Monday, November 07, 2005

France's Right Wing Government May Have To Turn To "War On Poverty" Solutions To Stem Rioting

Many countries have attracted large groups of immigrants to work as cheap labor by the industrialists who own the corporations. And France has increasingly become this pool of immigrants. The Muslim population of France now numbers 5 million, the largest of any European democracy. But at the same time that so many immigrants settled in France, the conservative government of Chirac has cut back on social programs, in an example of typical right wing pandering to the class interests of the wealthy class who often puppeteer right wing political parties. And with the high unemployment that is runnning rampant in France, the discontent brewing from 30-40% poverty among young Muslims is spreading violence across France.

Former French President, Socialist Francois Mitterrand has been a heavy critic of the conservative policies of Chirac that has helped to create the high unemployment in France. Now France may have to turn to policies similar to the LBJ-era "War On Poverty" to help stem the social unrest in France. Some "urban renewal" policies are being promoted, but whether these will be enough to help with the frustrations of the Muslim community are good questions.

The right wing government of Chirac cut the social welfare spending by about $310 million Euros(about $370 million American dollars) just this year alone.

In the 1960's with many American cities ablaze with race riots, Lyndon Johnson appointed Attorney General Ramsey Clark to study the cause of urban violence and the solutions became known as the "War On Poverty" programs. Like the Blacks of 1960's America racism was rampant in America, and in France many of the Muslim immigrants feel poorly integrated into French society and discriminated against.

Certainly lawless conduct such as setting fires must be cracked down on. Burning 1,200 or !,400 automobiles a night as well as many businesses is not productive for anyone. It solves nothing. This lawlessness must be stopped. But constructive steps to repair the social problems such as the high unemployment and povery need to be addressed. The conservative government is not the best government to enact this change. But the farther it moves down the path to enact policies that remedy poverty and work similar to the American affirmative action and other racial or ethnic equalizing efforts will tell whether the ethnic divides of France can be healed. If the conservative government is too timid in it's efforts, then the ethnic divides that are tearing France apart will only worsen the problem rather than heal it.


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