From a recent Economist article titled State of denial:
Under a plan unveiled by Eric Woerth, the labour minister, France intends to raise the legal retirement age progressively from 60 to 62 by 2018 … this alone will not meet the state pension-fund shortfall …
And this is what everyone is protesting about?!?
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has recently stirred emotions by discussing delaying the minimum retirement age in France, and/or extending retirement contributions. Here’s a demand by one of France’s many workers unions:
La retraite à 60 ans et à taux plein, sans augmentation, ni allongement de la durée des cotisations.
Translation: Complete retirement at 60 years old, without raising contributions or extending the contribution period.
Let’s take the example of Japan, a country with one of the longest life expectancies on the planet, and a good social medicine program. You might think that these are good things, and indeed they are, but combined they produce disastrous results for Japan’s economy: with more and more people living longer lives in retirement, the state bears a bigger and bigger financial burden to care for them.
With French unions short-sightedly demanding a freeze on the retirement age, they are conscripting themselves to the same fate as Japan’s system – radical overhaul or complete bankruptcy. It would be much easier now to adopt sensible changes to France’s retirement system than wait for disaster.
France was on strike today, go figure.
For those of you who don’t know, such an occurrence is really quite common, and has not really seemed to be effective in recent memory, but just the same has become a part of French life and culture.
Apparently the French aren’t really happy with Sarkozy’s politics and are blaming him for the effects of the current economic situation on their lives. One manifestant even seems to prefer Obama’s strategies to Sarkozy’s, even though the President’s actions have yet to be proven beneficial.
One thing’s for sure: grèves mean that I get to stay home and sleep in (which makes me wonder if they’re so bad after all).