Certainly the conditions in the suburban slums of Paris are difficult. Unemployment is twice the national average, which is almost incomprehensible as overal French unemployment hovers around 10%. But how can residents justify burning hundreds of automobiles and many buildings? How will that serve to move their communities forward?
As the battle to replace Chirac heats up, Dominique de Villepin and Nicolas Sarkozy are using the riots to build support for their candidacy. But if you thought American politics were ugly, listen to what these two are saying:
- Sarkozy has called the rioters "scum" and vowed to "hose down" the rioters. But at the same time, he's advocating "positive discrimination" measures related to jobs and education which would give preferential treatment to immigrants. He's also advocating state funding for Imams, and for Mosque construction. Yikes.
- de Villepin is Chirac's protege. Yikes.
From 10,000 miles away, clearly I'm not qualified to judge whether or not the Muslim immigrants from North Africa, who apparently are mostly French speaking, are being effectively integrated into French society. If not, is it the fault of the French, or the immigrants? More importantly, how much is France's socialistic economy to blame which insufficiently encourages entrepreneurship? In the United States, immigrants quickly setup businesses and go to work, whether or not they can speak the English language.
I would suggest that Chirac, de Villepin, and Sarkozy all take a closer look at the US economic model for guidance on how to solve this challenge.