Let's pretend -- for just a few minutes -- that we still care about France. The Gauls seem determined to bring about their own economic and social destruction, and they're moving heaven, earth, and the rest of Europe to assure it. There are ways they could avoid what's coming. If we can see the solutions to their problems, why shouldn't we tell the French?
Okay, okay, there's a thousand reasons why we should buy popcorn and sit back and watch them sink. But here's another idea, one that will give us vastly greater pleasure, and is guaranteed to toss an anvil to the drowning cheese-eaters. There are few certainties in this world, but one is that your average Frenchman would rather kill himself than be caught following American advice. I say let's give them the very best help we can, confident in the knowledge they'd damn themselves to a wine-free hell before they'll do what we say. Here -- with malice aforethought -- are the Top Ten Loose Canon All-American Ideas to Save France.
1. Get off your butts and get back to work. A 35-hour work week mandated by law? Laws that say if someone in your company works 36 hours, another has to work 34? No wonder the Poles, the Czechs, and the rest of New Europe are already eating your lunch in the world market. And don't even dream of catching us. Most people I know are working many more hours than that and even thinking about how to do their jobs better in part of their off time. It adds up to that elusive quality called "productivity." You can look it up.
2. Your "workforce" -- such as it is -- is largely made up of government bureaucrats and subsidized farm workers. There are all too few real workers who are producing something of value. There's no excuse for not cutting government other than cowardice in leadership. (We suffer that, too. That we admit it and you don't hurts even more, no?) As Heritage Foundation expert Dr. John Hulsman once told me, the agricultural subsidy is "really a sop from Germany to pay French farmers to sit around, play boule, and do nothing." Phase it out before the Germans and the rest of the EU cut you off suddenly.
3. Help your Muslim immigrants assimilate. France's population is now about 8 or 9 percent Muslim, and you guys are keeping them down, repressing them by refusing entry into French society to anyone who isn't immersed in French values and societal norms. Aid assimilation, or you'll soon wake up and France will no longer be French. For the rest of the world -- surprisingly -- that won't entirely be good news.
4. Why isn't there a French equivalent of Bob Morgenthau? You have to make a big dent in the corruption that is rampant in government and industry. The fact that you know corruption is a commonplace and don't even try to clean it out compels the conclusion that you think you can't succeed without cheating, which is truly pitiful. Trust us: we do better -- and we feel better about it -- when we put corrupt people in jail.
5. You have to do a better job of choosing leaders. In your last big election, you had to choose -- as your own newspapers described -- between Le Pen, a right-wing nut job, and Chirac, a crook. You chose the crook. Your leaders mostly come from the same place: the National School of Public Administration. There's no free market in ideas there; it's only producing Chirac clones. Close the place, and choose your leaders from those more capable of common sense and action.
6. Free your press. Your media are so uniform they could be mistaken for the old Soviet press. They're anti-American, anti-Israel, and pro-Chirac, without any significant opposition. This uniformity is unknown in free nations. Why are there no dissenting voices? Don't French people understand that it's dissent that enables voters to make informed choices?
7. Modernize your defense establishment on the basis of capability, not how svelte things look on TV. France is one of the few EU nations that spends significantly on its own defense. But you spend -- largely -- on the wrong things. Why spend 14 years and untold billions building a single aircraft carrier? For show, that's why. You're not a world power, but you can be a major regional power if you were smart about defense spending. Your forces aren't equipped or trained to fight modern network-centric warfare as ours are. Either stop spending for ego's sake and get into the game, or start making white flags (again).
8. Stop paying protection money to terrorists. Your banks are the largest lenders to nations such as Syria and Iran. You sell arms to these nations, and even push special EU trade deals with them and their ilk. You are significantly assisting the nations with which we (and you, if you'd be honest about it) are at war.
9. Identify and prosecute the government officials who gave American intelligence information to Milosevic and then to Saddam. Either shoot them or jail them forever. Prove to the world that there are limits to anti-Americanism, even in France.
10. Finally, quit whining about American reactions to French animosity. Many of us are boycotting your goods, and more and more will as people discover just how severe your dislike for us really is. If you don't like us, fine. But don't tell us we aren't entitled to react to your hate.
There is some wisdom in these suggestions. Will the French reject our advice out of sheer hubris? Will Dominique de Villepin start wearing straw cowboy hats?
(And it doesn't end here, dear reader. From now on, at least until we grow tired of it, I will publish your other great ideas to help the French from time to time. Please send them in.)
TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the author of Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).
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