Monday, 19 May 2014
Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong
My parents gave me this book not long after I moved to France. I read part of it and put it away. Being only 18 and working in Disney I was living anything but typically French. Ten years on and completely immersed in French life I thought I'd give it another go. And let me say after just the 1st paragraph of the introduction I found myself nodding enthusiastically along with the authors. I am thoroughly immersed in this excellent book, although written before the financial crisis of 2008 it is still surprisingly relevant today.
Let me give you a taste ...
"Imagine a country where people work 35 hour weeks, take seven weeks of paid holidays per year, take an hour and a half for lunch, have the longest life expectancy in the world, and eat the richest food on the planet. A people who keep alive their local shopkeepers, who love nothing better than going to the public market on Saturdays, and who finance the best health care system in the world. A people whose companies are the least unionized and most productive among modern countries, and whose post-industrial consumer society ranks among the most prosperous in the world.
You are now in France.
Now imagine a country whose citisens have so little civic sense that it never crosses their minds to pick up after their dogs or give to charity. Where people expect the State to do everything because they pay so much in taxes. Where service is rude. Where the State is among the most centralised and pervasive in the world, and where the civil servant class amounts to no less than a quarter of the working population. Where citisens tolerate no form of iniative or self rule, where unions are so pervasive that they virtually dictate the course of government and even run French ministries.
You are still in France."
Pure excellence! I'm sure I'll be back musing over their findings over the course of my journey with Jean-Benoit and Julie.
I'm also loving that it has been translated into French and the title has been changed to translate to "Not so crazy the French"!