Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

If you find that my statement about the French assitÚ mentalitÚ offensive and misguided, let me begin by saying that I consider your sub-heading "ICU case yourself!" equally offensive and misguided.

I'm not sure why you felt what I said there "offensive and misguided" but I have a suspicion that it is because it's coming from one who has openly admitted to being right-wing as your slight of hand attack suggested: "The famous mentalitÚ d'assistÚs that anyone on the right trundles out without a second's further thought,..."

I don't think it's all that interesting to attack or defend Sarkozy. (To comment on his presidency, though, yes). At least some of us here have always said there was nothing behind the facade, that Sarko was all hat and no cattle, that he was just another populist politician, and I think we are being proved right. The Sarko-person is of no great interest.

The Sarko person is of great interest, like it or not. You may not like him but HE is president of France and that means, rightly or wrongly, France is seen by many, particularly abroad, through his persona both as a "person" and as a politician-leader; difficult to separate the "person" from the "president" (de Gaulle who epitomised France during a certain era set the precedent and many have followed the lead.) To cut off any comment pertaining to his person as "not interesting" is not realistic; proof is tons of ink have been used to describe, ridicule and analyse him.

Charles Bremner is a hired Murdoch hack and is of no interest either.

"Hack" is hard, but there is an element of truth. He is not freelance; you, I or many here may not like what he writes but his articles are normally well researched. What he writes may not be of interest to you but they should be of interest to many French because he writes about France and the French, foibles and all, and what he says in his articles contribute in some way to what the English-speaking people of this world may want to know about France and the French.

The famous mentalitÚ d'assistÚs that anyone on the right trundles out without a second's further thought, just like US anti-welfare slogans ("welfare queens"), or "scroungers" in the UK. But who are the people who are being "assisted", helped? How much do they get? Are you talking about unemployment benefit? Family allowances? Minimum living wage (RMI)? Are you including the health service? And are you showing any proof that the existence of a social solidarity net is really a significant incentive to large numbers of people to consider that the world owes them a living?

Listen afew, I am not at all inclined to do data mining. If you want percentages of sectors of the French population that receive state handouts, I haven't got them right here and now but I'm pretty sure they are somewhere on the net.

What gobsmacks me is that the French "mentalitÚ d'assistÚs" line seems to have aroused an incredible political ideological backlash right here at ET. Yet you yourself categorised it as "famous" -- which simply goes to show that there is a perception, a strong one, if we were to go by your own adjective, and that the French suffers from this reputation.

To be perfectly honest, I did find your questions a bit puerile.

But to answer them, yes, we are talking about them and possibly about a lot more. There are certainly people in France who end up being supported by the state who hate the idea and would do anything to change, but equally there are MANY from all sides of the political ideological spectrum who take advantage, i.e., left, right, far left, far right, etc. To deny that this does not exist is to close one's eyes to some harsh realities about France.

If that were the case, wouldn't it be logical to also consider the wealthier part of the population as assistÚs by numerous tax breaks and niches, and cuts in taxes on higher incomes, wealth, and estates, carried out under Chirac since 2002 and lately again by Sarkozy?

So we perhaps come to the crux of the matter -- you view my mention of the French assistÚ mentality as an attack against the non-rich perhaps? There are those, rich and very rich, who pay 45% as Pierre had reported below, and perhaps more - and if you feel that tax breaks and niches, etc., are symptomatic of the assitÚ mentalite too, you are somehow reinforcing the perception that the ("famous") assitÚ mentality mindset in France is there, wouldn't you say? (I'm not sure that the rich or those who pay 45% in taxes outnumber those who don't though.)

Let me ask you something on the issue of taxes, how much more taxes do you believe the rich should pay in order to not belong to the assistÚ category? On this issue, wouldn't you say that the high taxes could drive the brightest and the best to go somewhere where the tax regime is more benign? The so-called brain-drain. What is the percentage of bright young French engineers who go to study in the US and then remain because there is more opportunity there? I do not have a number, but Barosso quoted something like 80% the other day at the launch of the CER report. France (nor any other country) can afford this.

In our last exchange about that mendacious CER report, you cried off, citing exhaustion. I hope you're going to find the energy to substantiate what you write this time. Sorry if this sounds aggressive, but what you say here is offensive and misguided.

I don't understand where you're coming from Afew! I submitted that diary as a report -- while I did cite exhaustion, it had nothing to do with the initial diary/report but if you remember, I mentioned that I didn't feel like reporting on what transpired during the question and answer session -- the CER pamphlet was not written by me and if you are not satisfied with what they have submitted, you should go tell them -- I can't help you there simply because I too have a lot of questions to ask and I thought writing a "report" about the CER report launch would be a good way to start a debate but heck, you attacked my post as if I had been guilty of something or for authoring the CER pamphlet. You apologised and said you're sorry for sounding over critical or aggressive or whatever but why am I feeling that your being sorry is a teeny weeny bit just on the sly?

If your role in ET is that of an ombudsman, I will accept the criticisms if they are warranted (and I humbly submit that I may have been clumsy in my reports) but I have gotten to a stage that I have lost the appetite to engage in debates because rightly or wrongly I don't think it's worth my time to post any more diaries -- put it to that feeling of being "not with it", i.e., whatever diary I may post will not meet the ET "agenda" (whatever it is) since I am not left-wing or ultra-liberal enough to go with the ET flow which I believe to be greatly dominated by "leftish" sentiments.

While I greatly enjoyed reading some of the diaries, particularly those of Frank Schnittger's (whom I appreciated from way back when he was posting in Charles Bremner's blog), and Migeru's, Jerome's, Drew's, Helen's, Jake's, In Wales, and a few others, there are diaries that I don't particularly relish reading because of I felt they were thoroughly biased against anything right wing (could be wrong but heck, that's my opinion.) But to reformulate what Giscard d'Estaing said to Mitterand in a televised presidential election debate: "Vous n'avez pas le monopole de coeur!" ("You don't have the monopoly of heart")

This will be my last diary in the European Tribune. If it suits you or ET, you can delete my diaries. I believe you have the power to do it -- as someone in an Open Thread (I think by In Wales) a few weeks back said -- or along the same line, "We have the power to delete..." (Who is "We", that I really don't know.)

by The3rdColumn on Fri Mar 21st, 2008 at 10:12:39 AM EST
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