Sunday, July 13, 2008

Defender of French Culture

Tyler Cowen writes:
The French spend approximately $3 billion a year on cultural matters, and employ twelve thousand cultural bureaucrats, trying to nourish and preserve their vision of uniquely French culture. They have led a world movement to insist that culture is exempt from free trade agreements.
Creative Destruction, p.2

Twelve thousand bureaucrats to defend a culture.

But my question runs deeper: first, what is the so-called French culture? Hanging out in a cafe thinking about existensialism, deep-fried potatoes, or a certain smooching technique?

Second, what is a culture --the thing to preserve against free trade-- anyway?

Addendum: I think Asterix would be the best possible answer for my first question. Or Tanguy et Laverdure.

But I don't think Asterix and Obelix need any help from the government's bureaucrats. They know, if they are indeed competitive, thanks to their very own magic potion, even the mighty Romans would give up.


  1. I'll take a few shots on what they might deem as 'culture' that needs preservation.

    1. Agriculture/farming, especially Wine. Cuisine. (although one can easily mistake this for a way to make a life, but over there, it's something they are proud of, and embrace as part of their culture)

    2. Haute Couture, fashion. Again, a living provider for many, but rather 'culturally' idiosyncratic.

    One way in which the 2nd one can be uncompetitive (and thus 'warrants' protection)is that other people 'steal' the designs, reproduces them in cheaper fashion.

    Culture=art, I suppose, at least in these examples that I have alluded to. Many countries choose to support (and thus subsidize) arts in many forms...

  2. C'mon, Pus.. you were supposed to say "French kiss"...

  3. Or, french fries....Both were popularized by, well, McDonald and Hollywood .-))

  4. ja ja ja...why not French Twist and French Bun as well, u know the hair-styles! @puzpini

  5. for me french culture would be :
    lots of vacations, lots of negotiations, lots of bureaucracy,bureaucracy and bureaucracy...

    and yeah let's add one more ; nationwide successful labor strike