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Monday, September 25, 2006

Sonho europeu

European job-killing machine de Richard W. Rahn
The European Court of Justice has just ordered the British to adopt some of the more rigid work rules of Continental Europe. One reason the British have prospered more and have almost half of the unemployment rate of Germany and France is the British have much more flexible work rules. Now the European Union demands the staff in British firms have at least 11 hours off between work days, a minimum of one day off per week, and an extended break at least every six hours.

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A major reason the U.S. has grown more rapidly than most other developed countries is that unions and the government have, for the most part, been sensible enough to recognize both differences in job requirements and in personal preferences to allow employees and employers to voluntarily find ways to accommodate each other's needs to everyone's benefit. France, Germany and some of the other European countries have extremely rigid work rules, such as the French requirement that workers not work more than 35 hours weekly, even if they want to, and the almost impossibility of firing workers, no matter how lazy and incompetent. The predictable result is there has been little growth in private-sector employment in these countries -- the U.S., with a smaller population, has created more private sector jobs in the last four years than Europe has in the last 20.

Sweden is often cited as an example of the success of the high-tax high-spend European model. But in fact, Sweden has created virtually no new net private sector jobs since 1950, and has fallen from the fourth-richest, on a per capita basis, member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the group of major industrial countries) in 1970 to only 16th now.
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