Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh la.

There is a strike going on in France today. This is not so unusual. The French are notorious for striking against anything they see as an infringement of their rights. Today there are ferry workers striking over the loss of $135 bonus.

I chuckle at this, though not without an affectionate but exasperated feeling.

I wonder about those strikes. The French system of government is certainly less lasseiz-faire than our own. The government provides a health care system that gives ample opportunity for visits to the doctor and medical prescriptions, plentiful vacation time, and a limited hour (only 35!) work week. High taxes cover these expenses, sort of.

Like our own Social Security and Medicare, etc., the French programs are not currently sustainable without some reform. At some point the amount of money going out will overwhelm the amount coming in. Some French however, are angry that somehow they should be asked to either work longer hours, or give up some of their vacation time or give up anything, even the equivalent of 135 dollars.

I am not an expert on the French government and social systems. I lived there for a year and a half. I experienced a transportation strike in the middle of December. It was cold. A few buses, which were still working, were packed with humanity resembling sardines. I found a flyer one day which I kept that called the strike obscene because of the effects on the general population, the reasons ranging from preventing people from getting to work to having the populace herded into buses like cattle and smashed together with no sense of dignity.

This is not a commentary on certain governmental systems, I am not being political. It's not really even about France. I am just wondering about human nature and the extent to which we are willing to inconvenience or harm others for what we perceive as our rights. There are rights worth fighting for. There are "rights" that aren't. This is a complicated issue and not what I planned to write about. But I guess that's what happens when listening to NPR News as I sit down to blog.

1 comment:

  1. I had to laugh at this--when we were heading out to India we stopped in Paris both ways and it was a pain in the you-know-what both times. I cannot imagine a more disorganized and crazy airport and besides the flight being so late we nearly missed our connection Air France was crazy with checking and rechecking tickets and making us go through pointless security checks. We went through a full security screening three times just in between 2 AF flights without even having left the regular security area. And while I"ve never had any trouble in security in my life both times they pulled me out of line for special screening. Apparently as a six foot pale blond American woman I fit the terrorist mold to a T.

    Crazy French.