Another One Mugged By Reality

Who was it who said a conservative is a liberal who got mugged by reality? Well that apparently happened to Julie Coudry, a student leader in France a few years ago who agitated against sensible economic policies. At the time she thought she was fighting to help young college grads get jobs, but in fact she was fighting for just the opposite. As a WSJ article points out, now she finally realized it:

Even in France, some erstwhile opponents of reforms are changing their tune. Julie Coudry became a French household name four years ago when she helped organize huge student protests against a law introducing short-term contracts for young workers, a move the government believed would put unemployed youths to work.

With her blonde locks and signature beret, Ms. Coudry gave fiery speeches on television, arguing that young people deserved the cradle-to-grave contracts that older employees enjoy at most French companies. Critics in France and abroad saw the protests as a shocking sign that twentysomethings were among the strongest opponents of efforts to modernize the European economy. The measure was eventually repealed.

Today, the 31-year-old Ms. Coudry runs a nonprofit organization that encourages French corporations to hire more university graduates. Ms. Coudry, while not repudiating her activism, says she realizes that past job protections are untenable.

“The state has huge debt, 25% of young people are jobless, and so I am part of a new generation that has decided to take matters into our own hands,” she says. “We’ve decided that we can’t expect everything from the state.”

Now if only more French would realize that. And more Americans.

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