The average Frenchman will live to 81.5 years of age...and growing.
And since France is nearly broke one of the steps -but just one of
them- it has to take is to raise both the ages for minimum retirement
and for full state pensions. The fact is that the Wall Street
Journal editorial page is the site where the argument is made the
most honestly and persuasively.
Still and without alternative, the French are looking "for another
Bastille to storm." Nicolas Sarkozy's proposal is to raise the age in
both categories by two years. One would think from the protests
affecting every area of civic life that the government was breaking up
the national health system.
The fact is that France may be a harbinger of similar dilemmas in
other countries. The United Kingdom is already facing comparable
choices. Greece and Spain are choking on them. And don't forget that
the war over taxes in the United States is just another expression of
the same problem. For the moment Social Security is protected by
silence. But the crisis in private retirement programs is also about
to burst. God help us. What's certain is that President Obama won't.
As you can tell, I don't believe that, given its financial
circumstances, France has any other alternatives...and that there will
be more shocks not so far down the road.
Schools closed, refineries blockaded, public employees walking off the
job... Sarkozy will welcome all the relief he can get.
Unfortunately, he's received the most corrupting solace. It came from
the European Union which suspended its human rights case against Paris
for pushing Gypsies (or, as they are also called, Roma) out of the
country without any process at all. This is fascism endorsed by the
portentous legion of continental democrats.