K. William Watson
Right now, the French government is making a huge stink over whether its existing program of film quotas and subsidies could be threatened by a potential trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. French officials have threatened to obstruct any efforts to negotiate a deal unless they get assurance that their pet program is off the table.
Is this an early sign that the trade negotiations are bound to fail? Not quite.
In a piece titled “Pretentious Movies May Doom U.S.-EU Trade Pact,” Evan Soltas offers this unpleasant scenario:
An exclusion of French films would set a precedent. Other nations would like to protect their own entertainment industries. The demand could set off an escalating “tit-for-tat” game with the U.S. and other European nations–eventually leaving large segments of their economies immune from freer trade.
Over at Slate, Matt Yglesias urges people to “calm down” and assures us that France’s obstinacy is political posturing. No one really minds if France gets to keep its subsidies, so the film exception will be accepted and everything will continue apace.
In a way, Soltas and Yglesias are both correct. France’s demand for an exception will not scuttle the negotiations because demanding exceptions is what trade negotiations are all about. An agreement to end all tariffs, quotas, and subsidies is easy to draft. The job of trade negotiators is to reach agreement while managing the very real and harmful “tit-for-tat” game that Soltas worries about.
Trade liberalization is politically difficult. Almost every trade barrier currently in place has a domestic special interest that will fight tooth and nail to keep it in place. Achieving freer trade through international agreements is one way to overcome that opposition; offering access to foreign markets garners support that offsets the opposition.
But some domestic industries just have too much political clout to overcome without a concession. Free trade agreements are full of exceptions, caveats, and contingencies, and each one represents an effort to appease special interests that would otherwise threaten to scuttle the deal. For example, thanks to the ever-shrinking U.S. textile and apparel industries, our trade agreements have historically contained ridiculously byzantine rules of origin and confusing quota systems for textiles. Each inefficient, uncompetitive industry will yelp until it gets a satisfactory bone tossed its way. These exceptions don’t kill the deal; they just make the deal less good.
Liberalizing the French cinema market is not so important that a U.S.-EU free trade agreement cannot continue without it. The main loser in exempting France’s protectionist film policies from the agreement is the French people, who are denied the full benefits of a competitive marketplace. Exceptions should be counted as losses in the battle to liberalize global commerce, but the immediate goal is to minimize the number and impact of these exceptions while still arriving at a final deal.
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Europe is slowly disarming. That really isn’t America’s business, but for the traditional expectation that America would fill the gap. That is ever less likely, however, as budget pressures slow U.S. military expenditures. Now the French are appear to be ready to do more in response.
European expenditures will continue on a downward path because Europe no longer faces any serious, let alone existential, threats. European Union leaders might talk about creating a continental foreign policy and military, but European peoples exhibit little interest in paying the resulting bill, especially with the continent in economic crisis.
This is a prescription for eventual European disarmament, but as I recently pointed out in National Interest online, hope is flickering in France. I explained:
France’s financial difficulties created pressure for additional cuts in military outlays. The Hollande government recently released its defense review, known as the Livre Blanc, or White Book. Although the government reduced its rapid deployment forces, it “opted to keep France’s air, ground and sea capabilities, while freezing defense budgets over six years,” noted the Economist. Outlays will shrink in real terms and as a percentage of GDP, but “Dark talk of the loss of 50,000 jobs proved unfounded. The planned yearly cuts will be smaller than under the previous president, Nicolas Sarkozy. France will maintain its capability for expeditionary warfare, and boost special forces.”
One reason Paris isn’t cutting as much as expected is Gallic pride. But the French White Book also noted that Americans will “prove more selective in their overseas engagements.” Thus, France must do more to maintain a global presence.
It’s a small step, but offers an important lesson for U.S. policymakers. Instead of whining about lower European military outlays, Washington should simply shed the burden of Europe’s defense. Then let the Europeans decide how to respond and bear the consequences accordingly.
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Taxes on some wealthy French top 100 pct of income: paper
Thu, May 16 2013
PARIS | Sat May 18, 2013 1:16pm EDT
PARIS (Reuters) – More than 8,000 French households’ tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data.
The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million).
President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government imposed the tax surcharge last year, shortly after taking office, to offset the impact of a rebate scheme created by its conservative predecessor to cap an individual’s overall taxation at 50 percent of income.
The government has been forced to redraft a proposed bill to levy a temporary 75 percent tax on earnings over 1 million euros, which had been one of Hollande’s campaign pledges.
The Constitutional Council has judged such a high rate of taxation to be unfair, leaving the government to rehash it to hit companies rather than individuals.
Since then, a top administrative court has determined that a marginal tax rate higher than 66.66 percent on a single household risked being considered as confiscatory by the council.
Les Echos reported that nearly 12,000 households paid taxes last year worth more than 75 percent of their 2011 revenues due to the exceptional levy. ($1 = 0.7798 euros)
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat May 18, 2013 5:32 pm
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Renowned French economist to join Obama’s team
France’s Esther Duflo, a star economist who was once named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, has been nominated by US President Barack Obama to help shape US global development policy.
By Aude MAZOUE (text)
France’s Esther Duflo, a world renowned economist, has been nominated by US President Barack Obama to join a government body dedicated to advising the administration on global development policy.
Called the Global Development Council, the group was founded by Obama in 2010 to help shape US development efforts abroad.
While Duflo’s nomination will likely be viewed with a sense of pride in France, it comes as Obama’s leadership continues to be dogged by unflattering comparisons in the media to European-style socialism. Just Friday, the cover of financial news magazine The Economist depicted Obama wearing a beret, red neckerchief and a striped mariner shirt, under a headline that read “America turns European”. The article criticised the country’s recent fiscal-cliff deal as “lousy”, saying its mismanagement bore striking similarities to the “mess in the euro zone”.
A rising star
ESTHER DUFLO’S CV
Esther Duflo earned a master’s degree from DELTA (now called the Paris School of Economics) in 1995 before heading to the United States to begin a PhD in Economics at the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Upon completing her degree in 1999, Duflo continued on at MIT as an assistant professor of economics. She took leave from the school in 2001 to work at Princeton University for one year, before returning to MIT where she was granted tenure at the age of 29. After more than a decade in the US, Duflot was granted US citizenship in 2012.
Duflo, who was raised in a “left-leaning Protestant” family, said she became aware of economic divides and social injustice at a very early age.
“I was always conscientious of the gap between my existence and that of the world’s poor,” she told weekly French magazine l’Express in a January, 2011 article. “As a child, I was extremely troubled by the complete randomness of chance that I was born in Paris to an intellectual, middle class family, when I could have just as easily been born in Chad. It’s a question of luck. It inspired in me a sense of responsibility.”
While Duflo may feel that her privilege in life is the result of chance, President Obama’s intention to appoint her to his Global Development Council is not. Ever since completing her undergraduate studies at Paris’s prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1994, Duflo has led a distinguished career, collecting numerous academic honours and awards along the way.
One of the world’s 100 most influential people
It is by no means an exaggeration to call the now 40 year-old Duflo one of the world’s star economists. French daily Le Monde once awarded her its “Best French Young Economist Prize”, and in 2009, she was granted a MacArthur Fellowship (which has also been dubbed ‘the genius grant’). Duflo’s work also earned her the John Bates Clark medal in 2010, which is considered second only to the Nobel.
The following year, Time magazine named Duflo one of 100 most influential people in the world. The magazine applauded her for relentlessly “questioning conventional wisdom”.
“She has broken out of the ivory tower to do something economists rarely do: gather real data to see what really works in alleviating poverty,” Time wrote.
A closer look at poverty
Duflo’s research has largely focused on microeconomic issues in developing countries and looks at areas such as education, access to finance as well as health and policy evaluation. As co-founder and director of MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Duflo has singled herself out by championing the idea that it is impossible to successfully tackle the issue of poverty without a thorough understanding of the population at hand. In other words, the devil is in the detail.
While Duflo’s work has already helped contribute to changing the way governments and organisations deal with global poverty, her potential new role as a member of the Global Development Council will allow her to have a direct impact on how the US handles such issues.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:39 pm
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‘Monsieur’ John Kerry and the French connection
Soon-to-be US Secretary of State John Kerry has strong ties to France, a fact that hindered his 2004 presidential bid. FRANCE 24 takes a closer look at how this “French connection” has been perceived on both sides of the Atlantic.
By Jon FROSCH (text)
Reacting to President Barack Obama’s recent nomination of John Kerry as the next US secretary of state, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius praised his future counterpart’s “personal commitment to Franco-American friendship”.
The comment was a reference to a poorly-kept “secret” that dogged the former Democratic presidential candidate during his bid to unseat then-incumbent George W. Bush in 2004: Kerry has a French connection.
JOHN KERRY WAS ATTACKED FOR HIS FRENCH CONNECTIONS DURING 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
The Massachusetts senator attended a Swiss boarding school as a child, learning to speak fluent French –which reportedly worked wonders in courting his wife, Teresa Heinz, whose parents were Portuguese.
He spent summers at his maternal grandparents’ luxurious home in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, a village in the north-western coastal region of Brittany. And he counts Brice Lalonde, a former French green party leader and an environment minister in the early 1990s, as one of his first cousins (Lalonde did not respond to an interview request for this article).
Kerry’s ties to France are indeed part of the reason that “reactions to his nomination have been extremely positive on both the right and left in France,” according to Nicole Bacharan, a specialist in French-American relations and national fellow at Stanford’s public policy think tank, the Hoover Institution.
“He’s obviously very competent and very knowledgeable about foreign policy,” Bacharan said. “But of course the French like him especially because he knows France well and speaks good French.”
Kerry’s strong relationship with France will likely be an advantage in his future as America’s top diplomat, particularly in Europe. “When you’re secretary of state, it’s a good thing to be perceived as worldly and sophisticated,” Bacharan noted.
But the politician’s “Frenchness” has not always been an advantage. While running for president in 2004, Kerry was ridiculed by Republicans for his closeness to the country seen as having spurned the US by refusing to participate in the Iraq war –though Kerry himself initially voted in favour of the war.
Meanwhile, right-wing pundits, radio and TV hosts at the time often mockingly referred to Kerry as “Monsieur Kerry”, “Jean Chéri”, or “Jean-François Kerry”.
Mindful that any perceived affection for a nation considered a fair-weather ally could be a major liability, Kerry, for the duration of his campaign, largely avoided any reference to his past in France or his attachment to the country, its language, or culture. It was reported that he stopped conversing with French correspondents in French, something he had done with much-noted pleasure for many months.
Though French-American relations have warmed considerably since 2004, Kerry is likely to keep a relatively low profile when it comes to his Gallic "roots". “I don’t think he’ll flash his French connection other than when he’s in France,” Bacharan predicted. “It’s generally not a good thing for a US politician to flaunt any sort of Frenchness.”
And despite Kerry’s popularity among the French and international political class, Bacharan explained that enthusiasm for Kerry abroad is nevertheless tempered by disappointment that current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be stepping down.
“It’s very difficult to be Obama’s secretary of state, because foreign leaders are inevitably disappointed when they don’t get to receive or meet with Obama himself,” Bacharan noted. “Hillary, because she’s a huge star with very unique charisma, could compensate for some of that disappointment. I’m not sure Kerry can.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:51 am
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French in Denial as Crisis Deepens
By Romain Leick
In the midst of the economic crisis, France’s Socialists are denying reality. The minister of industrial renewal is calling for nationalization of some industries, while the president shies away from necessary structural reforms. Business leaders fear the clock has been turned back 30 years.
The minister compares his office with a position on the battlefield, one that you only leave as a fallen soldier — or when the last bullet has been shot.
Arnaud Montebourg, the French minister of industrial renewal, carries his head high. In his mind, politics is a combat sport. A shiny, decorative sword hangs on the wall behind him in his office on the third floor of the enormous Ministry of the Economy, Finances and Industry in Paris. The 50-year-old combative politician tends to rush headlong into battle, but he is often left with no choice but to carry out the maneuver he despises the most: retreat.
That was the case last weekend, after Montebourg had become locked in a spectacular wrestling match with the steel giant ArcelorMittal, which employs 20,000 people at 150 sites in France. In Florange, north of the city of Metz, which sits near the borders with Germany and Luxembourg, the company planned to permanently shut down two blast furnaces and lay off 630 workers.
The industrial site, in the economically depressed Lorraine region, has long been unprofitable, and ArcelorMittal suffers from overcapacity. The plant closing probably wouldn’t have attracted much attention, but Montebourg, who sees the preservation of industrial jobs as his primary goal, needed a success — and forgot the principle of proportionality.
Instead, he brought out the biggest gun in the Socialist government’s arsenal, and threatened the company with the temporary nationalization of the Florange site, and declared its main shareholder and CEO, Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, to be a persona non grata because he doesn’t respect France. Mittal was shocked and requested a meeting with French President François Hollande. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was forced to recognize that Montebourg had set a fuse which, if lit, could cause the government to explode.
Good Versus Evil
France’s business leaders felt as if they had been set back 30 years, to a time when the first Socialist president of the Fifth Republic, François Mitterrand, began his term with a wave of nationalizations and, after two years, was forced to reverse his policy. Some even drew a comparison with 1945, when the government nationalized automaker Renault after accusing it of having collaborated with the enemy. Wasn’t Montebourg, who had always been an eloquent preacher of deglobalization, dividing business owners into different camps, good and evil, patriotic and unpatriotic?
"Has the government forgotten that nationalization means expropriation?" asked Laurence Parisot, the appalled head of MEDEF, the employers’ union.
The liberal economist Nicolas Baverez, who predicted "France’s downfall" 10 years ago and has just written a book titled "Réveillez-Vous" ("Wake Up"), saw the wrangling over Florange as proof that the French left still hasn’t accepted globalization, and acts as if the country were an economic and cultural preserve. "The idea of nationalization sends an ominous message to all investors," Baverez said.
Even Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici carefully distanced himself from Montebourg, saying: "Our policy differs from the past experiences of leftists in power."
But the workers at the Florange site and their unions were thrilled with Montebourg’s threat. According to a snap poll, a majority of the French people and, in particular, leftist voters, appreciate such showdowns with the patrons, or business owners. It’s no accident that France’s young people see working in the public sector as the ideal professional career. The government promises protection and security.
‘Culture of Equality’
France is characterized by a "culture of equality," not one of competition, says historian Emmanuel Todd, noting that this is a legacy of the French Revolution. It seems only logical that Montebourg is sometimes compared with Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, the Jacobin executioner who denounced others in the name of the people.
But Hollande and Ayrault realized that this time the minister was probably on the wrong track. The prime minister withdrew the threat to nationalize Florange, and in return ArcelorMittal agreed to avoid layoffs at the site, although the two blast furnaces will remain shut down.
The drama over a few hundred jobs would probably be little more than an odd political comedy if it didn’t highlight France’s current situation and the president’s dilemma. Hollande knows that he has to break open fossilized habits and structures, even though the society, like the Socialists, is stuck in its old way of thinking. He is also aware that one reason he was elected to succeed the high-strung and confrontational Nicolas Sarkozy was so that he could reassure the French, not stir them up and frighten them.
Hollande’s efforts to reassure people are evident in his rhetoric. When Louis Gallois, the former head of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), wrote a government-commissioned report, in which he called for electroshocks to improve French competitiveness, Hollande turned it into a "pact."
Instead of referring to structural reforms, he uses the seemingly harmless word "change." And when companies complain about the lack of "flexibility" in the French labor market, Hollande promises more "malleability."
The shift from the class struggle to a German-style social democracy, which is still something akin to heresy for the French left, amounts to a "Copernican revolution," says Finance Minister Moscovici. As if it weren’t self-evident, he constantly tells his fellow party members and his voters: "Being leftist doesn’t just mean distributing; it also means producing. Being leftist doesn’t just mean supporting purchasing power, but also strengthening supply. And being leftist also means knowing that there is no reform policy without social dialogue."
The country, which derives its national identity from the Revolution, lacks this culture of compromise and consensus, which is why France often sees chaotic and violent outbursts of protest for relatively minor reasons. The unions don’t go on strike when negotiations with employers have failed, but before they have even begun — a questionable approach to impressing one’s opponent.
The ‘Party of Fear’
France is worried, France is beset by doubts and France is depressed, says writer Jean d’Ormesson, a member of the Académie Française. The philosopher Pascal Bruckner confirms his diagnosis: "France’s biggest party is the party of fear. The French are afraid of the world, afraid of others and, most of all, afraid of their own fear."
This leads them to turn a blind eye to reality. They feel vindicated in their repression of reality by the crowds of tourists in the country, who value France precisely because of the museum-like quality of its savoir vivre.
President Hollande, a cautious tactician by nature who prefers to bypass obstacles rather than to jump over them, initially believed that he could take his time with the introduction of important reforms. One of the reasons he chose Ayrault to head his government was because of Ayrault’s complacent approach. Together, Hollande and Ayrault allowed half a year to pass without embarking on any significant reforms. It was lost time, former Prime Minister Michel Rocard, the éminence grise of the Socialists, said recently.
Part 2: A Plethora of Public Servants
Even former EADS chief Gallois, an advocate of the rapid restoration of French competitiveness, had to admit that a program like Germany’s Agenda 2010 package of reforms would not be accepted in France. Nevertheless, he did not mince words in his report on the state of the French economy, noting that industry’s share of economic output has declined from 18 percent in 2000 to 12.5 percent today. This puts France in 15th place among the 17 countries in the euro zone, and significantly behind Italy. The country’s industrial sector has lost 2 million jobs since the Mitterand era. In 2011, France had a trade deficit of €71.2 billion ($93.1 billion), compared with a surplus of €3.5 billion in 2002. At the same time, the national debt has grown to 90 percent of the gross domestic product.
"Whenever a new problem popped up in the last 25 years, our country reacted by increasing spending," says banker Michel Pébereau.
Public sector spending now accounts for almost 57 percent of GDP, more than in Sweden or Germany. For every 1,000 residents, there are 90 public servants (compared with only about 50 in Germany). The public sector employs 22 percent of all workers.
La douce France is a sleepy country of bureaucrats and government officials who want their peace and quiet. But the bad news is beginning to pile up for Hollande.
Montebourg’s agitation can be partially explained by the fact that since the Socialists came to power, the country has added another 150,000 unemployed, bringing the national unemployment rate to 10.7 percent. Some 45,000 people were added to the unemployment rolls in October alone. Instead of straightening up industry, Montebourg is preoccupied with fighting redundancy programs.
Only now has the government brought itself to grant companies €20 billion in tax relief to reduce labor costs. But it was a somewhat half-hearted step. Gallois considered €30 to €50 billion necessary. Last week, the government was confronted with another disastrous report, this time on the situation facing France’s young people, who have been especially hard-hit by poverty and unemployment.
Sociologist Olivier Galland, who headed the study, detects a feeling of bitterness and abandonment among 16- to 25-year-olds. "All of the elements are in place that could trigger yet another explosion," like the one in the late fall of 2005, when there was rioting in the outskirts of major French cities.
"The system won’t survive if we don’t change," says Gérard Dussillol, a French expert on finance who works for a Franco-Belgian think-tank. He believes that "France, as a domino, can shake the entire system of the euro zone."
Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Spa Tax’
Even fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld no longer has anything good to say about his adopted country, where he claims to pay €2 million in annual taxes, which he calls "a sort of spa tax to the French state." French politics, with its symbolic tax on the rich, has become "grotesque," says Lagerfeld, while the French have "sterilized themselves intellectually." The only thing that still works in the country is fashion, he said in an interview in Berlin.
There are many indications that time is running out for Hollande, that Prime Minister Ayrault’s days could already be numbered, and that the valiant knight Montebourg, who had initially aspired to be Ayrault’s successor, is more likely waging a tragic battle against the windmills of globalization.
A recent issue of the magazine supplement to the daily newspaper Le Parisien, showed Montebourg photographed wearing a blue-and-white striped shirt made by the Breton clothing manufacturer Armor Lux, holding up a "made-in-France" Moulinex mixer. It was an emblem of the old France, at a time when there was no globalization and the world was still all right.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Dec 13, 2012 2:57 pm
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By Daniel J. Mitchell
Atlas is shrugging and Dan Mitchell is laughing.
I predicted back in May that well-to-do French taxpayers weren’t fools who would meekly sit still while the hyenas in the political class confiscated ever-larger shares of their income.
But the new President of France, Francois Hollande, doesn’t seem overly concerned by economic rationality and decided (Obama must be quite envious) that a top tax rate of 75 percent is fair.” And patriotic as well!
So I was pleased – but not surprised – when the news leaked out that France’s richest man was saying au revoir and moving to Belgium.
But he’s not the only one. The nation’s top actor also decided that he doesn’t want to be a fatted calf. Indeed, it appears that there are entire communities of French tax exiles living just across the border in Belgium.
Best of all, the greedy politicians are throwing temper tantrums that the geese have found a better place for their golden eggs.
France’s prime minister has slammed wealthy citizens fleeing the country’s punitive tax on high incomes as greedy profiteers seeking to “become even richer”. Jean-Marc Ayrault’s outburst came after France’s best-known actor, Gerard Dépardieu, took up legal residence in a small village just over the border in Belgium, alongside hundreds of other wealthy French nationals seeking lower taxes. “Those who are seeking exile abroad are not those who are scared of becoming poor,” the prime minister declared after unveiling sweeping anti-poverty measures to help those hit by the economic crisis. These individuals are leaving “because they want to get even richer,” he said. “We cannot fight poverty if those with the most, and sometimes with a lot, do not show solidarity and a bit of generosity,” he added.
In the interests of accuracy, let’s re-write Monsieur Ayrault’s final quote from the excerpt. What he’s really saying is: “We cannot buy votes and create dependency if those that produce, and sometimes produce a lot, do not act like morons and let us rape and pillage without consequence.”
So what’s going to happen? Well, I wrote in September that France was going to suffer a fiscal crisis, and I followed up in October with a post explaining how a bloated welfare state was a form of economic suicide.
Yet French politicians don’t seem to care. They don’t seem to realize that a high burden of government spending causes economic weakness by misallocating labor and capital. They seem oblivious to basic tax policy matters, even though there is plenty of evidence that the Laffer Curve works even in France.
So as France gets ever-closer to fiscal collapse, part of me gets a bit of perverse pleasure from the news. Not because of dislike for the French. The people actually are very nice, in my experience, and France is a very pleasant place to visit. And it was even listed as the best place in the world to live, according to one ranking.
But it helps to have bad examples. And just as I’ve used Greece to help educate American lawmakers about the dangers of statism, I’ll also use France as an example of what not to do.
P.S. France actually is much better than the United States in that rich people actually are free to move across the border without getting shaken down with exit taxes that are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.
P.P.S. This Chuck Asay cartoon seems to capture the mentality of the French government.
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By Walter Olson
According to the New York Times, French Socialist president François Hollande demanded and received the dismissal of the editor of Le Figaro, the country’s leading conservative newspaper. If that sounds impossibly high-handed, consider the background, as reported in the Times:
The publisher, Serge Dassault, is a senator from [ousted President Nicolas] Sarkozy’s political party [and thus opposed to Hollande]. But Mr. Dassault also heads a major military contractor, and there was widespread speculation that [Figaro editor Étienne] Mougeotte’s ouster was meant to put the Dassault group in good stead with the new president.
[Since-convicted Illinois Gov. Rod] Blagojevich, Harris and others are also alleged [in the federal indictment] to have withheld state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field. The statement says this was done to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were critical of Blagojevich.
And in 1987, at the secret behest of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) inserted a legislative rider aimed at preventing Rupert Murdoch from simultaneously owning broadcast and newspaper properties in Boston and New York. The idea was to force him to sell the Boston Herald, the most persistent editorial voice criticizing Kennedy in his home state. Kennedy’s and Hollings’s actions drew criticism in places like the Harvard Crimson and from syndicated columnist R. Emmett Tyrrell, but no national furor developed.
One moral is that we cannot expect our First Amendment to do the whole job of protecting freedom of the press. Yes, it repels some kinds of incursions against press liberty, but it does not by its nature ward off the danger of entanglement between publishers and closely regulated industries, stadium operators, and others dependent on state sufferance. That’s one reason there’s such a difference in practice between a relatively free economy, where most lines of business do not require cultivating the good will of the state, and an economy deeply penetrated by government direction, in which nearly everyone is subject to (often implicit) pressure from the authorities. France has been unable to avoid the perils of the latter sort of economy. Can we?
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French teens to get the Pill for free
French young women aged 15 to 18 will have access to the contraceptive pill free of charge starting in 2013, under changes to the public social security reimbursement system announced on Wednesday.
By FRANCE 24 (text)
French teenagers aged 15 to 18 will have their contraceptive pills reimbursed 100 percent by the state from the beginning of 2013, Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced on Tuesday.
French Minister for Women’s Rights Najat Vallaud-Belkacem added that the teenagers’ anonymity would be “guaranteed” under the new rules.
The government saw a need to protect teenagers hailing from families where sexuality is a taboo subject. The new measures aim to reduce pregnancies in this age group that result from a mixture of ignorance and lack of access to contraception.
“Providing free contraception is just as important for these teenagers as getting good sex education at school,” said Vallaud-Belkacem, who added that “more than a million” teenage girls in France were currently on the Pill.
Parisian teens handed ‘contraception chequebooks’
The new measures will save them about 60 euros a year each.
French public social security only reimburses around two-thirds of the cost of prescription medicines; those without secondary insurance, known in France as a "mutuelle", must pay the additional third out of pocket.
Under current rules, teenagers wanting absolute anonymity when going to their doctor for contraception have to pay for the visit in cash – which costs 23 euros in France – without claiming the money back through the social security system.
The move was welcomed by Martine Hatchuel, president of ANCIC, the French Association which counsels women on contraception and abortion.
“It’s about time,” she said. “Minors should have access to contraception and it should be free and anonymous. But unfortunately just because a girl reaches 18 doesn’t mean she is out of the woods, and we would like to see this extended to women aged 25.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:22 pm
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