Let's start with the jogging. It's been heralded here in France as the French presidency's entrance into modernity. That's true - the modernity of the 1970s, when Jimmy Carter was the first jogging American president. That was January of 1977. People think France is Old Europe and Sarkozy is New. But anyone who rides a French TGV or the new Parisian "Velib" public bike system or buys French clothes or listens to a claptrapy Sarkozy speech knows that it's actually the other way around - Sarko is old old old. As in Old School.
I heard Fillon on the nightly news on France 3 last week. He said that France needs an economic recovery and that will happen when French people exert more effort. They will do this when they are taxed less. He sounded like a subdued Benny Hill parodying Margaret Thatcher dubbed into French, except that Fillon's hair is definitely better than Benny's ever was.
Well what's so dumb about curing French unemployment with more "effort" via lower taxes? I'm happy to tell you, Mr. President, as soon as I can forget your confident JOGGING PERSONA long enough for my respect for you to recover. OK, here goes.
- this line is stolen directly from Thatcher and Reagan circa 1975-1985. Anyone this unoriginal can't possibly know how to fix ANYTHING economic in 2007.
- The French worker is per person-hour in fact more productive than the American worker. How can that be explained as the result of France's faulty work ethic?
- this line by the way insults working people with the beloved assumption of the rich and comfortable that regular people don't work. See #2.
- in recent history, "lower taxes" means lower taxes for rich people, not people who work.
- when right-wing politicians tell the masses to work harder, they are about to keep the masses from getting a raise for 20 - 30 years. Look at the United States. Reagan made "you betta work" into our brilliant National Philosophy. Then the bottom 80% of the workforce saw their wages stagnate in real terms for the rest of recorded history, e.g. the 1970s through now. You're not that good, take less, you're lucky to have a job. Our National Reality: "work more to earn less."
- your Finance Minister, Monsieur le President is quoted as saying, "We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves.” She is saying that acting is incompatible with thinking. She has pretty obviously ceased to think.
- the French economy, like every other one, is affected by a couple of other things besides its alleged weak "effort," like the the mobility of finance capital, the race to the bottom in world wages, things like that. On this and other effects of unregulated globalization, you Joggers have neither thoughts nor actions - nothing, really nothing to offer.
- blaming workers means giving "le patronat" - the nation's executives - a free pass. Any chance they've screwed up here and there? French business culture is regularly ranked among the most rigid and authoritarian in the West, which conflicts just a little with the flexibility and adaptation your Right (wrongly) claims it loves. Their worker flexibility, your executive rigidity: real tough guys, like a Jogging President, would start reforms with the executive class.
- taxes pay for things that make countries better - e.g. schools and universities and research institutes that make people more educated, able to solve problems, and more productive. It makes people, in contrast to leaders, more "reality-based." Like other right-wing parties, yours has fought every increase in public expenditures for decades, and one result is that in strategic areas like higher education France is way behind. Most of France's economic struggles have been caused directly by the Right in all their copy-cat dumbness.
The Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is rapidly becoming the most irritating ideologue in the Sarkozy government, meaning that she puts an Oprah empowerment twist on the dictatorial market politics of the average Chicago corporate lawyer that she used to be. It's particularly sickening to hear a member of the most overpaid profession on earth - except for investment bankers and hedge-fund managers - singing the praises of more work for people that make about 1/200 of what she made when she was running that Chicago law firm. It's also disgusting to hear free market cheerleading from someone who is that overpaid because her lawyering profession is a completely regulated monopoly. When Merger and Acquisitions negotiation is contracted to Singapore and Banglore, and equity deals are run largely from Tokyo and Shanghai, we will hear a lot less nonsense form Western politicians and economists about how teachers and cashiers should be more market-friendly.
The good news is that the French public has not yet sunk to the level of their leaders. A few Sarko-loving intellectuals rebelled against him, one often odious one offering a classically and beautifully French paen to thinking as WORK: said Alain Finkelkraut, "“If you have the chance to consecrate your life to thinking, you work all the time, even in your sleep. Thinking requires setbacks, suffering, a lot of sweat.” It's true that the French still respect thought, and that is why they still can.
Similarly, as our simple reporter noted, "a widely reported TNS-Sofres poll of more than 1,000 people concluded that 39 percent of the French think that it is possible to get rich by winning the lottery; only 40 percent believe that getting rich can happen through work."
Guess what, darling: the other 60 % are right! You don't get RICH by WORKING. Working gets you food and maybe shelter, clothes - it doesn't make you rich. Getting rich requires some other play - insider legal performances, huge ownership positions on something that breaks, control of a tool that becomes a platform. Let's not be stupid. People get rich by, in effect, winning the lottery. And that's why they're better than you and me. That's why they should take whatever they want.
You can see I'm annoyed, and I could use some relief. So I'd like the Jogger to say the following, so I can admit that he is a real tough guy.
As the UMP leader and president, my electoral base is the right-wing, and particularly the rich and influential members of the right wing. My job is to reflect their thinking and implement their plans, which are the plans they believe are good for them. These wealthy and powerful people reward me for serving them, and I do serve them. In addition to that, I like and admire them. I like their incredible chateaux, their private jets, their pieces of beachfront paradise. I prefer rich people to non-rich people. They have the best of everything. They are stronger and more beautiful than you non-rich They are more effective. The rich are better people than the non-rich. They are more important than you, more deserving than you. That is why I will fight for them. That is why I will implement policies that hurt you - because those policies help them.I wouldn't vote for that Darwinist schlock, especially coming from an unoriginal Jogger. But at least it's honest. And it sounds like thinking.