Monday, October 1, 2007

Heures Sup-Jour J

Today is the day that overtime--heures supplémentaires--ceases to be taxed in France. It remains to be seen whether or not this costly experiment will succeed. Will firms offer more overtime hours to workers? Will workers agree to take them? Everyone will be watching.

That said, I find that Lionel Jospin's scattershot critique hits many targets he shouldn't be aiming at. Social VAT, increased social contributions, medical copays, higher wages--Jospin might well have things to say on all these matters, but he just confuses the issue of overtime taxation by failing to explain how one thing relates to another. In part this is a problem of format: in a brief radio interview, he lacks the time that the president has in more extended appearances to explain his thinking. But Jospin and other Socialists do not lack for other forums where they might explain themselves more fully. Yet they don't. What the Socialists need is a coherent alternative economic plan. Instead of repeating ad nauseam that they are now "reconciled to the market economy," they ought to prove it. (In fairness, François Hollande sticks more to the point.)

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