How BEST to consider France

I hope Bob Ney enjoys his freedom... fries behind bars at FCI Mogantown, and I can safely say I love France without being called a traitor to my country. I will come out of the closet to point out that France is truly world-class, and really excels in some things.  

No US trains even come close to what the French have. Look at this speed record, established on April  3, 2007: 574,8 km/hour, that is over 357 miles per hour. See  
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070403/ap_on_re_eu/france_fast_train_record_8

You can bet Alstom is going to land some contracts with that.

But, let's not limit ourselves to trains. Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger plane is assembled in Toulouse, France.

With over 75 million foreign tourists in 2003, France is ranked as the first tourist destination in the world,

Michelin (in France) is the world leader in tire production.

Saint-Gobain (in France) is the world leader in the production of glass.

In setting up the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Series, the French under 18 Youth team was ranked number one in the world.

French company l'Oréal is the world leader in the production of luxury goods

France is number one in the amount of quality wine produced, and probably has most diverse array of wines.

France is ranked first among the 7 most industrialized nations (G7) in percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) allocated to official assistance to developing countries

France has the best track record in building large nuclear power plants with scale economies (80% of its electricity supply is nuclear). France has the best safety record in nuclear power.

The French health care system is number one in the world according to the World Health Organization. Also the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development data show that France has the best quality and value in their Healthcare system.  France also has the most doctors and the most hospital beds per capita.  

I can almost guess what some of you "let the private sector do it all" idealists are saying about my French healthcare fact. Here are some inconvenient facts for you:

Healthcare expenditures as percentage of GDP

    USA:  13.7%
    France: 9.8%

Healthcare expenditures per capita

    USA    $3,734
    France $2,125

French healthcare is not resting on its laurels. In 2006, the Euro Health Consumer Index said that France had the most consumer-friendly healthcare system in Europe.

The French are a world leader in medical research: the AIDS virus was first isolated by French doctors.The French are a leader in medical genetics (the Human Genome Project is located in Paris).

France has the most widely copied school system, and has the highest percentage of 3-5 year olds in pre-primary education

France has the most-advanced IPTV market today and the most IPTV subscribers of any country.

France will be the site of the world's first nuclear fusion reactor, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. See http://www.itercad.org/

French engineer, Guy Negre, invented the air car, whose company is Moteur Developpment International (MDI in Nice, France). See  http://www.theaircar.com/

France has the highest density of bloggers in the world.

France has the most extensive selection programs in the world in beef breeds.

According to International Living's Quality of Life Index, France is now number one in the "best places to live" category.

The French have the most restrictive counterterrorist policies in Europe and perhaps in the Western world.

France is number one worldwide in skiing safety (security and safety on the skiing slopes)

According to the PEW Global Attitudes survey, France has the highest percentage of people (74%) who think there is no conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.

A Pew Poll from the summer of 2006  says that France has the highest numbers with a favorable opinion of Jews.

In "Where Talking Is a World-Class Sport." U.S. News & World Report (March 26, 2007), Eduardo Cue clls the French the " world's best conversationalists".

One more thing, France is even part of the best in the US. Don't forget that Joachim Noah plays on this year's NCAA champion University of Florida basketball team. A number of experts feel that France has the most talent outside the US for producing NBA talent.

Of course, I don't mean to say that the French are the best in everything.

France only has the second highest productivity per industrial worker in the world, and it ranks second in the world after the United States of America in the adoption of foreign children.

France is the world's second largest builder and exporter of civilian and military aircraft and helicopters (Airbus is the world's second largest fleet of commercial airliners, and many of the US Coast Guard helicopters are made by Aérospatiale in Toulouse.)

France is ranked number three in the world in terms of the number of franchised networks.

France is ranked number three worldwide and number one in Europe in terms of mobile multimedia use.

France is ranked in 2006 as the third destination for foreign direct investments, ahead of China.  It is also ranked third worldwide in terms of economic attractiveness, because of low business set-up costs.

France is generally ranked fourth among the exporting countries of the world.

France is ranked number 2 right after the U.S. in the space industry. Most commercial satellites are put into space on French Ariane rockets.

Outside of the United States, the French are the most prolific filmmakers in the world.

My reasons for dwelling on France when I have much more to say about La Francophonie and the French Language are these:

1. French-bashing is still the biggest target in the polemics of those who don't want our children studying French

2. France is a legal racism in a country where some folks feel a need to hate people who are different from them.

3. French bashing can always win some souls in politics, where most Americans make uninformed choices. On this last note, let me cite a for instance from Superfrenchie, who quotes Mit Romney as saying about America:

" We’re in a position where unless we take action, we’ll end up being the France of the 21st century: a lot of talk, but not a lot of strength behind it in terms of economic capability."

then Romney’s spokeswoman Julie Teer, answering an objection to his statement:

“The governor was stating the facts about the American economy vis-a-vis the French. In order for America to remain a tier one economic power, it has to be competitive globally. If not, we risk becoming a tier two economy like France.”

Clearly, the facts are a victim in this Ok-to-dis-the-French banter. The French economy is somewhere between 4th and 6th, depending on how you measure it.  The 2nd tier statement is not ignorance; it is the use of a sanctioned racism to gain public favor.  Of course no fair-minded person would label racist a man who referred to "The Big Dig" as a "tar baby". 

Another place where we have to tolerate this kind of ignorant discourse is from financial reporters, who should know better. They smirk while they tell us that the French are non-competitive socialist wimps.

Since I have had a challenge on my Michelin claim, I thought I might bring up some more inconvenient facts:

My statement is supported by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, The Warsaw Voice, The Financial Times and

Embassy of France - Economy
http://www.ambafrance-us.org/atoz/economy.asp

An interesting article about Michelin is

Furlough, Ellen. "Marketing Michelin: Advertising and Cultural Identity in Twentieth-Century France (review)." Journal of Social History - Volume 37, Number 1, Fall 2003, pp. 274-277.

Take a look at some examples of how this company is expanding:

Michelin To Build World's Largest Tire Base In China
http://www.industryweek.com/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=13880
 
More Michelin: $852M for US Military Tire Production & Supply Chain Management
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/2007/01/more-michelin-852m-for-us-military-tire-production-supply-chain-management-updated/index.php
 
Michelin Announces Construction of a New Earthmover Tire Plant in Brazil
http://www.azom.com/details.asp?newsID=2895
 
Michelin plans to enter two-wheeler tyre market
http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2006/09/02/stories/2006090204050300.htm
 
Michelin Produces First Canadian X One Tire
http://truckinginfo.com/news/news-detail.asp?news_id=58101&news_category_id=36
 
I thought I would mention that Michelin is the tire supplier for the space shuttle program.

Space Shuttle Discovery Returns Home Safely On Michelin Tires (July 17, 2006)
http://www.swampfox.ws/space-shuttle-discovery-returns-home-safely-on-michelin-tires/

Hey, I live 15 miles from the best Goodyear plant in the country, and I buy Goodyear tires for my car. My loyalty does not dispute what is simply fact.



TennesseeBob Peckham, PhD
Globe-Gate Research
University of Tennessee Martin