The Cash Money Crew

Three million people marched in France today against a labor flexibility bill, possibly the largest protests in the history of modern France. It’s the kind of reaction you’d expect in Bengal:

The marches were part of a nationwide day of action against the Villepin legislation, which was intended to encourage hiring by making it easy for companies to fire workers under age 26 during their first two years on the job. [Link]

“It is a collective failure of the French system,” said Louis Chauvel, a sociologist who studies generational change. “You earn more doing nothing in retirement at the age of 60 to 65 than working full-time at the age of 35…”

… A sweeping survey of people in 22 countries released in January found that France was alone in disagreeing with the premise that that the best economic model is “the free enterprise system and free market economy.” [Link]

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p>According to the poll cited above, more Indians believe in a free market economy than even the Brits, Germans or French. China tops the poll, and France sits at the bottom.

Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments: “In one sense we are indeed facing what has been called ‘the end of history,’ in that there is now an extraordinary level of consensus about the best economic system.” [Link]

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p>My theory is that rapid development gives people faith in the redemptive power of the invisible hand. The poll was conducted in India’s major cities, so urbanites support liberalization. But the poll says nothing about the voter-heavy heartland.

Selected numbers:

China: 74%
U.S.: 71%
India: 70%

UK: 66%
Canada: 65%
Germany: 65%
France: 36%

Here are poll results and methodology.

23 thoughts on “The Cash Money Crew

  1. more Indians believe in a free market economy than even the Brits, Germans or French

    Sounds like two things at play here 1) a hopeful optimism on the part of those who have had little experience living under such a system 2) a cautious skepticism on the part of those who have had greater experience with the system. As you rightly point out though, the numbers probably look very different when you bring in the rural population.

  2. in IndiaÂ’s major cities, so urbanites support liberalization. But the poll says nothing about the voter-heavy heartland.

    The same assumption can be made of American heartland, I would think.

  3. “1) a hopeful optimism on the part of those who have had little experience living under such a system”

    Good point. Just look at the Chinese data.

  4. 2) a cautious skepticism on the part of those who have had greater experience with the system.

    Or, alternatively, a “we take the fruits for granted” attitude by those who’ve spent several generations within it whilst shielded by an American socio-economic-military umbrella….

  5. Sounds like two things at play here 1) a hopeful optimism on the part of those who have had little experience living under such a system 2) a cautious skepticism on the part of those who have had greater experience with the system. As you rightly point out though, the numbers probably look very different when you bring in the rural population.

    deep comments that.
    of course to reach a statistically representative popn you’d have to build the roads to do a face to face survey and then get some pale-ass flunkey to truck down and converse with some khaini-chewing peasant which would mean the two would have to learn each others’ languages – not in this lifetime

  6. Wow. What does Free Market System even mean that one can readily agree or disagree with?

  7. of course to reach a statistically representative popn – not in this lifetime

    Dude, why the snark? Been seeing too much of that on this forum lately, can we all go easy on that?

    And I think you’re wrong about the ‘not in this lifetime’ bit :)

  8. Dhaavak – interesting observation (which I generally agree with). What’s surprising is that people who have done substantial work in the rural sector (e.g. Jean Dreze) have advocated some pretty strongly market based approaches to solving hunger/poverty issues along with the need to address basic human “capabilities”.

    Vinod – I see your point about the role of strategic interests. I actually saw it the other way around, i.e. S Korea stands ideologically and strategically opposed to the North and so its high numbers are a reflection of these sentiments as well.

    Still a bit confused about France – they have some crazy-high unemployment rates, and you’d think that this would give them some pause…

  9. Still a bit confused about France – they have some crazy-high unemployment rates, and you’d think that this would give them some pause

    Why work when you have entitlements?

    During my time in France, I’ve noticed the general lack of enthusiasm in public for almost anything. The subways are full of people who are dull and lifeless. The private offices are full of people who have less enthusiasm than people who work for the DMV in the US. The only excitement is in the museums/ETower – because of tourists. It’s the hallmark of a country that’s reached a dead-end, and knows that it takes too much effort to make a U-turn and retrace its steps.

    Other countries in Europe(Germany/UK) are better, but the level of enthu in the US is miles ahead. Any French SM’er out there – feel free to correct me.

    In India, however, especially in the metros, the level of enthusiasm and optimism about the future is even ahead of the US. No surprise there.

    M. Nam

  10. The private offices are full of people who have less enthusiasm than people who work for the DMV in the US. The only excitement is in the museums/ETower – because of tourists. It’s the hallmark of a country that’s reached a dead-end

    However my french friends continue to insist that this pessimism is just a creation of those ‘jealous’ Americans, and their country is doing just fine.

    Yes, the optimism is the best thing about India now…it is just SO in the air everywhere. It’s wonderful. I agree, MN.

  11. Badmash & dhavaak,

    I am not so sure if there is as great a divide between the rural and urban populations at least in India. I am not “fluent” enough to ask people whether they believe in a free market economy. But I would ask them the following questions.

    Would you prefer to send your kid to a private school or a government school?

    Would you rather go to a private hospital or a government hospital?

    Would you prefer to ride in the private buses or take the train?

    Do you like to watch Cable TV or watch Doordarshan?

    Based on the responses I would say as consumers they are very pro-privatization. They donÂ’t always vote that way, I think.

  12. tef – sure, it’s probably not a clean/neat divide. I mean, as you point out, given some choices (esp. schools) it’s likely that people would take the private system any day. Others I doubt very much – e.g. ask how many rural Indians how much they’d like to see the railway system privatized. The same applies to agriculture – there is much resistance to the removal of subsidies and other protections from global market forces.

  13. Isnt it stark that so called “communist” china has more than double the number of people believing in free market compared to France??

    The French student protests and little bit of rioting shows clearly how strongly they feel about their entitlements.

    I bet anyone a million dollors that thats not the case in Indian and Chinese RURAL areas. This is not a RURAL v/s Urban issue at all. In fact a RURAL person in India is more likely to not be even aware of any entitlements he/she gets as per Indian system.

  14. The poll data is skewed. It only support the sentiments of Urbanites. I am also not sure if the sampling data (which itself is too small a number) represented the socio-economic diversity and illiterates of the metro cities. I am sure the data had more Libertarian kinda guys (dominant among the techies) than others to be a real representation of the society.

  15. Krish,

    Yes the poll was conducted in urban areas. Manish’s blog states this quite clearly. But how do you know that AC Nielsen did not take into account the “socio-economic diversity” of the cities? How do you know that the sampling data was too small? How do you know that the poll had more libertarian types? How many techies are there in the cities? Does the population of techies, even in cities exceed 5%?

  16. Indian ‘illiterates’ and poor, especially in the cities, tend to be surprisingly well-informed and entrepreneurial. I’d be surprised if they would not support a system that encourages these. Again, that’s somewhat of speculation.

  17. what a surprise…countries which benefitted from the unfair market system are saying that it’s the best…how about polling the South Americans?

  18. Perhaps the high number of positive respondents in Asia is due to the fact that all the countries have only recently, relatively speaking, liberalised their economies (even S. Korea’s liberlization gained steam post 1997 financial crisis). Thus, there has been an explosion of a pent up entrepreneurial spirit. People have clearly benefitted from this liberlization because things were so screwed before that and suddenly everybody says, this free market thing is the way to go. IMO, something similar must have happened in Europe in the 1950′s/60′s. So, it would be great to see the numbers from Europe from that period too. And I wonder how things will look in Asia, which is the most supportive of free markets (and Europeans/Eurasians and Lat Am are the most pessimistic), in about 20-30 years???

    Badmash….”a hopeful optimism on the part of those who have had little experience living under such a system”, you are spot on!!!

  19. Would you prefer to send your kid to a private school or a government school?

    Would you rather go to a private hospital or a government hospital?

    Would you prefer to ride in the private buses or take the train?

    Do you like to watch Cable TV or watch Doordarshan?

    My experience is that people in rural areas will send the children to private schools and at the same time, will curse them for charging (high?) fees and blame the government for not controlling these sharks. Don’t underestimate the politics of envy, folks. Many people in rural areas have not seen progress for a long time and have only seen others prospering. Ever heard of the indian crab story?

  20. There is an apt term in Hindi

    “Mai-Baap” loosely interpreted as triple O. (The punch is lost in litereal translation).

    This is the attitude in general of Indians towards government*

    As far as surveys are concerned I think you can prove anything and her mother in law with a suitable sample size and methodology.

    • All the generalizations about India are false including this one.

    Regards

  21. IMO, something similar must have happened in Europe in the 1950′s/60′s. So, it would be great to see the numbers from Europe from that period too.

    “Free markets” have a twisted economic history in the Continent.

    Because this economic policy is very intertwined with free (as in Classical Liberal politics), it’s actually somewhat alien to large parts of Europe (that’s why on the continent they were originally called “Liberals” – they were individualists in a sea of statists).

    The UK in the late 18th century –> early 20th was probably the exemplar example in Europe but even then, there were large exceptions (heck, the entire British East India Company had more in common with Amtrak than GM). And even then, the UK post Great Depression was one of the leading voices w.r.t. state socialism (John Maynard Keynes was a brit, for ex; “Fabian” socialism provided the model for India’s Oxford educated independence leaders & their DISASTROUS economic policies)

    The 50s / mid 60s had fantastic postwar growth but also creeping socialism which led to the inevitable funk of the 70s. It’s only in the 80′s (Thatcher) that you see “free markets” as an ideal re-emerge as a popular meme (and hence get “good” poll numbers, in the UK at least).

    By contrast, countries like France, for ex., have always had a deep distrust of markets dating back to Napoleanic or even Feudal times. For many French, “free markets” is synonomous with “Anglo-Saxon” and thus vulgar. Other Western European countries are in between w/ the UK being the most free and France (and perhaps Italy + a few others) the least receptive to “free markets” (the Nordics are an interesting exception for a couple of reasons – they are pretty good at embracing the dynamics of markets despite a large welfare state… something to dissect another time).

    The other major exception to all this, of course, is the new Eastern Europe. Countries like Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary are going to see their living standards go from near 3rd world to 1st world within a generation. They’re HUNGRY and love their (new) markets.

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