In yet another embarrassing indictment for the beleaguered French government, a group of trend setters is encouraging the country’s young people to get out of Dodge while they still can.
"Barrez-Vous" is the name of a new campaign launched by journalist Mouloud Achour, rapper Mokless and entrepreneur Félix Marquardt.
The men, all modish 30-somethings, argue that France has become “a society where an elite group of a few thousand people, whose average age hovers around 60 years, decides just about everything.”
They say young people would be better off seeking opportunities in foreign lands.
Barrez-Vous has launched a slick new website to get the word out. It includes a ‘user manual’ to help readers plot the logistics of escape, a collection of links to articles bemoaning the decline of France, and an impassioned call to action on the front page.
“Explore the world,” it says. “Soak up the creativity and enthusiasm that are blooming elsewhere today.”
France is a case study in the euro zone’s most central debate these days: which is the path to prosperity, growth investments or austerity measures?
We know where French President Francois Hollande stands. During his campaign earlier this year, he stood against austerity and promised to raise taxes on the very wealthy so the government could spend on programs to protect the middle and lower classes. This included a plan to spend US$3 billion on a program to create more entry-level jobs for young workers.
But opponents have railed against the president’s promised plan to tax the rich, arguing that job creators and investors would flee the country in search of better opportunities.
Fears of a wealth exodus came to a head this month, when France’s richest man sought citizenship in neighboring Belgium. Bernard Arnault lives in Paris and heads a luxury goods empire; he is estimated by Forbes to be worth $41 billion. He denied that his dual-citizenship request had anything to do with taxes, but opponents of Hollande’s socialist policies painted Arnault’s decision as a warning.
So the rich are spooked, and the working class is increasingly pinched by rising unemployment -- now at 10.2 percent.
The Barrez Vous campaign doesn’t want to engage on either side of the argument.
“Right or left, austerity or stimulus -- the only issue today is whether we will experience GDP growth of .05 percent or 1 percent next year, and whether the unemployment rate will be below or well above 10 percent. These figures are already distressing and will worsen in the coming years, you can be sure,” the website said.
Poor Hollande. It’s as if he planned a massive event, but the rich sponsors bailed and the cool kids are making plans elsewhere.
The president’s approval ratings reached an unprecedented low of 43 percent this week, according to poll results released on Sunday.