French voters guillotined the reelection hopes of center-right President Nicolas Sarkozy in favor of Socialist François Hollande, putting France on a faster road to national collapse.
The welfare states of Western Europe have practiced milder forms of the statist economics and spiritual collectivism that were found in the former Soviet bloc. They have thus been experiencing a slow-motion version—now accelerating—of the collapse that occurred two decades ago in the East.
For decades the French government has heaped regulations and penalties on wealth creation and entrepreneurship. In the late 1990s, for example, with unemployment chronically at over 10 percent, that government decided to cut the work week to 35 hours, though workers would still get the same pay. Anyone working more than that would actually be punished. In " France Labors at Folly ," I examined the très tragique results of this comédie français.
Sarkozy was defeated because of unpopular government austerity measures made necessary by irresponsible government spending and economic regulation. The new president no doubt will try to raise revenue with Obama-on-steroids confiscatory taxes on "the rich." And those targeted productive individuals no doubt will take their wealth offshore or simply not produce as much. Atlas will shrug and the French death spiral will continue.
In a collectivist culture, individuals assume that they are not responsible for their own lives and wellbeing, but that their neighbors are and have a duty to serve them. If everyone thinks that way, then nobody is responsible. The sickening results of such a culture were seen in 2003 when some 15,000 elder French citizens died in a heat wave in part because their adult children just assumed that the government would take care of mom and dad. Read about that horrific story in my piece " France’s Killer Collectivism ."
The same culture that killed those elderly is killing the French economy. How much misery and death will result only the outcome of the moral battle between producers and expropriators will tell.
Edward Hudgins is research director at the Heartland Institute and former director of advocacy and senior scholar at The Atlas Society.