Fool for France

So, the gilets jaunes. Here is a sullen little flock of them, all that were left after a fine day of rioting. Last week they could claim naivete regarding their more violent members. This week, no excuse. They came out anyway and took no precautions against their more violent members. I make little distinction between the guy who threw the rock and the guy who stopped the cops from getting to him.

From what I can tell, French journalists are on the lazy side, reporting only what they can show in today’s images and relegating analysis to a man-on-the-street pop quiz. So I can’t pull together a reliable history of how we got here.

A cynical friend tells me that the Socialists saw that they were going to be voted out and passed a time bomb of legislation, raising taxes yet again, after doing zip to rein in government spending for all those years when they ran the show. This time they arranged for the increase to take place after they were going to be gone. If this is true, Hollande is surely sitting with his little Julie on a sofa somewhere and they are laughing their Machiavellian heads off.

As you can see, the streets are leaning left. Well, except for when they are leaning right. I gather there is not much political consensus under those vests.

That’s an ATM. Used to be an ATM.

I’m trying to figure out how it helps the French people to destroy their cars and keep them from getting to where they need to go. Their gas expenses, their insurance, their, at this point mine, too, taxes will only increase. How else will we pay to clean up this mess?

The SO’s office is very near the Arc de Triomphe. We decided we’d better go see whether it was safe for his staff to come to work in the morning. Yeah, we think it will be, but you can see what we found in the neighbourhood.

All the tourists were out with us, snapping away. These photos are going all over the world. How does that help French tourism? I have one reservation for this summer. I’m afraid it’s going to be one and done. Julien tells me tourism in our area was down last summer. This year could make last year look pretty good.

Of course Christmas shopping will be done online this year. Why go out if you can’t get anywhere? One bad Christmas season can spell the end for a lot of small merchants. Of course, once folks get used to shopping online, it’s game over.

Dunno, folks. I m flabbergasted. I can understand the reasons for dissatisfaction, but I don’t see how this form of protest will do anything but make things worse. And the SO? Bah, he says, no problem. It was so much worse in ’68 and we got through that. I hope his optimism is justified.

19 Replies to “Disaster Tourism”

  1. You fled the country to avoid these people. Now they’re here. If the protesters are showing force then maybe the cops should, too.

    Erin

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    1. They are, but there are many more protesters than police. This is a different group than the Trumptards. They are similar in that they tend not to vote, then whine about being left out — well, duh — but there are a lot of differences.

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  2. Burn cars in the centre of Paris and the government starts thinking of calling a state of emergency…
    Burn cars every damned weekend in an area of social housing in rural towns and all that happens is that the gendarmerie give the owner a report for his insurer…
    The disparity….of treatment, of chances, of interest,….would appear to be one of the moving forces behind the protests.
    If the cynical friend is right, then Macron, a minister in the Hollande regime, is indeed hoist with his own petard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Could be, Helen. I thought about all the cars being torched in the banlieus, too.

      Honestly, what the fuck, though? I’m trying to figure out a way through all this and frankly, I don’t see one. There are factions within factions out there. Extreme right, extreme left, little old grannies like you and me who are somewhere in the middle but just not happy, it runs the whole gamut. Nothing Macron can do, including resigning, is going to work things out. I hear a lot of plain old whining. People pay too much in taxes but want more government support. Tell me, where will that money come from? And when did the government become responsible for the looses incurred by people who are losing business due to the gilets jaunes — yes, I have heard people say the government should cover their losses. It’s irrational beyond belief.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Extremists always come running when there is opportunity….not to speak of government agents provocateur.

    From what friends tell me…from the countryside…people are just fed up with a system which cannot guarantee worthwhile paid work for those who are capable, pushing them further into state assistance, while local taxes have risen enormously to compensate for the removal of central government funds…the tax rise on fuel was just the last straw for many.

    The troika of government, Medef and the unions has led France into an impasse….the neglected actors in the state have had no voice until now…but what that voice will call for beyond temporary palliative measures I do not know.

    Oddly enough, their current strength is in their disparity….government does not know whom to bribe…but later in the process they will need to group for mutual support and to form policies….shall we see the Cordeliers again, I wonder?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oy. It’s apero time. No way can we sort this in my little comments section. But when did that ever stop me?

      By blocking roads, the GJ are blocking access to jobs and businesses — at Christmas. Many local businesses could go under, partly because of blockades now, at their most profitable time of year, and partly because folks will get used to shopping online, so business will be lost forever. Of course the GJ have had it with the taxes, for good reason, but how does blocking the roads and shopping centers help?

      The central government has been sending more funds out of Paris — thus the many building programs in the town centers. Taxes are way too high but that has been building for years; it’s crazy to blame Macron. The turnout in the most recent national election was about 65%. I’m curious about how many gilets jaunes are among the one-third who did not vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t count; of course you’re forgotten.

      How can we ask for lower taxes and more government money, both at the same time?

      Many of the Cordeliers lost their heads. Many of the aristocracy went to England until everything blew over. I know which group I’d rather be in. I just went to a lecture where the guy, after spending many months researching the archives, came to the conclusion that Louis XVI was a constitutional monarchist. So that time was all crazy, too. Maybe I should book the Eurostar to London?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And whose washing do you propose to take in in order to live when in the steps of the French aristos in London?

        Yes, it is usually the poor who end up with the wrong end of the stick when revolutions begin to solidify into regimes….they have these wild ideas above their station, like having a happy and stable future for their kids which might take a few sous from the pockets of those recently enriched by the same revolution…

        As to the blockades…where else can you be visible? I agree, blocking the access to town centres does not help the small businesses…but blocking access to those out of town commercial centres which drain money away from the traditional town centre makes all too much sense to me.

        People don’t vote? They don’t like the candidates put up by parties who have done nothing for them, the people, for decades…the lower the turnout, the less justification for rule by the winner. Whoever it is lacks the consent of the people.

        France needs to make it easier for people to set up in business….Sarkozy took a first tentative step, but much more liberty needs to be accorded together with financial incentives….but not just for IT set ups, for businesses people need. Let people earn their way out of assistance rather than be pushed into it.
        Right…back to the aperos…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I’m all for letting people earn their way out of a situation they hate. And yes, I’m appalled by the many bureaucratic roadblocks thrown up, in opposition to people who try to do that. Please remember that Sarko was pilloried for his efforts. Even worse is happening to Macron.

          I think blockading legislators’ local offices would be an effective step, along with phoning, emailing and snail mailing nonstop. Those legislators voted this in; let them take the heat. I think voting is effective; as I understand it, one third of the French people did not vote in the last elections. I think running for office is a very effective step and I would be pleased if this movement launches a few political careers.

          I’m here from the States. Compared to there, the French do okay. They have better social programs and can still expect that their kids will get a good public school education. A college education is inexpensive and relatively available. No need to throw in what is going on with the Syrians and the Rohingya, which is truly appalling. So I just keep thinking they don’t know how much worse it can be, just compared to the States. And from what I read about the corruption and cartels in Mexico and central America, and the human rights records in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc., yikes, France looks to me to be a big improvement over most of the world.

          I’m not saying things are perfect here and folks need to get back to the grindstone and shut up. I’m saying the GJ are damaging the economy in ways that will not be easily undone, not for years to come. Tourism will be way down. Taxes will not be way down, if only because the government needs to pay to repair all the damage that has been done to bus stops, toll stations and the like. There may well be a push to hire more police and buy them more equipment. Costs of food and all will go up because, among other things, I heard on TV this evening that billions of euros of food has spoiled due to the blockades. Any given road might be blocked at any time, and now there are gas shortages, so folks will hesitate to go out. They will do their Christmas shopping online, depriving large stores of income and putting many smaller shops out of business. In short, I think the GJ are shooting themselves in the foot. Feet? I don’t know, but I fear that the knock-on effects will be noticed for a long time. As you say, the burden will fall most heavily on the poor.

          I think we’re on the same side, in terms wanting a fairer society. It’s implementation that’s problematic.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m sure we are on the same side….and implementation is always a problem as we bring all our baggage with us when making a proposition.

            Yes, France has it good compared to some other first countries…but it used to be better. Unless you live in a university city there is no way that a lower middle class or working class family can support their child through university, given the rents and general expenses….they used to be able to do so.

            And if we are looking at damage to the economy, check the catastrophe for the pork producing sector in particular when Hollande went along with setting sanctions on trade with Russia….the damage done there will not be easily rectified either…

            It needs more initiatives like those of a couple of communes in the Correze who – long before these events – set up municipal petrol stations so that people were not obliged to go to the big towns for petrol…and do their shopping there. It keeps local commerce alive.

            Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay. This I can understand, now that I have checked with the resident expert on all things French. It’s not “plume,” as in “feather.” It’s “plu-may,” as in “plucked.”

      Obviously I have problems with the means of protest, but the reasons for it are perfectly clear. VAT is 20% at the retail level and VATs of various amounts are levied at numerous stages in the supply chain. I remember being appalled when California sales tax went to 8.5%, and that is levied only at the retail level. Hohoho: seems like a deal, now. Plus income tax is way high. Plus plus plus, tax this, tax that. Then for political reasons a tax might drop, so there is no clear connection between the tax you pay and the government’s need for the money.

      For all his talk of austerity, Hollande never cut a single government job. And you wouldn’t believe the layers of bureaucracy here. Taking a first pass at streamlining regulations should be easy. But no, he didn’t do it. He just kept the gravy train rolling, headed right for Macron. He was bad for the country, but the political wisdom is undeniable.

      So if I were to keep one of these vests as a souvenir, I’d go for that one. “Plucked” is a great way of putting it.

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      1. As you probably know, the voters of California had a chance in the last election cycle to repeal a big gas tax but chose instead to perpetuate the tax which largely goes to make up revenues targeted on infrastructure but actually spent on the gazillion-bazillion bullet train to nowhere. They certainly should be told to go plu-may themselves repeatedly. At least you guys get some street theater; we don’t even get a stinking yellow jacket, just higher fuel prices.

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        1. Why don’t you get the bullet train? When I left it had become more like a milk run, saddled with stops at every town along the line, but at least it wasn’t sidelined when the freight came through. As long as France doesn’t go all Margaret Thatcher and privatize the trains, we have a great transportation system here. On the Paris side I walk 3 blocks to the Metro. On the Vendee side I walk 3 blocks to a bus stop. If in California folks voted — again — for the train, they want it. In 1906 my grandmother and her family walked from San Diego to San Francisco. In the time since that first bond was passed, they could do it again. More than once. They’d have to be alive, of course.

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  4. Pigeons a plumer….birds for the plucking. That’s us, the average citizen. And the ‘plucker’ in chief is the government on behalf of whichever interest groups financed its rise to power.

    It doesn’t help Macron that he presents himself as a shit of the first water….he has, to say the least, an unfortunate manner of speaking which fails to disguise his contempt for anyone he sees as being below the salt.
    De Gaulle, while adoring France and what he saw as its destiny, also had contempt for the French …..but the French in general, not just one part of society… and Macron is no de Gaulle.

    For me Macron showed his colours when entertaining Trump on Bastille Day where the bands pranced about to music by Daft Punk in front of the rostrum. Trump was – inevitably – puzzled, and Macron could not contain his glee at putting one over on him…a public extraction of urine. Not presidential behaviour and proving to have been a harbinger of his style.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. After one second’s reflection…no
        Manners matter.
        You could tell…even if it was not obvious before, what a creep Hollande was going to be by his failure to accompany the ~Sarkozys to their car on the handover of power.
        And in France, where good manners used to matter a great deal, two successive louts as President tells me a great deal about the division between the powerful and the powerless.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You do tend to pick up on the faintest of nuances….

          In the Scots of my youth I might have described Macron as a schilpit wee nyaff….Google that at your leisure.

          Unfortunately French is not so graphic when it comes to personal abuse…..

          Liked by 2 people

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