In the lead article of the business section of today’s New York Times (Au Revoir, Entrepreneurs), Liz Alderman quotes a young Frenchman, Guillaume Santacruz, who moved from France to London in order to start a new company:
“A lot of people are like, ‘Why would you ever leave France?’ ” Mr. Santacruz said. “I’ll tell you. France has a lot of problems. There’s a feeling of gloom that seems to be growing deeper. The economy is not going well, and if you want to get ahead or run your own business, the environment is not good.”
High taxes and stiffing regulations are a part of the problem, of course, but Alderman reports that the more fundamental problem is a culture that is hostile to successful entrepreneurs:
“Generally, if you are self-made man and earn money, you are looked at with suspicion,” said Erick Rinner, a French executive at Milestone Capital Partners, a British-based investment bank, who has lived in London for 20 years….
“It is a French cultural characteristic that goes back to almost the revolution and Robespierre, where there’s a deep-rooted feeling that you don’t show that you make money,” Ms. Segalen, the recruiter, said. “There is this sense that ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ means that what’s yours should be mine. It’s more like, if someone has something I can’t have, I’d rather deprive this person from having it than trying to work hard to get it myself. That’s a very French state of mind. But it’s a race to the bottom.”