Wednesday, November 25, 2009

He Was For the Grand Emprunt Before He Was Against It

Michel Rocard seems to be of two minds about le grand emprunt that he and Juppé cooked up together.

Montebourg Attacks the Reform of La Taxe Pro

This is an effective use of video and Internet to critique the proposed reform of la taxe professionnelle. Perhaps the Socialists will follow Montebourg's lead and make better use of the new media (h/t Christophe Barbier).

Mitterrand Will Meet Google

Culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand is attempting to coordinate a common European approach to Google and its plan to digitize all the world's libraries. He'll take the European view into the belly of the beast when he visits Google HQ in California next year.

By the way, Blogger, the software, and Blogspot, the Web host, which bring you this blog are Google services. The Google empire is vast and far-flung and, though it seems benign and brings us many products which I personally would find it hard to live without (Google search and Gmail and Blogger have become essential parts of my daily routine), Mitterrand is right to be wary, as Robert Darnton, the head of Harvard's libraries, has pointed out. Contracts are contracts, and the language in Google's contracts is not quite as free-spirited as the image of Google's youthful founders might suggest. In any case, I'm glad to see that Mitterrand appears to be taking a pragmatic approach rather than simply invoking national pride and a certain protectionist instinct. Google's immense resources can be of great public benefit, but corporations outlive us all, and it is essential to protect the interests of future generations from the exclusivist instincts of Google (or its attorneys).

Hegel said that "the daily newspaper is modern man's morning prayer." Jean Baudrillard might say, rather, that Google services are post-modern man's simulacrum of sacred ritual. And it's always a good idea to be wary of what we sacrifice to what we take to be sacred and therefore untouchable.

The Van Rompuy Nomination

Might his position on Turkey have won Mr. Van Rompuy his new job?

“Turkey is not a part of Europe and will never be part of Europe,” Mr Van Rompuy said during a meeting held at the Belgian parliament in December 2004.

“An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion, as in the past. The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey.”

Mr Van Rompuy’s speech puts him squarely on the side of Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, and Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, both of whom are willing to offer Turkey a “privileged partnership” but want to keep the country out of the EU.