Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And if we could hit a curveball we'd be Albert Pujols

Or had a few billion dollars, Bill Gates.

But, France already is Alfred E. Neuman. What, we worry?:

...French decline is not inevitable, any more than British decline was inevitable in the 1970s. There is nothing that necessarily predisposes the French to conservatism or resistance to change. Just because political leaders in the past have failed to push through bold reforms—Mr Chirac himself, in 1986-88; Alain Juppé, a former prime minister, in 1995—does not mean that the country is unreformable. The unruly French do not make the task easy, but winning them over is a question of political leadership—the courage to level with voters and tell them why things need to change.

.... Some of those who defend the status quo argue that France is a civilised country that has simply chosen different priorities. Like a misunderstood teenager, it wants to do things its own way. It still believes in solidarity and social cohesion, in small farmers and local markets. It does not want to abandon its poor to the streets and its shopkeepers to Wal-Mart.

....Politicians will have to explain that tightening welfare rules need not rip a hole in the safety-net; that subjecting hypermarkets to more competition need not drive the boulanger or patissier from the high street; that removing pharmacists' monopoly on non-prescription drugs need not deprive every village of its green cross. They will also have to persuade voters that the prize is worth having.

....The two presidential front-runners—Ségolène Royal on the left and Nicolas Sarkozy, currently the interior minister, on the right—are both in their early 50s, and both claim to offer a break with the past. But is this new generation as reform-minded as it sounds? And how can it build a consensus for change in a country that seems so resistant to being nudged out of its comfort zone?

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