Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 12, 2005

Debunking Boot

Max Boot, a neocon with regular OpEd columns in the LA Times, points to some burning cars in Paris and takes on Europe's problems.

It is precisely because of France's high level of "social protection" that it is now experiencing its own version of urban hell. The welfare state that is the pride and joy of postwar France has become a ball-and-chain hobbling its ability to keep up economically with the despised Anglo-Saxons. In the United States, the government spends 35.9% of gross domestic product; in France, it's 54.5%.

Generous unemployment benefits, free housing and healthcare and other goodies make life cushy even for those without a job. Yet this generosity has not bought social peace. The prisons in France are filled with young men of African and Arab descent who decided to supplement their subsidies with the proceeds from muggings, break-ins and drug deals. The crime rate in France is soaring even as it is declining to a 40-year low across the Atlantic.

According to the World Prison Brief published by the London King's College the incarceration rate in France is 88 per 100,000 national population. The rate in the United States is 726 prisoners per 100,000 Americans.

According to Nation Master there are some 80.1 crimes per 1,000 people in the United States compared to some 62.2 per 1,000 people in France.

Looking at GDP figures one finds 0.2 prisoners per $1 million GDP in the United States, while France has 0.03 prisoners per $1 million GDP.

Boot implies, that a high level of government GDP spending is positive correlated with a high rate of crime and prison population. This is obviously false. The correlation is precisely negative. To achieve his tendency Boot looks at change rates which are mostly depending on short term changes in law (esp. drug and immigration delicts) and general statitical issues. Given the huge differences in absolute numbers, those change rates says nothing about the general quality of life or advantages of certain economic concepts.


Europeans are finding it almost impossible to Viagrify their sclerotic economies because the political class lacks the will to face down such powerful entrenched interests as labor unions, farmers and pensioners.

Dear Mr. Boot, maybe the political class, including you(?), in the United States needs pharmaceutical help to screw the voters. But let me assure you that European workers, farmers and pensioners don´t need any pharmaceutical help to face down their politicans when needed.

Why do editors allow such experts to fill their papers pages? Sorry - a rhetorical question. The LA Times just fired columnist Robert Scheer but added Jonah Goldberg of National Review infamy to their OpEds. Liberal media?

Posted by b on November 12, 2005 at 10:08 UTC | Permalink



the rich & powerful detest any of the fruits gained through struggle whether it is health, logelent, education or working conidtions

their shills & 'thinkers' do their very best to draw the curtain back on any reforms gained in the last century

it is really a measure of their hatred of the people

they would prefer we were unthinking slaves

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 12 2005 14:33 utc | 1

It is precisely because of France's high level of "social protection" that it is now experiencing its own version of urban hell.

Well it is so that some redistribution to the ‘banlieues’ (ghettoes in the press) kept 3rd generation immigrants (male) youth relatively quiet, though as I said before, the violence has been going on for a long time.

Compensatory measures have long existed, and were maintained, even beefed up, by Jospin. These include: more money for schools, smaller classes, social workers, grand frères, literacy classes, some plans for changing the physical environement and territory (not carried out, or not well done), money for women’s associations, sensitivity training for police, funding for cultural and small business enterprises, and more.

These only served to stifle the problem, keep it in check.

These measures both upheld the ‘Republicain’ ideal (liberté, égalité, fraternité) and were contradictory to it: Why the need for compensatory measures, when, moreover, they don’t seem to work?

Since Chirac was elected (though it is possibly not correct to relate it directly to Chirac or his Gvmt.) the subsidies and compensations were gradually cut, or not implemented as originally planned, or not followed up and/or assessed properly. E.g. money for cultural initiative was shunted to a white pianist in Central Paris instead of...etc.

So a peculiar situation came about.

The ‘rioters’ attacked the ‘State’, burning cars, a traditional activity in France, and generally focused on State actors without killing anyone: schools empty of students, TV crews, cars and more cars, churches, also empty, with direct, if only symbolic, personal attacks, aimed at representatives of the State who enter their territory: Police and Fire personnel.

Here again, a contradiction: the rioters adhere, believe in, the general schema, but find themselves attacking the State who promulagates or mouthes it, because it is not fulfilling its role or standing by its word. For that reason, they have no agenda, no politics at all, no revolutionary or any other ideology to propose, nothing. They aren’t even right or left...and yell The Ministers are Ministers they should fix these problems..

They are part of the system, and complaining. Like nurses - sweet young women who believe in doctors and hospitals - going on strike, for better pay and better hours.

These guys want ‘integration’, they want jobs. As simple as that. And they are counting on the State to somehow provide. Rightly so, in their world.

The economic stuff in the article quoted is pure BS.

Posted by: Noisette | Nov 12 2005 17:11 utc | 2

As the above post argues, the 3rd gen. immigrants who riot are French to the Bone. (That might be disputed, discussed.)

Young (15 - 40) ‘Ayrab’ or ‘Muslim’ or ‘immigrant’ men in France (the definition is that of society; an under-privileged and stigmatised group; few of them have read the Koran or heard about the Muslim Brotherhood..) are bleeding Bad.

They have lost their women. Egalitarian and somewhat ‘equal opportunity’ French society saw to it that those who cracked the books, spelt good!, pleased the teachers, and played nice could escape, rise.

They could become travel agents, accountants, trilingual secrataries; publicity agents; nurses and doctors, teachers sometimes; telephonists, video cutters, low-level media people, architectual aides, lab workers, receptionists, and more.

And they did. They bowed their heads and cracked the books, did it right. Low profile, low low low. Serious. No pot, no pregnancy, no running wild. Say yes and yes and yes some more. And they were encouraged by their parents, loved and admired.

The passed the Bac. (High school leaving diploma, at 18, tough.)

Went on to sell water, or take care of old people in homes. Cleaning the shit but getting regular pay. Or just jumping in, hair died blond, let’s do it, I can write or film. Or getting a Gvmt. job. I have a law degree, they say, but I undersand that on the ground one has to be subtle. Nominated clerk of the court. You have to wear suits and stockings.


So the imams and the men suddenly woke up and invoked religion to control. No more stockings, just ugly trainers, old Nike shoes, and veils. No more going out alone, the Koran says that. No more choosing, you have to obey. The tournantes - communal rapes in cellars, got going. Any girl who leaves the quarter dressed sexy (meaning conventional European pretty) can be - whatever.

And so, the clever girls, and the not-so-clever girls left. They married Frenchmen. Or other foreignors, but not Ay-rabs. They pay for things back home - even sometimes buying flats, educating their siblings - just the girls.

Most likely, none of the rioters have ever had a 'steady' or 'serious' girl friend. (Say.)

Last I read (two years ago) the average hourly wage of black women was above that of white women. In the US. Very much the same story.

Posted by: Noisette | Nov 12 2005 18:58 utc | 3

in france, you really do have shisme between different elites. & they are almost constantly at war. as usual the poor are the testing ground of that war

you have a fascist impulse in france - which is not in itself strong but which appears so because it has representatives who are offered many forums

the extreme right has found its voice with sarkozy who offers a toned downed version of the national front mixed with the realpolitic of that old gangster charles pasqua

this voice & its allies amongst the elites - as elsewhere is going for broke but in france a more liberal, a more reasoned elite which exist almost at every level of the administration thwarts them because i think they really do understand their history well & do not want to transfom france into a battlefield

so in the administrations you have those arguing for social programmes of all kinds which really do benefit those with less - & it does have support of the people because the vast majority of them understand - that here - to become marginal is not such a great fall

also many thing that have been fought for & won have been done so in recent memory & you have organisations, associations & syndicates who are able to articulate their strength. these are all broadly democratic

however the situations in the quartiers is a result - less of predetermined attitudes but conflicts, practical conflicts of policies which have terrible result in practice

fear, so strong in so many cultures - has its place here - & that is represented less by racism than a fear of the 'other' - which is not the same thing

sarkozy & the vengeful right wants to smash all the social programmes & that is why he is so provocative but i doubt that he has real & substantial support amongst the elites who are interested in a prolongement of their history - he is the bad cop to villepins good cop - i feel there is a real desire here to find balance

& i see that in the work that i do which concerns some of the people who have been 'rioting' & as someone inferred here - i think lupin, they are articulating a civic responsibility in a way we can all understand because they too understand how delicate the situation is

their demands for the most part are just demands

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 12 2005 19:20 utc | 4

It would be nice to have Frances health care system in the US.

Posted by: jdp | Nov 12 2005 22:57 utc | 5

burned cars....burned cars....burned cars.....burned cars....not to mention bad craziness and a very bad scene...


How many people have died?

I know this is very bad form, but after reading the swill of slime merchants like Mr. Boot I can't help but wonder - what would the body count be if this had happened in the less well off parts of, say, I dunno Houston or East St. Louis?


Posted by: RossK | Nov 13 2005 1:04 utc | 6

The way to understand the manner and degree of coverage of the riots in the US is that France is playing the role of foil, or goat, to the US government to push their handling of Katrina down the Memory Hole. Work up a little outrage about something that doesn't concern them among the sheeple and they forget what should concern them. Rub a cat's neck and it doesn't feel the injection it is getting.

Psychologically, you can call the method employed "projection", or you can call it by its real name--"The Big Lie."

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 13 2005 5:53 utc | 7

P.S. I hope those of you in LA who subscribe the the "LA Slimes" cancel your subscriptions in protest over Scheer. He is quite a bit better than your run-of-the-mill Liberal. Boot should be given "The Boot" instead.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 13 2005 5:56 utc | 8

Was'nt Michael Kinsley recently hired as editorial honcho at the Times?

WTF then? Jonah Goldberg? Jeeesh!

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 13 2005 6:41 utc | 9

No, he was recently fired.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 13 2005 7:22 utc | 10

Kinsley was fired awhile ago. And "boot" is just an all-purpose Hater who the fascists liked so much they shipped him off to put a degree after his name. Whoever is sponsoring hate campaigns, under whatever rationale, he'll be there. (I read his early columns when he was just starting out as an undergrad. It was as though someone vomited on the page. He didn't have a lot in his head back then, so it was often directed at women, which for most of these proto-nazis is probably where it begins. He and the rest of us would be far better served if he'd been more honest & found himself a good therapist. I'm not arguing that extremists of the left persuasion are emotionally healthier in general - cf. D. Horrorwitz.)

But I do hope that people in L.A. revolt at the apparent takeover of a once robust, interesting newspaper by the proto-fascists. I'll do my part by neither reading nor linking to them, and hope others will join me in the revolt. I'm pissed about it. Unlike the NYT, I mean nyt, they didn't turn right when fascists came took power in '80. They held out until a couple of yrs. ago, when I think they were sold to right-wing Chicago trib.

On the subject of newspapers, did everyone see the data that came about this week about continuing significant decline in readership? Idiots continue to ascribe this to the Web, but no one mentions that at least half, if not more is attributable to them being turned from newspapers into cash cows. They've been gutted 'cuz the Wall Street Pirates who run them demand 25-40% profit. There's nothing left in the papers, at least in my corner of the universe.

Posted by: jj | Nov 13 2005 7:29 utc | 11

Oh.... Thanks for link M & jj

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 13 2005 8:03 utc | 12

Plus, his Parkinsons has progressed tremendously.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 13 2005 9:02 utc | 13

jpd @ Nov 12, 2005 5:57:28 PM

pay the taxes that go with that system (try 50%+) and you can have it. also, it is not "free" in that if you don't cotiser - i.e., have an employer that pays in as well as deducting from your paycheck - then you don't have access - unless you're living in a halfway house on the nights when you're lucky. i should know, recently divorced and fighting my way back into the workforce after 6 years off raising children and i can't have my own social health card until i find an employer

Posted by: esme | Nov 13 2005 21:37 utc | 14

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