Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Interestingly, I was just having this conversation today with my father (I don't see him often, so we caught up on politics etc).

We agreed that the neoliberals are eager to use, for example, a "high" unemployment rate as a pretext for harsh reforms. But, like I pointed out before, because of cosmetic changes to methodologies, it's difficult to evaluate whether the current rate of unemployment is really higher than at any other time over the past 20 years. One thing for sure though, the unemployment rate, if accepted as uniform from a methodology point of view, is not any higher now that at any other point over the past 20 years. (the highest over that entire period has been 12% something, at some point under Mitterrand, as I recall - but I don't recall the exact figure nor the exact period of peak unemployment).

What's more, it's not because one economic theory dictates that it's bad to have a high unemployment rate of 10%, that another theory insisting that 10% is economically more stimulating than 6%, for example, isn't more accurate.

The point is that governments are increasingly using arguments of "failure" , "doom", "suckiness" to pass reforms. And people are buying it wholly.

An example of fraud, using 2003 figures: people are screaming about the "11 billion euro Social Security deficit". Damn Social Security! It's those foreigners again!!

But, what deficit are we talking about?

7.8 billion euros of taxes on tobacco sales do not get assigned to Social Security (but the Social Security pays for the treatment of tobacco-related diseases!)

3.5 billion euros of taxes on alcohol sales do not get assigned to Social Security (again, who pays for alcohol-related disease treatment?)

Add to that 1.6 billion euros not assigned to Social Security from car insurances to victims of road accidents, 1.2 billion euros not assigned to Social Security from the tax on polluting industries, 2.1 billion euros of late salary contributions for government assisted contracts (contrats aidés), and another 1.9 billion euros of late company salary contributions, you come up with at least 18 billion euros of money that Social Security is not getting ... OH MY SOCIAL SECURITY SOCIAL IS SO FREAKING EXCELLENT THAT IT'S REALLY MAKING PROFIT !!!

There is only one Fraud, and Sarkozy is its prophet.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 12:55:57 PM EST
I'll second that excellent specific point: the Social Security deficit is smaller than the transfers to that budget that have been committed by the State but withheld for various reasons. Effectively, Social Security is used as a piggy bank by the government.

Now that changes nothing in the overall public deficit numbers, but it relocates the problem where it rightly belongs: government finances (just like in the USA for that matter)

Note: in France, "Social Security" includes all social transfers, i.e. healthcare, pensions, unemployment, family support, and a few other smaller ones

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 01:18:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that changes nothing in the overall public deficit numbers

Absolutely, and this is where the fraud stands => by re-affecting Social Security destined money and then blaming the Sécu, incarnation of our vicously anti-capitalistic Social model

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 01:27:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ps, numbers above are from 2003 and are based on the notion that these sums were paid to FOREC (Fonds de financement de la Réforme des Cotisations patronales de Sécurité sociale) since 2000, and not to the Sécu ... that's why suddenly the Sécurité Sociale started being accused of massive and increasing deficits.

But the FOREC was cancelled in 2004, so perhaps this whole virtual deficit of the Sécu has now disappeared, and been replaced with something more believable ... I need to check.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Dec 29th, 2005 at 01:24:04 PM EST
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