USA Today reports France paralyzed by strikes over raising retirement to 62:
Tens of thousands of French workers took to the streets Thursday for the second day of nationwide strikes this month to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to raise the retirement age to 62. Union walkouts crippled planes, trains and schools across the country. . .
Sarkozy has indicated he is willing to make marginal concessions but remains firm on the central pillar: increasing the retirement age from 60 to 62 and pushing back the age from 65 to 67 for those who want full retirement benefits. . .
This blog has in fact argued that one way to look at the U. S. un-/under-employment problem is that perhaps we work too hard and think and play too little. Just think that if the average American worker put in the same number of annual work hours as a typical French worker, and retired at the same age, there would probably be a hue and cry about a shortage of labor here. It's all relative. Neither you nor I, nor the government, nor business leaders have any idea what the "right" level of work effort or production is for the abstraction called "the economy". Only a free people operating in free markets can properly, and should, determine those things.
America's problem is tied into debt piled upon debt, which is to say promise piled upon promise. But we have lost a great deal of faith in promises, promises the past few years.
Part of the solution, as per the motto of this blog, is equity - specifically the lack of such. Equity, both as in ownership (a true ownership society, not a faux version), and as in fairness. Has all the government intervention in society created a fairer, more equal society? No. When government was tiny and on the gold standard, as in the 1880s, America was a much more equal and fast-growing country.
In France, many think it's unfair to have to work all the way to the ages America peacefully settled on for Social Security benefits years ago. And so it may be if one hates one's job and is viciously oppressed by one's boss. I doubt that's a typical situation in France. Maybe they just like to sit around cafes and sip hot and cold beverages, and people-watch. But I digress down memory lane; the first piece of art I ever bought was of a French street scene.
Back to the U. S.: There's plenty of production to sustain every American in decent conditions. The problem stems in large measure from over-financialization, which has divorced much of production from meeting the needs of real people and real markets. A simpler, more honest and more transparent financial system, with government much less involved, would be an important first step in allowing Americans to meet their own needs and serve the needs of foreign countries via exports in a more balanced manner.
In this regard we should become less like the French, no matter how good their food and drink are.
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