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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 28, 2006

Rioting for Unemployment

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Posted by Derek

From the viewpoint of anyone who's been working in the drug industry here in the US, the riots and demonstrations in France are nothing short of surreal. When they were starting, I had to read several reports before I'd convinced myself that I wasn't misunderstanding things. But yes, these outbursts of rage were being caused by a new law which would allow employers to actually fire workers during their first two years in a job.

Imagine that! When I think about all the restructurings that have been taking place here, I have trouble imagining a world where people basically can't be fired. But I can talk to colleagues in the European drug firms, and hear all about the long, drawn-out negotiations with labor unions, work boards, government agencies and who knows who else that have to take place every time a company contemplates laying off people. They regard all this, naturally enough, as a fact of life. You have to go to the market to get groceries, and you have to go to the airport to fly on a plane. And you have to go to the labor councils and commissions if you want to fire anyone. Where else?

So doubtless there are Europeans who look at the employment-at-will laws in the US and see nothing but heartless anarchy. But what's more cruel? You can tell people that there will be layoffs (to give them time to start looking), then make a clean break of it with a severance package. Or you can announce that there could be layoffs, and follow that with months of wrangling and negotiating, during which time no one knows what's happening.

And the countries that make it almost impossible to fire anyone also (whether their citizens realize it or not) make it almost impossible to hire anyone, either. If you can't unload anyone, you're going to hire very, very cautiously. So during those agonizing back-and-forth months, it's not like there's anywhere else to go. People wander the halls, wondering what's going to happen, knowing there's not much that they can do to help themselves.

This sort of thing is a particularly bad fit with pharma and biotech companies. We're constantly rearranging. Think, for example, of all the small outfits over here in the US that start up and die off every year. I've known people who worked for four different companies in Cambridge and parked in the same lot the whole time. How could you do that in a country that can't fire people?

As irritating as it is, we need that craziness and uncertainty. There are a lot of wild ideas out there, and most of them aren't going to work. Companies are going to flop, merge, stagger around and disappear. But some of them are also going to take off, thrive, acquire and expand, and those will soak up most of the people who were caught in the other upheavals. Even without that sort of turmoil, good people need to know that they're valued, and that they can switch jobs when there's a better place for them to go. At the same time, people who just aren't up to the jobs they were hired to do need, eventually, to be cut loose.

Maybe this is just my American outlook, but I can only think that an economy with that can absorb those kinds of risks (and seek those kinds of rewards) will outcompete one that tries to buy its way to safety.

Comments (36) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets


COMMENTS

1. Canuck Chemist on March 28, 2006 11:43 PM writes...

Very nicely put Derek. I'm lacking the energy now to start an anti-socialist crusade, but European socialists in particularly need to realize that the government gravy train is going to come to a screeching halt without tax money earned from profitable, innovative, and competitive businesses and their employees. The situation will only get worse when more of the work moves to other countries where people can be happy without such ridiculous, inefficient, and expensive safety nets. I've seen many of my German colleagues have a real lack of options when Mega Corp A, B, or C isn't hiring. I truly feel bad for French entrepreneurs and the people there who just want to make an honest living without needing a government to guarantee them a job, should they be lucky enough to find one...That being said, I believe the proposed French law applies to people under 26 only, which strikes me as unfair (perhaps it should apply to everyone).

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2. Paul Hughes on March 29, 2006 12:49 AM writes...

Perhaps a French language version of "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman would help in resolving their "mindset". You can only live in the past for so long and globalization is coming like it or not as it is driven by technology and communications advances and consumers like you and me, not governments and corporations.

You also only have to look at the stagnating French economy and their internal problems and you have your answer about the future of France and indeed the European Union.

Hint: Short Euros.

Seen on EBAY. For sale, "One WW2 era French rifle. Never fired. Dropped once".

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3. wcw on March 29, 2006 1:30 AM writes...

Sigh.

There are strong arguments for a less-heartless form of the US at-will employment system, but this wasn't one. Any rant that includes flat counterfactuals like "almost impossible to hire anyone" founders in a fog of immediate empirical denial. It isn't as if Europeans don't have jobs, or as if Euroland looks like the old Soviet systems, or as if our U-6 numbers are anything about which to write home.

Do you want to make it easier to grind out little startups that may blow up? Hell, yeah. Does that necessitate allowing the boss-man to screw the little guy as a matter of course? The jury's out scratching its head at how socialists who make it impossible to hire anyone could possibly have come up with 250 million jobs.

As for short-Euro boy: while on the one hand if pressed I think the Euro is indeed dear and the Asian currencies are the cheap ones, on the other hand I just can't look at the US current account deficit and back anyone being long $/Eu, which after all is what your advice says.

Sorry for the rant, but imagine you were reading an investment blog whose author started talking smack about chemistry. You'd have something to say, too.

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4. coracle on March 29, 2006 4:10 AM writes...

I think this is perhaps a slightly unfair assessment.

First, the bill does not change a situation from not being able to fire to being able to fire. It changes from not being able to fire without giving a reason and prior warning to a situation where employees can be fired immediately and without reason.

Also, since these would be firings rather than redundencies there would be little question of severence packages.

Don't forget too, that this is France so the violence is practically recreational. 'Hey, it's spring, time for the cobbles to fly south...'

I think it is a mistake to bunch all the european countries together. There are big differences in economic approaches between european countries, yes the general approach tends to be toward social fairness but the ways in which that is achieved vary.

Finally, socialist tendencies don't necessarily mean lower competitiveness. The Nordic european countries tend to rate well in competitiveness and yet provide good social care. (Nordic nations 'most competitive', ok so it is a couple of years old but the principle still applies). What's important is that balance is maintained.

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5. Denni Schnapp on March 29, 2006 7:03 AM writes...

We're at opposite sides of the political spectrum. But that aside, Pharma has always had a way around employment rights: it's called short-term contracts. The same is true for academia. In fact, fixed-term employment becomes more and more common throughout Europe.

A postdoc molecular biologist/biochemist may spend decades flitting from one contract to another. And if you're unlucky/ the project doesn't work out/ the grant doesn't come though, you may be forced to move with them.

I guess I could go on moving in the hope that something eventually works out long-term, but I prefer to live in the same town as my husband and have joined the long-term unemployed.

You've gotta look at both sides of the coin.

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6. fr on March 29, 2006 7:55 AM writes...

Derek,
I work in the US for a french firm and I was in France when this whole thing started.

The situation is ridiculous. There is an undeniable need for more flexibility in the french labor laws. Management was very cautious about hiring people, bringing in young people for internships and then seeing if they worked out. At the same time, there was less turnover within the firm than say a US one and they did a very good job at developing their scientists.

As per the new labor law, you didn't see students at the scientific institutes striking. (They may be the only people in France that are hireable) It was all people at liberal arts school majoring in English History or literature and complaining there weren't jobs available. These people are going to have problems finding jobs anyway.

Further, why the 45 year old bus drivers (who have nothing in common with the students, and have the most secure jobs in the country) go on strike out of "solidarity" is beyond me. I guess we call those, "personal days" in america.

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7. tom bartlett on March 29, 2006 8:44 AM writes...

Derek, I like your commentaries on Med Chem, but you embaress yourself when you stray into economics. Americans deserve better than to put in years of productive service only to be cast aside at the whim of some over-paid, underperforming sea-slug spit out by B-school.

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8. SP on March 29, 2006 9:25 AM writes...

I'd agree with you if the US didn't have the ridiculous practice of tying health insurance to employment, which further skews power to the employer. How did that work out for the people who worked at four different companies in a short time frame? If they were young, they were probably ok, hopefully they didn't have pregnant wives or young kids.

It's kind of odd, the European countries with good safety nets, where people have more support when unemployed, are the same places where it's hard to be fired. The US, where if you lose your job you lose access to health care (unless you've saved a lot of money), is the place where it's easiest to lose your job through no fault of your own.

I'm sure there are people in Europe who look at our health care system and think, "Boy, their economy sure could be a lot more competitive if people didn't have to worry about getting sick while they don't have a job. People could be more selective about finding good places to work, they wouldn't have to worry about having to change doctors if they find a better job they'd rather take. I bet the US economy would be much more efficient if employers didn't have to pay for each employee's health insurance."

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9. Derek Lowe on March 29, 2006 9:33 AM writes...

fr, I think that the reason the bus drivers, et al. are out in solidarity is that the current system benefits the people who already have some seniority in their jobs. Any change in the labor laws is a possible eventual threat to the "full employment if you're already employed" system, and they realize it.

Denni, I don't like the disruption that comes along with greater labor flexibility. I've gone through a couple of "will-I-have-to-sell-the-house" periods, and I sure haven't enjoyed them. But I think that that's the price we pay for a better overall economy.

Coracle, it's true that I shouldn't lump all the Europeans together. France and Germany, though, the two biggest continental economies, seem to me to be peas in a pod, though.

As for wcw's comment, it is hyperbole to say "almost impossible to hire anyone". But France and Germany have unemployment rates that haven't been seen in the US since the 1930s - heck, Germany's haven't been seen in Germany since the 1930s, either. Something's clearly wrong. I think that their systems worked pretty well in the post-war expansion years, but they're not built to last. And I haven't even gone into the demographic problems.

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10. tom bartlett on March 29, 2006 10:13 AM writes...

A few comments: our economy's "better"? For whom?

France and Germany have unemployment rates that haven't been seen in the US since the 1930s? Says who? There are a lot of shenanigans used by the US to suppress bad employment numbers.

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11. JSinger on March 29, 2006 10:24 AM writes...

My understanding is that in recent years France has exempted small companies (or small startups or something) from some of the labor restrictions, and that those are actually doing quite well. It's the big companies that suffer, particularly from the inability to staff up to take adavantage of booms.

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12. MikeT on March 29, 2006 10:30 AM writes...

Derek,
Your philosophy is right on, sound, and logical. Now only if US and state governments could get off the same system France has.

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13. Derek Lowe on March 29, 2006 10:40 AM writes...

Tom B, I think that since no government has an interest in publicizing high unemployment, they'll all avail themselves of whatever techniques they can to make the numbers look better. So I think the relative rates that we see in the US vs. France and Germany are pretty real, since they're all, broadly speaking, post-shenanigan numbers.

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14. Steve on March 29, 2006 11:00 AM writes...

I'm always amazed to see how many times people refer to "the good economy" as justifications for doings things one way or another. I have no illusions about the benefits of free-style capitalism. We all enjoy our lifestyles here in the land of plenty (our poor our the richest poor in the world), but people forget that it's not the economy we live for....we work to live. Not live to work. Sad

Isn't there a better balance to strive for? Perhaps the emerging economies will show us how.


Steve

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15. Jim Hu on March 29, 2006 11:27 AM writes...

Economies are complex systems - kind of like biological systems, so simple explanations of anything are likely to be oversimplified. That said, I don't think it's been particularly controversial that even with shenanigans, unemployment in France and several other EU countries has been higher than in the US for a while.

Googling led me to:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1153/is_6_125/ai_92203062

...which (aargh) stopped loading and reloading while I was reading it...so what follows is from memory. Maybe the link will work for you, so you can correct me. The authors' claim the following:

1) Unemployment in Europe was incredibly low in the 1960s. In Germany it was below 1%, which led to the whole Gastarbeiter policy.
2) Since then, job creation in the EU has been relatively flat, while it's been upward in the US and Canada. Unemployment in the EU is now quite high, and it is significantly worse than in the US and Canada.
3) Since at least the 1990s (if I recall correctly), unemployment in most EU states, not including the UK, has been consistently higher than the US and Canada
4) This one surprised me: the fraction of labor growth that is full-time is higher in the US and Canada. Upon reflection, this suggests that employers on both sides of the Atlantic use the part-time approach to avoid regulation...but it has been used much more in Europe than here, possibly because there is even more regulation to avoid.
5) The US and Canada are ahead of Europe at getting equal employment rates for men and women.

I'm not an economist (although my dad was, he mostly taught me to be suspicious of the claims of economists) and I have no way of evaluating the claims or the data. Also, finding one paper on Google is not the same as expertise. But these pass the "sounds reasonable to me" test...a low hurdle, to be sure.

I'd add that some things that I suspect add to the complexity.
- The EU labor force from WWII to the 1960s at least was affected by the demographic perturbation of having a lot of working (and reproducing) age men killed off by two major wars. I recall being struck by this when I did an overseas campus stint in Vienna in the 1970s.
- There are immigration issues, to put it mildly. Anyone see Fareed Zakaria on the Daily Show last night? Germany has had the perturbation of reunification, and in addition to the "Eurabia" issue, incorportation of former Soviet bloc citizens into the EU economy adds to the complexity.

Despite all of the complexity, however, it is pretty clear that European countries have a serious unemployment problem. If Tom Bartlett and others think it's worse here, then please provide some data. Note that better here ≠ great here.

And it's impossible for me to buy the idea that firing rules do not affect hiring decisions. How much is probably difficult to determine, and like the minimum wage debate here, probably has serious economists on various sides.

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16. Me on March 29, 2006 12:09 PM writes...

Its amazing how Derek's "views" are always perfectly aligned with Big Pharma.

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17. Derek Lowe on March 29, 2006 12:40 PM writes...

True, it's almost as if they support my entire family or something. Whoops, they do! But they pay me to discover drugs, not to do PR.

Which is why I've spent some time questioning pricing decisions and complaining about my industry's approach to the reimportation issue. (Those are two example of many). And if I were a blind lover of Big Pharma in all its aspects, would I spend so much time whacking Pfizer on the head?

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18. burt on March 29, 2006 12:57 PM writes...

Derek: do whack Pfizer at every opportunity. They deserve it.

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19. Canuck Chemist on March 29, 2006 1:17 PM writes...

SP brings up a good point about health care in the U.S...more of you Yanks should come to Canada! The quality of health care needs some improvement, but at least it's a universal right for citizens and legal immigrants. It makes things a lot less complicated, as I discovered now that I'm here in the U.S. and I need to choose a health care provider. The taxes are a bit high, but there is much less anti-business attitude than in Europe, and actually less anti-globalization attitude than in the U.S.

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20. Palo on March 29, 2006 1:33 PM writes...

Maybe this is just my American outlook, but I can only think that an economy with that can absorb those kinds of risks (and seek those kinds of rewards) will outcompete one that tries to buy its way to safety

It's easy to forget that the "risk" of american economy is usually paid by the savings of the rest of the world. Without the 2bn dollars that daily enter the US in the form of capital investment and government bonds bought with petro-dollars and China's exports, among others, there would be very little margin for venture capitalism and overpriced american salaries. Of course, you can keep the economy strong by piling up on the federal deficit provided foreign investors don't decide to stop the flow.

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21. Palo on March 29, 2006 1:39 PM writes...

Besides, Derek, the problem with the french law wasn't that "would allow employers to actually fire workers during their first two years in a job" as you claim. The problem is that the law would apply to a first job, and so, exclusively to young people.

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22. Jim Hu on March 29, 2006 1:58 PM writes...

Derek, of course those of us who don't think pharma is Satan don't have views...we have "views"... because pharma has put this in our drinking water.

That's what makes all those foreigners mindlessly throw money into our economy too.

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23. Demosthenes by day on March 29, 2006 2:05 PM writes...

Yes its shocking, simply shocking, that people are expressing opinions which mirror their experience. Capt. Renault and I are off to get our gambling winnings before they close Rick's down.

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24. Jake on March 29, 2006 2:14 PM writes...

The reason that the law only applies to young people is that it was created in response to the large-scale rioting a few months ago by young Frenchmen of largely North African heritage who had no jobs and essentially no hope of getting them.

The proposed changes make it easier to get a job at the cost of making it easier to lose a job; those protesting now are the ones who either already have jobs or are confident of getting one and therefore don't need the help.

I think that casting this in terms of employment protections vs. employment-at-will is sort of missing the point; it's more about the internal distribution of employment. I have to think that there's going to be a return to the "distribute the benefits, concentrate the pain" approach, at least until the North Africans riot again.

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25. sciwriter on March 29, 2006 2:34 PM writes...

and yet...despite this restrictive hiring/firing, the european pharma companies managed to eclipse (by far!) the US majors in terms of sales and profit growth in 2005.

i'm probably extrapolating too far here, but maybe taking more time to choose the right candidates is not the worst idea?

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26. Me on March 29, 2006 3:27 PM writes...

>>i'm probably extrapolating too far here, but maybe
>>taking more time to choose the right candidates is
>>not the worst idea?

No the only thing that matters to the global financiers and their ilk is cheap labour. Derek, supposedly being on of those "in the trenches" seems to love it tho.

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27. Andrew Dalke on March 29, 2006 10:06 PM writes...

I worked at a bio software startup in California. My boss hired a guy because he needed to raise headcount. Everyone else said he shouldn't be hired. We were right. He was a net minus and things would have been better if he never showed up to the office and was paid anyway.

I visited a European client of mine. One of the guys there recounted a similar situation, where the department head wanted to raise headcount while everyone else said no to the potential employee. In that case the employee union rep vetoed the hire decision.

Anecdotal evidence proves nothing though.

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28. Andrew Dalke on March 29, 2006 10:22 PM writes...

SP said "It's kind of odd, the European countries with good safety nets, where people have more support when unemployed, are the same places where it's hard to be fired."

My knee-jerk reaction is to point out that the safety net costs money so it's to the government's advantage to keep people from becoming unemployed. If you don't like that one then an emotional one is that these governments more than the US support their people over their businesses.

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29. Robin Goodfellow on March 30, 2006 3:39 AM writes...

I find the irony hiding behind some of these comments simply biting. People slam big corporations (e.g. U.S. big pharma) and in the same stroke support the sorts of labor rigidity that would greatly enhance the power of big corporations. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at the US and France and see which country does best at empowering the worker and counterbalancing the power of big business. Unemployment in the US is half what it is in France, while median income in the US is much higher. And many of the biggest companies in the US were tiny 20 years ago (Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Google, etc.)

Maybe I'm a bit less concerned about the idea that an employer can get rid of me for almost whatever reason they chose (and that has happened to me once) because I don't tend to live quite on the tip of my expenses with no margin to spare, and because I know that I can support myself in a reasonable fashion if I really needed to. Once I got it into my head that it was ok to work outside of my chosen career path, I never had any problems finding work. For myself, I like the flexability that comes with being able to legally quit a job any time I feel like it. At-will employment cuts both ways, it's foolish, and childish, to imagine the power is concentrated only with the employer.

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30. Randy Wicnhester on March 30, 2006 12:27 PM writes...

There is a review of 'The Disposable American", by NYT business(?) writer Lous Uchitelle in Sunday's NYT Book Review.

The argument is made that in the long run the out of control layoffs that are occurring these days in the US are causing more harm than good.

No doubt, Derek is correct, employers need the ability to release dead wood without too much trouble - but these days managers seem to turn to layoffs as the solution to problems that may be more reflective of bad management choices.

In any case, take a look at the reveiw and the book.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/29/books/29geog.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

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31. Paul E. on March 30, 2006 3:18 PM writes...

Tom B wrote:

Americans deserve better than to put in years of productive service only to be cast aside at the whim of some over-paid, underperforming sea-slug spit out by B-school.

No, they don't. Deserving doesn't enter into it. It's a deal-based world -- I expect to leave my job the instant I have a better offer somewhere else (the minute it makes financial sense for me to jump ship) -- and yes, I do check regularly to see what offers are around. Salary awareness is a fundamental job skill. I expect my employer to let me go the minute it makes financial sense for them to do so, after all. Neither side signed any loyalty oaths. 'Cast aside'? In my industry changing jobs is historically the best way of getting a raise.

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32. Me on March 31, 2006 1:27 AM writes...

The essential question is, what capitalism are we talking about? Since the 1970s, two fundamental changes have been made in the leading (American) model of capitalism.

The first is that the "stakeholder" post-New Dealreformed versio of capitalism (in America) that prevailed in the West after WW2 was replaced by a new model of corporate purpose and responsiblity. The earlier model said that corporations had a duty to ensure the wellbeing of employees, and an obligation to the community (chiefly but not excluisively fulfilled through corporate tax payments).

That model has been replaced by one in which corporation managers are responsible for creating short-term "value" for owners, as measured by stock valuation and quarterly dividends.

The practical result has been constant pressure to reduce wages and worker benefits (leading in some cases to theft of pensions and other crimes), and political lobbying and public persuassion to lower the corporate tax contribution to government finance and the public interest.

In short, the system in the advanced countries has been rejigged since the 1960's to take wealth from workers, and from the funding of government, and transfer it to stockholders and corporate executives.

While that may seem an incendiary comment, it seems to me a simple factual observation. The criticism currently made of Europeans who resist "reform" is that their policies block managers from downsizing and outsourcing jobs, in order to add value to the corporation.

I once called the "CEO Capitalism", since corporate chiefs today effectively control their boards of directors and are also the biggest benefactors of the system, subject only to critical attention from investment-fund managers, themselves interested in maximizing dividends, not in defending workers or the public interest. (The well known American fund manager, John Bogle, now retired, has taken up my argument and advances it in his recent book. "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.")

The second change that has taken place is globalization. The crucial effect of this for society in the advanced countries is that it puts labor into competition with the poorest countries on earth.

We need go no further with what I realize is a very complex matter, other than to not the classical economist David Ricardo's "iron law of wages" which says that in conditions of wage competition and unlimited labor supply, wages will fall to just above subsistence.

There never before has been unlimited labor. There is now, thanks to globalization - and the process has only begun.

It seems to me that this European unrest signals a serious gap in political and corporate understanding of the human consequences of a capitalist model that considers labor a commodity and extends price competition for that commodity to the entire world.

In the longer term, there may be more serious political implications for all what is happening with labor strive in Europe and America.

William Pfaff
International Herald Tribune
March 30th, 2006

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33. daen on March 31, 2006 7:47 AM writes...

It's a deal-based world

Problem is, Paul E, it's an asymmetric deal-based world. Take the issue of leaving your company. If you do it involuntarily (ie you a re laid off) your employer will let you go without much consideration of whether you have a job to go to. If you choose to leave, it is, in your own words, probably because you "have a better offer somewhere else".

What French students are protesting is an added skew to the asymmetry, which is that their future employers can lay off people under 26 in their first jobs within a two-year trial period.

Secure employment conditions are not incompatible with dynamic business environments. Companies in Denmark, for example, typically pay a generous 3 months severance to permanent workers, and union membership is high, but that didn't stop the Economist Intelligence Unit from ranking Denmark as having the World's best business climate. There have, admittedly, been recent reforms in the labour market, but these have been arrived at in a typically Danish fashion - in a protracted and generally polite process of debate between government, employers and unions.

Details here --> http://www.copcap.com/composite-8810.htm

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34. tom bartlett on March 31, 2006 9:19 AM writes...

The quote from William Pfaff above is dead-on. Govt.s and corporations *supposedly* exist within some kind of social contract. In my view, both have skewed WAY too far towards the convenience of the ruling class. The workers are left out of the equation entirely.

"In short, the system in the advanced countries has been rejigged since the 1960's to take wealth from workers, and from the funding of government, and transfer it to stockholders and corporate executives."

We seem to think it is better to knock a few percent off Exxon or Bill Gates' taxes than to achieve a good standard of living for everybody. And globalization is making matters worse.

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35. Paul Hughes on March 31, 2006 11:23 PM writes...

To Tom

"In short, the system in the advanced countries has been rejigged since the 1960's to take wealth from workers, and from the funding of government, and transfer it to stockholders and corporate executives."

Yes, indeed. This is exactly what is happening. Thus the "ownership society" becomes ever more important. Governments that over-tax to solve social issues are simply not going to be "competitive" is attracting global wealth creators (i.e. global corporations).

I suggest you therefore begin to invest your savings in these companies so you as a worker can be paid both wages and receive dividends and capital appreciation as these capitalist vehicles go on doing what they are best at doing which is creating wealth (for you, their shareholder).

Capitalist corporations are means to create wealth. They are not government vehicles to create jobs. Jobs are a byproduct of the capitalist model.

Globalization is indeed the driving force of these changes.

The French are simply having a "reactive" tantrum to something they don't like the sound of rather than thinking things through.

As I said in my first post, maybe a Frech version of "The World is Flat" is required.

You can continue to have strong, global, US controlled corporations or you can "hobble" them with socialistic governmental rules and regulations so that the next Mega corps are Chinese or Indian.

My feeling is that while globalization is painful for some, it also opens up major opportunities for others. The difference is that those people who think they can finish high-school and have a job for life without learning new skills are in big trouble.

Anyway, unfortunately, globalization can not be readily stopped. It is not being forced by Corps or governments. It is a communication/technological revolution.

I guess we could try to "burn" all the books on HTML, routers and fibre-optics..................

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36. Duane on April 2, 2006 7:21 PM writes...

"and yet...despite this restrictive hiring/firing, the european pharma companies managed to eclipse (by far!) the US majors in terms of sales and profit growth in 2005."

Sciwriter thinks this is some sort of indictment of US business and virtue for European pharmas- big snicker.

The Europeans come to the US because of their bad business climate, invest in buying up the profitable US pharmas INSTEAD of investing in Europe, and any employment they have there is because our FDQA clearance process is so slow and rigid, and this is a reason that the US somehow has the WRONG approach to political economy?

And Canada has a health care system that, like Britain's, is "free" and an entitlement, but is a disaster for anyone with chronic ailments, has long waiting lines for treatment, rations care, and forces those who can afford it to jump over the border for treatment- Canada controls costs with below-total-cost price controls (the reason new drugs tend not to come from Canada, as opposed to recycled substances like thalidomide), and we are supposed to apologize for free markets? And adopt Canada's health care approach?

Only if you are a power-hungry member of government.

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