Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Trouble in Florange

The world of manufacturing and business is not a topic I take on with enthusiasm since my knowledge is so meager as to be non-existent. But the websites and television news have been endlessly debating the issue of the promised nationalization of the blast furnaces in the town of Florange that depends for its livelihood to a great extent on the Arcilor-Mittal steel works on the Franco-Luxembourg border, and the breaking of that promise by the government. Minister of Industrial Recovery Arnaud Montebourg (photo below) was the one who made the reckless promise, and now has to work hard on damage control. The French government, for its part, has to decide what it wants - nationalization of certain industries (an older method of protection), or Socialist-backed participation in the larger EU enterprises with the risk of losing jobs (in this case over 600 jobs are threatened). The topic is, as I said, too big for me. I found a well-written English-language article at a website called The Current Moment. If I understood it (most of it) I guarantee you will, assuming you have any interest in blast furnaces.

You can also read Business Week's November article that announced the nationalization. There are English-language articles all over the web.

It is easy to guess what Marine Le Pen thinks of this display of economic savvy on the part of the Socialists. In a long interview at Boulevard Voltaire, reprinted at Nations Presse she responds to questions:

- Does that mean that Montebourg tried "to dupe" everybody with a promise he knew perfectly well he couldn't keep?

- It's the ambiguity of this man. He is in a lie, a basic lie… It's not just a disagreement of view points between the prime minister and Montebourg. He is obeying a very precise role assigned to him by François Hollande: he has to make everyone forget that Socialism is subservient to European ultra-liberalism (i.e., unregulated globalism). He must make promises, pretending that it's possible all the while knowing that the nationalization would not take place. (…) This nationalization will never take place for a simple reason: the Socialist Party is subservient to the dictates and ultra-liberal ideology of Europe…

- Was it also a sham when Montebourg implied he might resign?

- At any rate he should have resigned. The basic fracture was so symbolic that he should have resigned. If only to point the finger at the compromise made by the Socialist Party with the ultra-liberal ideology. He could have shown that his proposal was sincere. I say this even though it is not in my interest, it is better for me if the French are aware of the compromise. The very fact that he is still in the government demonstrates the compromise. (…) Montebourg, today, no longer has any credibility in defending an economic model other than the one to which he himself is subject as minister in the government.

- How do you explain the fact that he stayed?

- They are capable of anything not to be excluded from ministerial perks. It's the same for minister of Housing Cécile Duflot, the same process: they want "minister" on their calling card… Talleyrand said: "A ministry that is supported is a ministry that collapses." It's unfortunate but very revealing…

Note: What did Cécile Duflot do? I'm not sure, but a very funny recent story concerns her request to the archdiocese to come to the aid of the homeless by offering them the unused buildings it possesses. To which the archdiocese responded that it has always offered the walls of the churches to the homeless, and at any rate it has very few unused buildings at its disposal, and even those are temporary possessions.

Note: If hundreds of jobs are lost the government will have to pay a lot in unemployment compensation. But what would it cost to nationalize an industry, or part of an industry? Much much more I would think. Making Montebourg's promise all the more ludicrous.

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At December 11, 2012 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to see Marine using "ultra-liberalism" as a whipping boy. The EU is not ultra-liberal, it is managerial, "bureaucrat-capitalist." Just like France, except with a different set of bureaucrats giving the orders. She should be satisfied to accuse the Socialists' surrender of French sovereignty to international managers, not whip up an anti-free market frenzy where there are no free marketeers to be found.


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