Monday, July 24, 2006

“The only tragedy is that the ploy worked.”

“The only tragedy is that the ploy worked” writes FDI Magazine Editor Courtney Fingar of the recent hunger strike by UDF party deputy Jean Lassalle. The goal of the stunt was to gilt-trip a manufacturer into keeping a low-yielding plant open.

Some unfortunate places in the world are starved of investment; but only a politician in France can claim to have literally starved for investment. In what might be the most radical investment promotion strategy ever used, a
parliamentary representative for the Pyrenees went on a 39-day hunger strike to force a Japanese company to reinvest in his constituency. The only tragedy is that the ploy worked.

Toyal, a subsidiary of Osaka-based Toyo Aluminium, had not attempted to close its Accous plant; it merely announced plans to build a second factory in a nearby town. For Jean Lassalle, a deputy in the UDF party, this smacked of betrayal. He ensconced himself in the National Assembly building in Paris, where he received such visitors as prime minister Dominique de Villepin and shed nearly 50lbs. He ended up in hospital, and the French government ended up agreeing to compensate Toyo for the money it wasted on its new plant site.
Foreign Direct Investment Magazine is a part of the Financial Times group, and as a journal with a specific focus is rarely given to comic flights – in other words, Ms Fingar is dead serious when she asks what a politician is doing to his own country, and why he would ever want to encourage a non-productive operation to drag his constituency down.
Mr Lassalle triumphed. Within days, he was digesting whole foods and, reportedly, asking doctors for a glass of red wine. Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy announced on the radio that a “happy ending” had been reached...

[ . . . ]

And why any company would consider setting up a plant on Mr Lassalle’s turf, knowing that it could face similar emotional blackmail if it dared to pull out, is beyond imagining.

[ . . . ]

…A hunger strike would not be nearly as effective in convincing investors to come as it was in forcing them to stay.
As Japan’s ambassador to France remarked: “Japanese investors will hesitate to settle here, for fear of being
held hostage.”
Of course the economics resulting from such emotionalism has another side to it. It fails miserably to create an environment where the supply of jobs created can match demand. The successful are following France’s most famous Elvis impersonator off to the borders.
"They were asking me to pay taxes on money I didn't have," Payre said. "I had no choice but to leave the country."
True to form as it is with any socialistic arrangement, the only things left to take away are those things that come with the promise of a nanny state. The man who runs this artful blog has seen his share of it. He was building a small business in coding and made the mistake of taking a vacation and leaving his only employee to work on a project for his only client. Needless to say, like anyone sold on Nanny’s notion that no one is ever truly responsible for their fate, he caused the client to dump the project.
Suddenly he had no business, and had to lay-off his employee. Paying the hefty bill for the fool’s unemployment was to follow. When that couldn’t be paid, he became a scofflaw who’s access to the state run medical system was now cut off except in the event he shows up in the emergency ward as a bloody lump.

What do you end up with? A business environment that can barely create clients, and employment environment that will scare even the most promising concept into obscurity, and the final outcome: able bodied people with little to do, and in a position to do even less for others.

Don’t forget that Nanny loves you, and that she only hurts the one she loves.

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