Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Annals of Derp: Unemployment in the Le Pen philosophy

Photo by AFP/Getty Images via Daily Mail.

NPR Tuesday morning, interviewing a member of the Le Pen campaign, Mikaël Sala:
GREENE: Let me just step back and look at Europe and the world right now. There was a lot of talk that there was this populist surge across Europe and in the U.S. But, you know, recently Austria rejected a populist candidate for chancellor. Geert Wilders in the Netherlands did not do as well as expected. Angela Merkel seems safer now in Germany than a lot of people thought politically. I mean, is there really still a populist surge that you're seeing?
SALA: Sure. I'm going to tell you why it is really powerful in France. In France, we have two problems. We have a problem with mass immigration that we cannot afford anymore, and we have a problem with our economy which is unable to grow. And it so happens that in the Netherlands and in Austria, they have one of those two problems. They're facing mass immigration, but their economies are still going about all right. So it's not that we're not compassionate, it's that we can't afford, you know, welcoming any more people because we are on the brink of bankruptcy.
Doesn't that suggest anything to you? Like maybe if the Dutch and Austrian economies are growing in the teeth of all those immigrants—to say nothing of immigrant-friendly Germany and Sweden and Belgium—maybe immigrants aren't the problem?

Via European Migration Network.

Even Greene, who is not exactly the king of the follow-up question, is moved to wonder about the logic of this:
GREENE: Can you draw the connection for me between the immigration the economy? Because there are some in this debate who would say that immigration actually supports an economy, that you have people coming from other countries who are not taking jobs from French, for example, and that actually immigration supports an economy. Why do you disagree with that?
SALA: OK. Why do I disagree with that? Look at the figures for unemployment among immigrants. You realize that an important proportion of the immigrant population is not working. And why is that? Because there are no jobs left. In every French family, you have one or two people who are unemployed, who can't find jobs, who get fired at, you know, 50 who will never get a job again. This is not fair.
Immigrants have stolen so many French jobs that even they can't find any! QED!

I'm not going to try to convince anybody an Emmanuel Macron presidency is going to end severe unemployment in France, because it doesn't sound all that likely from his policy proposals as I understand them, which are a no-labelsy mix of neoliberal tax "reform" to "encourage investment" and reduce the government's deficit—I think they ought to go back to the kind of generous educational spending and central planning that marked the "Trente Glorieuses", the 30 Glorious Years under governments left and right from 1945 to 1975 and continued in spite of the oil shocks into the 80s. Thomas Piketty notes that the French economy is already as productive as those of Germany or the US, with far less economic inequality than the latter, and suggests not only that the country is in pretty good shape but that the main thing needed to decrease unemployment is a bigger investment in education, which is an item on Macron's list but not evidently very high in priority—but Piketty also insists on a more progressive taxation system, which is quite different from Macron:

A lot will depend on the outcome of the legislative elections which will be held in June, after the presidential. Neither Macron nor Le Pen has any heft in the current parliament (her party has two deputies out of 577, and his was just invented), but that will obviously change, maybe in radical ways. It seems very likely that the end result will be a president Macron in "cohabitation" with some coalition, right or left, that doesn't owe him anything. Nobody can say who that will consist of, but if the socialists, Greens, and Mélenchon's France Insoumise can work together, and the traditional right and Le Pen's nationalists can't, there is a good possibility of a majority of the left which can press Macron into a program not so different from Piketty's, although to be honest socialist governments under Hollande have done little in that direction for five years.

In any event, little as is to be expected of Macron himself, I hope it's clear to French people that they really need to vote for him as a preliminary to electing a non-fascist government-forming parliament a few weeks from now. The nightmare scenario, in which the traditional right can form a majority in  collaboration with FN and gives in to the temptation, is imaginable only if Le Pen wins on Sunday.

So it's popular front time now, people, in which the defeat of fascism is more important than how left you feel you are. Take a tip from what just happened to your Oldest Ally over here and don't let Stupid win.

BTW, Sala, a noted pop drummer in the 1990s and now a political operative, is the grandson of Algerian migrants (not Arab but pieds noirs of Spanish ancestry), and the son of an entrepreneur who made a fortune importing toys from China. I guess the horrors of globalization must be especially vivid to him.

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