Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Message: "We Care" (but we need a translation)

"Care" seems to be the new watchword of the Socialist Party. Unfortunately they're going to need a good French translation. Sollicitude doesn't quite have the cachet of that English "care." Souci: too much worry in that. Solidarité: trop ringard. But "care": very chic and modern and Anglo-Saxon without being neoliberal. As in: I could care less.

Of course there is already a theoretical treatment:

Le terme de « care » s’avère particulièrement difficile à traduire en français car il désigne à la fois ce qui relève de la sollicitude et du soin ; il comprend à la fois l’attention préoccupée à autrui qui suppose une disposition, une attitude ou un sentiment et les pratiques de soin qui font du care une affaire d’activité et de travail.

Draft of New PS Program

A draft of the new PS program prepared by a committee headed by Pierre Moscovici can be consulted here. It proposes a limit on executive "salary" of 20 times the minimum wage, which would work out to 322,000 euros per year. This proposal is called "demagogic" here. And examined more fully here. It's also a bit vague, since it is not specified whether salaire includes stock options, deferred compensation, and other perquisites of life at the top. It's also not clear whether it's a good idea. As much as one may think that executives are overcompensated--and I do--there are risks in fighting the market in this way. Can such judgments be made across the economy as a whole? Might it not be better to impose regulations on corporate boards and compensation committees, say, by requiring that these groups include representatives of the public and publish justifications of their compensation decisions?

Le Premier Flic de France

Sarkozy is promising to get tough on crime--again.

Regulatory Arbitrage

It isn't just for banks:

Like many celebrities, football stars frequently visit prostitutes in Paris because French privacy laws prevent the publications of kiss-and-tell stories.

The Cloud

The Cloud hanging over Europe has become yet another blot on the European Union. Excess of precaution, lack of coordination, tendency to panic in an emergency--all these charges and more are being leveled at the EU. This is all a bit unfair. The emergency was unprecedented, and countries with coordinated leadership haven't exactly distinguished themselves in responses to large-scale emergencies--look at the US in Katrina.

Still, the spectacle of tens of thousands of people sleeping for days in airports, stranded far from home with dwindling cash, and left to fend for themselves suggests that not just the EU but the entire world needs to come up with a plan about what to do in case of a massive disruption of air travel--for which there could be many causes other than volcanoes. We are used to jetting around the globe nowadays, but between the indifference of the airlines and the indifference of governments to the plight of stranded passengers, it is clear that some contingency plan is needed. Anybody whose been stuck in an airport in a large storm can attest to the chaos, and the Icelandic volcano with the impossible name has given us the largest storm yet, and the greatest chaos.

And on a personal note, I hope they get this fixed before May 2, when I am supposed to fly to France.


Will wonders never cease? The Times today devotes two opinion pieces to France, by Vinocur and Cohen. True, neither is worth getting excited about, and neither is really about France--they're about Sarkozy. But two on one day ... And why today? Maybe it's the Cloud. You can't fly to France anymore, so people are getting interested again, just like in the steamship era.