What's going on in France?

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Post by Zagadka on Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:03 pm

Only 18 months ago Macron was deemed as the saviour of "international global order" and the sort of leader EU countries need to combat rise of populists like Salvini, Kaczinsku, Orban etc ... whatever that "international global order" means and he was revered by everyone in the media in North America and also Atlanticists think-tanks.

Now, 1.5 years into his presidency ... his approval ratings are in their low 20s, and the Yellow Vest protests are ongoing with more planned for Saturday. Looks to be serious that he caved on his fuel tax increases.

We have lots of French people here, I'd love to get more input of how the general French mood is re: Macron. It seems that he's in a hard spot of being hated by both Leftists and Rightists and his neo-liberal economic policies aren't popular by the public.

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Post by sportsczy on Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:40 pm

I hate to say it...  but this is normal behavior in France.  I'm in Cannes right now.

The issue is that you've had decades of policy that subsidized people's lives and lowered productivity.

Now the country is quasi-broke and tapped out in terms of its ability to borrow money.  So the government either needs to raise more taxes to pay for these programs or lessen the subsidies.

That's what the strike is about.  People are protesting the fact that Macron wants to raise taxes and decrease subsidies in order to balance the books and make the country more competitive (high unemployment; low growth).

French are known for this nonsense.

The country is going down the toilet.

Doesn't help that the French hate rich and successful people so there's resentment towards Macron for his banking days.

Macron is a disappointment to me regardless of the other nonsense. Hasn't handled the situation well at all. His approval rating is 20% or something like that.

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Post by Unique on Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:34 am

Got to take my hat off to the French people. They don’t take any shit from the government wish we were like that in this country our government fucks people over all the time and we bend over and take it. Maybe if parts of Westminster was on fire things would get done.

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Post by McLewis on Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:38 am

It's their revolutionary heritage, I like to think. Perhaps that's a romantic notion, but I think it's mired in a lot of reality. Sports' rundown of the situation is probably the most I've read about this situation, but this surely means Macron is done in the next election. Hard for anyone to comeback from approval ratings that low, no matter what country they lead.

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Post by Doc on Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:39 am

Not only is Macron's administration taxing those that don't have, they are giving those that have basically tax breaks (or something along those lines). Unless you're a dictatorship, this rarely works and people are just gonna revolt in some way. Since it's France, well, they are gonna protest and fight. Good on them.

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Post by sportsczy on Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:54 pm

@Doc wrote:Not only is Macron's administration taxing those that don't have, they are giving those that have basically tax breaks (or something along those lines). Unless you're a dictatorship, this rarely works and people are just gonna revolt in some way. Since it's France, well, they are gonna protest and fight. Good on them.

Doc... the issue is that the tax base in France has shrunk enormously because the "tax the rich and corporations" policy of the past 5 years literally caused enterprises and successful people to flee the country. Tax revenue hasn't increased, the economic growth rate is 1% and the unemployment rate of 9.5% may seem ok... but 1 out of every 4 young person (under the age of 24) is unemployed. That's 2x the rate of the UK and Germany, as an example. This generation isn't being counted on to produce yet.. but they will be and they won't. It's a timebomb.

Macron or whoever HAS TO make the country competitive fiscally or the economy will never recover and it's doomed.  You have to give incentive for companies to hire new and young employees.

The current fiscal structure is too extreme and will not work.

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Post by Doc on Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:48 am

So, not to simplify things, France is literally in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation?!

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Post by sportsczy on Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:12 am

@Doc wrote:So, not to simplify things, France is literally in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation?!

Damned if you do for politicians because people here are mostly lazy, entitled and unwilling to compete in a global economy.  Long term, the country is screwed if policies and attitudes don't change.

Here's another stupidity...  retirement age here is 60 years old (lol).  They're trying to make it 62 and everyone is up in arms.  The rest of the world is between 65 and 70. So the government has to play people's pensions sooner and for much longer. Add to that the 35 hour work week and 6 weeks of annual vacations. It's crazy.

A politician can't win an election by making necessary changes.  But if the necessary changes aren't made, the country is headed towards becoming another Greece.

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Post by sportsczy on Sun Dec 09, 2018 8:31 am

To be specific, what triggered this strike was the increase in taxes on fossil fuels.  Macron signed the Paris accords and is committed to curbing France's  dependence on oil.  His logic was that an increase in price would force people and enterprises to explore alternative energy.  Problem is that, during that transition, the tax would hurt people's wallets. Tax was going to go in effect on Jan 1 , 2019.

In this case, I thought he was a bit naive and heavy handed.  Good intentions but bad policy.

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Post by VivaStPauli on Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:48 pm

I understand half of the anger, because I don't believe in the neo-liberal twin-focus on lowering taxes on corporations and the rich while lowering spending and subsidies, hoping that this will somehow stimulate the economy enough to have wealth "trickle down", which is not a thing that happens.

But on the other hand you've got the same problem in France now as you had in late '90s California, where people will vote for every handout they can get, yet vote against any tax increase that might pay for it. Only that in California they had referendums on it, and in France they just burn your neighbors car.

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Post by sportsczy on Mon Dec 10, 2018 1:09 pm

"trickle down" works when a country is losing investment and luxury goods sales are mostly a result of foreign purchase of these items as opposed to its own citizens.  You need to create an environment where you have a healthy amount of investment and there isn't an internal problem with consumer spending on internal goods and services.

It doesn't work when you're creating excess supply with the idea that demand will magically and incoherently appear.  As an example, there has to be investment opportunities for people to invest in.  If the investment opportunities are all gone, giving people extra money won't make them invest stupidly.

France is in the first category...  there's a ton of opportunities.  But since the fiscal and social policies are so one-sided, nobody is going to invest in them.  Also, wealthy French people spend their money outside of France so they don't become targets. There's a very negative connotation with being viewed as "rich" in France so wealthy people go out of their way to seem average... but this also means that they don't spend their money in France.

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Post by Art Morte on Mon Dec 10, 2018 5:51 pm

I just hope the Italians don't follow the French example. That country is an even bigger mess.
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Post by sportsczy on Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:26 pm

Italians don't declare their income... and there's a massive difference between North and South. North is very hard working and wealthy while the south is more "french". Generalizing of course... but it's also generally true.

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Post by Art Morte on Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:38 pm

Italy has for decades been living beyond their means, to a point where their debt is a big problem now. And what's their response to this? Vote in a populist government who promises even more debt-fueled spending. Who then submit a budget that the EU unprecedentedly rejects. I worry more about Italy than Brexit or France.
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Post by Zagadka on Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:36 pm

Macron just increased minimum salary by 100 euros a month and said overtime won't be taxed.


btw...I know it's trendy to use "populist" these days , but no one has ever truly defined what populism is and what populists are.

Wikipedia describes it as: "Populism is a range of political approaches that deliberately appeal to "the people," often juxtaposing this group against a so-called "elite." There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various things since that time."

So technically anything that is against status-quo and elite is populism...left or right.

Corbyn is a populist and so is Bernie Sanders. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
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Post by Hapless_Hans on Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:49 pm

Historically, 'populism' as a term, and as a political manifestation comes very strongly from Latin American politics IIRC.

In early 20th century Latin America, populists emerged as political candidates between the left/right matrix, with an interesting mix of riling up the poor while fixating on a strong man figure, often paradoxically a rich one, and also a mixture of  things that might seem at odds, like paternalism, social justice movements, authoritarianism but also anti-colonialism.

I think it's got to do with how a class of poor people specifically emerged in the Latin American countryside, as opposed to the proletariat of the  big cities in Europe.

I listened to a radio feature on it a while back but sadly I can't recall the specifics.
It's an interesting term though, no doubt.

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Post by Art Morte on Mon Dec 10, 2018 9:29 pm

@Zagadka wrote:

btw...I know it's trendy to use "populist" these days , but no one has ever truly defined what populism is and what populists are.

Wikipedia describes it as: "Populism is a range of political approaches that deliberately appeal to "the people," often juxtaposing this group against a so-called "elite." There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various things since that time."

So technically anything that is against status-quo and elite is populism...left or right.


Sepi, I wish I could blow hug you right now. I hate the term "populists". It's like in music, the genre pop music, it only means popular music. What's the definition? Something that people like. Something that is popular. I get the use in music genres, but I hate it in politics. People and political parties are described so easily as 'populist' these days, but no one stops to think of the fact that 'populist' basically means 'popular'. And here's a news flash: democracy is about what is the most popular course of action to take. Democracy is by definition a populist way to govern.
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Post by rincon on Mon Dec 10, 2018 10:50 pm

I's been well defined and studied. This is a very well cemented part of Latin American history, sadly.

It's a negative term for politicians that rely on the mining and exploiting of the issues of the people at large by using shallow narrative, and offering even more shallow solutions. All to gain support at the expense of people's suffering. Cultivating the resentment between groups (socioeconomic classes, countries, etc.) to create the eternal struggle, the "us vs them", where only the big hero can save them, but not really, as the big bad evil guys are always at fault for something deeper.

It's capitalism, socialism, the elites, the evil empire, the US, China, the EU, the rich, the new-rich, the old and powerful, the previous government, etc. It doesn't matter what form the evil target takes. Populists will just point at the countries' easiest target to give the people something to aim their anger to, without ever really planning to offer solutions.

It's the empty power hunger politician who just preys on people. So it can be left or right, doesn't matter, the populism just has to speak of a paradigm shift to break from the past (in people's minds). It's just usually the opposite side to the spectrum that previously exploited power. Like Chavez, Lula, Kirchner, Morales, AMLO (left) or Uribe and now Bolsonaro (right).

Is it loud rallies very light on facts and very high on emotional exploitation? is a fire-hose of issues thrown out without offering realistic solutions? is it escalating resentment up to an inflexible us-vs-them breaking point? is it emphasizing how the only way out is this new savior guy who is the only one that has everyone's back? Then it's populism.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:44 am

Can't believe Macron is bowing down to these assholes. Grow some balls. Postponing the taxes was probably a good call, as the original tax was dumb as hell. But going the extra mile to placate a group of violent vandals who think they can get whatever they want if they burn enough cars? Send all the violent ones to jail as far as I'm concerned. The minute you cross from peaceful protest into violent hooliganism is when your claim loses all merit, IMO.

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Post by Unique on Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:50 am

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Can't believe Macron is bowing down to these assholes. Grow some balls. Postponing the taxes was probably a good call, as the original tax was dumb as hell. But going the extra mile to placate a group of violent vandals who think they can get whatever they want if they burn enough cars? Send all the violent ones to jail as far as I'm concerned. The minute you cross from peaceful protest into violent hooliganism is when your claim loses all merit, IMO.
good on the people. Governments fuck people over and rinse every penny they can get. the people won a victory today.

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Post by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:53 am

@Art Morte wrote:
@Zagadka wrote:

btw...I know it's trendy to use "populist" these days , but no one has ever truly defined what populism is and what populists are.

Wikipedia describes it as: "Populism is a range of political approaches that deliberately appeal to "the people," often juxtaposing this group against a so-called "elite." There is no single definition of the term, which developed in the 19th century and has been used to mean various things since that time."

So technically anything that is against status-quo and elite is populism...left or right.


Sepi, I wish I could blow hug you right now. I hate the term "populists". It's like in music, the genre pop music, it only means popular music. What's the definition? Something that people like. Something that is popular. I get the use in music genres, but I hate it in politics. People and political parties are described so easily as 'populist' these days, but no one stops to think of the fact that 'populist' basically means 'popular'. And here's a news flash: democracy is about what is the most popular course of action to take. Democracy is by definition a populist way to govern.


Populist does not mean popular. Populist is short-termism, disregard for minorities and institutions and demagoguery. Also most of us do not live in a Pure Democracy, we live in Republics with institutions designed to protect us against the worst impulses of the masses, and for very good reason.

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Post by BarrileteCosmico on Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:55 am

@Unique wrote:
@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Can't believe Macron is bowing down to these assholes. Grow some balls. Postponing the taxes was probably a good call, as the original tax was dumb as hell. But going the extra mile to placate a group of violent vandals who think they can get whatever they want if they burn enough cars? Send all the violent ones to jail as far as I'm concerned. The minute you cross from peaceful protest into violent hooliganism is when your claim loses all merit, IMO.
good on the people. Governments fuck people over and rinse every penny they can get. the people won a victory today.

And who is "the people"? The millions of French voters who put Macron in office or the few thousand running around Paris causing havoc? By what democratic process can they pretend to speak for "the people"?

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Post by Unique on Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:02 am

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:
@Unique wrote:
@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Can't believe Macron is bowing down to these assholes. Grow some balls. Postponing the taxes was probably a good call, as the original tax was dumb as hell. But going the extra mile to placate a group of violent vandals who think they can get whatever they want if they burn enough cars? Send all the violent ones to jail as far as I'm concerned. The minute you cross from peaceful protest into violent hooliganism is when your claim loses all merit, IMO.
good on the people. Governments fuck people over and rinse every penny they can get. the people won a victory today.

And who is "the people"? The millions of French voters who put Macron in office or the few thousand running around Paris causing havoc? By what democratic process can they pretend to speak for "the people"?
the people that were getting fucked over won a victory. For to long governments just tax people to the point of extortion they lie and cheat like some kind of mafia the French have had enough of it and showed what people can do when they stick together. I’m not saying burning the city to the ground is a good thing but that seems to have got shit done. Next time the government try to fuck people in the ass they will think twice.

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Post by sportsczy on Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:16 am

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:Can't believe Macron is bowing down to these assholes. Grow some balls. Postponing the taxes was probably a good call, as the original tax was dumb as hell. But going the extra mile to placate a group of violent vandals who think they can get whatever they want if they burn enough cars? Send all the violent ones to jail as far as I'm concerned. The minute you cross from peaceful protest into violent hooliganism is when your claim loses all merit, IMO.

Agreed.

You know the crazy thing... police aren't allowed to carry guns in France. So all they can do is chase these guys around with batons Laughing :facepalm:

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Post by FennecFox7 on Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:28 pm

@McLewis wrote:It's their revolutionary heritage, I like to think. Perhaps that's a romantic notion, but I think it's mired in a lot of reality. Sports' rundown of the situation is probably the most I've read about this situation, but this surely means Macron is done in the next election. Hard for anyone to comeback from approval ratings that low, no matter what country they lead.


Look at those retarded North african immigrants burning down cars and the like. Give them Le Pen and see how they’ll like it. :facepalm:
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