Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More On Vanishing Socialists

Here are some varied opinions about what became of the new Socialists who joined the party via Internet for a 20-euro subscription fee. For background, see this earlier post. From Lille we have three basic theories: 1. the attachment of militant to party is looser than in the past, and people come and go; 2. new members quit in disgust after the elections, when party leaders fell to bickering; 3. new subscribers were interested only in choosing the candidate and didn't even participate actively in the campaign. One person suggests that there has been a second wave of subscriptions, of people frightened by Sarkozy. Unfortunately they don't seem to show up in party membership statistics, so the wish may be father to the thought.

Le Monde to Curtail Its Book Section

According to nonfiction.fr, Le Monde plans to reduce its book section Le Mondes des livres from 12 to 8 pages as of December 1.

Hortefeux Law

The Hortefeux Law on immigration has been adopted. The controversial provision for DNA testing is to remain experimental until 2009. Testing is to be done only at the request of the visa applicant, paid for by the French government, and limited to countries where birth records are deficient (a list of which is to be established by decree). Only kinship with the mother will be tested, to preclude surprises as to paternity. A court in Nantes is to approve all requests for tests and to designate authorized testing agencies.

One might still object to such testing for a variety of reasons but not, I think, on the grounds specified in a New York Times editorial last Sunday, which bore the rather overheated title "Pseudoscientific Bigotry in France." The Times admonished the French that "they should also be aware of the cautionary lessons of modern French history. Under the Nazi occupiers and their Vichy collaborators, pseudoscientific notions of pure descent were introduced into French law with tragic consequences." I am unable to see how the Hortefeux Law relates to the Nürnberg Laws. The Times must have been misled as to the content of the law to have written such an editorial.

Travailler plus?

As everyone knows, France has a problem when it comes to employing the young and the old. Unemployment among the young is high; workforce participation among the old (over 55) is low, among the lowest of the OECD countries. The Villepin government attempted to respond to the first problem with the Contrat Première Embauche, or CPE, and we know what happened to that: it went down in flames when the young rose up in large numbers against it. In a less well-known move, the Villepin government tried to respond to the second problem with a special senior limited-duration contract, or CDD spécial senior, dubbed the "Contrat Dernière Embauche" by some wag at the CGT. This did not bring the gray heads into the street, but it did not bring them into the workforce either: only about 20 CDDSS were signed. Another astonishing statistic: only three percent of managers hired in the last year were over 45 years old. Age discrimination in France seems to be openly practiced, even avowed: at the MEDEF, "no one is working on senior employment." An official at the CGPME representing smaller firms says flatly that seniors must "make an effort to justify their salaries by bringing their skills up to date."