I agree with Brian(!): what is the rest of the world like, the UK is the fourth ‘freest’ economy? I recently came across the claim that 10 per cent of the French population (a quarter of the work-force) has civil servant status. This figure includes employees of public sector companies like EDF-GDF (electricity and gas company, which owns private power companies in the UK).
The good news is that even a modest proposal such as ‘natural wastage’: not replacing some of the bureaucrats who retire (at 55), has profound effects. The same is true of public spending: with over 1,000 taxes collected in France, it isn’t hard to find cost savings, just scrapping the 500 most expensive to collect would be a significant shift.
There are two kinds of reformers in France at the moment: the libertarians who want to change the system from ‘dirigisme’ to capitalism, and the European fanatics who want the French state to cut spending in order to keep the Euro afloat.