Ironique, Non?

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Take a deep breath, this may overload your sarcasto circuits…

France is considering calling off a holiday—which is to say, revoking a government requirement that everyone get a day off—in an effort to increase funding for a National Health care system strained by this summer's deadly heat wave. Here's how the leader of a major French labor union responded:

"It's enforced charity, totally unacceptable," he said in an interview.

The mind reels.

NEXT: Not So Fine

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  1. “It’s enforced charity, totally unacceptable,”

    Claude Rains?

  2. Christmas is a Christian holiday or at the very least a secular European holiday.

    I’ll bet the French would never think of canceling Eid al Fattir!

  3. Do they stop everything for Bastille day? I’ve never understood what they were celebrating with that one, anyway.

  4. Shady – The French labor rep is the pot. I can’t figure out which one is the kettle – the government, or the (remaining) elderly French people who would collect the money supposedly generated by pulling a Sheriff of Nottingham, but you get the idea…

  5. HA HA HA HA HA funny froggies.

    What ever happened to that free-market French babe? This should be worth a speech and photo-op don’t you think?

  6. Yeah, Martine I think was her name…LOL, I guess the union spokesman has gone so far to left he came out again on the right. I could only hope…more likely though the whole lot of them are all for cuddling everyone in a nanny state…as long as that process doesn’t step in on *THEIR* turf…oh boy, then everyones an individualist.

  7. Jason Ligon,

    On Bastille Day we are celebrating the end of tyranny by monarchs, and of course the growth liberty in France in general. And yes, most people have a holiday on Bastille Day (which is not what French people call it, BTW), just as most work stops in the US on the 4th of July or Labor Day.

    As to this issue of work, Frenchmen are more productive per hour than Americans are (in fact this is true of most of Western Europe). Of course Frenchmen do get around twenty more vacation days per year than Americans, and our work week is shorter, but working longer hours is no guarantee of greater productivity (in fact, the law of diminishing returns is bound to set in sooner or later).

    The French version of “Reason”: http://www.les4verites.com/index.html

  8. Matt W.,

    BTW, her name is Sabine Herold, and she’s an idiot.

  9. Matt W.,

    Oh, and her protests are a bust in comparison to the crowds Jose Bove has been able to attract.

  10. Damn, I stand corrected, I don’t know where I got Martine. All the same, why is she an idiot? Maybe she could strangle Bove (C)(R) and steal his audience, she’d be doing the world a favor by taking that vandalizing soap boxing pile of offal off the planet

  11. Could you dumb down this analysis a shade for the sarcasto-impaired?

  12. I’m not ready to put this ahead of the unemployed people going on strike in france back in the 90’s, but it’s still early and this one has potential.

  13. Shady – you’ve got to hate that “enforced charity”, asking people to give up one holiday. Not that government mandated holidays are “enforced charity” in and of themselves or anything…

  14. I thought this quote was even more priceless:


    “The idea that we can solve problems by working more is a big first for our country.”

  15. France has relegated itself to global comic relief.

  16. Please clarify: other than reflexive hatred of the French and of charity, this is bad because…
    You wonder why you’re not taken seriously. I don’t.

  17. “In other words, you get the feeling when listening to her that she feels she is oppressed because a majority of Frenchmen don’t agree with her.”

    Now you make her sound like the Dixie Chicks or Michael Moore, or any of many others.

    As Jean correctly points out, the law of diminishing returns does set in with productivity. All things being equal, a rise in unemployment disproportionately affects the least productive. Hence, with higher unemployment, one expects French workers that do work to be more productive.

    Looking at the situation from the other point of view, the high cost of labor imposed by union and other regulations encourage investment in capital to improve productivity rather than hiring more labor. Hence, the laws of economics in a relatively highly regulated economy with strong unions like France favor high capital spending, high productivity per labor unit, few hours worked, and high unemployment.

    However, and this is important, high productivity per labor unit in this case is still economically inefficient compared to the less regulated case, which would allocate capital and labor more effectively. Thus, one may have higher productivity in a less efficient economy less conducive to growth. Still, that’s the choice that the French people want, as M. Bart notes.

    Robert Young, the amusement is because the French labor unions tend to favor things like high taxes, high worker benefits mandated by law, high payments from the state (to subsidize agriculture and industry), etc. All of which seem like “enforced charity.” Most ironic, the law being waived here is one that forces businesses to give workers the day off– “enforced charity” as well. This is the removal of enforced charity, only enforced charity from business to labor seems like a right to the union. All the union really means is that enforced charity must always flow in one direction, from business to labor, and that no benefit ever won can be even temporarily reversed.

    It’s no objection to “enforced charity” in principle, in other words. What did you expect, though?

  18. Hi y’all. I haven’t read all the posts but it doesn’t look like you know what’s going on. Here is the story:

    The 15-day extreme heat wave (the biggest in the last 100-odd years) caused in France 11.500 deaths, mostly amongst elderly people. So the gvt is saying “there’s a senior health-care problem – let’s provide them with free help”, but the country’s finances are already agonizing, therefore the money must be found somewhere. Actually it’s a new tax they’re talking about, but the removal of a holiday would make it costless for the companies, so only the workers would pay.
    Germany did that in 1985, so there’s a 0,85% salary to pay for both the company and the worker, but the extra working day evens it out for the company.

    Note: this is a very nice move from the Gvt. to change the subject, as it is being accused that it reacted much too late to the heat wave and its forseable consequences. The heat wave killed a lot more people in France than in Italy or Spain, where it was just as bad. So we have a “polemique”, like “oh but the hospitals didn’t say anything about all those deaths”, and the hospitals “yes we did”, etc. Bref: a la francaise.

    Anyway as I was saying, this measure will NEVER be enforced, it’s a very good maneuver to draw everyone’s attention away from accusing the gvt of not reacting in time.

    The “Bastille” day is “La fete nationale”, celebrating the creation of the Republique Francaise back in 1789. And it’s like the 4th of July, really.

    a vot’ service,

  19. mouchon is correct in what he has written.

    mouchon,

    Raffarin doesn’t want to increase taxes on businesses at this point; to be frank, his policies mirror the Bush administration’s – lower taxes and increase government spending. 🙂

  20. Jean Bart:

    I know what the premise of Bastille Day is, I’ve just never understood why the replacing of an unchecked monarch (eventually) with an unchecked populist tyrant was cause for celebration.

    There is no such thing as a positive right in the real world. Do you owe me a good job with benefits or do I owe you a good job with benefits?

  21. Someone help me, here. Doesn’t this seem to indicate that GDP per employed person (productivity of active labor) and GDP per capita are both significantly higher in the US?

    Bureau of Labor Stats:

    ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/ForeignLabor/flsgdp.txt

  22. Jason Ligon,

    Per capita GDP is higher in the US than France; part of that has to do with the use of gasoline products, however, and part of it due to a Frenchman’s many vacation days.

  23. Jason Ligon,

    Well, Napoleon Bonaparte didn’t become emporer on Bastille Day; in fact, it was over a decade after the event before that occurred. Bastille Day celebrates French liberty; that the path toward liberty has been rocky does not mean that one should not celebrate it. Such reasoning is a bit like saying that one should not celebrate the 4th of July because of the Civil War.

  24. Jason Ligon,

    There is no such thing as a “negative right” either in the real world according to your reasoning. Does the government owe you free speech? Or freedom of religion? Or freedom of the press? Or a color-blind society? Given the history of humanity, I would say the answer is no.

  25. Jean Bart,

    What measure were you using when you indicated that European labor productivity is higher than that in the US?

    I wasn’t actually thinking about Napoleon, but the current state of democratic majorities that seem to have no check or respect for individual liberties at all. It has always seemed to me that France traded one tyrant for another in Napoleon, then did it again for a democratic tyranny of 51%.

    An understanding of rights as negative only is at least possible. I can realize my negative right to life and you can realize your negative right to life. Affirmative rights can’t exist because of the laws of nature that require x to be created before x can be handed out. If I have the affirmative right to life that requires you to sell your house and pay for my cancer treatment, what happens when you get cancer? Who owes whom?

  26. I think we need to careful in the United States of selectively criticizing other countries. If you take a specific event and try to turn that specific event into a broader critique you may reach a conclusion that is unsupportable.

    The economic problems in France have about as much to do with the French form of government as the economic problems in the United States have to do with the United States form of government.

    To attempt to infer that the unfortunate deaths from the heat wave which affected elderly resident’s of France more than they affected elderly resident’s of Italy or any other european country, have something to do with the form of government is quite a stretch.

    As to the labor union’s response to the holiday idea, I think I can assert with some assurance that such an idea would be met with an identical skeptical response from U.S. labor unions.

  27. nm156,

    Trust me, its easy to find stuff to do on the extra three weeks off. 🙂

  28. Matt,

    She’s an idiot because she claims that she’s being oppressed and censored when she only draws a crowd of 10,000. To be frank, the woman reminds me of Ann Coulter.

  29. Matt,

    In other words, you get the feeling when listening to her that she feels she is oppressed because a majority of Frenchmen don’t agree with her.

    As to Bove, though he has a lot of support, its only surface deep. Most Frenchmen still eat at McDonalds in other words.

    There is an old saying in France that French are radical in heart, but conservative in mind and thought. I tend to generally agree with this statement.

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