Stuck in Time

I think I witnessed the French fry themselves on Monday.

I was in Paris for a business conference. The topic of discussion was France's Jacques Chirac bowing to protester demands and dropping a law that would have made it easier to fire young people.

This is a huge deal in France. Protests everywhere — the Eiffel Tower itself was shut down some days because of them.

And all because someone had the nutty idea to introduce competition to France, a country with chronic unemployment north of 10 percent, double our own. And an unemployment for young people nearly four times that!

The problem?

Well, there's not much of one if you're lucky to have a job in France. Generally, you have it for life. It's like instant tenure.

But it's a big reason why businesses are anxious about hiring people. They're afraid they might be stuck with latte-sipping losers who once in the job, do little on the job.

Even the government wanted to encourage some good, old-fashioned capitalistic competition into the country to encourage more hiring.

But, then came the marches and the riots and the rock throwing and scene after scene.

And then came the government's total capitulation: competition out, socialism back in.

And a beautiful city in a beautiful country left to ponder this not so beautiful reality: The world is passing this idyllic place by.

And no one seems to care, sipping their lattes and staring blankly into the blank space that has become a beautiful, but blank country.

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