How can new life be put into the French economy?

And my word for today is “sclerotic” - and yes, I had to look it up, although I guessed it was linked to the medical term: ‘becoming rigid and unresponsive; losing the ability to adapt.’

This was from Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, in The Guardian, in referring to France and, unfortunately and sadly, there’s a fair bit of truth in that.

In an attempt to put my own observations into the proverbial nutshell; I see the job of ‘running a country’ somewhat akin to the job of ‘being a parent’. As a parent, you want to pass on all the goodness that you can on to your kids so that they can get out there and make the world a better place for themselves and their own kids: in short, you sacrifice.

For a government to make a country thrive, they need to support and assist new enterprises to get off the ground to be in with a chance of a future where they can expand and employ more people - not tax all enthusiasm out of them. People need to feel that it’s worthwhile to get out there and put the effort in. It’s no wonder that so many work on ‘the black’; they feel that anything they make will get snatched off them and vanish into a black hole.

I’d truly love to see a government that sees the sense in helping the people along rather than wringing them out for all it can get - and it can only wring out so much before the tricolored rag is dry and tattered.

Restarting from scratch with the tax system and, perhaps, having a period of amnesty with those on the black, to bring them into the fold of a new, fairer tax system, might be an idea…

I’m no expert and I’m sure that there are some of you out there that have detailed info on the subject and, I’m sure, some will tell me I’m being naïve - I simply think that it needn’t be complicated to make a country thrive; just help new businesses get going - not hinder them.

Mr Street also accuses the French of being too resistant to change and, as a broad generalization, I’d agree with that - but that’s another argument…

It is often hard to admit Jaques that we are not always good at what we do.

When one falls any where who should pay?

I held on in England when times were hard and made things work....

You could say that I came back from the dead....almost...

but when I reaped the rewards of hard work and determination the

government did very nicely thank you.

I WAS honest with them...not at all sure if they were with me...

I survived ...

The british policies are Topsy Turvy...

France has a philosophy of protection...for every conceivable possibility except those that are obviously those that could come from poor management. I have seen so many small companies down here in the southwest of France who I would not place a penny in as an investment.

Do remember that when one fails in this country, one still has to pay...the State and there are different ways this happens..through the fiscal authorities, trhough notaries, through securité social.

Who said, on the other hand, that anyone would fail? The State.

Obviously, as you can see, I do regret coming to France for business reasons. I came for other reasons.

But the huge difference is Barbara. You will only pay tax on the profit you make or not. But here, you pay tax regardless in most of the schemes other than AE of course.

I've heard that a lot of the obstacles are to "protect" you from "failure" What a JOKE that is??????

Yes it is easy to start a business in UK.

Especially if you have the money to do so.

But it is very easy for that business to fail David.

There are empty shops in UK too...

But....may I say that the banks in UK allow for a lot

of any panky to go on before they pull the stops out.

Seen it.

I have already posted in this string but here's another example of French bueaucracy, admittedly non business, but I think indicative of underlying problems that occurred this morning. During the two week All Saints school break I am enrolling my 5 year old daughter as usual in a children's activity club in the next village as our village doesn't have one. However this academic year they have changed the rules. The cost is now means tested and unless you volunteer to pay the maximum of 13 euros a day you heve to give the school full details of your household income. In my opinion that's a gross invasion of privacy- who wants to share such details with all and sundry- people you meet in the supermarket etc? Then you have to fill out a 22 page form with medical history, certifcates of injections, recent medical examination (cost 25 euros), permission to take photos, permission to swim, confirmation of accident insurance, sheets of rules, etc etc etc. That has to be done by each parent but some parents will be paying less than half per child what I will be paying. This rather goes against the grain when one sees a few of the other parents seem to have opetd for a benefits lifestyle, arrive late every day with their children, pay no tax habitation etc. In our village less than 30% of the population actually pay any income tax and are excused many other taxes. Just imagine what it would be like starting a business. When i describe to French friends how easy it is to start a business in the UK their jaws drop!

Well a sign is good.....but it has to point to something..

A shop which looks clean and fresh and with stuff to sell....some decent stuff

which people need/want. Some of the bakeries are not so good.

The fetes good be much much better...

Decent music, half s=decent snacks....

Ah Bingo....hate it...does it not define really, really old and Darby and Joan..


Lets not play at being old before it is time.

Yes, such a pity it is that way. Here we have a fantastic festival every two years. We are not committee but do things at the event, after this year's one we were asked if we wanted to be on the committee so it is not an exclude foreigners thing at all. The fête à l'ancienne attracted thousands more people this year and given that it is run on a shoestring has over €17k for the next in 2016 in the kitty after having donated to local charities, paid bills and paid for a superb dinner for all of us who did something. My OH worked on the crêpes stall that sold out by 1400, the people who ran it were near to collapse and I did interpreting into English at the traditional blacksmith's demonstrations each hour. Our two daughters helped other people all day long. The committee is ambitious and dynamic, competition is furious hereabouts with three nearby UNESCO villages better situated and financed for such things yet this one wins every time. Signs are down next day and decorations by the end of the week at latest.

Every community could be like that with a little effort. The sad little quines (I HATE bingo!) and football club/hunt dinners are the best most other communes try. Nobody from outside goes from what I hear and foreigners are not really welcome. That is again the kind of thing that lifts a commune and makes it into a community. Where there is strong community people's morale is lifted and then the new and small local enterprises fit in. They can do it, too many people just do not want to try.

Here in Gers, from Spring to Fall, one sees signs that read “Fete du Village,” or “Fete à”. Year after year the same signs go up in the same places with the same activities. As you may know these fetes are done to raise funds for the villages. I suggested a number of years ago that the comité des fetes change their activities every other year. The response was quick to come to illustrate the depth and unchanging attitudes of France with…get this…"it has always been like this…they would not understand the change of activities.!"
How can a country so engrained in its roots move forward without violent clashes between it and the outside World?

As a fellow septuagenarian (well, in December) I do so agree.

In our little hameau we have a part-time Post Office, a thriving nursery and a thriving primary school. We have a well equipped sports hall, good tennis courts, a fully seated football stadium, a "youth club", and, of course, a fully staffed Marie which is also fully equipped with everything they need. The Mayor stated at a recent dinner that he hates the English :-) I don't know why the latter, there are only a very few of us in a very wide area! We have a hairdressers which is doing well, a bar/cafe which sell newspapers and bread. Following a spate of burglaries a couple of years ago, the bar is struggling. The village centre is just off the main road. I have offered to create and pay for a sign to go up on the side of the main road - the nearest alternative tabacs are 4-5 kilometres away. But no - even thinking about a sign requires too much effort! I totally fail to understand!!!!

There is plenty of time to bemoan the lack of support from the state for the difficult position he finds himself in - but no time to try to do something to make things better for himself! It is bizarre!!!

The communities are small enough to gather together and speak to each other

about what they want.

At the end of the day everyone wants their village/commune to flourish...

They sort out the fetes...

They can bring their ideas onto the table.

Perhaps so but not enough of them. Here we have no shop, restaurant or whatever in the commune. Our new mayor has invited a young menuisier in the village to put up a sign. It is quite a big one at that, the young (under 30) joiner is very good at what he does, totally dependable and honest. He has done work for us including being called out to unblock our front door which he turned down payment for because it only took 20 minutes. The mayor has encouraged him. He now has a shop/office in the nearby town where there is display and the couple of days a week it is open he takes orders. His business has been encouraged and is thriving. We have a few other smaller enterprises such as a traditional blacksmith, somebody who makes herbal things (not French), a cattery, accommodation (b and b type and gites), a traiteur who caters for parties, events and such things and a couple more. They all now get free advertising in our local newsletter, OK it has limited circulation but each of the businesses is at least signposted. Each of the people is encouraged to play an active role in the community, which they do. The joiner may well be maire one day if they ever manage to get him to stand for council, which was attempted unsuccessfully this year. A good, enterprising commune. Then our mayor is a modern farmer who also needs to be a businessman, so knows how necessary that is.

Another commune nearby has umpteen places to stay, two decent places to eat, a riding school, two nurseries - one specialising in commercial horticulture and quite a few more things, no shop though. The riding school has signposted itself and the tourist authority done so off the main road. The maire there will do nothing to encourage anything in his fiefdom. It is as it has been since the year dot.

It needs a new generation of mayors who are in business themselves or are hungry for their communes to thrive. It is as simple as that. Unfortunately there are far too many of the latter right now.

Oh well David old fashioned thinking. Not all mayors have the villagers at heart...

that stuff called power again.

Most of the business I see here set up recently is masterminded by young people.

Most of it seems to tick over....high taxes ....perhaps...but.

The government are not encouraging people in business....

By cutting taxes will they achieve that?

My fashion designer friend is struggling a little and has taken a job in a shop...

but he is very young and it will happen for him because he is a networker, an

optimist and he is patient.

How does a shop get more sales?

They need to look at their presentation....their window, their marketing

and what they are selling.A few changes could make a massive difference.

And it does.

Even in a sleepy village this is imperative.

And if you are a sleepy retiree counting your pennies and

hoping that you had more....well I imagine that there are ways

which can fill your days and your pockets with a few more euros.

Can I recount what happened today:

1 all OAPs in the village had been invited by councillors to have a slap up lunch including seafood, wine etc. Very nice but of course we were paying and only 30% of locals (inc me) pay income tax.

2 Afterwards in the village bar there was such an over riding sense of negativity amongst the locals especially the far left socialist mayor as what could encourage the local economy that I as a Brit expat ex entrepreneur felt quite sick. The locals seem bereft of ideas and totally dependent on the state. I'm 69 years old but dread to think of the slough of despond that is France other than for a retiree. On the other hand my daughter is 5 and being brought up for the moment in France. Is it France or just my bit of it?

Trying to discuss the same with the mayor he took the hump and left. Meanwhile I had put up a totally free idea about giving local children hands on experience of family linked English practice. ANY idea put up by anyone else is immediately put down!

Answers on a PC please!

Stimulated by the smell of (more) money in their pockets.


Motivated, Brian, not stimulated by something.

Salaries are low but taxes high. It does not incentivise employees to be consumers or producers. French economics is based on the Euro's economic performance, thus tends to track the eurozone average. So how can anyone expect France to be more dynamic? Employment among prime-age (25-54) workers in France is higher than in most other western nations, unemployment is largely among the young. Prime age workers have more protections than in other countries, so their jobs are far more secure. They pay the high taxes, they complain they are too high, then remember how secure most jobs are so having moaned get on with it. They are also cushioned by strong communities that do not let people go down as easily as they do in other EU countries with weak social structures. So, they need to be stimulated rather than motivated but that would mean giving them more money in their pockets, then the motivation would kick in on its own.

Enough, I am beginning to look like a lover of capitalism!

No Robert, economics is a bit like witchcraft. The politicians weave spells that grab their audience, but these are witches and not run of the mill magicians who use illusions, only what lurks behind it is that there is always a bit of poison in the spells that you get when to swallow their potions. Believe it or not, I love economics but am so glad I did not do it as my main study. I am just not witchie enough ;-)

As to the Thatcher/Blair period, that is what I meant about what Manuel Valls is saying. He is a Blair clone who admires Thatcher (a socialist????) and is trying to follow their lead. We shall see. Don't hold your breath though...


I am much more critical than you. This present government doesn't know the difference between its front and its rear in anything. They have no notions of anything remotely close to economics, how markets work, how to pump up jobs, salaries and the economy as a whole. Salaries for most are low in France compared to other countries. Work is on a 35 hour basis, something that only exists in France. There is ample labor shortages in some areas. One cannot hire or fire (yes, made redundant) when it becomes necessary without finding oneself in Labor Court (Prudhomme). A company with 50 employees has just had 35 new laws enacted which obliges the same to have unions and continues to curtail employers "rights" with their employees.

The word "motivation" is something that is not known in France. Today, the word is absent from the dictionary at all levels. This government does not motivate anyone, anything...and down the line, it shows.

I have to stop here because I become angry.