Regulation in Europe and USA

Republicans in the USA say they don’t like regulation. I call bullshit. They LOVE regulation if it supports the status quo.

The cleanest example is the case of Kansas meatpacker who wants to test ALL slaughtered cows for mad cow disease. Agriculture Department went to court to stop them, and the federal appeals court agreed with them. I always thought my America was a capitalistic country where competition was king. No so.

France, both left and right, has no issue with regulation. But in general they are looking out for the people and not business. A good example of of this telling French competition council telling France Telecom they are not allowed exclusive rights to sports and movie content. They want to be sure there is competition in the Internet and IPTV market and that this competition is based on the data service  and not the content an ISP can contract for.

Switzerland Finally Joins the 20th Century–Almost

The IHT reports that Switzerland will become a “Schengen” country and join the European Union’s passport-free travel zone next month. No passports will be checked arriving at Swiss airports starting 29 March 2009.

Now they only need to adopt the Euro to fully join the 20th century.

Other backward countries in Europe remain:

  • Cyprus, Britain, Liechtenstein and Ireland have opted to stay out of Schengen
  • Romania and Bulgaria want to join Schengen, but have yet to qualify.
  • Norway and Iceland participate are not EU, but are Schengen

The French think too much

Twittering classes in France, as in the USA, do twitter, but generally after thinking a bit, unlike most of the talking heads in the USA.

This IHT article, New leaders say pensive French think too much, quotes Finance Minister Christine Lagarde that “France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly. “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

The article is worth reading for Lagarde’s background and to hear the twitter she gets as a reply.


International Herald Tribune

New leaders say pensive French think too much

Saturday, July 21, 2007
PARIS: France is the country that produced the Enlightenment, Descartes’s one-liner, “I think, therefore I am,” and the solemn pontifications of Jean-Paul Sartre and other celebrity philosophers.

But in the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, thinking has lost its cachet.

In proposing a tax-cut law last week, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde bluntly advised the French people to abandon their “old national habit.”

“France is a country that thinks,” she told the National Assembly. “There is hardly an ideology that we haven’t turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.”

Citing Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” she said the French should work harder, earn more and be rewarded with lower taxes if they get rich.

Lagarde knows well the Horatio Alger story of making money through hard work. She looked west to make her fortune, spending much of her career as a lawyer at the firm of Baker & McKenzie, based in the American city identified by its broad shoulders and work ethic: Chicago. She rose to become the first woman to head the firm’s executive committee and was named one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes magazine.

So now, two years back in France, she is a natural to promote the program of Sarkozy, whose driving force is doing rather than musing, and whose mantra is “work more to earn more.”

Certainly, the new president himself has cultivated his image as a nonintellectual. “I am not a theoretician,” he told a television interviewer last month. “I am not an ideologue. Oh, I am not an intellectual! I am someone concrete!”

But the disdain for reflection may be going a bit too far. It certainly has set the French intellectual class on edge.

“How absurd to say we should think less!” said Alain Finkielkraut, the philosopher, writer, professor and radio show host. “If you have the chance to consecrate your life to thinking, you work all the time, even in your sleep. Thinking requires setbacks, suffering, a lot of sweat.”

Bernard-Henri Lévy, the much more splashy philosopher-journalist who wrote a book retracing Tocqueville’s 19th-century travels throughout the United States, is similarly appalled by Lagarde’s comments.

“This is the sort of thing you can hear in café conversations from morons who drink too much,” said Lévy, who is so well-known in French that he is known simply by his initials BHL “To my knowledge this is the first time in modern French history that a minister dares to utter such phrases. I’m pro-American and pro-market, so I could have voted for Nicolas Sarkozy, but this anti-intellectual tendency is one of the reasons that I did not.”

Lévy, who ultimately endorsed Sarkozy’s Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal, said that Lagarde was much too selective in quoting Tocqueville and suggested that she read his complete works. In her leisure time.

The satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé, meanwhile, mocked Lagarde for praising the sheer joy of work and quoting Confucius’s oft-cited line, “Choose a work that you love and you won’t have to work another day.”

Such “subtleties have escaped the cleaning lady or the supermarket checkout clerk,” a commentary in the newspaper said Wednesday.

The government’s call to work is crucial to its ambitious campaign to revitalize the French economy by increasing both employment and consumer buying power. Somehow Sarkozy and his team hope to persuade the French that it is in their interest to abandon what some commentators call a nationwide “laziness” and to work longer and harder, and maybe even get rich.

France’s legally mandated 35-hour work week gives workers a lot of leisure time but not necessarily the means to enjoy it. Taxes on high-wage earners are so burdensome that hordes have fled abroad. ( Sarkozy cites the case of one of his stepdaughters, who works in an investment-banking firm in London.)

In her National Assembly speech, Lagarde said that there should be no shame in personal wealth and that the country needed tax breaks to lure the rich back.

“All these French bankers” working in London and “all these fiscal exiles” taking refuge from French taxes in Belgium “want one thing: to come back to France,” she said. “To them, as well as to all our compatriots who are looking for the keys to fiscal paradise, we open our doors.”

Indeed, the idea of admitting one’s wealth, once considered déclassé, is becoming more acceptable. A cover story in the popular weekly magazine VSD this month included revelations that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable: the 2006 income of leading French personalities ($18 million for soccer star Zinedine Zidane, $12.1 million for rock star Johnny Hallyday, $334,000 for Prime Minister François Fillon, $109,000 for Sarkozy).

“We are seeing an important cultural change,” said Eric Chaney, chief economist for Europe for Morgan Stanley. “Working families in France want to be richer. Wealth is no longer a taboo. There’s a strong sentiment in France that people think prices are too high and need more money. It’s not a question of thinking or not thinking.”

Still, the French seem to be divided about the best way to get rich. On Thursday, a widely reported TNS-Sofres poll of more than 1,000 people concluded that 39 percent of the French think that it is possible to get rich by winning the lottery; only 40 percent believe that getting rich can happen through work.

Certainly, the veneration of money more than ideas is new to French politics.

Other French presidents flaunted their intellectual sides. Georges Pompidou was a teacher and author of a widely read anthology of poetry still used in French schools. François Mitterrand was a literature buff who collected rare books.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, now a member of the Académie Française, has written important political tomes. Even Jacques Chirac, who liked to drink beer and eat bratwurst, was acknowledged as an expert on Asian culture and art.

Sarkozy is by no means an intellectual dwarf. His campaign speeches were filled with allusions to weighty French thinkers. He wrote a book more than a decade ago about one of his heroes, George Mandel, a Jewish government minister before World War II who opposed the collaborationist Vichy government and was arrested and eventually executed by the Nazis.

Still, Sarkozy likes to boast that, unlike Giscard D’Estaing, Chirac and legions of ministers and senior civil servants, he did not attend France’s finishing school for the political elite, the École Nationale d’Administration. (Only one of his cabinet members is “Enarque,” as the school’s graduates are called, but nine of the 16 either practice law, like Sarkozy, or studied it.)

Some intellectuals find aspects of his man-of-the-people style a bit déclassé.

In an after-midnight round table on French television this month, Finkielkraut, the philosopher and a Sarkozy supporter, called on him to abandon what he called an “undignified” pursuit.

“Western civilization, in its best sense, was born with the promenade,” Finkielkraut said, noting that thinkers like Aristotle, Heidegger and Rimbaud all were walkers. “Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging — it is management of the body.”

His fellow guests agreed. “It is a change of rhythm — it’s called Jimmy Carter,” said one, reminding viewers of the American president who brought jogging into the White House.

“And Bill Clinton,” said another.

“totus porcus” — a protologism on the rise?

While minding my own business reading Patrick Buchanan’s rant on Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Jamestown, I came across the phase “totus porcus”.

“But we had best discover why it was our forefathers, who created this country, rejected, totus porcus, the nonsense we spout today about egalitarianism and globaloney.”

As I had never seen this phrase before, I looked it up at ask.com. Nothing. OK, so then I googled the phrase. Only 80 hits. The same search on Yahooo gave 106 hits. Wikipedia returned zero hits.

The number of hits is too low for the phrase to be a neologism, but the usage by Patrick Buchanan surely makes it a protologism on the rise. So what does “totus porcus” mean in current usage.

A blog named Totus Porcus claims ‘Totus Porcus is the Latin for “whole hog.”‘. This claim does not seem to be true.

While the Latin dictionary at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, defines totus as whole, entire, complete, all, the same dictionary has no definition for porcus.

While Totus Porcus may not be Latin, “whole hog” is surely its meaning. Below are some usage.

The media swallowed it totus porcus – whole hog, by John Maxwell in 2005 in his political blog.

I never took latin, but I think of the Latin term “totus porcus” whenever I pull up next to a humvee. Someone told me it means whole hog.

Or will we be like the Gadarene swine, that pathetic example of totus porcus–going whole hog–after the trends of the moment?, by Neal A. Maxwell from a “fireside address” given at Brigham Young University on 5 September 1982.

As a founding principle of our trip, Margaret and I decided that if we were going to go, we would go whole hog, totus porcus, super deluxe all the way, by Michael Korda published in the New York Times Travel section 25 February 1996.

“Totus porcus” is used to mean “whole hog“. Definitely it is a protologism on the rise, but is it a neologism. I guess I will need to head over to Wiktionary to see what they think.

Update: Now in Wiktionary. See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/totus_porcus.

 

C’est Royal

There is a good chance Segolene Royal will be the next president of France.
Her lover, who happens to be head of the Socialist party, has pull out of the race. This leaves the nomination open to her.
Not a word in the press about them living together. Only some mention of a conflict of interest in the party.
Could you imagine the same in the US politics? At least Hillary and Bill are married!