September 19, 2010
French still balking at brutal Anglo-Saxon regimes of Work.
Charles de Gaulle in 1947: "Two more months. And that's it, okay?"
There's just no other way to say it. Sure, wouldn't a long holiday of 65 years (since circa 1945) get even the French rested up? Historically, they are not a lazy or wimpy lot. A bit high-strung, maybe. But as this blog has pointed out repeatedly, the French, after all, are still curators of the best that Western culture, government and traditions have to offer us, and that they have way more artistry for life and class than you and I do, Ernest. Yes, they are. Certainly, they do. Just because our French cousins behave in irritating and superior ways doesn't mean that they are not both.
But c'mon, La Belle France, I mean, like, work much?
It's a fair question.
France has one of the healthiest populations on the planet (young, old, workers and non-workers). They are living longer and longer. So can you guys at least beef up the public treasury with more pension and social welfare funds by working a few years longer--until the ripe age of 62? Do see the unusually sympathetic (by Brit anti-French standards) story run by the BBC News: "French Horror at 'Anglo-Saxon' Welfare Reforms". Excerpts:
The French are scandalised by President Nicolas Sarkozy's determined push to raise the state pension age from 60 to--horror of horrors--62. A modest rise in European terms and in the current economic climate, you might think, not unreasonable.
Yet the French have always expected the state to provide--not only for their short working week, their excellent free schools and hospitals--but also their retirement.
The UMP's [the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement party], Jean-Francois Cope says the state pension age could rise to 63. Most people here do not contribute to private pensions. The vast majority rely on the state pension, and compulsory membership of industry schemes.
The French get more sleep, and then there are those famously long summer holidays. In August, French society heads for the hills, the beaches, the mountains. Anywhere but the office.
To be fair, despite the "down-time" the French are still hugely productive, even in a 35-hour week.
Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at September 19, 2010 11:59 PM