Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

France is heating up! [UPDATE#2 with comment]

by LEP Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 04:39:46 AM EST

Another very large demonstration in Paris Tuesday, as well in as a couple of hundred other cities in France. In Paris in addition to the usual union marchers thousands of students, high school and university, came out today. Here's the new spirit:

                     

At present, one-fourth of the gas stations in France are lacking fuel, and other transportation is spotty.
You can see gas lines all over the Paris region. The government is refusing to budge,and everyone's position is hardening. The government is hoping that after the new law on  retirement is signed into law, perhaps next week, this will all go away. I'm not so sure.

Update [2010-10-20 5:8:4 by LEP]:There were two marches from Place d'Italie to Invilides. I waited for the one that came through Blvd. Montparnesse, right around the Gare Montparnase. Blvd. Montparnesse is a very wide boulevard so the people weren't as pressed together as in the previous marches. The marchers started arriving at the Gare Montparnesse about 2:45 p.m. and kept coming until 7p.m. I will post three sections of photos: the arrival, the unions and adults, and finally the high school students (lyceens) and university students.

[UPDATE#2] Melanchthon has a comment below which I find very important.

Re: Fictional demographic problems The vast majority of people and organisations who oppose Sarkozy's reform accept the augmentation of the number of quarters of contribution. And they know very well that the real retirement age is already close to 62 and that it will increase in the future. What they oppose are changes in the legal retirement age (from 60 to 62), because it is unjust towards people who started to work early and because a significant number of people over 55 are unemployed, which means they will have to live on reduced benefits until they reach 62, even if they have contributed enough quarters to be eligible to full pension. Same for the full-pension retirement age (see below).


Display:
You're our man on the spot! Keep 'em coming...

Plus, these pictures spread optimism ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 04:09:40 PM EST
Yes! Keep them coming! Please!

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 04:29:49 PM EST

Keep it up - it's good to have such photo diaries. I hope they do look the same - "jusqu'a la victoire" :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 04:32:41 PM EST
Thanks for your involvement.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 04:37:23 PM EST

Who's to blame? This crisis is typical, in my view, of the failure of social dialogue in France. It's not new but Sarkozy has taken it to a new level, making this key reform a central element of his attempt to get re-elected in 2012. Last week, Dominique Paillé, a deputy secretary general of Sarkozy's UMP party, said on radio that people would see that the president is a "mec qui en a", meaning "a guy who's got balls". This sums it up.

By trying to achieve full victory in a key social issue instead of looking for consensus to prepare the future, Sarkozy, now at the lowest in opinion polls since his 2007 election, has been playing with fire. He has allowed the situation to deteriorate, and the reasons to demonstrate to move from a focused protest against a specific reform, to a much wider, and dangerous, questioning of the society.

Why are young people demonstrating about pensions, false naive ask? The answer is that they are the first generation who know that they will have fewer opportunities than their parents, an inversion of 150 years of almost continuous progress. With 25% of people under 25 out of a job when the average European figure is 20%, French youth know what's awaiting them.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/19/french-society-on-trial



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Oct 19th, 2010 at 05:55:55 PM EST
Ted Welch:
Last week, Dominique Paillé, a deputy secretary general of Sarkozy's UMP party, said on radio that people would see that the president is a "mec qui en a", meaning "a guy who's got balls".

So did Louis XVI ;)

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 03:24:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
-- the government, the PM I think, have actually said that young people have no legitimacy or standing to contest the pension changes, "because we're doing it for them".

That's the standard line of the standard media too - an editorial tone of patronizing puzzlement as to why the young folks are turning out. Of course it's dead easy to poke a microphone at one and get a garbled answer, but in the main, they have a pretty sophisticated understanding of what it's about.

The idea that they might be motivated by solidarity and social justice doesn't seem to occur to anyone. The official doctrine seems to be that self-interest and intergenerational warfare are the correct attitude. The fact that this has seriously backfired is the best news in the whole crisis.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 03:38:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
eurogreen:
The idea that they might be motivated by solidarity and social justice doesn't seem to occur to anyone.

What a concept!

of course such ideas would be instantly dismissed as 'naive', 'utopian', immature etc etc...

you got yer religion for those um, random irrational impulses.

stay on message, unbridled greed is good, you just have to be more patient till the wealth trickles down (the rich man's leg) and reaches you. just have faith youngsters! education is way overrated anyway.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 08:09:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose that there is only so much that can be put into a simple article; but to make a summary, as this Guardian article pretends to do, without writing "among other things" is silly and discredits the article, the author and the paper.

I'd like to have seen a synopsis of "other things" that make up the background to this event. Otherwise it makes the fight over the sound-bite simplicity of a 'two year change in the retirement age' look silly.

Let's see a graph of the 'improvement' in income and assets for the typical middle class person/family v the income and assets of the elite, of the growth of the poor and the shrinking of the middle class. We saw an article just last week that showed that France had 25% of the millionaires of the EU, and I know it wouldn't be difficult to show real cost of living increases - I'll give the paper my Carrefour receipts for the last decade. Fruit juices by 100%, cheeses up 10 to 15% in just the last year.

"Who's to blame?" the article asks. Then the author(s) get lazy, or the editor tied their hands.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 08:18:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Yes, the question he asks IS "Who's to blame," and not "What's it all about?" which, even in summary, would take more than an opinion piece. After all, it's a UK paper and not Le Monde Diplomatique. It seems a perfectly valid and important question and I think a lot of French people would agree with him about Sarkozy's attitude - probably most of the 70% who support the demonstrations. It seems a point worth making and he does note the context of the new problems facing the young, and Sarkozy's attitude has caused them to reflect on this future much more critically than they would otherwise have done. This is a good thing for them, not very smart on Sarkozy's part.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 03:15:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt if he is finding more people for his efforts. Staunching the flow perhaps. But it will be interesting to see this bill pass against what?...3 million plus, out of 60 million plus? 5% of the people on the streets who can do nothing to the UMP who will pass the bill, or Sarko who will sign it.

So, it will have to escalate, to what? To the point that they can do something to the people who put Sarko up to this? Cause them enough pain that they will rescind a signed bill?

So, it will linger until the next gov't, they'll rescind it and the problem of financing future generations will be theirs...but hopefully things will be picking up then. Would the alternative universe have been a lot different if Royale had been in Sarko's place for the last few years?

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 05:26:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is no problem of "funding future generations." Sovereigns are not hedge funds, they fundamentally do not operate on a discounted present value basis - they operate on a going concern basis. And on a going concern basis, France doesn't have a demographic problem. At all. France is past its demographic transition - if the current system were unsustainable, it would have already collapsed.

Retirement age is not a generational issue. It is a purely distributional issue.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 08:50:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Retirement age is not a generational issue. It is a purely distributional issue

Jake: Have you written more on this somewhere (here perhaps?), or have any related links handy?... We're innundated with mantras of intergenerational unfairness and the like (at a time of pension cuts and rising retirement ages around the world) and a decent debunking of that line of thought would be really useful...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 09:19:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, there are general arguments against this sort of silliness, and there are arguments that are specific to France.

In the arguments that are specific to France, marco posted a very nice projection below, that shows that the ratio of working age population to total population will remain unchanged, give or take five percentage points, over the next forty years, given the best available projections. This means that if the French model is possible to maintain for another four years, then it is possible to maintain for another forty years.

It's as simple as that, and comes out of the official government statistics. So when Sarko and his friends say that pensions will bankrupt the French state in the future, they are flat out lying: Either they will bankrupt France this year or they will not bankrupt France for the duration of the available projections.

The more general (but therefore also more abstract) argument is that there is no causal relationship between the outlays of a sovereign state and its tax revenue. Sovereign states spend by the simple act of crediting an account with legal tender, created ex nihilo in the moment of spending. Conversely, taxes destroy legal tender. Taxes do not "fund" sovereign outlays under a fiat currency with enforceable legal tender laws. This means that sovereigns do not have to repay debts denominated in their own currency - they have no intertemporal budget constraint (in fact, they have no budget constraint at all).

So why do sovereign states tax their citizens? Because taxation destroys legal tender, thus preventing it from causing inflation.

Taken together, this means that excessive outlays today cause inflation today. But inflation today is not a problem tomorrow (OK, under the current configuration of the EMU it is - but by 2050, the EMU will either be dead or look very different, because the current configuration of the EMU is not sustainable, for precisely that reason). And since sovereigns do not have to repay debts denominated in their own currency, deficit spending today does not impair the sovereign's ability to deficit spend tomorrow.

So if future taxpayers find the current pension system onerous, then that is a matter between them and the retirees of their generation - it makes no difference to future taxpayers what this generation does with retirement age. The "future taxpayers" is, in other words, a slight of hand to cover for the fact that degrading public retirement is done for the benefit of current taxpayers. That is fundamentally dishonest. If current taxpayers find the current pension system onerous, then they should make that case, not invoke future taxpayers who will not be affected in the slightest.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 09:45:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which boils down to crazy people expecting other people to work for them for less by blowing ten kinds of pseudo-factual economic smoke in their faces.

It's that simple.

The NCE religion is morally bankrupt internally. Now it's trying to bankrupt everyone around it.

Generally, it's not a good idea to have high expectations of professional robbers and liars.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:00:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
TBG, please elaborate. I swear I read a thousand things a day, and NCE isn't recognized...thus, nor does your point(s).

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 04:55:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neoclassical Economics.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 05:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great. Now turn that into a first diary en route to an ET submission to this:

EU launches public debate on the future of pensions - EU

The European Commission has on July 7, 2010 launched a Europe-wide public debate on how to ensure adequate, sustainable and safe pensions and how the EU can best support the national efforts.

...

In particular, it aims to address the following issues: 

  • Ensuring adequate incomes in retirement and making sure pension systems are sustainable in the long term
  • Achieving the right balance between work and retirement and facilitating a longer active life
  • Removing obstacles to people who work in different EU countries and to the internal market for retirement products
  • Making pensions safer in the wake of the recent economic crisis, both now and in the longer term
  • Making sure pensions are more transparent so that people can take informed decisions about their own retirement income 

...

The consultation period will run for four months (ending 15 November 2010) during which anyone with an interest in the subject can submit their views via a dedicated website. The European Commission will then analyse all responses and consider the best course for future actions to address these issues at EU level.



By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 05:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Jake, I second Migeru's suggestion!
A few, possibly naive, questions:

  1. How does state borrowing enter into this argument of money created and destroyed?
  2. How is the argument affected if the sovereign can't print money (i.e. in eurozone countries)? How is it affected if the sovereign has pretty much all of its debt in its own currency (i.e. the US)?
  3. This means that various announced projected "costs of pensions by the year 20XX" measured as percentage of projected GDP, are questionable?
  4. How is this argument affected by demographic decline? A note: I looked up the numbers a few years ago on Greece (below population replacement rate since 1980) and found that in the mid 2000s the percentage of working age population employed was at an all time high and dependence ratios at an all time low. This was due to a steady increase in female participation in the workforce, of course, but also due to the fact that the under 18s shrank almost as fast as the over 65s. This, I would wager, is pretty much par for "infertile" countries. Thus the dependence ratio doesn't seem to be too much affected in projections even of the most demographically declining countries - and thus dependents' costs unless old people are much more costly to society than children, which is indeed probable.
  5. One could offer a counterargument to
it makes no difference to future taxpayers what this generation does with retirement age

that any changes in retirement age necessarily unfold over a long period (you can't make someone planning to retire next year, retire in 5 years time and any cuts in pensions should be rolled out over many years so as to not influence life plans and expectations too much). So if someone can make a rational projection that in 20 years time there will be a problem in financing pensions, the proper time to start addressing it would be now.

Generally as per the "slash pensions argument": aren't, pretty much linear, projections of current trends to 50 years' time some sort of quackery? Especially in a time of unfolding multiple global crises and geopolitical shifts? How is it even rational to project that far into the future any current trend and to implement policy now, influenced by these shaky future "projections?

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:35:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"shrank almost as fast as the over 65s grew", I meant...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:36:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
unless old people are much more costly to society than children

See afew's reply to my comment which suggests that for France, at least, the figures are quite similar. He quotes absolute, not per capita, figures, but for France right now it doesn't make any difference.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:38:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does state borrowing enter into this argument of money created and destroyed?

Reasonable people can disagree on that.

One view is that sovereign bonds are a way to take money out of circulation. In this view, issuing sovereign bonds is similar to instating a tax, and repaying sovereign bonds is similar to abolishing a tax.

Another view (and the one I subscribe to) is that sovereign bonds are a form of money - just a less liquid one. So when the sovereign deficit spends, it is printing money whether it "funds" its spending with sovereign bonds or by simply crediting the accounts of the recipients with legal tender. The difference is only in the liquidity (or lack thereof) of the new money, with legal tender being the most liquid and bonds being progressively less liquid the greater their time to maturity.

Which of those two you adopt is a matter of intellectual convenience - they are indistinguishable for the purpose of macroeconomic planning.

How is the argument affected if the sovereign can't print money (i.e. in eurozone countries)?

Well, the argument hangs on the sovereign's ability to enforce legal tender laws. So as long as the French sovereign can enforce French law in defiance of the Bundesbank, it doesn't change... in principle. Restrictions such as the Maastricht rules are voluntary restrictions on the behaviour of the sovereign, not fundamental facts of economic life.

In practise, this pressure towards deficit errorism is a major problem with the € as currently constructed. But the € as currently constructed is not sustainable on the time scales involved in these population projections - for precisely that reason. So the € will either change to accommodate a pan-European economic policy (in which case macroeconomic stabilisation will become a federal task), or the € will break down and we will return to floating sovereign currencies.

How is it affected if the sovereign has pretty much all of its debt in its own currency (i.e. the US)?

It isn't. There are many possible complications to having debt in other people's currency, but those really aren't in the realm of pensions and labour market regulation - which are almost always exclusively accomplished with domestic legal tender.

This means that various announced projected "costs of pensions by the year 20XX" measured as percentage of projected GDP, are questionable?

Yes and no. It depends on what they mean by that.

It is, obviously, possible to input some assumptions about GDP growth, pension systems and demographics, and get a scenario for the share of pensions in GDP in 20XX. What is dishonest is to discount sovereign outlays and taxes in order to obtain a present value - sovereign budgets just don't work that way.

Now, if the taxpayers of 20XX believe that they are paying too generous pensions, then that is a wholly legitimate political position... in 20XX. But demographic trends are slow-moving, so there will be plenty of time for the people who are actually alive and paying taxes in 20XX to reduce pension benefits if they find their taxes onerous. Arguing that we need to make this decision for them is to presume to speak for the as yet unborn and uncontemplated.

How is this argument affected by demographic decline?

It isn't. See bullet immediately above.

A note: I looked up the numbers a few years ago on Greece (below population replacement rate since 1980) and found that in the mid 2000s the percentage of working age population employed was at an all time high and dependence ratios at an all time low. This was due to a steady increase in female participation in the workforce, of course, but also due to the fact that the under 18s shrank almost as fast as the over 65s. This, I would wager, is pretty much par for "infertile" countries.

That is my experience from looking at the data as well.

Thus the dependence ratio doesn't seem to be too much affected in projections even of the most demographically declining countries - and thus dependents' costs unless old people are much more costly to society than children,

Yes and no. Most projections do show an increase in dependence ratios, albeit a modest one.

[That old people are more expensive than children] is indeed probable.

I wouldn't know about that. I'd have to pull out some consolidated public sector budgets to be sure, but for Denmark I'm pretty sure that they cost the same, or close enough as makes no matter.

One could offer a counterargument to
it makes no difference to future taxpayers what this generation does with retirement age

that any changes in retirement age necessarily unfold over a long period (you can't make someone planning to retire next year, retire in 5 years time and any cuts in pensions should be rolled out over many years so as to not influence life plans and expectations too much).

One could make that argument, but one would have to make the case that the funding problems are going to show up faster than the possible rate of adjustment. Which just isn't the case for any of the major [1] EU member states except Germany. And Germany starts out with large current account and trade surpluses against the rest of the Union, and mercantilist inflation rates; they could print the money to fund their retirement obligations without corresponding tax increases and still be a net exporter and on the low end of Eurozone inflation rates.

Generally as per the "slash pensions argument": aren't, pretty much linear, projections of current trends to 50 years' time some sort of quackery?

Yes, that would be rank quackery. Fortunately, population projections aren't simply linear projections. All reasonably literate societies have very good fertility statistics, and societies with (near-)universal health care have uniformly excellent fertility statistics. We know how many children people have, we know when they have them, we know what the age and gender distribution is today and we know how many people immigrate and emigrate.

Of course you have to make assumptions about how those figures are or are not going to change over the course of your projection. But the assumptions that underpin the population projections of European states are usually not wholly unreasonable.

Especially in a time of unfolding multiple global crises and geopolitical shifts? How is it even rational to project that far into the future any current trend and to implement policy now

The usual justification is that if we have a shock that's big enough to force us to discard our projections, things will be so fucked up that we can't plan for it anyway. So we make plans based on things not going catastrophically wrong - no serious wars, no exceedingly deadly pandemics, no agricultural collapse, etc., because it's silly to get caught with your pants down just because the sky didn't fall.

Your mileage may vary on whether that's sufficient reason or not. That's a political decision that reasonable people can disagree about.

- Jake

[1] Minor EU member states are not worth doing 20-year macroeconomic projections for - their economic well-being is more dependent on what the major EU members do than on any policy of their own. (This should not be construed as an excuse to be negligent in policy planning - just as a statement on the inherent uncertainty of long-term planning for states that are not even halfway sovereign.)

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 08:32:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I live in the States, and if it weren't for this blog, I would not know that Europe still exists.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 05:07:40 AM EST
What would you think had happened to Europe so that it would have disappeared?
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The US media don't cover it.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:52:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seriously, the US media has no interest in reporting on events in Europe right now. So they don't.  

It may be hard to believe it is that simple, but it is.  Ownership of US media is very centralized.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 11:36:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for your explanation and Migeru's. I don't follow US media on a daily basis but I was told by an American friend today that France is making it into the headlines right now, and Americans would make fun of the French - with their funny work week (was it 20 hours??) and half-year vacation. I'm paraphrasing...

Maybe you're both speaking hyperbolically? It's neither not in the news nor all over the place. (?)

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 04:54:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The U.S. media coverage I've seen is pretty blase about yet another French protest story.   I see the message as basically this: the French are at it again, holding up traffic, and complaining about their easy work week and early retirement. But the new rules are coming and changes are inevitable.  The protesters are just wasting their time, in a useless and pointless exercise.   To support this idea, we now have a concurrent story about how the British have announced new austerity measures . . .

But stay tuned, because we will keep showing you pictures, especially if there are any flames or smoking canisters.

by jjellin on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:02:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Which also means less intra-european reporting as our reporters does not find it when reading US media. Or at least that is my impression.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 03:52:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not merely a lack of interest by the media-they are dis-interested in covering the push-back against the corporate drive to make the western labor conditions more like those they enjoy in the third world.  One of the great struggles of the decade is going on in France right now.  The US media has no interest in doing anything to bring that to the consciousness of the US.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 05:10:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The demonstrations were on the front page of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette this morning, (Wednesday), a three column photo with one column of text beside at the upper right above the fold:

Youths propel French rage Pension-bill protests take violent turn

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:22:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes - if (or whenever or wherever) it gets to flames and blood on the streets, the US media (and the world's meeja following suit) will promptly feature it. With the frame, of course, that France is a hopelessly out-of-sync country dreaming of the past -- all-of-which-is-useless-because you can't stop the tide of globalisation, TINA, and all the crazy French will get out of it is to be overrun by scary brown Muslim looters.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 01:19:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:33:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]



Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 05:18:34 AM EST
I (reluctantly) admit France is the Last Best Hope of Western Civilization.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:10:59 AM EST
Migeru:
I (reluctantly) admit France is the Last Best Hope of Western Civilization.

....again.

wonderful diary! suckozy on that! one little ratfink's egomania against the massed, controlled, peaceful fury of millions.

vive la volonte du peuple!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 04:08:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]



Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:18:07 AM EST



Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:32:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My concern is that, like Thatcher, he has put, not just his credibility on the line, but the very credibility of French representative democracy. In the early 70s Britain too faced such an impasse and Edward Heath went to the country and basically asked "who runs the country ?"

He lost the election and for the rest of the 70s the UK was barely governable with threats of coups (genuinely) and led to, following the Winter of Discontent, the advent of Thatcher who was largely elected on a slate of "sorting out the unions", effectively answering Ted Heath's question with the only answer a democratic society can afford. That thatcher went too far is not relevant, but she established that the mob, populist and union backed or no, cannot rule.

After all, I'm sure Le Pen could muster a similar number of disaffected nutters and start smashing up things in other circumstances if you set such a precedent. All else is the tyranny of the mob, unless you can put 30 million plus on the streets and become the majority.  So, you have inadvertently created a situation where it is not in your interests for the government to lose.

So direct confrontation alone is only going one way, which is violence and defeat. So please reassure me that there are other things happening because if even if you win, you'll lose.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:07:22 AM EST
You read too much UK press, srsly. What "tyranny of the mob"?

Because Britons have made a virtue out of getting shafted does not mean they are the most realistic.

(BTW, Le Pen most certainly could not muster anything like this movement.)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, if he backs down and you win, who governs ? Democracy is crap, and increasingly rigged, but it's all we got. If you wanna change the laws, you gotta get in government. One day the left might realise that instead of preferring to stand outside shouting (mostly at each other - splitters)

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:36:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Protest is one of the work-arounds for democracy's crapness, especially in France.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:40:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the same way that media control is a work-around for democracy's distributed power.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You must outcompete the cancer, except the cancer is very well funded and all you have are numbers/bodies.

I envy France's sanity. I doubt we'll see it in the States.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:41:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I pointed out yesterday, Sarko was not elected on a platform including the changes to the retirement age he's now pushing through without negotiation.

I'm all for democracy (probably more than you seem to be, to judge by the number and the causticity of your comments about the worthlessness of politicians and parties), but in the French Vth Republic political power is won in one election only, the rest of the system being rigged to obey presidential authority. It is clear that the French are not just disillusioned, but angry about what Sarkozy has made of their mandate. Yet another poll out today shows 70% support for the strike and demonstration movement, while Sarko's popularity ratings are again at an all-time low.

There's another point that can be made: in all the argy-bargying about numbers (a major, insistent talking point for the government because it distracts attention and clouds issues), it has not been said that the 2 to 3 million (+ or -) that march on demonstration days are not the same 2-3 million. Obviously there's some overlap, but not everyone can make it to all the marches (there's a difference between Saturdays and weekdays, for instance), just as not everyone can strike all day, every day. The number of people involved in making at least some gesture to show their rejection of Sarko's policies is far greater than 2-3 million, quite probably double that. That's, what? at least 10% of the 15+ population? Not a small-scale movement...

This doesn't mean there are no dangers and that the movement is bound to win, far from it. The point now is that Sarko (because he has no choice) will claim he has pushed the "reform" through to the end (as he promised this morning in the weekly Council of Ministers), but that his freedom to use the coming year to roll out further neolib "reforms" will be seriously restricted. This movement will also have an influence on the 2012 election - not least by informing the Socialist Party that Third Way bollocks will not be appreciated.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 08:18:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not for democracy ??? Then you have entirely misunderstood the point I have attempted to make here.


keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 01:14:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If that's all you get out of what I say, no point in insisting, is there?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 03:34:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]


If you wanna change the laws, you gotta get in government. One day the left might realise that instead of preferring to stand outside shouting (mostly at each other - splitters)

That was Blair's argument and he got into government - though not by being left.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 02:41:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

This seems to be a surprisingly authoritarian view of democracy - which surely includes demonstrations and civil disobedience, and which presumably should have some effect sometimes. I expect Blair would have welcomed your view, and echoed you when a million or more demonstrated against the Iraq War, saying "If I back down - who governs? " - maybe a better government at the next election ?

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 02:49:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, if he backs down and you win, who governs?

People, We the.

Winning an election does not entitle you to do whatever you want. Specifically, it does not entitle you to break the social contract in a way that all reliable polls show a 2:1 majority against, unless you have a really, really compelling reason. Fictional demographic problems [1] do not count as a reason at all, nevermind a compelling one.

- Jake

[1] According to the official Eurostat projections, France will have an essentially unchanged ratio of working age population to total population for the foreseeable future - so if their social security model works today, then it will keep working for the next fifty years at least.

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 03:12:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Winning an election does not entitle you to do whatever you want.

Unfortunately it does - which is entirely the problem.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:27:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It certainly does not. Without even considering the separation of powers, any government is obliged to take account of circumstances, to navigate within the limits of the possible, and that includes facing political and social opposition to its policies - particularly when those policies were not announced in an electoral platform.

Getting elected is a mandate to be the government, not to do whatever you like.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 01:31:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll cut and paste that and email it to Berlusconi, Sarkozy and Cameron.

Obviously you don't get the right to run around raping virgins. (Although even that's debatable sometimes.)

But generally, once you're in, you're in. People, We The can protest all they want. If you have enough toadies, you can force through almost any legislation.

France is a rare exception because People Etc will complain if they don't like what you're doing. And instead of marching aimlessly and banging drums, they'll complain strategically, targeting financial pressure points.

But other countries, including the UK - not so much. Osborne's winning gambit has been to split the opposition by not putting the knife into teachers and OAPs, as a little bit of lingering token socialismo. Now everyone thinks 'Unfortunate, but not so bad akshully.'

Will they protest? No, they won't.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 08:45:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The first task of enlightenment is to perceive the difference between the world as it ought to be and the world as it is.

The second task of enlightenment is to avoid despairing completely at the contrast.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 08:49:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"There are only two kinds of madness one should guard against Ben... One is the belief that we can do everything. The other is the belief that we can do nothing"
André Brink, in A Dry White Season

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 09:50:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Osborne's winning gambit has been to split the opposition by not putting the knife into teachers and OAPs

If governments never needed to compromise or take potential or actual opposition into account, Osborne wouldn't have needed that "winning gambit", would he?

But perhaps I should cut/paste your point of view and enlighten him with it...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 10:34:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Coalition isn't 'in' in the clear majority sense that's more typical of UK politics.

If Cameron didn't need the LDs, Osborne's rhetoric would have been rather different.

As it is he's getting most of what he wants with a few token pay-offs, which is hardly a fail in Tory terms.

It's certainly not going to be much of a consolation when there are another million unemployed, GDP is shrinking by a couple of percent a year, and most of the shrinkage is being felt by those under £20kpa.

And there's no guarantee that he won't go after OAPs and teachers later.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 11:37:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True of the coalition. I was simply pointing out the apparent paradox in your comment.

But, more broadly, modern governments pay great attention to polls and focus groups so that they can navigate between the shoals of public opinion. This is, in a sense, an increase in their power, in that it enables spin and manipulation. But it's also symbolic of their limits. They do not hold absolute power and may fall foul of negative public perceptions or outright opposition.

And even more, in the UK especially, they must beware of the tabloid press, for similar reasons.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 01:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The polls and focus groups have always meant, imo, better representative democracy in between elections. I'm no great fan of the charismatic leader.

But it is the spin of the politicians and of the media, used to manipulate those polls and focus groups (or their output), that is what I object to.

There is no answer really. "You've got the vote, but freedom of speech says we are allowed to persuade you how to use it". The only available counteraction, imo, is to spin against the spin. Creating narratives, if you will.

Fact-based wherever possible;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 02:25:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well - 'once you're in, you're in' certainly applies more to the right than the left. That extreme leftist Comrade Harold Wilson didn't panic over possible coup attempts for nothing.

As for focus groups - they're so 2000. I don't expect the Cleggeron mash-up and its hideous Osborne prosthetic tentacle to bother with such nonsense.

The point is that if accountability exists, it's not primarily accountability to voters. In between elections deals are made, cash and bribes funding favours are handed over, inexplicable windfalls happen, and lobbyists crawl all over Westminster and Washington like head lice.

And that's not counting the influence of Think Tanks and other self-styled guardians of serious policy.

And Murdoch.

What's a pol to do? These people are noisy, they're on the phone every other week, they can make or break a campaign, and I wouldn't be entirely surprised if some of them know things that might be better kept out of public view.

Against all of this, voter sentiment - never mind the outrageous presumption that voters might have a direct influence on policy - is just background noise.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 06:08:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Will they protest? No, they won't.

i think they will, but will it do any good?

the poll tax broke the phlegmatic longsuffering, these cuts will bite as deep or deeper. right now there's only a rumble, as they haven't bitten down yet.

will it do any good, is the question i ask. even in france, they will have to keep this pressure up for a good while longer before the people get so pissed at the disorder that they push sarko off his ledge for failing to keep order. he's the hatchet man, and he has to have an executioner mentality.

he, like all pols, is utterly disposable, when he's no longer viable as puppet, he'll be subbed by some new orc.

if the people back down he will garland himself with laurels, and thug gvts will take heart from that. if the people prevail, or the admin topples, others in europe will gain morale from that.

the trick will be to build a new system that isn't reactionary. been there...

the odds seem 50/50 right now, and that's already impressive.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 11:25:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS: [1] According to the official Eurostat projections, France will have an essentially unchanged ratio of working age population to total population for the foreseeable future - so if their social security model works today, then it will keep working for the next fifty years at least.

Could not find the Eurostat projections, but



Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 08:02:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That table makes my point exactly: The 20- and 60+ age groups consist, taken together, of half the population, give or take five percentage points, until 2050.

Even if you believe that the uncertainty on a one-and-a-half generation population projection is below five percentage points, the productivity projection is certainly more uncertain than that. And even if worst comes to worst, this change is sufficiently slow that it is unnecessary to enact preemptive reforms - there won't be a big, sudden discontinuity that is worth preparing for.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 08:57:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The 20- and 60+ age groups consist, taken together

As a macro-economic argument that makes sense. But there's still the political issue that more of the money has to go in the future to the 60+ age group. People are generally more willing to give money directly to members of the 20- age group, that to have it given by the government to the 60+ group. What are the figures on relative government spending in France on these two age groups?

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 02:12:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a rough, quickly-researched guide, figures for 2005:

National pensions: €80 bn

Education: €60 bn
Family: €40 bn

Education concerns almost entirely the under-20s, as do family allowances. Health insurance costs for the <20 and >60 are surely higher than for the 20-60 group, but are not included here.

So public spending on >60 : <20 is something like 4:5.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 03:02:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Today, in France, to get a full pension, you have to have contributed to the pension scheme for 40.5 years (162 quarters). In 2012, it will be 41 years (164 quarters). It is planned to increase to 42 years in 2020.

Currently, the French start working (hence contributing) at the average age of 23 (it was already 21 in the 1990s). This means the majority of workers will be able to get a full pension only after they are 62 (later for many of them).

Indeed, today, the average age of retirement (i.e. when people start getting their pension) is 61.5 years.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 04:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Melanchthon: Today, in France, to get a full pension, you have to have contributed to the pension scheme for 40.5 years (162 quarters). In 2012, it will be 41 years (164 quarters). It is planned to increase to 42 years in 2020.

This seems to be fair.  Five contestable issues are:

  1.  The rate at which the additional quarters are added.  (Maybe it should be 168 quarters by 2030, instead of by 2020, if the productivity gains that JakeS mentions are realized more quickly than projected.)

  2.  The process in which the final agreement about the law is reached: through negotiation among stakeholders (government, business, labor, entrepreneurs, students, chronically unemployed, etc.), and not simply imposed by the government/one political party that happens to be in power.

  3.  Which types of work will count more towards qualifying for full pension than others?  For example, one quarter doing arduous physical work could count as 1.15 quarters of doing office work, so someone doing 35 years of such arduous physical work would have accumulated 161 quarters of office work (i.e. 40.25 years worth of quarters).

  4.  If someone is unable to find work for X number of quarters, those quarters of unemployment should nevertheless count towards full pension qualification, assuming that it could be verified that the person was earnestly trying to find work while unemployed.

  5.  Differences in pension amounts between men and women who have done the same kind of work for the same amount of time should be harmonized (i.e. made equal), even if the salaries of the women were much lower than those of the men while they were working.  (I just saw a report on France24 TV [can't find it on the website], indicating that women's pensions in France on average are half of men's.  I wondered, was that because they generally did less income-generating work over the course of their lives?  Or because they worked in lower-paying jobs?  Or because they were not paid as much as men for the same work?  All of the above?)

But the basic principle of progressively increasing the number of quarters required for full pension makes perfect sense to me.

Melanchthon: Currently, the French start working (hence contributing) at the average age of 23 (it was already 21 in the 1990s). This means the majority of workers will be able to get a full pension only after they are 62 (later for many of them).

Indeed, today, the average age of retirement (i.e. when people start getting their pension) is 61.5 years.

As people live longer, and stay healthy longer, it strikes me as both morally and economically sensible that they start retiring at later and later ages:



Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:02:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just saw a report on France24 TV [can't find it on the website], indicating that women's pensions in France on average are half of men's.

I don't know about France, but the usual reasons for this disparity are that women a) face a wage gap and b) take more time off work to raise the family. Both of these cause a gap in their pension contributions relative to men with the same qualifications.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:18:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You should add that more women than men have got part-time jobs.

The case of women is one of the main reasons why people oppose the reform. Many of them stopped working for a few years to raise their children, so they cannot have contributed enough quarters to get a full pension when they reach retirement age. Until today, you can get a full pension when you reach 65, even if you haven't contributed enough quarters. The new law put this full pension retirement age at 67. Therefore, this reform impacts much more women than men.  

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 04:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The vast majority of people and organisations who oppose Sarkozy's reform accept the augmentation of the number of quarters of contribution. And they know very well that the real retirement age is already close to 62 and that it will increase in the future. What they oppose are changes in the legal retirement age (from 60 to 62), because it is unjust towards people who started to work early and because a significant number of people over 55 are unemployed, which means they will have to live on reduced benefits until they reach 62, even if the have contributed enough quarters to be eligible to full pension. Same for the full-pension retirement age (see below).

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 04:23:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Retirement" age is 61.5, but "Last employment" age is under 60 as far as I know. So "Retirement" age will grow whatever happens, but does that mean the first few years of non-work will simply be a few years of having to go at Pole Emploi every month ?

Of course, whereas retirement benefit is politically untouchable, lowering unemployement benefits, making them depend on arbitrary convocations, sometimes without warning, and other forms of social control on the unemployed, are routine for the French government. Certainly easier on the budget. So instead of the years between 58 and 65 being good years of inactivity and leisure - the last healthy years for most - they will be years of having to accept intermittent, menial jobs every few months, and the rest of the time being in fear of the dole being cut off...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 06:15:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
linca:
"Retirement" age is 61.5, but "Last employment" age is under 60 as far as I know. So "Retirement" age will grow whatever happens, but does that mean the first few years of non-work will simply be a few years of having to go at Pole Emploi every month ?

Yes, this is my point. Those who are unemployed and have exhausted their unemployment benefits will get the Allocation de solidarité spécifique, which amounts to € 15,14 per day, until they reach the legal retirement age, i.e. 62 if they have all their contribution quarters or 67 if they don't.

Starting in 2011, those who are over 60 will be exempted from looking for a job.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 07:07:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France has a long and honourable history of "the street" going toe to toe with the government, and winning. It's a fundament of the Republic.

As for Le Pen or someone else taking over "the street", there's a very good reason why that's never happened, and never will.

It's that they know that they would find the left there. With chair legs, baseball bats or anything else that turned out to be necessary. And that they would lose.

The street belongs to the left.

Not to union thugs though. Have a look at statistics on union membership in France. They are pathetic.

On the other hand... according to opinion polls, 70% of the population supports the protests.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 09:02:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]



Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:31:41 AM EST



Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:46:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
from Lyon yesterday, and decided not to.
Don't want to glorify the rioting/pillage aspect. Though Bellecour is beautiful with drifting clouds of teargas.

Brice Hortefeux, much-hated Interior Minister, is paying a visit to our fair city just now, to inspect the "ravaged war zone".

I decided not to go and look. The temptation to pick up a rock (there is a big works zone where they are re-paving part of the square) might get too strong.

In fact, his visit is a calculated provocation. They would like nothing more than some more stone-throwing, window breaking, street fighting.

A friend was supposed to come for lunch : a retired high-ranking policeman, from the "information" branch. He cried off, on pretext that the metro isn't running. He could have come by car, but that seemed too dangerous to him. Didn't want to take the risk of getting it flipped I guess, though we are over a kilometre from the hot spot.

He thinks it's plausible that the government have had a hand in the rioting.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 09:10:07 AM EST
My son in Lyon went to the march but he didn't see the riot.

My daughter, who goes to high school in Fontainebleau, where the students have twice gone into the streets, and where there has been police violence, started to demonstrate yesterday in Fontainebleau but then saw the "casseurs" (hoodlums) arriving and left with some friends to go to the Paris march.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 09:23:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's good to see why I left France 30 years ago. The credo of "Travail, Famille, Patrie" had long been replaced with the feel-good utopian nonsense of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité".

The masses became convinced they had only rights and quickly forgot about duties or obligations. Going on strike, whining about everything and taking to the streets (not during the summer vacation months, of course) is now their favorite pastime.

The measures taken by the French government are necessary and reasonable. Anybody with half-a-brain can figure that out. Good work, Nicolas 1er! Let them eat cake.  

by circle 5 on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 05:42:42 PM EST
Don't tell me you moved to the U.S. and just had your house foreclosed.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:04:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The majority of foreclosed homes belonged to people who could not afford them in the first place. That's not to say the banksters don't have a big share of responsibility for lending money to anyone with a pulse. But with freedom comes responsibility, and those buyers should have known better.

Anyway, thank you for all the great photos! Reminds me of my misspent youth.

by circle 5 on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:57:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
Anyway, thank you for all the great photos! Reminds me of my misspent youth.

You're dropping these hints that require the presence of a psychoanalyst ;)

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 08:44:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your blog is better than any analyst could ever deliver! I am obviously not a like-minded thinker here, but am glad to provide you all with an opposing view, for the simple enjoyment of a good political threadwar.
by circle 5 on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 11:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience here is that non-like-minded comments are acceptable if backed up by reasonably reputable sources or arguments.
by asdf on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 11:50:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does this suggest like-minded comments are welcomed no matter what? Say it ain't so!
by circle 5 on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 05:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, though obviously comments that everyone agrees with tend to get less scrutiny than others, especially when they've been scrutinised in the past. There's only so often one wants to replay debates.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 05:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You must be in California. Are you a retired technology guy? ;)

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 05:57:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hold off on the "California" insults. I'd guess Utah.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 06:45:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What are you doing up at 4 in the morning?

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 06:55:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hell, I usually get up 2 - 3.  4 is late for me. My morning routine?

  1. Check emails for student/tutoring stuff.

  2. Check HuffPost/Sac BEE/ET, in that order.

  3. Watch Washington Journal(CSPAN) and Democracy Now!

  4. Prep for going to Sac State for day's tutoring. Frequently leave at 6:30 in the dark. What fun.

Oh, I forgot

0. Brush Truffles. According to her lawyer, she owns the place.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand well, you are nostalgic for the era when "Travail, Famille, Patrie"  was the motto...

For those of you who don't know, "Travail, Famille, Patrie" was the motto of the Vichy government between 1940 and 1944.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 06:45:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm actually nostalgic for the motto itself -- not so much for the Vichy government... A more relevant motto for today's France would be "chacun pour soi et Dieu pour tous".

If the CGT and its followers get their way, the tax burden on future generations will be incalculable. I find it very cynical for these agitators to recruit high-school kids for these protests, as they will be the ones paying their pensions.

by circle 5 on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:16:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the CGT and its followers get their way, the tax burden on future generations will be incalculable.

Not literally, I hope. Call me an optimist, but I'd like to believe there are still economists who can do basic adding up.

Politically, if the CGT doesn't get its way, the income burden - no one with a brain cares about tax without also caring about income - will be even more incalculable.

France would be a much happier, more stable and prosperous place if everyone simply handed their home over to a hedge fund and agreed to work for a couple of bowls of gruel a day, and a lashing on Sundays.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 07:36:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To those who already have the 35-hour workweek, the 5-week paid vacation, the 20-week paid maternity leave, free education, full medical benefits and every conceivable cradle-to-grave social safety net, I guess retiring at 62 instead of 60 -- to make up for increased life expectancy -- is indeed akin to a Sunday lashing and a couple of bowls of gruel a day.

I truly pity the perpetually aggrieved, for they will never experience happiness.

by circle 5 on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:22:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a wholly unnecessary attack on an established entitlement: There is no sound economic reason at all to raise retirement age in France. So what you're seeing here is less a reaction to a specific "reform" and more a reaction to Sarko trying to infect France with the Thatcherite cancer of unnecessary dismantling of the social contract.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:28:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How outrageous to have such onerous expectations of a culture of basic human decency.

Luckily Sarko's class is going to be only too happy to forego its even more extreme privileges in a gesture of financial solidarity.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:46:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you've missed the point. No one is arguing numbers here or whether or not changes are necessary. The point is that the union, the opposition and the "people" want a seat at the table before changes are made; This has not happened; the reforms were rammed through by Sarkozy without any input from the unions and the left.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 08:55:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And how many similarly-reaching reforms were rammed through by François "Dieu" Mitterrand during his 14-year reign? Where was the outrage then? His opposition was civilized, that's the difference.

Sarkozy was elected to legislate, based on his track record as a no-nonsense interior minister. He was never interested in touchy-feely discussions with those who burn cars and loot stores to make their point. The French majority elected a strongman with convictions and the courage to make unpopular, but necessary decisions, and that's what they got.

Something as critically important as raising the retirement age (by a measly two years) should not require any debates. I would be much easier to cave in to these street mob savages, but Sarkozy has the best long-term interests of France in mind. We can all thank him later.  

by circle 5 on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 10:48:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have still not made any case what so ever for why it is supposedly "necessary" to raise the retirement age. (Aside from the facile lie that current retirement policies will impact future taxpayers - that ain't how sovereign states work, buddy.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 11:03:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My first suggestion is that many professional economists, who are far more informed, expert, capable and intelligent than I am, agree this is a necessary thing to do. The French government did not pull this idea out of a hat. Contrary to most of you, I tend to believe them. Perhaps you think economic recession can be wished away with a couple of tired slogans.

Second, President Sarkozy is being vilified for implementing this reform.  I don't think he enjoys the daily barrage of vulgarities and insults, or the violence perpetrated in the country he loves, but he is doing the right thing, which includes saving the radical left from itself.

Third, French labor unions are about as irrelevant as their demands are unreasonable. They are all about destroying business, from individual enterprises to entire industries, such as watchmakers or shipyards. CGT, CFDT and (to a lesser degree) FO, have turned the right to strike into legalized extortion. I suspect that's one reason why union membership is in freefall (though not fast enough) in France as well as other democracies.

I certainly concur with the government's economic advisors: increasing life expectancy and low birthrates, coupled with delayed entry into the workforce, are decreasing the ratio of productive vs. unproductive years to levels that, if left unchecked, would fast become unsustainable. And those so-called productive years are constantly being eroded by shorter work weeks, longer vacations, paid leaves of absence for every conceivable excuse, lavish unemployment benefits that discourage people from looking for work, etc.

The whole premise of a fixed retirement age is ludicrous. Normal (not angry) people enjoy working, contributing to society, feel pride and appreciate the rewards of a job well done. So why stop working altogether? Labor unions have so polarized workers into feeling they were little more than abused slaves that their members no longer enjoy their jobs. They spend all day waiting to go home, all week waiting for the weekend, all year waiting for their precious paid vacation and their whole lives waiting for retirement. How pathetic is that?

If the ideal "social contract" is the ability to live on the dole until society is bone dry, then the unions are on the right track. I remember when they were financed by Moscow -- there was a good reason for that. Now 1.3 billion chinese without "entitlements" or "social contracts" are poised to show western democracies the true consequences of all this irresponsible decadence. They are highly educated (many in our own universities) and love to work. A few decades ago, Alain Peyrefitte wrote a visionary book on the subject.

In any event, the reform will pass. With or without looting and burning more cars in the street. Get over it, folks.

by circle 5 on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 12:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well to quote my Grandfather, this sort of greed and not supporting the poor isn't what I fought in the War for.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 12:56:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My first suggestion is that many professional economists, who are far more informed, expert, capable and intelligent than I am, agree this is a necessary thing to do.

These would be the same economists who didn't see the housing bubble or the banking crisis coming, wouldn't it?

While it must be humbling to know that these professionals are more informed, expert and capable than you are, I'd suggest that this isn't really saying much.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 12:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My first suggestion is that many professional economists, who are far more informed, expert, capable and intelligent than I am, agree this is a necessary thing to do.

Fortunately, the necessity (as opposed to the political desirability) of these "reforms" is empirically testable. Upon examination of the best projections available of future demographic trends (see marco's comment upthread), it turns out that those economists are flat out wrong.

Now, there's an entire, interesting, digression to be had on why most so-called economists have such a major problem with the whole "getting simple empirical reality straight" thing. But for the present purposes it will suffice to note that they are, in fact, objectively and indisputably wrong when they claim that Thatcherism is an economic imperative.

The French government did not pull this idea out of a hat. Contrary to most of you, I tend to believe them.

And you are, of course, free to believe them.

Me, I don't believe that government should be a faith-based initiative. I prefer government to be a fact-based initiative - and Sarko and his friends are flat out lying about the facts.

Perhaps you think economic recession can be wished away with a couple of tired slogans.

Uhm, you're not suggesting that industrial depression is cured by reducing the sovereign outlays, right? You're not suggesting that the sovereign should run a balanced budget, right?

I mean, everybody to the left of, oh, Friedrich Hayek, has known since Herbert Hoover tried and failed to contain the Great Depression that those behaviours are surefire ways of making industrial depressions worse.

Second, President Sarkozy is being vilified for implementing this reform.

So? That is not an argument for why it is necessary. He is being criticised because it is unnecessary.

If you believe that criticism of a policy must always indicate its necessity, then presumably you believe that the terrorism is a serious issue and that torture and wars of aggression are necessary tools to combat it? And then you must also believe that the Dutch policy of legalising cannabis must be a prudent policy, since it is being so comprehensively vilified? For that matter, you'd have to believe that the most militant French labour unions are completely justified in their every action, since they're being smeared harder (and with considerably less justification) than any other actor in this show?

No? Then why, precisely, does criticism validate policies that you like but not policies you don't like?

Third, French labor unions are about as irrelevant as their demands are unreasonable.

That would be an assertion, not an argument.

If you want to have a fruitful stay at European Tribune, I would recommend learning the difference between the two.

They are all about destroying business, from individual enterprises to entire industries, such as watchmakers or shipyards.

If you labour under the delusion that shipbuilding was destroyed by organised labour, rather than by, oh say, a deliberate abandonment of industrial policy by the incompetent fuckwit ideologues on the right, then I'm afraid that we don't really have a shared language to discuss politics.

CGT, CFDT and (to a lesser degree) FO, have turned the right to strike into legalized extortion.

Newsflash: The right to strike is legalised extortion. The right to fire a worker is also legalised extortion. The two are complementary.

I certainly concur with the government's economic advisors: increasing life expectancy and low birthrates, coupled with delayed entry into the workforce, are decreasing the ratio of productive vs. unproductive years to levels that, if left unchecked, would fast become unsustainable.

This is simply not true. It's been (repeatedly) debunked upthread.

So sorry, but while you are entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts. And you are wrong on the facts.

And those so-called productive years are constantly being eroded by shorter work weeks, longer vacations, paid leaves of absence for every conceivable excuse, lavish unemployment benefits that discourage people from looking for work, etc.

Factually false. Again. I am beginning to see a theme emerge here.

In any event, the reform will pass. With or without looting and burning more cars in the street. Get over it, folks.

What a very Marxist attitude towards the march of history. Maybe there is some truth to the contention that neoconservativesfascists are really just disillusioned Trotskists.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:41:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
how many similarly-reaching reforms were rammed through by François "Dieu" Mitterrand

Well, how many?

Mitterand was elected on what, with hindsight, was a colossally leftwing platform. It was never fully implemented because circumstances did not permit it, and also because of loudly-voiced rightwing opposition in the street - in particular in 1982 concerning the liberal health professions and above all religious schools.

If you left France thirty years ago, you may have missed that bit.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 01:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
His opposition was of the "chacun pour soi" variety, i.e. right wing, and, historically, have had difficulty making common cause. And that's how I like it.

If you're saying that the right doesn't know how to take to the street, that's true (with the notable exception of the private schools backdown in the 80s).

If you replace "civilised" with "bourgeois", then we can agree...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 06:33:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
He was never interested in touchy-feely discussions with those who burn cars and loot stores to make their point. The French majority elected a strongman with convictions and the courage to make unpopular, but necessary decisions, and that's what they got.

boy, that's some logical apparatus you're running there, <shiver>.

welcome to ET, er, i think. you picked an unusual place to practice your powers of persuasion, heh.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 08:22:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL! I would not dream of persuading anyone on this forum to change their opinions, which I fully respect, no matter how misguided I believe some might be. I have always enjoyed listening to meaningful opposing views.
by circle 5 on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 12:58:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
full respect is not what you're communicating.

we're happy to have divergence of opinion around here, it spices the soup.

your political ilk usually don't stick around long, but new ones arrive periodically.

glad to have intelligent criticism, we all need that, not that there's any danger of lack here.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 11:00:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the CGT and its followers get their way, the tax burden on future generations will be incalculable.

This is simply a flat untruth. It is based on a wholly misguided view of how sovereign pensions work.

Public pensions are a redistribution today. They have absolutely no impact on the sovereign's fiscal position tomorrow.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 09:01:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
The credo of "Travail, Famille, Patrie" had long been replaced with the feel-good utopian nonsense of "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité".

Melanchthon, above, is being extremely patient with you. That statement rings out like a very-far-right bugle call.

To place it in its historical context: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood) was the motto, originating with the Revolution, of the French republics until it was replaced in 1940, by the collaborationist government of Marshal Pétain, with the fascist-style motto Travail, Famille, Patrie (Work, Family, Fatherland). That motto disappeared with the demise of the "French State" in 1944, and the original, time-consecrated motto returned.

Travail, Famille, Patrie, is still a watchword for the French extreme right. It is viewed with feelings ranging from discomfort to outright rejection by the vast majority of French people.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 02:20:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I grew up seeing this motto engraved on coins until they were progressively retired in the late 1960s, ten years after the introduction of the "nouveau franc". That's how I became familiar with the motto, as a kid. If these coins were kept in circulation for two and one-half decades after the motto change, I can't imagine they were deemed as offensive as you imply.

Regardless, as I mentioned earlier, the values of work, family and country make far more sense to me, personally, and are devoid of any political connotation. Sorry to disappoint, but there is no sinister back story or far-right bugle call!

Now what is this about someone being extremely patient with me? Am I not responding fast enough?

by circle 5 on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 05:35:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now what is this about someone being extremely patient with me?

If somebody enters a thread shouting Arbeit Macht Frei, it is natural to suppose that the person in question is a neo-Nazi. When you enter a thread praising the slogan Travail, famille, patrie, then it is natural to assume that you are... inappropriately nostalgic towards a certain historical episode, shall we say. While I'm glad to hear that's not the case, it does display a somewhat disconcerting historical ignorance, so I have to wonder what else you don't know about the other slogans you've been peddling in this thread because they "sound good" and "don't seem offensive."

Oh, and posting unsubstantiated nonsense like "the tax burden on future generations will be incalculable" and then refusing to either substantiate them upon request or acknowledge that they are unsubstantiated isn't doing you any favours either.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 06:03:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Furthermore, moving from France to the U.S., a country with a higher divorce rate (rather than to India or Italy), because of France abandoning its commitment to "familie" suggests a rather naive believe in the sincerity of U.S. politicians' invocations of "family values".
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:29:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember those (lightweight) coins too. But, if you were brought up in France in those years, you cannot possibly be unaware of the history of "Travail, Famille, Patrie". The fact that some coins were still in circulation (probably for reasons of lack of means to strike new money) doesn't signify that the Vichy motto was generally accepted. I can remember acid comments about it as people read it from those coins.

circle 5:

the values of work, family and country make far more sense to me, personally, and are devoid of any political connotation

Your "values" are eminently political in the broad sense, since they structure aspirations around conservative elements and are conducive to the development of an obedient, unquestioning workforce.

"Patient" meant that Melanchthon was being nice to you, given the strident nature of your comment. But, as you claim the excuse of innocence, we'll just have to take it you didn't realize what you were saying.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 06:13:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
the values of work, family and country make far more sense to me, personally, and are devoid of any political connotation

So claiming that "Travail, Famille, Patrie" is better than "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" is "devoid of any political connotation"? Yeah, right! Both mottoes are at the heart of two different and opposed political systems. Saying you adhere to "Travail, Famille, Patrie", but not to Vichy policies is like saying you approve of " Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer", but disapprove of Hitler...

How come right-wingers so often say their beliefs and values (especially the most extreme ones) are "devoid of any political connotations" and shy away from owning up their political choices? Show some courage, please!

By the way, the coins that had been minted by the Vichy government were withdrawn between 1947 and 1959.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 06:30:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The 1 and 2-franc coins were still current (as centimes) in small change until the very early '70s. You're too young to remember.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 06:56:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find this somewhat puzzling. It was common practise in former Axis countries, and former occupied and/or collaborating countries, to re-coin immediately after the War. The idea was, at least in Scandinavia, that collaborators (and the assorted criminals who always thrive on conflict) had been paid handsomely, and the chance of catching them laundering their money would be greater if they had to launder all of it fast or lose it.

Why didn't France do that?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:21:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't the high postwar inflation have the same effect?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:24:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. It's one possible explanation.

Still, it was also a show of political symbolism. Though I suppose that Scandinavia, with our more ambiguous role during the War, might have seen a greater need for reaffirming that we really didn't actually like collaborators.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know the answer, beyond De Gaulle's haste to get France running again so the US would not take it over as an occupied country/protectorate, as Roosevelt thought should happen.

Our friend Maurice Papon slipped through the net like that.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 08:13:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact banknotes were printed in America and put into circulation by the Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories. De Gaulle, whose concern was to prevent France being administered as an Occupied Territory, declared them counterfeit, hanging on, by necessity, to the francs then in circulation. There's a long (too long...) article here that looks informative.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 08:37:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not ashamed of my political choices, far from it. My family suffered terribly from the German occupation, so I would appreciate it if you would stop insinuating that I am somehow a Nazi sympathizer, or something along those lines, though maybe you regard all right-wing people as Nazis, for convenience.

I did not know that "Travail,Famille, Patrie" was the motto of the Vichy government until yesterday, believe what you wish. And thank you for educating me. Conversely, I can assure you the coins were still in circulation throughout the sixties, otherwise I would not have known about them.

So once again, the motto appeals to me because these are things I believe in. In contrast, I feel that equality is just a utopian, feel-good construct that cannot truly be achieved, nor should it, because inequality is the engine that drives society. True liberty cannot exist either, as it will always encroach on the liberty of others. And don't get me started on fraternity -- certainly not when it comes to the French.

If you're looking for courage, just imagine what president Sarkozy is going through. The British are implementing a vastly more drastic austerity plan, and no one there seems compelled to behave like a mob of savages to voice their opposition.

by circle 5 on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 01:42:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I read you correctly, you grew up in France in the 60s. I would assume that you went to school in France too, and maybe even to high school before you eventually moved to the United States.

Yet:

circle 5:

I did not know that "Travail,Famille, Patrie" was the motto of the Vichy government until yesterday, believe what you wish.

I hope you realize you're stretching belief here.

Anyone who grew up and was schooled in France, especially in those years, would have to make serious efforts to miss what was and still is very basic knowledge.

It is hard to take seriously the pile of tired clichés and recycled UMP slogans you're passing as "opposing view". We've heard all that crap before; usually without it being substantiated by facts (and that's still the case today).

by Bernard on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 03:40:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
behave like a mob of savages

Take another look at the photos on this thread, and tell us where you see a mob of savages.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 03:47:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, you don't watch the news? You're not aware of cars being turned over and burned, storefront being shattered, contents stolen, barricades of tires being set on fire? Doesn't anybody on this board watch TV? Or is it OK to let such a disingenuous post like this one slide by, because afew is one of your species? If I had made such a lame comment I would never hear the end of it...

Anyway, I've had my day of fun and I am outta here. It's good to know the same old double standards, recycled arguments and general leftist intolerance are still alive and well. I leave you to your comfort zone, bouncing the sound of your own denial off each other.

My predictions: Sarkozy will win, the reform will pass and I'll have a box of Kleenex handy for those poor workers who have to toil an extra couple of years instead of crying like baby birds in a nest with their beaks wide open, waiting for the next free handout.

Hasta luego boys and girls...

by circle 5 on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 01:45:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The violent incidents are on a tiny fringe compared to the entire movement which is dignified, determined, and non-violent.

You have been challenged to talk facts here on the pensions issue - you have ignored the facts and arguments presented.

The "same old double standards" from you.

You're obviously an old hand at trolling, go troll elsewhere.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 03:17:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder who that guy was? He didn't have a mask or a silver bullet, But he did have big ears and a big nose!
I guess we'll never know!

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 03:52:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Big hairy feet too, didn't you notice?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 04:36:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He was so tall I didn't notice his feet ;)

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 04:48:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
So, you don't watch the news? You're not aware of cars being turned over and burned, storefront being shattered, contents stolen

Look, I live in the centre of Lyon, where the most severe clashes happened, so I am well aware of these problems and I don't have to rely on the US media for that.

There have been so far a dozen of shop windows smashed and the same number of cars burned. I condemn those who do that and I think they stupid little bastards. But it is far from full-sized riots and it happened in only a few cities.

But conflating a handful of young thugs with the people who participate in the demonstrations and with the union is utterly dishonest. These "rioters" fight outside the demonstrations and have nothing to do with them. They just seize the opportunity created by social unrest. In fact they play in the hands of the government: Sarkozy is too happy to be able to conflate the rioters and those who oppose his unjust reform.

Sarkozy will certainly be able to pass the law. However, these measures will be implemented progressively (4 months will be added every year to the retirement age, starting in July 2011). As the presidential election will take place in May 2012, if Sarkozy is not re-elected, the reform will probably be re-negotiated.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 03:53:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual, there is a "grey zone" around police activity in violent incidents at the end of demonstrations.

Some possibly disturbing material has been going the Net rounds and is very capably (and fairly) discussed on Arrêt sur images and on Rue89. (The discussions are in French and too long for me to translate, apologies to non-French speakers).

Briefly: in this video (from Reuters) we see a hooded window-breaker at work (in Paris, at the end of a march). A grey-haired man attempts to stop him (1min or so in).

[The grey-haired man has come forward to testify. He and his daughter, after the demonstration they marched in, were having a drink in a café. Seeing what he thought to be a kid smashing a bank window, he went over to stop him. To his surprise, he found the hoodied guy was a man in his thirties.]

We then see a "ninja" kick the grey-haired man in the back. He is then surrounded by a group that rain blows on him. Meanwhile, the hooded window-breaker is shepherded away.

[The grey-haired man says none of the blows he received hurt, they were almost "fake". He was simply isolated while "hoodie" was taken away.]

We see "ninja" behaving strangely, at times facing the crowd as if to ward them off, and clearly carrying a baton (police issue or not is not clear).

[Other testimonies concur that there were up to one-third plain-clothes police in the "wild" demonstration. This, however, seems to be the only incident where there's a possibility of deliberate police provocation by joining in with the smashing and looting.]

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 04:33:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The conflict is three-fold.

Demonstrations against the pension reform are "unusual" in that only France is protesting while the retirement age was raised in other industrialised countries without causing a crisis.

In Germany people shake their heads over what they see and hear about France. My mother says, "These French DO have temperament!! We would never...".

The difference is simple. Sarko knows that he MUST raise the age of retirement, and so he decides to just DO it without much consultation of anybody around. It's this French top-down approach that doesn't go down well with the people. Consensus-seeking comes after the protests and the reform idea wasn't preceded by it, at least not in a way so that the people would feel heard, understood and represented in their interests.

That's why the French are taking to the streets with 'such temperament'.

Second, it appears ridiculous and quite irrational that the youth would protest against a pension reform and hold up banners like, "Maman, Papa, je l'aurai votre retraite!" - Their job prospects won't worsen with the reform but this is what the youth is interested in: their own future, their job prospects and fear of unemployment. And they also enjoy the party and not having to sit in the classroom. They express their general discontent with the government and Sarkozy in particular.

I'm sending two of my sons into Lyon's inner city every day. They attend private schools (dull, boring, conservative - nothing to do with their US or British counterparts). Nobody of their classmates takes part in protest marches. They're preparing for their bac, the same exam those out there on the streets will have to sit. My son has seen clouds of tear gas and the helicopter in the air but not one live demonstrator so far.
The younger one - too young to march along and not yet preparing for his bac - got home with a poem he had written in a quiet moment... He Could march along. The message was, 'Sarko go home.' - That's what the youth have on their mind. The pension reform? - not.

Finally, we have "casseurs" in Lyon, and few are enough to cause huge damage for some and be the delight for the media and help those in power to distract from the real protest movement and reply to that.

To America: "France" IS NOT burning!

But France has a "banlieue" problem. It has nothing to do with the pension reform and peaceful demonstrations. Opponents to the pension reform want to be taken seriously; they want to be heard and discuss. They "make fire" as they block strategic points but they're not destructive rioters.

A final point. On the question of whether the retirement age would really have to be raised or whether it's all a matter of redistribution of wealth. - The idea of it all being a matter of redistribution is communist, and I don't like it. But we're also fooled by this noble measure of raising the retirement age. Will anybody "really" be working until 67, 69... - unless he's a university professor or else, has made a living of his passion? - Probably not. The bottom line is that there will be cuts on pensions. It would be more honest to begin by opposing the funds at hand - How much is there? - to those who are entitled to getting them. - How many must be paid from what is there? If the number of retirees doubles, pensions will have to be cut by half. This is totally unfair for many reasons. Sure. But was it "fair" that the after-war-generation benefited so much from a booming economy? Did their parents say that it was unfair that they had to suffer from one or two wars? Nothing ever stays the same. Living standards change all the time, in some areas for the better, in others for the worse.

The rise of the retirement age was a politically correct way to make people accept what they wouldn't have accepted the "direct" way. It has been nice for our parents to have better lives than their parents had had when they retired. It's bitter to imagine that we'll have less good lives than our own parents when we'll retire...

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 04:52:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The difference is simple. Sarko knows that he MUST raise the age of retirement,

No.

Sarko wants to raise the age of retirement. There is no "must" here at all. Sarko is simply flat out lying and ramming a highly objectionable "reform" package through at an objectively idiotic moment, because he wants to. Seriously: Raising the retirement age in the middle of a depression in employment that is not likely to go away on its own? There is no economic theory, left, right or centre, that justifies that.

The idea of it all being a matter of redistribution is communist, and I don't like it.

Tough. It's the objective reality.

The bottom line is that there will be cuts on pensions.

That is a political decision. There is no compelling economic reason to declare the French pension system unsustainable.

It would be more honest to begin by opposing the funds at hand - How much is there? - to those who are entitled to getting them.

No, that would be entirely dishonest. You cannot discount the sovereign's cash flows and get a meaningful number. Sovereign budgets don't work that way.

If the number of retirees doubles, pensions will have to be cut by half.

That is a political decision. There is no compelling economic reason to assume that it must be so.

All else being equal, it would be so. But first, declining youth cohorts mean that the ratio of population to workforce is not scheduled to increase noticeably and second, the share of GDP going to dependents is not magically set in stone by divine intervention (it really is a purely distributional question - not liking that fact doesn't make it go away).

It has been nice for our parents to have better lives than their parents had had when they retired. It's bitter to imagine that we'll have less good lives than our own parents when we'll retire...

What is bitter is to have incompetent fuckwit ideologues like Weber and Sarko and Trichet pushing through completely unnecessary - even counterproductive - destruction of established economic policies that work perfectly well and are perfectly sustainable. What is bitter is to see incompetent fuckwit ideologues destroy the pinnacle of European achievement - arguably the one single achievement of which we can be justifiably proud: Industrial civilisation, in order to loot it and hand the proceeds of their looting to their golf buddies.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:18:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
It's bitter to imagine that we'll have less good lives than our own parents when we'll retire...
That is, again, a political decision.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:22:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Conservatism is, indeed, institutionalised meanness, as political decisions to force squalor on the majority of the population is presented as a bitter necessity to get used to declining living standards.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 06:12:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The difference is simple. Sarko knows that he MUST raise the age of retirement"

What about pressure from other EU states to meet certain economic criteria?

"The idea of it all being a matter of redistribution is communist, and I don't like it. (me)
"Tough. It's the objective reality." (Jake S)

What you call 'objective reality' is subjective. If this were heaven and not earth or at least heaven on earth, you'd be right but we aren't able to create heaven on earth for everybody.
It begins by not being possible where two people disagree.

So, I give preference to real reality over objective reality à la Jake S.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:35:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about pressure from other EU states to meet certain economic criteria?

The Maastricht criteria are a mutual suicide pact that France has not felt bound by before, and should not feel bound by today (nor should any European country).

But if you want to cut spending just for the sake of appeasing incompetent ideologues, then don't you have a couple of military bases and an aircraft carrier or two that you don't actually need? See, political decision.

What you call 'objective reality' is subjective.

Only in the sense and to the extent that accounting identities are subjective.

Look, this is a matter of how money works under a fiat currency. That is really not debatable. The sovereign has no intertemporal budget constraint - in fact the sovereign has no hard budget constraint at all under a fiat currency. You may want to impose a sovereign budget constraint, but that is a wholly voluntary political decision. So yes, the objective reality is that as long as you are able to enforce legal tender laws, retirement age is a purely distributional question.

If this were heaven and not earth or at least heaven on earth, you'd be right but we aren't able to create heaven on earth for everybody.

That's right. Creating heaven on Earth for narcissistic sociopaths like Sarko is incompatible with creating Heaven on Earth for everybody else.

Excluding the pathological narcissists and sociopaths, however, industrial civilisation - the institutional and technological structure that Sarko and his friends are so busy dismantling - is just so ridiculously productive that it can come pretty close.

Seriously. Modern infrastructure that we take for granted (and that Sarko and his friends want to loot for a quick buck) compares favourably with the power normally attributed to several deities in the ancient Greek pantheon. We cure diseases better - or at least a lot more consistently than Apollo. We make crops grow better than Hera ever did in the Athenians' wildest dreams of avarice. We can make light with a word and a gesture - or even with just a gesture. If we cannot use this power to create something that very closely approximates Heaven on Earth, at least for those who are not pathologically addicted to MORE!, then it becomes really hard to justify human civilisation.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:50:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The rich man's heaven is the poor man's hell.
by paving on Wed Oct 27th, 2010 at 12:30:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In reply to myself, I would like to add that I wanted to draw attention to the LACK OF HONESTY in the entire pension reform debate.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:24:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, honesty starts with facts.

And the fact of the matter is that the pension "reform" "debate" is a purely distributional question. Sarko wants to rob the poor and give to the rich (and his friends). It really is that simple, when you excise all the pseudo-economics that he and his friends and their paid shills bring to the table.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. Honesty begins with facts. I don't think our honesty with one another now helps anybody. I agree that there's lack of honesty from above (not surprisingly). The People should be aware of that and not complain about having to work at 66 since this is not really the issue.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:38:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily. See the UPDATE inserting Melanchthon's comment in the body of the diary above.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:40:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

I take note of all the facts.

They should be discussed with politicians and all interest groups involved.

When I speak of changeing living standards, I mean that things may change and not necessarily always for the better and that reforms and implications should be discussed honestly and openly.
But I'm of little help there, personally.

And I personally don't like Jake's generous or generalised redistribution plans of other people's wealth.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:51:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Other peoples' wealth?

The vast, overwhelmingly bulk of all wealth in a modern industrial society is not attributable to any single individual, corporation or clique. "Your wealth" exists at all only because you live in a modern industrial society. So it really is, in a very real sense, society's wealth in the first place.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:56:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is an enormously important point.  A major driver of the mythology that is ruining the west at this time is the belief that one's wealth is somehow god-given.  This belief leads to so many problems it is difficult to map.
by paving on Wed Oct 27th, 2010 at 12:32:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
I personally don't like Jake's generous or generalised redistribution plans of other people's wealth
European Tribune - John Stuart Mill or the ethics of liberalism: Part I, private property
Back to [John Stuart] Mill:
It is not so with the Distribution of Wealth. That is matter of human institution solely. The things once there, mankind, individually or collectively, can do with them as they like. They can place them at the disposal of whomsoever they please, and on whatever terms. Further, in the social state, in every state except total solitude, any disposal whatever of them can only take place by the consent of society, or rather of those who dispose of its active force. Even what a person has produced by his individual toil unaided by any one, he cannot keep, unless by the permission of society. Not only can society take it from him, but individuals could and would take it from him, if society only remained passive; if it did not either interfere en masse, or employ and pay people for the purpose of preventing him from being disturbed in the possession. The distribution of wealth, therefore, depends on the laws and customs of society. The rules by which it is determined, are what the opinions and feelings of the ruling portion of the community make them, and are very different in different ages and countries, and might be still more different, if mankind so chose.
I tell you, this man (like Adam Smith before him) is a dangerous socialist.
You know you have a problem when Patrician liberal intellectuals from 19th century England sound like dangerous reds compared to what passes for economic discourse these days...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 06:11:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, LEP! You should add the content of this comment and part of this one, too

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 06:03:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You should write a diary on this to put everything together in one place; that's beyond  my capabilities; I'm just a photographer with a Brownie.

And also discuss what I believe your position is: that Sarkozy is trying to destroy what's left of the unions.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 06:20:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There certainly must be a reform, and a vast majority of the people agree with this. But Sarkozy's reform is seen as unjust by a majority of French people. About the retirement age, in addition to LEP's update, see this comment and and this one, too.

Lily:

it appears ridiculous and quite irrational that the youth would protest against a pension reform and hold up banners like, "Maman, Papa, je l'aurai votre retraite!"

So, showing solidarity with their parents and grandparents is ridiculous? If I understand well, the youth should selfishly focus on their own individual future and don't bother to think of what society they would like to live in? Clearly, most of the young who take part in the demonstrations probably do not understand the technicalities of the pension reform, but they intuitively understand what kind of political project this reform is part of: a more unequal and unjust society.

My daughters attended a dull, conservative private school in Lyon city centre (one is still attending, preparing for her Bac) and they live in the very quarter where the clashes take place. They are not on strike, but they support the movement.

Indeed, there should be a wide democratic debate about what should be done for the future pension schemes, including about new ways to finance them. But this has not been the case.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 06:25:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hello neighbour,

"showing solidarity with their parents and grandparents is ridiculous?"

This is not ridiculous. It's very noble. Two thoughts were unhappily united in one sentence. It would appear ridiculous and irrational for the youth to defend a pension scheme that will be overthrown and amended more than twice before they themselves will retire.

Solidarity with our parents is not necessarily ridiculous but most unusual in our society. I still claim that there's less solidarity with the parent generation than revolt against everything the Sarkozy regime stands for (authoritarian rulership from above).

"Indeed, there should be a wide democratic debate about what should be done for the future pension schemes, including about new ways to finance them. But this has not been the case."

I agree.

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 07:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
It would appear ridiculous and irrational for the youth to defend a pension scheme that will be overthrown and amended more than twice before they themselves will retire.
If the defence is successful, it may yet survive until they themselves retire.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 07:38:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It may.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 07:45:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then it is no longer ridiculous or irrational.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 08:46:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, this is a matter of faith. It may but I don't believe it will, and I don't believe that the youth believe that any pension law of today will still be in place as is 40 years from now. Sixteen year olds don't plan their retirement. They choose their "filière au bac" and a career and hope to get a job.

As I said, my perception is general dissatisfaction with the Sarko regime, not heart-felt interest in the pension reform project.

If I'm wrong and the youth are in the streets to fight for their elders, help them across the street, make room for them in public transportation etc. and not for their own self-interests, I shall be glad to admit to my mistake.  

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 09:54:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Lily:
Again, this is a matter of faith.
It is a matter of politics.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 09:57:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By matter of faith - I referred to the belief or not that today's laws will remain in place as they are for the next 40 years and longer. I don't believe they will.

I believe that there are new laws and amendments with every new government. I don't say this shall be so; history and life experience teach me that this is simply so.

 

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 10:06:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
- and it's a matter of politics, of course!
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 10:07:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is not whether the laws will change in 40 years. The point is what direction reforms will take. You have to take a stand against reforms in unacceptable directions.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 05:40:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So we agree that the youth protests against an "unacceptable direction", not against the pension reform bill in and of itself - since they simply don't feel personally affected by it.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 06:17:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, they do. They are well aware they will be impacted by the consequences of the reform.

Not everyone thinks only one quarter ahead, or in pecuniary terms only. And that [not being homo oeconomicus] doesn't make them irrational or ridiculous.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 06:27:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I discussed these points with my daughters (16 and 18). It is clear for them and their friends that they participate in the movement or support it because:
  1. it is part of an unacceptable set of policies that leads towards a more unjust society;
  2. they feel they will be personally affected in the future if nothing is done to counter these measures;
  3. they want to express their solidarity with the generation of their parents and grandparents;

Add to that a deep exasperation towards Sarkozy's policies, especially the xenophobic campaigns.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char
by Melanchthon on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 12:09:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But, but, they don't benefit monetarily!

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 26th, 2010 at 04:05:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even if that were true, I fail to see why it's relevant.

Political coalitions are big tents. Today the teenagers march against Sarko and his golf buddies stealing grandma's pension. Tomorrow, grandma marches against Sarko and his golf buddies stealing the teenagers' schoolbooks. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. The reality is that only a minority of policies will ever command either the approval or the disapproval of a majority of the citizenry on their merits - most policies don't affect most people. So you build coalitions that work for a set of goals that none of the participants oppose too vigorously.

Or, to put it another way, lots of people have a variety of usually excellent reasons to want to see Sarko take a long walk off a short pier. They don't have to all have the same reasons for them to work together.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Oct 25th, 2010 at 12:48:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're not aware of cars being turned over and burned, storefront being shattered, contents stolen, barricades of tires being set on fire?

That's not violence, just property damage. That's a whole order of magnitude or two less serious than violence. Stuff, after all, can be replaced.

There seems to be this fixation on the right with equivocating between violent thugs and saboteurs. Maybe because their own direct action movements are uniformly of the former kind. There's a difference between smashing someone's face and smashing someone's storefront that seems to escape right-wingers and their tame newsies. (And there's another difference again between trashing a private shop and trashing a bank branch office or a McDonald's.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 04:58:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jake,

you evoke a difference between smashing someone's face, storewindow or that of a bank, McDo etc.

On what basis do you measure the difference?

Is anyone more entitled to smash a LaFayette shop window than someone's face, and then, are we entitled to get into the open shop and help ourselves?

Is there any principle by which you decide what's allowed and what isn't, what's still tolerated and what isn't?

Does it all depend on circumstances and possibilities or is there any other measure?

by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:21:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you evoke a difference between smashing someone's face, storewindow or that of a bank, McDo etc.

On what basis do you measure the difference?

Stuff can be replaced. Faces are a lot harder.

Is anyone more entitled to smash a LaFayette shop window than someone's face,

More entitled? Yes, certainly. That is why criminal jurisprudence makes a distinction between theft, robbery and robbery with violence. Entitled to, in an absolute sense? That depends on the circumstances.

and then, are we entitled to get into the open shop and help ourselves?

Depends on the circumstances. If the shopowner were, say, selling goods to the local American concentration camp, then I would argue yes.

Is there any principle by which you decide what's allowed and what isn't, what's still tolerated and what isn't?

Does it all depend on circumstances and possibilities or is there any other measure?

Yes, it all depends on circumstances and consequences. There is a standard: Would an impartial spectator approve, if he knew all the facts (including all the facts of the actions of the smashed store in its other business dealings)? But reasonable people can disagree on what an impartial spectator would condone.

That said, I don't think any reasonable person can disagree that an impartial spectator would set a lower threshold for condoning sabotage of and theft from an impersonal transnat than a small, independent store. The former damages only the cash flow of shareholders, while the latter damages the livelihood of a real flesh-and-blood person. Nor do I think that anybody seriously wants to argue that there is no difference between shoplifting and beating someone over the head with a baseball bat.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:36:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought so.
by Lily (put - lilyalmond - here <a> yahaah.france) on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:42:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
That's not violence, just property damage.

For those whose car has been destroyed when (as is often the case) they can't afford to buy a new one and for the small shop owners who see the result of their work disappear, yes it is violence.

"Ce qui vient au monde pour ne rien troubler ne mérite ni égards ni patience." René Char

by Melanchthon on Fri Oct 22nd, 2010 at 05:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
circle 5:
If you're looking for courage, just imagine what president Sarkozy is going through.

What courage?

Is he in risk of physical injury? No.

Is he in risk of financial injury? No, on the contrary, he is handsomely paid and is likely to receive book contracts, invitations to lecture circuits and guest lectureships from the interests he policies serve. (See Blair for examples)

Is he in risk of social dislike from his peers? Not likely, he is probably patted on the back at the cocktail parties.

A roofer shows greater courage every single day.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 04:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not ashamed of my political choices, far from it. My family suffered terribly from the German occupation, so I would appreciate it if you would stop insinuating that I am somehow a Nazi sympathizer

I'll remind you that the same unions that you have been so thoroughly indoctrinated to hate were pretty much the only people in Metropolitan France who were actually shooting at the Nazis during most of the War. Sarko and his friends, on the other hand, are the grandchildren of the people who shot at the unions. And while I don't particularly wish to re-fight the second world war, I do know who I would be shooting at if it came to that.

If you're looking for courage, just imagine what president Sarkozy is going through.

"Alas, to wear the mantle of Galileo it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment; you must also be right."

- Robert Park, of the American Physical Society

Sarko is wrong on the facts. Worse, he's lying about the facts. He has forfeited any right to courtesy from those who have any respect for truth and honesty.

The British are implementing a vastly more drastic austerity plan,

Which is rubber-room level insanity. Maybe burning a few cars in downtown London would make the British government stop these moronic genuflections towards the pagan idols of a patently idiotic economic faith.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Oct 21st, 2010 at 07:51:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Protest sign technology sure has improved since the 1960s!
by asdf on Wed Oct 20th, 2010 at 11:06:10 PM EST


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]