Your Lying Eyes

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23 November 2005

French Riot Aftermath: Cluelessness Reigns!

This BBC article on the aftermath of the French riots is a study in irrelevance. The most obvious explanation of the riots is that there is a large community of third world immigrants living in a modern European welfare-state. People from Africa (north or south) simply lack...Read more (on the whole - not everyone of them, of course) the necessary "human capital" (i.e., brains) to function successfully in a technological society. If being successful in France required subsistence farming or hand-to-hand combat, undoubtedly the immigrants would stand a decent chance. But it doesn't - instead, one must be capable of fairly demanding cognitive skills. Now unlike in the U.S., where welfare is given out rather grudgingly and low wage jobs are plentiful, France has generous welfare and strong unions which keep wages high. Thus, there isn't a lot for third-world immigrants to do. And what do young men with little to work to do tend to do instead? Raise hell, that's what.

Enough with the obvious. What does the BBC analysis tell us?
[O]ver the past three decades, French governments of all colours have implemented an array of initiatives aimed at tackling widely documented problems.
Huh - government programs haven't worked?
The problem, it seems, is not one of neglect - but one of ineffectual action.
Uh-huh. We just need the right programs.
...one reason for the failure is that urban policies have focused too much on "urban regeneration".
...the underlying causes of the crisis, such as bad schools, have not seriously been dealt with.
...[funding] has been spread too thinly and used for patronage purposes.
...the current centre-right government has made problems worse by putting a halt to the neighbourhood policing launched by the previous administration.
So you've got everything under control, then? Great. Here in the U.S., many claim that local control and funding of school districts puts poor communities at a disadvantage, but apparently French poor neighborhoods have uniquely deep pockets:
[sociologist Sebastian] Roche points out that to improve education, you must allow local schools to choose their teachers and set higher wages. But this is unthinkable in the country's heavily centralised education system.
Oh I'm sure those rioting neighborhoods are just salivating at the thought of being able to raise teacher salaries.

Finally, at the end of the article, some semblance of realism begins to creep in:
France is also characterised by a high degree of social protection and many labour-market rigidities. This helps those already in work but prevents the creation of low-skill, entry-level jobs. The result is 25% unemployment among the young - and zero job prospects for the poorly-educated youths of the ghettos.
But they don't dare procede to the next logical step in the argument: that low-wage work is the only likely prospect for these residents for generations to come. France must stop immigration from third-world countries immediately, and begin serious deportation for any law breakers if it hopes to stem this tide.

5 Comments:

Anonymous jimbo said...

Ziel, thanx for summarizing the article and highlighting key points. Again, from living 8 years in France I got to see alot of this up close. I have to say I agree with alot of your observations. A stint in socialist (even if not always in name) France could send any left winger such as myself a few notches to the right. I think that alot of the programs there are implemented in good spirit but lend themselves too often to abuse on the part of the clever loophole acrobats. I saw a piece on the US news today about college athletes living in free public housing and cashing in on their housing stipends. Better oversight would be a big start.

November 27, 2005 10:13 AM  
Blogger Flint said...

The summary of your position at the top of this post is that Africans are stupid and should be restricted to farming and physical combat. If I got that wrong, please let me know and ignore the rest of this comment.

I know it's naivete on my part, but I still struggle with the idea that supposedly intelligent or somewhat reasonable peple still hold opnions like these. On what are the IQ results you posted based on? Who determines a person's (ney, a whole country's) ability to learn higher level cognitive skills? What in your experience of life on this planet and your extensive travels through the African continent leads you to your opinion? I really am curious about this. I'm trying to understand other views of the world see, so I'm open to learning how other people come to see the world the way they do.

December 02, 2005 2:35 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

No, I don't believe anybody should be restricted to anything, and I certainly don't think that Africans should be restricted to low-skill work. But there is no evidence to suggest that a large group of Africans will function in a modern economy similarly to Europeans - most evidence suggests that this is unlikely. France, by allowing such large numbers of Africans into their country took a big risk that somehow it might work out. I don't see why anyone should be surprised that things are not working out. There are lots of intelligent Africans - but I know of no examples in recent history where any African population had educational and economic achievement levels similar to European populations.

December 02, 2005 11:49 PM  
Blogger Flint said...

And in your opinion, this lack of acheivement by African populations is not at all tied to the systematic explotiation of the African continent by multiple European countries due to their superior military power? I think you could find a clear historic determinant for the current state of the African continent and the success or lack thereof of Africans worldwide and I disagree with your position that Africans are in any way cognitively inferior to Europeans. I don't argue that intelligence exists, simply that it is an ephemeral concept that is difficult to measure. I think a thorough and unbiased review of whatever testing methods are being used to determine the relative IQs of countries around the world are Eurocentric and far from authoritative in determining the ability of a people to perform any set of skills. The danger and damage in your position is that real policy choices are made based on them (and you appear to advocate those choices). If your opinion that Africans are less intelligent than Europeans is false, can you imagine the damage a set of policies based on that idea would be? Do you care?

December 03, 2005 4:12 AM  
Blogger ziel said...

Yes, I certainly find it plausible that the historically lower achievement levels of Africans in recent history is due to rapacious colonial practices and prevalent discrimination and racism. I also find it plausible that the very low IQ scores in sub-saharan Africa are at least partly due to malnutrition and disease and other terrible aspects of life there.
But there's no proof that this is the case. So when you say The danger and damage in your position is that real policy choices are made based on [unproven theories] I couldn't agree with you more. We don't really know why African achievement is significantly less than Europeans'. But France did make a decision, and they decided that they agreed with you - they invited millions of Africans into their country on the premise that they could be as productive as Frenchmen in their new environment. So far, this has not worked out very well. My advice would be for nations not to experiment with such important policy decisions based on hunches.

December 03, 2005 9:21 AM  

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