Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New French Birthright: Retire at 60. Le jour de gloire est arrivé

Allons enfants de la Patrie, with an emphasis on enfants.

Whatever happened to Liberté, etc?:

For Gilly and many other Frenchmen and women, social benefits such as long vacations, state-subsidized health care and early retirement are more than just luxuries: They're seen as a birthright — an essential part of the identity of today's France.

The protest against a government plan to raise the retirement age to 62 has special meaning for five members of the Eric Gilly clan who are demonstrating in the streets of Marseille.

"We want to stop working at 60 because it's something our parents, our grandparents and even our great-grandparents fought for," says Gilly, 50, a union representative at Saint-Pierre Cemetery, the largest in this bustling Mediterranean port city.

"And over the years ... you can see that we're losing everything they fought for. And that's unacceptable."

And we thought they fought against the Nazis. Oh wait. That was us.

Then we have the CGT, one of the largest union confederations, officially former commies, who focus on organizing in the private sector. Those anarchist organizers:

Trying to undo what the state wants dates back to an anarchist tradition of the 19th century, when unions first led a struggle against capitalism and a refusal to align with political parties, said Schweisguth. One wing of the hard-core CGT union, which is leading many of today's protests, still looks to that tradition.

Despite the anti-government protests, it is the French state that has for centuries been charged with protecting individuals and their rights.

"The state is the guarantor of the moral good," said Schweisguth, who studies changes in attitudes and values in society.

Well, that's their mistake.

And the band played on.

...In contrast, the Brits.


Quite Rightly said...

"Almost half a million public sector workers may lose their jobs in the British austerity drive."

Wow. Presumably their benefits will cost less than their salaries.

Anne said...

Who knows.

I read a WSJ article on the subject that in spite of this there overall spending is still going up and they re still broke so this is just the first phase.

Very, very bloated.

I guess they haven't cut the health care sector. So it's sure a cautionary tale for us.