09 January 2008

Emperor Sarkozy sparks storm

Emperor Sarko spoke yesterday. Sarkozy sparks storm with wish to end 35-hour week this year - Expatica:

[Fillon] said Sarkozy had set the course for 2008, "planning to press

ahead with getting our country into line with changes in the world, changes

which we have for so long refused to recognise"...

Sarkozy defeated Socialist candidate Segolene Royale to win the presidency last year with a pledge to reform and modernise a France that many felt had lagged economic progress elsewhere, largely due to the burden of its generous social welfare system.

The neo-liberal discourse down to a T.

However, it is clear that the changes that the rest of the world are undergoing haven't been for the benefit of ordinary people. In country after country, their hard-won rights are being stripped away. Look at the current economic situation in the US, a country entering a new recession. The unions in the US have been effectively killed, first by buying them off, then by breaking them. Most workers get two weeks or less of vacation time a year compared to four, five, or six weeks for their co-workers in other countries, that is if they have any vacation time at all.

Is this the model the French want? It is certainly the model Sarko would like to impose. Of course, it isn't going to cut into his vacation time.

Look at the effects of neo-liberalism on Latin America. Look at the policies of globalization on agriculture, on small business, on the mom and pop corner stores, which mean the health of small communities as their downtowns die off at the hands of the chains like Wal-Mart or Leclerc.

The French have been wise to avoid it. Now Sarko is dragging them into it.

Just look at the reasoing hidden in the final paragraph. France's economic progress is hindered by its generous social programs! That translates as: the rich can't make as much money as they would like because the state is redirecting too much of it to the less fortunate.

Of course, in the neo-liberal economic discourse, that's OK. There should be no state aid for individuals, only for corporations.

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