18 May 2007

La Politique Francaise, Part 1: A Disclaimer

[Chalk it up to my future career in law that I begin this with a EULA...]

To get this ball rolling, let's start with a platitude that you should keep in mind throughout the future posts:

  • France is not the United States and the United States are not France

Obviously true but often forgotten when analyzing current events in another country. The guys over at Marginal Revolution (a hugely insightful, economics oriented blog) gave the issue a once over here. The main message is that the model of government, social policy, and economic policy that you have for the United States doesn't do you much good in terms of analyzing the situation in Western Europe. What could be (and generally is) good policy in Western Europe, single-payer socialized health care, for example, can't be simply imported to the United States and be expected to work. The conception of government, particularly the balance of trust/skepticism that the public keeps in regard to the government, is completely different between the two countries. Certainly the cause of this is historical, but I'm not prepared to do that analysis now.

So, consider that a disclaimer, when you read about French politics, don't immediately interpret the information in terms of American politics. Remember, there are almost no situations in life in which a direct comparison between two complicated systems is possible, if someone tries to tell you that a situation is actually really simple and that you already understand it in terms of another situation, be skeptical. Nothing is simple, nothing is straightforward. It sounds daunting but, in reality, it's what makes this kind of analysis so much fun. (Your conception of fun may vary...)

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