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As an American married to a Frenchman and living in France I can tell you first hand that there several disadvantages to socialism.
First, there is no precise goal for the Socialists other than to get more. More money, more programs, more vacation time, more free housing. Just more. They are voracious but regularly crucify anyone or entity for any success since it surely came from vicious greed, corruption, or outright exploitation. This hypocrisy goes unnoticed.
They are never satisfied and it is a fundamental mistake to think that you can negotiate an end to their demands. Some of ‘perks’ include government-run health care (which is great if you live in a city and can wait ungodly amounts of time to get an appointment), pension systems, tuition-free universities (whose professors, staff and students constantly strike against for more benefits), and access to free or hugely subsidized housing.
Citizens who work are taxed at one of the highest rates worldwide to feed ever-expanding welfare programs. The average full-time wage-earner in France earns 2,998 Euro per month gross (2,250 net). My husband earns more and therefore pays more. Which is fine. In fact, we pay 41% income tax. His pay stubs aren’t at all what Americans are used to.
His pay stubs are two sheets of A4 paper listing line item after line item of taxes. Not only does the social system require higher ‘contributions’, but we also pay a 20% sales tax (or Value Added Tax). The sales tax alone should make most Americans rethink installing a truly Socialistic system vs the quasi-socialistic system they currently have. The French system requires that many products are taxed at high rates. The French pay nearly 4 times what Americans pay for a gallon of gas.
And here’s the big rub: The overall result has been most devastating to the poorest in France. Unemployment is massive, wages are extraordinarily low, and the incentive for entrepreneurs to risk everything to create something new is crushed under the promise of enormous corporate tax (which is why people get their free education in France and take those skills to the USA to become an entrepreneur).
Like many cultures and under many governments, the poorest pay the highest in quality of life and opportunity, and the middle class support the bulk of the social programs via taxes.
I hear a lot on social media from Americans who want what I’ve got. Free healthcare. First and very importantly, it’s anything but free. We prepay for healthcare not just for ourselves but our neighbors. That’s ok. But the doctors in France are paid a government salary. They go to school for the same amount of time as an American doctor but have zero hopes of earning what American doctors earn.
French doctors are distributed based on population requirements. So depending on where you live you probably wait weeks to see a general practitioner and will definitely wait much longer to see a specialist. Need new eyeglasses? No problem. The first appointment to see an ophthalmologist is 9 months out. To see a cardiologist in my region is an eight-month wait. When I openly gasped at the wait time, the response was, “If there’s something really wrong with you go to the hospital”. So, in fact, that’s what most French do. The hospitals are sorely understaffed and overused.
Additionally, Socialism has left charities and the idea of being charitable sorely wanting. People are less inclined to be generous with others because they’ve already pre-paid for social programs. It has created an intolerance and sometimes downright disdain for others. This is particularly true of immigrants.
Americans pride themselves on being nice. They pride themselves on being generous. And most importantly Americans and her immigrants love the opportunities that are available in the US. It’s all about the American dream. American has profited greatly by encouraging and integrating immigrants into her culture, her workforce, and her very basic identity.
There is a French version of the American dream. Though it’s more a nightmare than a dream for the working French. As an immigrant in
But what’s most interesting isn’t the absolute lack of efficiency on the part of the governmental offices, it’s the conversation that I found myself in during the part of the course that teaches immigrants where to register for a job once their visa is approved. In a room of 21 immigrants primarily from the Middle East and Africa (3 of us from Russia and the US), there were plenty of examples in diversity. That wasn’t a surprise.
What was a surprise was that when the instructor asked for a show of hands of those of us who would be seeking work. Only 2 hands went up. Mine and another woman from Russia. The instructor asked the others what they intended to do in France. The bold answer was, and this a direct quote from one of the other attendees, “I’m only in France for the free house and a check”. I was stunned.
I’ve never in my life heard an immigrant to the US utter such a thing. The immigrant friends that I have in the US and others I’ve met or worked with came to the US for the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. The came to the US to work, to build something, to find their own piece of the American Dream.
The United States has numerous social programs to help those need. But I can’t imagine that Americans, with their can-do spirit and general optimism, would want a truly Socialistic state that leads to a lack of ambition, an overall malaise of its citizens, a decrease in charity, and a marketing message to people worldwide stating Come To America – Land Of The Free Ride.
Written by Natalie Armstrong Motin, ADR Practice Builder / Marketing Specialist, Marketing Resolution