dictably, fell short of what is needed.nA third, less technical, cause has to donwith lifestyles and a general attitudentoward work. Some years ago anneconomist friend of mine, Guy Lambert,nwho had a passion for drawing upncomparative charts of working productivity,ntold me that by the mid-1980’s innFrance the average employed man ornwoman only worked one day in everyntwo (roughly 185 days in the year). Hisncalculations took into account two-daynweekends, a full month of paid vacationsn(for which most French workers andnemployees actually receive five weeks ofnpay), religious and other holidays of onenkind or another, and work days lostnthrough strikes, absenteeism, and annoverindulgence in what is verily a nationalnpassion with this nation of disgruntlednrouspeteurs (gripers)—streetndemonstrations.nGuy Lambert was not exaggerating.nIn 1987 a French businessman, VictornScherrer, devoted an entire book to thensubject, giving it the arresting title. LanFrance paresseuse (Lazy France). It wasnpanned by “serious” economists becausenthe evidence produced was too selective.nYet recent statistical studies indicate thatnthe average French factory worker or officenemployee now puts in about 1,550nhours of work in the year. If we subtractnthe four annual vacation weeks (reducingnthe yeady total to 48), this gives us anLIBERAL ARTSnBLOCKING ROADBLOCKSnworking week of just over 32 hours. ThenJapanese, on the other hand, put inn2,000, and even 2,200 hours (includingnovertime) in the year—which, again allowingnfor four vacation weeks, amountsnto a working week varying from 42 to 46nhours.nIn a radio interview given last November,nDaniel Goeudevert, a dynamicnFrench businessman who now heads thengiant Volkswagen works in Germany, defendednhis company’s recent decision tonraise its workers’ wages by 6 percent onnthe grounds that a farsighted managementnis the one that anticipates laborndemands before they degenerate into anstrike, which “is always a catastrophe.”nOver the past ten years, he added, thenVolkswagen company had not lost a singlenworking day through strikes.nIt is, of course, unrealistic to’expect annation of highly individualistic rouspeteursnto behave like disciplined Teutons.nBut the cruel facts are there—offeringnfood for sober reflection for everynFrench working man and woman, as wellnas for the demagogues who rule them.nPersonally, 1 can’t help thinking thatnWestern Germany’s Wirtschaftswunderncan be explained in part by the fact thatnmany German offices open for businessnat 8 a.m., as is the case in Switzerland.nFor it is by no means certain that the extrantime “gained” by fixing the closingnhour at 6 p.m.—the current practice innThe roadblocks police use to stop all drivers in order to catcli drunk drivers are unconstitutionalnin Michigan, reported the Wall Street journal last April. An intermediatenappellate court ruled that such roadblocks violate “the state’s constitutionnand the traditional practice of law enforcement,” and that “police can only search ancar if the individual driver shows signs of being drunk.”n42/CHRONICLESnnnFrance—makes up for the lost hour innthe morning, since many Parisian employeesn(1 can’t vouch for others) beginntheir evening dash for the subway or thenbus at 5:30 or even earlier.nMy suspicions are also confirmed bynwhat has happened in Switzerland andnin the neighboring Franche-Comte andnJura mountain regions of southeasternnFrance. In the late I970’s and eadynI980’s the Swiss came perilously close tonseeing their watch industry destroyed—n’ like the camera industry in Germany—nby the mass production of cheapnJapanese timepieces. But the Swiss, beingna hardy folk, and in this case morenresolute than the drowsing beer-swillersnof Hessen and Franconia, pulled up theirnsocks, tightened their belts, fired morenthan 55,000 redundant employees, andnmanaged to rescue a traditional industry,nin which one thousand small enterprisesnnevertheless went under. TodaynJapan leads the wodd with an annualnoutput of 325 million watches, followednby Hong Kong, with an annual outputnof 180 million. Switzerland, with onlyn81 million, seems to lag far behind. Innnumbers of quartz-operated timepieces,nyes, but in terms of money earningsnderived from top-quality production,nSwitzerland still leads the internationalnfield—with a turnover in 1990 of 7.3nbillion Swiss francs, or 55 percent of thenworld total.nFrance—if we exclude the huge terraenincognitae of Russia and China—is innfourth place, with 23 million watches,nwell ahead of Germany, in fifth placenwith 3.7 million. The hardy inhabitantsnof the Franche-Comte and the Juranmountains—an often cold and foggy regionnwhere France’s watch and clocknmakers have traditionally lived and labored—sawnthe handwriting on the wallnand learned the hard way how to makenhigh-quality watches witb two hundrednskilled artisans, where previously fivenhundred had been employed. Butnwhether the cigales inhabiting thenwarmer regions of France will be preparednto limit their summer singing inntime to meet the autumn chill of futurenyears remains to be seen. It will requirena psychological metamorphosis whichnneither the slick manipulations of thatnsleight-of-hand magician, Frangois Mitterrand,nnor the tough talk of his chosennhandmaidens are likely to bring about.nCurtis Gate is a biographer andnhistorian living in France.n