- THREE CHEERS FOR FRENCH STRIKERS AND THEIR ALLIE
HR: It’s much more then the always in the compliant propaganda media used “age of retirement”. It’s a profound and global reaction against the usury of the criminal cartel.*
- October 22nd, 14:53
When the explanation was given that: “When one easily fires working people, it’s resulting in more jobs.” – all human beings with common sense first shook their heads in disbelief, and now shake their fists at those French ministerial crooks advocating this nefarious nonsense.” – [end quote]*
By Alexander Cockburn
Here’s the truth about the French pension reforms – and it explains why the young are protesting.
October 22, 2010 – The strikes and demonstrations that have brought France to a near-halt are provoking the usual patronising commentaries across the Channel and on my side of the Atlantic.
Those pampered French workers, not to mention school kids, are at it again, raising hell just because sensible President Sarkozy* points out that the French pension system is simply not affordable and the retirement age must be raised from 60 to 62.
It’s time for a reality check, says Sarko, of the sort just being imposed in Britian by Chancellor Osborne, proposing to carve £81 billion out of spending and entitlements.
Across Europe the slash-and-burn crowd are in full cry, calling for tighter belts – though not to any stringent degree those ample ones circling the portly tums of the richer classes.*
Cheering them on are the neo-liberals here in the US, urging similar retrenchment, starting with social security “reform” – a higher retirement age and reduced pensions. The mainstream press here, led by the New York Times, has been florid with homages to Osborne’s estimable zeal to pare back the welfare state “excesses” of 60 years.
Such portrayals of the French pension system are grotesquely misleading. Diana Johnstone, an American journalist who has lived in Paris for over three decades, laid out clearly this week on the CounterPunch website what is actually at stake in Sarkozy’s proposals:
“The retirement issue is far more complex than ‘the age of retirement’. The legal age of retirement means the age at which one may retire. But the pension depends on the number of years worked, or to be more precise, on the number of cotisations (payments) into the joint pension scheme.
“On the grounds of ‘saving the system from bankruptcy’, the government is gradually raising the number of years of cotisations from 40 to 43 years, with indications that this will be stretched out further in the future.
“As education is prolonged, and employment begins later, to get a full pension most people will have to work until 65 or 67. A ‘full pension’ comes to about 40 per cent of wages at the time of retirement.
“But even so, that may not be possible. Full-time jobs are harder and harder to get, and employers do not necessarily want to retain older employees. Or the enterprise goes out of business and the 58-year old employee finds himself permanently out of work.
“It is becoming harder and harder to work full-time in a salaried job
for over 40 years, however much one may want to. Thus in practice, the Sarkozy-Woerth [Eric Woerth is the French Labour Minister] reform simply means reducing pensions.”
Johnstone points out that the school kids on the streets are not there for the thrill of trashing a car or throwing a rock at the cops. They are very aware of the increasing difficulty of building a career.
The trend in France is for qualified personnel to enter the workforce later and later, having spent years getting an education. With the difficulty of finding a stable, full-time job, many depend on their parents until the age of 30. It is simple arithmetic to see that in this case, there will be no full retirement until after 70.
Those supposedly pampered French workers actually achieve productivity levels that are among the highest in the world – higher than the Germans, for example. France also has a high birthrate, unlike the dismal levels of the 1930s when austerity programmes of the sort proposed by Sarkozy produced a population dwindling at disastrous speed. So the wealth produced by high productivity should be adequate to maintain pension levels.
“Should be” are the operative words here. As in the US, the French workers don’t enjoy the rewards of their high productivity in the form of higher wages. Their pay packets stagnate while the profits from increased productivity are siphoned off into the financial sector.
Meanwhile, in order to maintain the high profits drained by the financial sector, and avoid paying higher wages, the jobs vanish overseas, and the likelihood of getting anything close to a full pension dwindles.
The bankers’ agenda both sides of the Atlantic is the same: cut the living standards of ordinary working people; roll back the clock to the 1920s, a decade which culminated in disaster, as the bankers insisted that the only way out of the Depression was fiercer austerity – the Osborne/Sarkozy strategy.
It took mass unemployment and the ideas of Maynard Keynes to recover from that madness. Now the Keynesian recipe is being shredded.
As the former banker and economist Michael Hudson writes, “At issue are proposals to drastically change the laws and structure of how European society will function for the next generation. It is a purely vicious attempt to reverse Europe’s Progressive Era social democratic reforms achieved over the past century.
“Europe is to be turned into a banana republic by taxing labour – not finance, insurance or real estate. Governments are to impose heavier employment and sales taxes while cutting back pensions and other public spending.”
Contrast the popular eruptions across France against Sarkozy with the sedate atmosphere in the UK after Osborne outlined a brutal agenda this week which will lead to nearly 500,000 public sector job losses, pensions kicking in only at a higher retirement age of 66, plus higher pension contributions, and pain which will strike most fiercely at the poor.
Contrary to widespread belief here, levels of unionisation in France are not high. But the French have a radical tradition stretching back across more than two centuries to their great revolution. Working people everywhere should raise three lusty cheers for the French strikers and their allies.
HR & the criminal elite’s cartel – Url.: http://tinyurl.com/343cs9u
Google brainwashing machine – France & strikes – Url.: http://tinyurl.com/2wp4hoh
Sarkozy a Mossad agent – Url.: http://tinyurl.com/364eclt
WSWS – I dont agree with all their points of view, especially ‘socialism’ or Trotzky, but in many things they ha a good point. – “Workers face a struggle for power in France.” – Url.: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/oct2010/pers-o22.shtml
Mr Sarkozy and the CIA. Based on Thierry Meyssan’s “Operation Sarkozy” – Axis of Logic – Url.: http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_27642.shtml
SARKOZY ACCUSED OF USING WATERGATE-STYLE TRICKS TO MUZZLE THE FRENCH PRESS – Url.: http://forpressfound.livejournal.com/66060.html
Why Paris is burning – 19.03.2006 – Url.: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/03/336178.html