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
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
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
Healthcare expenditures per capita
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
French engineer, Guy Negre, invented the air car, whose company is
Moteur Developpment International (MDI in Nice, France). See
France has the highest density of bloggers in the world.
France has the most extensive selection programs in the world in beef
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
“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
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
More Michelin: $852M for US Military Tire Production & Supply Chain
Michelin Announces Construction of a New Earthmover Tire Plant in Brazil
Michelin plans to enter two-wheeler tyre market
Michelin Produces First Canadian X One Tire
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,
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
TennesseeBob Peckham, PhD
University of Tennessee Martin