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The French just aren’t corrupt enough

Just browsing in my local newsagents brought me face to face with the burning cars that coloured the covers of Time, Newsweek, and other current affairs magazines. A quick flick through left me cold except for one quote (unfortunately unsourced) that made sense.

An Italian analyst argued that riots were far less likely to occur in Italy as the country was too corrupt and everyone was working in the black economy. Whereas the French state prevented immigrants from making any money at all and destroyed their aspirations, Italian graft was far more amenable to the hard graft of immigrants.

10 comments to The French just aren’t corrupt enough

  • This reminds me of an old joke in China: the one thing worse than a corrupt dictatorship is an incorrupt one.

    But he is making a rather important point: it’s all but impossible for immigrants to start businesses and otherwise get ahead in France, because the government has tons of laws on the books regarding such things and rigorously enforces them.

  • Verity

    Also, for most jobs in France, you have to have at least the equivalent of a highschool diploma and these are few and far between among the little cocks of the walk in the banlieus.

  • Eric Anondson

    This essay is in Theodore Dalrymple’s latest book, “What’s left of our culture”. It’s about Italy and the UK. Comparing the two states in the 1960s and then in 2000s. Italy was once an impoverished agricultural country, and the UK was an industrial superpower. Today Italy and the UK are nearly equal in many measures and exceeds the UK in cultural ones.

    He notes that Italy and the UK both have suffocating bureaucracies. The UK bureaucracy is comparably uncorruptable, and Italy’s is thoroughly corruptable that everyone can bypass the obstacles bureaucracies throw in front of average citizens.

  • Henry

    Thanks, Eric. I was just about to mention Dalrymple’s essay. He also mentions how the incorruptability of the British civil service leads many people to think that the state is on their side. Allow me to quote him:

    “In Britain, by contrast [with Italy], the financial probity of the public administration, a legacy of the Victorian era (in which the state hardly impinged on the lives of individuals at all) misled people into a fatal misapprehension. They supposed that, because no public official ever asked for or expected a bribe, or could be easily swayed by other forms of illicit influence, public officials actually worked both for the public good and the good of individuals. People therefore came to believe in the beneficence, or at least the benevolent neutrality, of the state. Its officials were honest and fair, and therefore it was good.”

    I don’t think every single state employee is trying to swindle me out of the services I’ve paid for with my taxes, but the system does nothing to weed out inefficiency and obstructionism. I think Dalrymple’s quote could also be applied to the BBC, whose anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-market slant is made even more dangerous for the fact that the BBC holds itself to be the world’s arbiter of truth.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Like i said in my piece about corruption, I understand that about a third of Italian GDP comes via the underground economy.

  • Elaine

    The French state also works against white, Christian non-immigrant French. Many French entrepeneurs have set up businesses in the UK and elsewhere because the bureaucracy in Franch makes it so difficult to set up a new business. These people changed their circumstances instead of just sitting sitting on their arses and whingeing.

  • Jacob

    “I understand that about a third of Italian GDP comes via the underground economy.”

    To be exact – the underground economy is underground, and therefore unreported, and cannot be included in the GDP statistic.
    However, it is possible that some “spillover”, or consumer spending of laundered money, is reflected in the GDP.

    The underground economy also saved the USSR and other communist countries from actual starvation. The underground economy and the bribe system are great blessings: they put a limit to how stiffling and medlesome a government can become. They provide a means to survival.

  • Paul Marks

    Henry is correct about the attitude of most British people as regards Civil Servants.

    Indeed such administrators do not tend to be corrupt. So the British just put down government failure to lazy administrators and governments try and think up new ways to make the administration work better.

    Actually most administators now work harder than they have ever done (the days of the long lunch are long gone) and yet government activities are still a mess.

    The basic concept that government does not work because it is government (not because of bad or lazy people in government) still does not occur to most British people.

    On Italy I have been told that they have less of the tower block estates than France does, I would like to know if Italy has less public housing than France.

  • Agathe

    “Whereas the French state prevented immigrants from making any money at all and destroyed their aspirations,”
    Have you thought that they are making more money this way than by any other ?

    The French state has several times as many rules than successful occidental states, but they only apply to the occidentals like you and me. The non-occidental don’t feel their forms the same way, and they don’t look like they have ever been enforced anything in their lives.

    Body language ? Consumption ? I thought these where classics for any English speaking person, but you speack like the French man in the street. Custom officers could tell you that the average standand of leaving is higher in those “lost territories” than in many still French villages. They consume more than the Parisians and the tobbaco shops (bars with a monopoly on gambling tikets, tobacco, and stamps) here and there are so expensive that no occidental buyer can afford them. The babyboomers are selling their “bar-tabac” and their real estate to the Chinese and the Arabs (with or without a French passport). If you don’t like French cheese, you won’t care. But you should care about the new deals that these invaders get every year from our government because your turn will come too. The Portuguese are leaving France, because they can’t compete honestly with “them” anymore and the quality of our services is worsening. I should write more, but it will be a better exercice from you to guess and feel how it works. Sorry for the syntax, I’m so disappointed and tired.