This video is worth watching, though I have no idea whether the bit about dead cops is true:

The situation is simple: Macron unilaterally raised the pension age by two years from 62 to 64. This is after it was increased to 62 from 60 in 2010. He couldn’t get it past the legislature, so he used a clause which allows him to do so without legislative approval. Macron one the final round of the last election by 17%, but he had no mandate for this sort of reform. People voted for him to keep LaPen (the far right candidate) out.

This has caused an explosion of protests which is not abating.

A little more background is useful. The standard talking point is that France can’t afford the current pension system and thus MUST push back the qualification date and that this is reasonable because people have longer life spans than when the pension system was created and because the age pyramid has changed: there are proportionally fewer younger people and more older people.

Here’s the French GDP per capita char from 1980 to 2021:

So, it rose pretty consistently till about 2008 (surprise) and since then is flat to slightly rising depending.

Next chart. Labor productivity.

Same basic pattern.

One more, inequality.

That last table, in particular, deserves a good looking at if you have time.

But for current purposes, what is important is simply this: France is richer than it used to be and more productive and more of its income and wealth is held by the rich, and if France wants to keep its retirement age at 62 it can certainly afford to do so, it just might have to tax rich people a bit more and maybe not give billions to Ukraine and so on.

Of course France can afford an early retirement age of 62 or 60. It can only not afford it if you “hold everything equal” in the sense that you assume doing so is not a priority.

So, Macron is full of shit. The government can easily afford the current French pension age and should probably even drop the age a couple years if the majority of the population want that.

Meanwhile while what Macron has done is constitutional, it clearly shows that the constitution is broken: he’s doing something the majority of the population and the majority of the legislature oppose, which in a democratic society shouldn’t be possible.

Since he’s shown that the constitution itself is broken and that majority will cannot be accommodated because doing so would require the government to tax rich people who have been doing very well over the last forty odd years, French citizens are entirely justified to get out in the streets and not just stop this bill but overturn the Republic and institute the next one.

As for Macron, he’s always been insufferably sure that he’s right about everything (I am aware of the irony of me of all people writing this) and that it’s OK to make the majority of the population suffer to keep neoliberal orthodoxy running. He’s a true believer, a genuine ideologue, his ideology is just neoliberalism and neoliberalism doesn’t work any more.

France should be a model for more countries. When your rich people screw you over, take to the streets.

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