The Washington Post brings us the story of a right-wing U.S. businessman who is in a very public fight over the work habits of the French. Yes, we all know the folklore about the lazy French. What would be helpful here is some dose of reality–that's what journalism can be good for.
With an unemployment rate at just over 26 percent and regular street protests against government austerity policies, it's hard to imagine anyone holding up Spain as a model. But Howard Schneider, writing in the Washington Post, does just that–warning France that it had better shape up and be more like Spain:
The election results in Greece and France sent a clearer message about austerity: Voters don't like it. That sentiment isn't hard to fathom; massive spending cuts and pay cuts aren't fixing the problems in their economies–they're making things worse. Media coverage seems to be clearer these days about what the public thinks of austerity. But the assumption that austerity is mostly "good" still seems firmly in place. Like this Washington Post lead (5/7/12): Voters in France and Greece redrew Europe's political map Sunday in a powerful backlash against the German-led cure for the region's debt crisis: painful austerity. It's not [...]
Working in a time-honored corporate media genre (Extra!, 9-10/97, 9-10/05, 7/10), the Washington Post's Edward Cody (4/24/11) tells us that Europe just can't afford its generous social programs: From blanket health insurance to long vacations and early retirement, the cozy social benefits that have been a way of life in Western Europe since World War II increasingly appear to be luxuries the continent can no longer afford. Lest you think "appear" provides some wiggle room, Cody makes clear that, no, he's talking about objective truth here: In the new reality, workers have been forced to accept salary freezes, decreased hours, [...]