Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sheep and Wolves

The wolf is back in France, and shepherds are not happy about it, Scott Sayare writes:
“If you ask me, when they talk about ‘environmentalism’ today, it’s meant for city people,” Mr. Bruno said. “You go talk about the bear, the wolf, about nature that’s a bit wild, and you send them all off dreaming.
“Come ask us, the shepherds, about putting sharks in the Mediterranean,” he added wryly. “You’ll get 99 percent in favor. I don’t go swimming, I don’t give a damn!” France’s wolf population is hardly Europe’s largest, at about 250, but it is likely to be the most contentious. There is little uninhabited wilderness to speak of here, and many of the country’s most rugged expanses — habitats suited to the wolf — are occupied by farmers and their animals.
“We’re not in a big country,” said Serge Préveraud, the president of the National Ovine Federation. France’s six million sheep, Mr. Préveraud said, cannot reasonably be expected to “cohabitate” with wolves.

French Fiscal Outlook Improves

France will have a primary budget surplus this year. The government has achieved this goal by raising taxes rather than cutting spending. EU Commissioner Olli Rehn thinks it should have been the other way around. Simon Wren-Lewis and Paul Krugman argue that Rehn is revealing the true aim of EU-enforced austerity: to pare back the welfare state. Both would prefer a counter-cyclical rather than pro-cyclical fiscal policy, but given that France has agreed to the latter, they think that a government elected to raise taxes rather than cut benefits should be permitted to do so without interference from the EU.