Archive for the 'News' Category
- 4.12.06 "Two follow-ups to the protests in France…" is posted in News
- 3.24.06 "France, what are you doing?" is posted in News, Rant
After Tuesday’s immigrant protests in many major US cities, there has been a great deal of comparison between their protesting and the young French. I don’t have too much more to say than what I wrote here, but I’d like to point to two much more informed pieces.
Kirk McElhearn, a “native New Yorker ” who has lived in France for over 20 years, has a rather clear and cogent perspective on the striking. From his article:
The French have a curious relationship with work. Recent polls have shown that some two-thirds to three-quarters of French youth would prefer a cushy civil servant job, guaranteed for life with good retirement benefits, over other options. While there are entrepreneurs in France, they remain under the radar, and a majority of French university students would never consider taking the risk of starting their own businesses. This suggests that an entire generation is averse to taking risks; not only do they want an iron rice-bowl as soon as they start working, but they don’t want to take chances creating businesses and having more control over their lives.
Steven Pearlstein, of the Washington Post, today published an opinion piece on the differing nature of the protests here and in France:
In one country, millions of hard-working people who earn modest wages and have no job security march to demand the right to continue participating in the global economy.
In another, millions of people without jobs and fearful of the global economy march to demand that, if and when they get a job, it comes with a 35-hour workweek, five weeks of vacation, mandatory profit-sharing, retirement at age 60 and the right never to be relocated, fired or demoted.
I think the last line of this Washington Post article pretty much sums up the stance of (parts of) a society that just doesn’t get it. Antoil Ethuin, owner of a bike rental shop that was just vandalized by the riots, began his comments on the latest “protests” in Paris…
“My country is broken,” said Ethuin, gazing at the smoldering automobile carcasses a few yards away and the carpet of glass shards, broken dishes and computer pieces covering the sidewalk in the heart of one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. “I never imagined I would ever see this in Paris.”
But this last sympathetic addition of his is what truly scares me:
“They have no jobs,” he said. “It’s not their fault.”
I don’t usually express my political or economic opinions online…but not attributing fault to the most ironic display of violence France has seen this century worries me that the country doesn’t recognize where it’s headed or what’s to blame.
What do I mean by irony? (more…)
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