"I don’t want to work all my life in order to pay taxes that will, for the most part, only go to service the 1,900 billion euros of debt."
These are disturbingly catastrophic numbers. A country where half the young workforce wants out is a place with no future. It would be interesting to break those numbers by immigrant origins. It would not be surprising if the Algerians and Moroccans are ready to jump ship to another welfare system. French culture however was supposed to provide for cultural solidarity. But the transformation of major cities may have undone all that.
A twenty year old named Clara G, a second year history student at the Sorbonne, recently published an open letter to President François Hollande in the French paper Le Point. In it, she quotes a poll that found that 50 percent of 18-24 year olds and 51 percent of 25-34 year olds would, if they could, like to leave France for another country. Clara explains why she and so many her age want out:
"I don’t want to work all my life in order to pay taxes that will, for the most part, only go to service the 1,900 billion euros of debt that your generation was kind enough to leave as your legacy. If these loans had at least been invested in a plan for the future of the country, if I thought I would profit a little from them, I wouldn’t have any problems repaying them. But they only allowed your generation to live above its means, to secure a generous welfare that I won’t be able to enjoy. In order to make your lives, I would say “cushy”, but I’m afraid that the word offends you.
My work and my taxes will also have to pay your pension that you haven’t bothered to fund, as well as all the health care and welfare costs for all these elderly people who will be, in less than twenty years, the majority in the country. Will this leave me enough money to live well and raise my children?...
But the most depressing thing is what my life will be like if I stay in France. Once I graduate, with my beautiful useless diplomas, I will without doubt first join the large ranks of unemployed youth before spending several years in internships and the CDD [temporary work contracts]. I am, as I believe the experts say, the “adjustment variable” of a labor market that has deliberately chosen to exclude young people to protect the workers of the CDI [permanent work contracts] already in place. With such insecure and poorly paid jobs, I won’t be able to convince a bank to give me a home loan to buy an apartment in Paris. And if, by some sort of improbable miracle, I go on to earn lots of money, I know in advance that not only would I have to pay taxes, but it would also earn me the reproaches of my fellow countrymen and your personal contempt...
So yes, I want to live in a country where there is growth, where wages increase, where being rich is not considered a mortal sin, especially a country where there is a sense both individually and collectively that tomorrow will be better than today.
Socialism doesn't tend to produce much confidence in the future. After the initial rush of manufactured optimism wears off, the gloomy reality sets in. It has happened in America. It has happened in France.