Friday, March 5, 2010

La grande complication.

"La Grande Nation" proves every right to own it's name. France is big. You might think that I - born and grown up in little Switzerland - might just be over-impressed by the relative size of things. After all, Paris is more than ten times the size of Geneva in terms of population - over 50 times, agglomeration included. It's one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Europe.

But I'm talking about administration. A study I found on the internet shows that public employment as a percentage of total labor force in France is amongst the highest in Europe - Only a few nordic countries rank higher in that list. Another study shows that the total public sector performance indicator in France ranks at the bottom of the list of european countries - only Greece and Italy indicators are worse.

The french have a way of complicating things which - under normal circumstances - would seem simple, almost banal. Just to get your apartment fixed up with an internet connection requires to i) be physically present at a service location of your telecom brand, ii) fill a seemingly infinite number of forms, iii) produce a number of documents to prove you are a local, legal, employed, sane and financially fit citizen and then iv) wait an incredibly long time until the service actually gets put in place. I am not trying to be difficult, but in order to get an internet connection in Switzerland, all you need is a credit card and a phone call.

It's nobody's fault. You simply can't point fingers. It's just the way french administration works - since centuries probably. It's the system. And so the French queue up and wait to get things done, silently swearing in condemnation, checking their wrist watches from time to time. Not knowing that, ironically, it is the Swiss who are the real masters of complications. Swiss haute horlogerie invented terms like "striking complication" and "astronomical complication". Some Swiss watches are made up of over 1700 parts, and over 30 complications. And yet, not one of them require to fill a form before you can read the time. 

1 comment:

  1. Ha! A Patek! Horology is the only domain in which "complicated" is a compliment rather than a criticism.