Noah denkt™ - The Power of Balanced Reasoning
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In other (dramatic) news...
Reflections on the candidacies of François Fillon, Benoît Hamon (and his Universal Basic Income pitch) and
Martin Schulz, first drafted on Jan 31, published on Feb. 1, 2017
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It is hard to keep up with everything
that is happening in international politics at this time. And yet there are
important developments unfolding as we speak that under normal circumstances would require elaborate
attention.  We don’t have enough time though to provide you with individual write-ups for each of them. So we
may be forgiven if we address all of them in one general overview.

Let’s start with the predicament that the center right candidate for the French presidential election
François
Fillon finds himself in these days. The various revelations that have surfaced in Le Canard Enchainé and in Le
Journal du Dimanche about his questionable management of public funds have hit his campaign hard. He has
already made it clear that he would retire from the Presidential race if a criminal investigation were to be
opened against him. If that were to happen it would frankly be a disaster since the center-right would likely be
left without a fully endorsed candidate in the upcoming election. (The runner-up to M. Fillon in the Republican
primary, Alain Juppé has already made it clear that he would not enter the race again, in case M. Fillon were to
stand down.) Consequently Republican voters who want to avoid a Le Pen victory would have no other choice
but to support Emmanuel Macron, the maverick candidate from the center-left who refused to participate in the
Socialist Primary. After all, he would then be the only moderate candidate left with a credible chance of beating
the ultra-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second round of the Presidential election. In any case, the
upcoming French Presidential election will turn into a nail-biting experience precisely because of the likely
presence of Marine le Pen in that second round voting.  In the context of Brexit and Trump a Le Pen victory
would effectively spell the end of the EU project with devastating consequences for the world in general. We
trust nevertheless that reason will prevail and that it won’t come to that, with or without M. Fillon.         

Meanwhile
Benoît Hamon has won the Socialist Primary in France. This is noteworthy not so much because
he left behind ex-Prime Minister Manuel Valls and industrial policy champion Arnaud Montebourg but mostly
because he won because of his endorsement of the Universal Basic Income (UBI) concept. Noah denkt™ itself
has recently come around to understanding the relevance of the UBI idea. Obviously, M. Hamon’s version of
the UBI is a little too generous for our taste. But we nevertheless believe that the UBI might be a viable way
forward to counteract some of the worst distortions that the digital revolution has created. More discussion on
this is certainly warranted. Unfortunately, the general public is reacting mostly negatively to the Mr. Hamon’s
UBI pitch. In large part that is because it has not yet understood the reality of the new digital labor market and
stays beholden to yesteryear’s notion of industrial 8 to 5 jobs instead. These traditional office and industry-
based jobs, however, are disappearing rapidly. The new employments that are being created at this time are
neither 8 to 5 jobs nor do they come in the well-structured and non-volatile shape that traditional work tended
to come in up until now. It may take more time to educate yesteryear workforce members about the need to
update their views on modern employment. But we are confident that even pensioners will eventually come
around to understanding that changes to social policy are inevitable.

Meanwhile in other news, the Socialdemocrats in Germany have decided to chose the former president of the
European parliament
Mr. Martin Schulz over sitting party boss Sigmar Gabriel as their leading candidate for
the upcoming parliamentary elections in Germany. This came as a surprise to us since we do not believe that
Mr. Schulz has grinded his teeth enough to be a viable opposition candidate to Mrs. Merkel. It is not enough to
speak French and English well to be considered a heavyweight power broker. You also have to inspire an
element of gravity and even fear and respect if you want to impose your will on an unwieldy government
bureaucracy on one hand and a multifaceted public debate on the other. Alas, Mr. Schulz is a little lightweight
an all of these matters. And it may have a lot do with the European parliament as such that he can’t come
across more forcefully. Unfortunately, the European parliament continues to be a political sideshow that mainly
attracts elder statesmen who want to stay involved with politics albeit it in a more sedated second-row
environment. It is simply impossible to gain first-row stature there if you haven’t already had that before you
joined the parliament. We hence presume that this decision to elevate Mr. Schulz into a front-row position may
be good for centrist policies in Germany but bad for the Socialdemocrats as a Party. Generally speaking,
Germany is one of the few countries where fears of substantial upheaval against free trade and EU policies are
still somewhat far-fetched. Even though the AfD has made some inroads into mainstream politics chances for a
major upset in the upcoming election are remote. That is welcome relief for all of us who are otherwise being
kept on our toes by the Brexiteers, the Trumpians and the Front National sympathizers.      
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Keywords:

candidacy of Francois Fillon, Universal Basic Income, center-right politicians in France,
Emmanuel Macron versus Francois Fillon, Emmanuel Macron versus Marine Le Pen, Can
Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen, Brexit Trump Marine Le Pen