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Frexit (France departure from Eurozone): Not the worst idea in the world

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Karan Abrol

Because of Marine Le Pen’s right-wing, nationalistic campaign in the French elections, isolationism and protectionism inevitably became associated with dangerous populism and racism. But, now that Le Pen and her xenophobic ideas have been convincingly defeated or at least stalled, I think it’s time for the French public and its leaders to reopen the question of France’s relationship with the Eurozone.

France is currently celebrating the election of Emmanuel Macron, the business friendly centrist who was, more than anything else, better than his horrific, racist, nationalist opponent. Sound familiar? And they should celebrate. But Le Pen, the “politician of the people” bordering on nazism, had one truly understandable policy goal: following Britain and protecting his own people at the expense of a global market.

Graphic by Neil McClintick and Raphael Villagracia

Europe has been a system of countries so politically unstable throughout history that creating a union of such countries was arguably the best possible solution for peace. The EU brings together different European culture closer to peace, but the Eurozone is based on the idea that all countries will have the same drive towards economic output. This is false.

Germany is a country in which taxes are collected meticulously, working hours are well enforced, and hard labour is generally valued. German machinery is considered reliable, and Germany’s population is considered hardworking.

France is not known for such a work ethic. French people are not inherently lazy, but they are not generally considered as rigorous as Germans. The French government does not collect as many taxes as accurately as does the German government. So, how can we assume that the two countries’ should use the same currency? If German culture results in a higher economic output than does the French, it is guaranteed to do better. Inequality between the two countries’ economies is inevitable.

Imagine a country that has a work ethic similar to that of France. This country will perform badly in light of the Eurozone’s monetary policies, take loans it cannot possibly pay off, and grow a substantial amount of debt owed to Germany and other Eurozone countries. If the world market crashes, like it did in 2008, this country will not be able to sustain itself on loans from the German Central Bank, force itself to shrink from austerity measures, its economy will decline, its population will grow to hate its government, and the result will be severe economic and political turmoil. The name of this country has probably crossed your mind already. The French might be next, unless its people change their work ethic to match that of the Germans, or pull out of the Eurozone entirely.

Dangerous leaders tend to simplify complex problems and appeal to a population’s hatred in order to gain power. But if we refrain from discussing those problems because they have been tainted by hateful rhetoric, we let populists win the battle of ideas. France’s population, and those of us that may influence that population, should reconsider the value of the Euro in France’s economy.

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