Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Paying the Professors

How much do professors earn? France appears to be in the middle of  the pack.

Debates

France2 will host two debates with five candidates each sometime next week.

Hollande's Program

Not likely to get anyone's heart pumping:
En plus de mesures symboliques prises "dès le premier conseil des ministres", comme la réduction de 30 % de la rémunération du chef de l'Etat et des membres du gouvernement, des décrets seront pris "pour le pouvoir d'achat" - blocage des prix des carburants pour trois mois, augmentation de l'allocation de rentrée scolaire de 25 % -, ainsi que "pour réduire les injustices" : retraite à 60 ans pour ceux qui ont commencé à travailler à 18 ans et cotisé 41 annuités, fixation d'un écart de 1 à 20 pour les rémunérations dans le public.
C'est lors de la session extraordinaire du Parlement, du 3 juillet au 2 août, que seront votées les premières lois : réforme fiscale, avec la suppression des niches, retour au barème précédent de l'impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF), taxation à 75 % des plus hauts revenus ou suppression de la "TVA Sarkozy". Sont aussi prévues une loi sur "l'assainissement des activités bancaires", séparant les activités de dépôt des activités spéculatives, une "conférence pour la croissance et l'emploi" et un "débat sur la transition énergétique".

Anti-Globalization Is No Longer Anti-Americanization

Sophie Meunier surveys changing French attitudes toward globalization in an article for Foreign Affairs. She points out that attacks on globalization are back in vogue in France but that their tenor has changed.  Globalization is no longer equated with Americanization. Fear of China has replaced fear of the United States. The French tend to overlook the benefits of globalization, which is "hardly surprising; [since] the benefits of globalization can be diffuse and invisible, while its costs are tangible and concentrated." Her argument continues:
Yet even if the French have less reason than before to take a strong stance against globalization, the issue still dominates the current electoral season. First, the French continue to focus almost exclusively on the negative consequences of globalization, not on the opportunities it has offered or will offer. Polls have repeatedlyshown that they regard France as the least well positioned country in the global economy. Partisan affiliation does not seem to matter: 71 percent of Socialist Party sympathizers and 75 percent of Sarkozy supporters favor protectionism.
And both major candidates are faux culs on the issue:
As a result, the electoral contest cannot play out in the global economic policy sphere. There is no fundamental difference between the international economic visions of Sarkozy and François Hollande, who was the first secretary of the Socialist Party and is Sarkozy's main competitor, even if there is space between them on domestic matters such as fiscal policy. Both understand that globalization is essential to France's economic growth. Of course, neither can really say so aloud. They will both continue to defend free trade and investment staunchly but by stealth, hiding their actions behind rhetoric to appease the pessimistic public. Instead of globalization policy, which will still be at the forefront of public conversation, the presidential election will hinge on questions of style and personality, of European governance and austerity, of Sarkozy's balance sheet on immigration and integration. Sarkozy chose the slogan "A Strong France" for his reelection campaign. Through his activist foreign policy and a constant presence on the European scene during his first term, he has tried to conjure the image that his country still has a loud voice in the world. That will be a tough act for him to reconcile with conventional narrative that his country has been victimized by globalization.

PS-Front de Gauche Differences

To listen to M. Mélenchon on the stump, you'd think he was the reincarnation of l'Ami du peuple, Jean-Paul Marat. "We are a revolutionary party," he says. But when you compare his program to Hollande's, you find not a call to carry heads about on pikes but rather a demand that the "golden rule" treaty be submitted to a referendum vote. The rhetorical surenchère has paid big dividends, however.

It's also worth noting that another of Mélenchon's major planks, a promise to increase the SMIC from 1398 to 1700 euros on day one of his presidency, is quite similar to Ségolène Royal's promise regarding the SMIC in 2007. At the time, Royal was dismissed as daft by the center and as a partisan of the "Blairist third way" by the extreme left. Yet Mélenchon can recycle the same proposal and come off as both a "revolutionary" and a "tribune of the people."

There's nothing fair about political judgments.