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Thursday, September 23, 2010

France now, the U.S. later

This morning's news includes widespread strikes in France. Labor unions are fighting a proposed increase in retirement age from 60 to 62. For clarity, full retirement benefits aren't currently available in France until age 65, although President Sarkozy has also proposed increasing that to 67.

France is the Western country where socialist policies are most clearly in direct conflict with reality. Multinational corporations based outside France have reacted to the 35-hour workweek and the virtual impossibility of reducing a workforce in France by not growing employment there. This avoidance exacerbates the economic problems faced by young immigrants in France.

It's a difficult time for France. As elsewhere, many manufacturing jobs have moved to Asia. Population growth is mainly attributable to immigrants, but their assimilation into France -- particularly immigrants from Muslim countries -- has been problematic.

Note: these problems are not specific to France. The U.S. has them too. Social Security is already migrating toward 67 for full eligibility, but it won't stop there. If we do not keep a balance between young and old in this country, we will have to raise eligibility for Social Security to 70... unless we are willing to impose confiscatory tax rates or cut our military in half. Eligibility for Medicare at 65 will likewise become financially untenable. Hard choices!

How do we keep a balance between young and old? By encouraging immigration and facilitating assimilation. Those who advocate closing the Mexican border are threatening the long-term future of our country. The risk is not that we have too many immigrants; the risk is that we don't have enough.

And the irony in misguided opposition to immigration is that most Latino immigrants are nominally or actively Christian.