out wrong to claim that the rioting is a consequence of
liberal immigration policies.
Consider the contrast with the U.S. Between
1978 and 2002, the percentage of foreign-born Americans nearly doubled, to 12%
from 6.2%. At the same time, the five-year average unemployment rate declined to
5.1% from 7.3%. Among immigrants, median family incomes rose by roughly $10,000
for every 10 years they remained in the country.
These statistics hold
across immigrant groups, including ones that U.S. nativist groups claim are
"unassimilable." Take Muslims, some two million of whom live in America.
According to a 2004 survey by Zogby International, two-thirds are immigrants,
59% have a college education and the overwhelming majority are middle-class,
with one in three having annual incomes of more than $75,000. Their
intermarriage rate is 21%, nearly identical to that of other religious groups.
It's true that France's Muslim population--some five million out of a total
of 60 million--is much larger than America's. They also generally arrived in
France much poorer. But the significant difference between U.S. and French
Muslims is that the former inhabit a country of economic opportunity and social
mobility, which generally has led to their successful assimilation into the
mainstream of American life. This has been the case despite the best efforts of
multiculturalists on the right and left to extol fixed racial, ethnic and
religious identities at the expense of the traditionally adaptive, supple
American one.
In France, the opposite applies. Mass Muslim migration to
France began in the 1960s, a period of very low unemployment and industrial
labor shortages. Today, French unemployment is close to 10%, or double the U.S.
rate. Unlike in the U.S., French culture eschews multiculturalism and puts a
heavy premium on the concept of "Frenchness." Yet that hasn't provided much
cushion for increasingly impoverished and thus estranged Muslim communities,
which tend to be segregated into isolated and generally unpoliced suburban
cities called banlieues. There, youth unemployment runs to 40%, and crime, drug
addiction and hooliganism are endemic.
This is not to say that Muslim
cultural practices are irrelevant. For Muslim women especially, the misery of
the banlieues is compounded by a culture of female submission, often violently
enforced. Nor should anyone rule out the possibility that Islamic radicals will
exploit the mayhem for their own ends. But whatever else might be said about the
Muslim attributes of the French rioters, the fact is that the pathologies of the
banlieues are similar to those of inner cities everywhere. What France suffers
from, fundamentally, is neither a "Muslim problem" nor an "immigration problem."
It is an underclass problem.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin
almost put his finger on the problem when he promised to introduce legislation
to ease the economic plight of the banlieues. But aside from the useful
suggestion of "enterprise zones," most of the legislation smacked of
big-government solutions: community centers, training programs and so on.
The larger problem for the prime minister is that France's underclass is a
consequence of the structure of the French economy, in which the state accounts
for nearly half of gross domestic product and roughly a quarter of employment.
French workers, both in the public and private sectors, enjoy GM-like benefits
in pensions, early retirement, working hours and vacations, sick- and maternity
leave, and job security--all of which is militantly enforced by strike-happy
labor unions. The predictable result is that there is little job turnover and
little net new job creation. Leave aside the debilitating effects of
unemployment insurance and welfare on the underclass: Who would employ them if
they actually sought work?

Og løsningen:

For France, the good news is that these problems can be solved, principally be
deregulating labor markets, reducing taxes, reforming the pension system and
breaking the stranglehold of unions on economic life. The bad news is the
entrenched cultural resistance to those solutions--not on the part of angry
Muslim youth, but from the employed half of French society that refuses to
relinquish their subsidized existences for the sake of the "solidarity" they
profess to hold dear. So far, most attempts at reform have failed, mainly due to
a combination of union militancy and political timidity.

The Economist skriver:

A much greater contributor than Islam to the
malaise in the suburbs is the lack of jobs. Mr Chirac promised in 1995 that
unemployment would be his top priority, an assertion repeated ten years on by
his new prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, when he took office last May. It
is here, not in esoteric disputes over different models of assimilation,
integration or multiculturalism, that the biggest differences between France and
countries such as America and Britain are to be found (see article).
Over the past decade the British and American economies have generated
impressive growth and plenty of new jobs; the French economy has failed on both
Why? The main answer is that the French labour market is throttled by
restrictions such as the 35-hour week, a high minimum wage, and tough hiring and
firing rules. Yet even after a decade in office, the supposedly centre-right Mr
Chirac has made little effort to relax these restrictions. The few measures that
his government has cautiously put in place to open up the labour market have
served mainly to entrench a two-tier system, in which insiders continue to
benefit from job and wage protections that are denied to outsiders. Rather than
tackle the fundamental causes of France's high unemployment, Mr Chirac has
recently taken to railing against the evils of Anglo-Saxon market economics and
liberalism (which he has termed the new communism).
It is, of course, the
outsiders, especially the young, unskilled and ill-educated who come
disproportionately from ethnic minorities, who pay the price—and it is these
people who have led the riots. Not only do they feel economically and socially
ostracised; they also see a political elite that appears aloof and detached from
the troubles of their daily life. No wonder so many are affronted by the
language of Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister, who dubbed the rioters
“scum” and has promised to expel any foreigners among them.

Disse faktorer fratager naturligvis ikke de enkelte deltager i optøjerne for deres personlige ansvar for deres kriminelle handlinger, som efter min mening bør straffes i videst muligt omfang. Men de data som artiklerne, især WSJ’s, henviser til demonstrerer, at indvandring af lavtuddannet arbejdskraft selv fra ”kulturfremmede” lande kan skabe dynamik og medføre velstand ikke bare for indvandrerne selv men også for modtagerlandet. Hvor det således, bør være udenfor diskussion, at en velfærdsstat og masseindvandring er uforlignelige størrelser (hvorfor jeg anser det som sandsynligt at scenerne fra Paris vil udspille sig i Danmark), kan det samtidig konstateres, at de kulturkonservative ikke har ret i, at ”multikulturalisme” og (betydelig) indvandring automatisk medfører samfundets undergang. Undergangen risikerer kun at indtræde såfremt samfundet er ”socialt” eller ”solidarisk” indrettet såsom i Frankrig og i nogen ringere grad Danmark. Sådanne konklusioner er nok værd at medtage i fremtidige diskussioner om indvandring her i landet hvor debatten primært synes at stå mellem venstrefløjen som prædiker ”åbne grænser og åbne kasser” og de kulturkonservative der bare prædiker lukkede grænser.