France Grinds to a Halt in Massive Strike

Mish

Hundreds of thousands of lawyers, teachers, students and air-traffic controllers protest Macron's pension reform

Cities Paralyzed

French president Emmanuel macron is back in the hot seat over reform proposals. Over 800,000 protesters have taken to the streets in a Massive Strike that has paralyzed cities.

Cities across France were paralyzed by a massive public transport strike against a planned overhaul of France’s pensions system, in a test of President Emmanuel Macron’s resolve to modernize the economy.

Trains, including the high-speed line between Paris and London, subways and buses were severely curtailed if not halted altogether. Hundreds of flights were canceled. Many schools, and nurseries remained closed, while several museums, including the Louvre, said parts of their collections might not open. Even the Eiffel Tower was closed.

About 806,000 protesters—including lawyers, teachers, students and air-traffic controllers—hit the streets across the country, according to the French interior ministry. Unions warned the strike could last days and become one of the biggest in France in over two decades.

Mr. Macron wants to extend the number of years that people are required to work before collecting their pensions—now set at 43 years—rather than raising the age of retirement of 62 years old for all workers. That retirement age remains lower than in most other OECD group of rich nations. Under the plan, some people retiring before 64 could receive a lower pension.

Mr. Macron also wants to consolidate France’s 42 different retirement plans—and their special benefits—into one universal system that he says would be more fair. Civil servants, in particular, fear they may lose advantages they have compared to private sector employees.

Yellow-Vest Movement

Recall that the yellow vest protests went on for months.

On December 10, 2018 I wrote Macron Attempts to Placate Yellow Vest Protesters With Free Money.

The protests started because Macron wanted global warming reforms.

To pay for it, he hiked gas taxes. Things quickly got out of hand, and riots lasted for months.

Paris Burning

On March 16, I reported Paris Burning: Luxury Stores Looted and Burned in Latest Yellow Vest Uprising.

Latest Protest Peaceful

So far the latest protest is peaceful. Unfortunately, the record suggests that peace won't last.

Riots and massive service shutdowns are a way of life in France.

Tariff Feud

The above protests are on top of a huge feud between Macron and Trump over NATO and digital taxes.

Trump threatens to impose tariffs on French wine and Macron promises to retaliate if Trump does.

Tariffs are a bad idea that will not solve a thing.

For discussion, please see Proper Revenge: How Should Trump Respond to France?

Free Stuff

Meanwhile, France provides yet another example of the impossibility of giving away free stuff.

No one can figure out how to pay for it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (42)
No. 1-14
Bam_Man
Bam_Man

I will not be vacationing in France at any point in the foreseeable future. The last time I was there in 2018 (staying at friend's house near Avignon) there was another "wildcat" rail strike that completely ruined our plans to travel by train to Italy. I'm sure that there are many others that have experienced the same holiday nightmares and won't be returning anytime soon. And theirs is an economy that depends significantly on tourism. Not winning.

Latkes
Latkes

They don't have "free" stuff for their own retirees who worked their whole life, but they have plenty of resources for the "New French".

SMF
SMF

They obviously have to raise taxes again. As a bit of an aside, generous pensions were the reasons for the bankruptcy of the USSR.

Anda
Anda

Another Euro fail

"The dependency ratio of those aged 65 and over as a proportion to those aged 20-64 is expected to rise from the present figure of 25% to 50% by 2050"

same going on in various countries in Europe. Low birth rate, exported economies, removal of natural incentives, political promises and high taxation to pay for them (obviously workers are going to feel conned as pensioners given how much they contribute). It's all messed up, they can only attract a potential workforce by offering the nation to higher birthrate lower paid foreign migrant population, not the fault of migrants but very own policy-makers. Lesson is that giving away your currency makes it all someone else's fault when the chips are down.

Tengen
Tengen

Sometimes I wish protests would happen here in the US, but generally people are too fat, dumb, and happy to be bothered.

At some point we'll see disturbances too, but it won't be nearly as civil as the Gilet Jaune movement. That's too bad, because without any experience American protests will be less organized, more chaotic, and will quickly turn violent. Then the gov, LEOs, and maybe even US military will have a handy excuse to crack down for our "safety".

Rather than France, ours will look more like Iraq/Iran with people being encouraged or even paid to incite unrest and maximize damage. American protestors will rally for at least 20-30 different causes simultaneously and most of them will despise each other, making them easy for the state to handle. Looks like decades of divide-and-conquer really does work!

Mish
Mish

Editor

I still get demands on this about twice a year

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/11/mish-fined-8000-euros-for- quoting_20.html

Runner Dan
Runner Dan

I couldn't tell from the article, but have the lawyers stopped working?

Talk about a silver lining!

JonSellers
JonSellers

"Cities across France were paralyzed by a massive public transport strike against a planned overhaul of France’s pensions system, in a test of President Emmanuel Macron’s resolve to modernize the economy."

Language is funny. Cutting pensions is "modernizing the economy". Why can't they say "in a test of President Emmanuel Macron's resolve to make old people poorer."

leicestersq
leicestersq

The government has no money of its own. In order to provide pensions it has to tax people to pay for them. Given the changing demographics and the increasing burden on those taxpayers necessary to support a fixed pension rate, what amazes me about France is why arent those having to pay all these extra taxes rioting?

The reason of course is that most people dont realise how the system works nor how they are being fleeced. Most people view the Government as having either limitless money, or they think that the tax you paid has been stored somewhere safe for when you retire. This is the disadvantage of dumbing down the population and not explaining things through. If they had explained how things worked in the first place, they wouldnt have done things this way. But they did, and now they have a problem.

If I were Macron I would invite the biggest loud mouthed protestors in and ask them how they would pay for it. That would be interesting to listen to.

Webej
Webej

There is an underlying reason for the protest in France. People do not think the system is fair. Why not? Because a small sliver of the population has more and more of the wealth, power, and influence while the rest is seeing their wages stagnate while the costs of all kinds of things is increasing. People will get a lot more riled up about any measures if they feel that it is part of a decades long systematic campaign to advantage selected groups and to disadvantage the rest, all the while claiming it is good for them and there is no choice. It does not matter whether a system is fair or not. What matters is how people experience it. You can affect people's behaviour with postive and negative incentives, until they realize they are being manipulated, then it won't work anymore.

KidHorn
KidHorn

My wife has relatives in France. 6 adults. As far as I can tell none of them work nor have they ever worked in the entire time I've known them. They sent one of their sons to the US for college. Me and other US relatives had to pay for his education. I asked why his parents don't pay and was informed they're retired. I think they're in their 50's and I question whether or not they understand the whole retirement concept.

RonJ
RonJ

"Hundreds of thousands of lawyers, teachers, students and air-traffic controllers protest pension Macron's pension reform"

Math really doesn't care.

Everyone in Zimbabwe became a billionaire. Everyone in Zimbabwe was rich. The problem was that all that money wouldn't buy three eggs.

RonJ
RonJ

"The protests started because Macron wanted global warming reforms."

The protest started because Macron wanted increased fuel taxes, using global warming alarmism as a scam to get them.

Has Macron or any other political elitist cut their carbon footprint? No. They spew carbon as they please- all of them. By their personal actions, the political elitists say loud and clear that there is no climate crisis.

WildBull
WildBull

Retirement plans are going belly-up all over the West because of the lack of economic growth that was expected and is needed to support them. Blaming the rich for taking the wealth is to misunderstand the problem. The trend started in the 70's with big government tax and spend. As the government sector grows, it saps more and more from the productive portion of the economy. Government produces exactly NOTHING. As taxes rise, productive workers pay more and more for those that do not. Industry becomes less competitive since it has to pay two wages for each worker. Capital investment suffers, because money sapped away by taxes ends up spent on consumption, not on investment in productive endeavors. Basically, government is a giant destructive parasite.

Yes the rich are getting a bigger and bigger slice of paper wealth, but it is not real.  The productive economy is being consumed.  At some point this will become perfectly apparent to the wealthy and to the rest of us, too.

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