Friday, November 23, 2007

Go Sarko!

I have to say, I was a bit worried about Nicolas Sarkozy when this national transportation strike started. It seemed like the workers wouldn't back down and they had the power to cripple France for a very long time. Usually popular public opinion is against Sarkozy, or is at least very critical of him. I'm surprised, in a good way, to see that 70% of the population actually back him on this issue.

The issue for those who aren't aware? In short, for some odd historic evolution, railway workers have some benefits, like early pension at the age of 50, which other national workers don't have. Not to forget that these national workers, fonctionnaires in French (I'm not sure of the word in English...) have another benefit over non-fonctionnaires, which is job security. They can't get fired unless they commit a really horrible infraction. And obviously people who are independent get no pension plan and have no job security at all, but why would anyone care about those guys right? Pfff. Anyway, I'm digressing.
These benefits for the railroad workers started with the fact that because of their jobs, these workers had a shorter life span, so they were given earlier pension. This is obviously not the case anymore, so why should they get special treatment? This seems to be understood by everyone except them.
Their wages and pensions come from the taxes of people who don't get to take a break at the age of 50, or of independent people who pay unbearably higher taxes who don't see any of that tax money in return, and whose "pension" is what money they could put aside.
The other day I saw an young railroad worker interviewed. His main complaint was that when he started working he was promised that he would only have to work until the age of 50 and then he could retire. This was a kid not older than 22 maybe 23. Is that all the ambition this kid has? Retire at the age of 50? Isn't he satisfied enough with the fact that he has total job security and never needs to make any effort above being "mediocre"?
I don't care for such people. Not everyone can have ambition, or the proper education, or inspiration, or even opportunities. Not everyone can be a rocket scientist or a business owner or renowned musician. But I do not care for people who feel that those who can be all of those are somehow responsible for giving money to those can't just because they don't feel like working any harder.

I'm very glad this is turning out like it is. Kudos to Nicolas Sarkozy for standing firm.

French Support President in National Labor Strikes

After nine days of crippling national transportation strikes France
appeared to be returning to normal Friday amid negotiations between labor unions
and government officials. [...] while the walkout
has snarled traffic, angered commuters and cost the country millions of dollars
there appears to be one winner: French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

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