The other day French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced 40 measures intended to lure back some of the French high—fliers who have left their country for better opportunities abroad. You are reading correctly — the number is forty. One can easily surmise none is particularly substantial; otherwise the prime minister would not have to offer so many. This looks like a classic case of a big government bureaucrat proposing a collection of inefficacious measures that will not only fail to have the intended effect, but will create more bureaucracy and add to the problems from which France suffers so badly already.
There are, however, two obvious measures that would almost certainly do the trick. The first would be to do away with the punitive tax code and replace it with a flat tax of, let's say, 17%. The second would be to rescind the law that mandates the 36—hour workweek. These two alone would almost certainly give an healthy boost to the flagging French economy and attract not only some of the French people currently residing in foreign lands, but almost certainly some foreign talent as well.
But this will probably never occur to Mr. de Villepin and his friends on the left. We should not be surprised, since the outlook they espouse has a singular power of blinding its adherents to the obvious while fostering a propensity for the ineffective and failing instead.
Vasko Kohlmayer 5 31 06