Sunday, September 18, 2005

Les Trente

In his book, La guerre des deux France, Jacques Marseille attacks the corrosive pessimism of Left Bank intellectuals (such as [Olivier] Duhamel), who hold that the Trente Glorieuses (or the 30 years of economic boom in postwar France) have been followed by Trente Piteuses (or 30 years of economic stagnation following the 1973 oil shock). Bolstering his argument with a mass of statistics, Marseille argues that the past 30 years have seen staggering advances in the welfare of French citizens. Life expectancy has risen by nine years, social inequalities have been drastically reduced, the proportion of the population living in poverty has halved and the productivity of the French workforce has soared.

"In 30 years, during a period that we lazily describe as a crisis, GDP per head has almost doubled, national wealth has trebled, the infant mortality rate has been divided by four, the length of the working week has been cut from 44 to 35 hours and the number of students completing the baccalaureat at the age of 18 has trebled," he writes.
'French disconnections' by John Thornhill  (subscribers only  -- link) I heard a debate on France Inter on Thursday evening about the budget deficit and economic stagnation in France (as in Germany). One of the points made was that French sociey has decided to provide nursery schools, or écoles maternelles, and to take away this acquis would upset many French people, especially women. Even Blair / New Labour set out to improve state provision of nursery education, though no doubt it is still not as widely available as in France. Another point was the enormous amount of money the British have to spend on fees for public (meaning private) schools. You would think there was no state-funded education in Britain, though doubtless again it is not as well funded as in France.
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They occupy no desk space in the building. They have no computer account. They demand no benefits and run up no expenses. They have no job security. Average rates of pay range from £150 to £400 for [800 words] that, with reading and research, can take up to 12 hours' work and a lifetime's accumulated specialist knowledge.
Who is this downtrodden class of workers? Why, book reviewers, of course! ( 'In critical condition', John Sutherland, FT Magazine, 10 Sept) There is a subscribers only link here and a mention in a couple of literary sites: Grumpy Old Bookman and the Literary Saloon at the complete review. On thesubject of literary sites, this one has been mentioned on DSTfW, Norm etc.

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