Tuesday, November 21, 2006

French Unrest: This Time the Demonstrators Happen to Have The Right Gear

Thousands of French firemen paraded today, and the fight between them and the "forces de l'ordre" police were violent. Things got a little out of hand: Fifteen policemen were wounded, and one police car went up in flames. (See the Liberation.fr article and another at Lemonde.fr, in the original French.)

French firemen on strike
[Thanks to liberation.fr and Angel Herrero Lucas, photographer.]

Firemen with protective gear threw distress missiles, iron rods, work site material and signs at police, who responded with tear gas. One policeman's leg was fractured from having been hit by a sledgehammer. In spite of police barrages, demonstrators were able to bring freeway traffic to a standstill.

Reading their literature, one wants to sympathize with the firemen: "More you're under fire, the less you earn! Firemen are enraged. Why?"

Cutting a fireman's pay just seems cold, if not immoral.

Well, wait a minute. Why are they mad? They are enraged because the government wants to take away the possibility of retirement at the age of 55 (like everyone else in French government service), plus full pay and some bonuses.

Now don't get me wrong; I can see their point: Why should they be treated unlike everyone else? And if anyone deserves this kind of benefits, surely it is the firemen.

But remember that one quarter of the French working population is employed by the government. That's a lot of people retiring at age 55. The French economy surely cannot finance these perks much longer and stay competitive -- oops, I mean regain their competitiveness.

The French slightly-right government is very aware of the problem; but perhaps they should start with other government employees, not the firemen.


Blogger Boggabri Bill said...

Dear Katy.

Just read your Guest Commentary, "If There are Bubbles.." on Prudent Bear.com.
I love you. (VBG 'cause I am very old and harmless)
You have quoted one of my mentors, Col. E.C. Harwood of the AIER of which I have been a member for yonks. (Australian for a long time.)
Your article was clearly written and in my mind, spot on!
Thank you

11:00 AM  
Blogger Katy said...

Thanks, Bill.
Col. Harwood is my Daddy. See my earliest posts back in March of 2005.
I appreciate the compliments.

11:44 AM  

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