What on earth is wrong with the French?

Mar 30th, 2006, 06:20 AM
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I would add that, for whatever reason, they've come to believe violence will work better than assimilation.
JeanneB is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 06:26 AM
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My dear kerouac: This is SUCH an enjoyable thread! Thank you so much for starting it.

I do believe you have become more French than American - which is a good thing. The way you present things is what I've witnessed going on when two or more Frenchmen get together and start discussing "the situation". I can imagine you sitting at a cafe table engaged in lively and animated discussion. It's no accident that the national "heroes" of France who are interned in the Pantheon in Paris are literary men and thinkers like Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo.

Why should a thread be deleted when it adds so much to our understanding of another culture? This is an intellectually delicious thread! Thanks again!

easytraveler is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 07:00 AM
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Does anyone know how long the writers and thinkers are going to be held? Where are they kept so the tourists don't seem them?
Robespierre is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 07:01 AM
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Because I am planning an upcoming visit to Paris this topic is of great interest. Reading the various opinions and chuckling over the citation of so many and as is typical so often opposed statistics (ask the makers of aspirin what works best for hedaches, then ask the makers of ibuprofen, then compare the two...) makes me wish we could have a large GTG with all posters present.
I do not pretend to have the answer; indeed, I am not sure there is AN answer, or that there is only one question. But in the spirit of contributing to this semi reasoned discussion I will offer this from a 1998 Herald Tribune article, recently shared with me by a Paris resident:
A young woman with a miniature poodle defecating in the middle of a sidewalk in the Marais said "But Fifi, she is so small, she finds it hard to go between the cars," to explain why she let her dog poop on the sidewalk.
"Why don't you clean it up afterwards?" she was asked.
"Well, I suppose I could," she reflected, "if the government provided us with plastic bags."

And FYI, I just checked, and my zipper is indeed firmly closed.
Seamus is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 07:08 AM
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To me the situation in France is very reminiscent of the picture in Britain in the late 70s and early 80’s – we were an economy where the workers, through the unions exercised a great deal of control (google “winter of discontent” to see how much control). We had millions of workers in “jobs” that were in effect a subsidised day care facility for adults – they were making products that no one in their right mind would buy (Google “Austin Allegro”) and being paid by the government.

There was also a similar level of discontent amongst the younger ethnic minorities and we too had riots over their perceived injustice (to be fair there really was injustice)

We got out of it by electing Margaret Thatcher and letting the nationalised industries go to the wall – it was very painful and still leaves scars in certain depressed areas, but we came through it.

We also addressed the issues around the ethnic minorities’ discontent (“Scarman Report” – google is your friend).

We also had one other weapon that the French have denied themselves – currency devaluation – the pound came very close to parity with the Dollar. This is the traditional “fix” for the French, but they have denied themselves this route owing to the foolish Euro adventure.

Will the French embrace change? It took us over 10 years to do so – how long will they hold out?
david_west is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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Lets remember how modern France was born; a total destruction of the aristocracy followed by how many years of abject internal terror and death squads. Makes Iraq look tame by comparison.
France was born by destruction.
The US is a CONSTRUCTIVE endeavor. The Founding Fathers formulated their vision of a just civilization and went about building it. Thats not to say there was no violence involved, but there is a qualitative difference between constructive and destructive violence.
I'll put it plainer: violence used to stop nazis and fascists and fighting tyranny is constructive.
Burning everything in sight, rioting, beating up people with impunity is simply destructive, much like the French Revolution. Let em eat cake.
GalavantingReprobate is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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Americans interested in the trials and tribulations of Europe should consider a subscription to The Economist. The coverage of European politics, society and economics is excellent.

A warning to Francophiles, however. In the opinion of the editors, the prospects for France, both short- and long-term, might be summarized as doom and gloom.

Long-standing entitlements have outpaced the ability of the economy to deliver. Attempts to deal with the problem are frustrated by a public opinion that is as inflexible as the labor market.
smueller is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 08:23 AM
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davidwest, correct comparison, and also with some possible "outs" identified.

And as an aside to the quote on statistics and both its users, I'm pretty sure that they had little understanding of the study of economics-both ended their lives in bankrupcy, very poor ends anyway. I know Clemens' was horrendous.

Just because you "feel" something works, "feel" that it is right, want it to work because it is easiest for you; it does not follow that it will work. Socialism has intrinsic problems in the numbers, not basically addressed except by some economists here.

These numbers are NOT like a comparison to aspirin and ibuprofren where the patient subjectively evaluates his own pain. They are far, far more accurate than that.

You simply can not have that much of a precentage of all employment being jobs that are structure jobs within the government sector. It won't work anywhere for very long.
JJ5 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 08:27 AM
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smueller: an excellent suggestion! I've learnt so much by reading the Economist.

The Economist does try to present things in depth; however, it does appear to have a British tilt to things.

Would you suggest perhaps reading Le Monde to get the French tilt on their own internal affairs?
easytraveler is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 08:29 AM
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>Does anyone know how long the writers and thinkers are going to be held? Where are they kept so the tourists don't seem them?<

Currently, the internees are held in the basement of the Pantheon.

ira is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 08:30 AM
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Good point about the destructiveness of the French revolution. They thought that once the leader had been toppled, everything else would just naturally fall into place.

Il n'ya rien de nouveau sous le soleil.
Robespierre is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 09:47 AM
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galavanting...you make a good point but you don't state the result which is that amercans don't have a revolutionary nature as do europeans. america was born free and didn't have to revolt against feudalism. freedom just is. frenchman de tocqueville realised this eons ago.
walkinaround is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 01:29 PM
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Ah, c'mon, enough with the self congratulatory (if not delusionary and revisionist) nationalistic xenophobia. Best pertinent observation I've heard lately: America was started by a bunch of rich white guys who didn't want to pay taxes - looks like the same group is running things today.

Can we go back to travel now, please?
Seamus is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 01:54 PM
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And interestingly enough they weren't all Christians, either!!!
Intrepid1 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 01:59 PM
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>...America was started by a bunch of rich white guys who didn't want to pay taxes...<

Hmmmmmmmmm. All them rich white guys spending the winter at Valley Forge?

One might as well say that the Napoleonic Empire was the result of a bunch of meglomaniacs trying to create a new French-controlled Europe.

ira is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Well, Seamus, I guess it's lucky for all of us that those "rich white guys" were intelligent enough to write two documents that have served as blueprints for democracy over these last few hundred years.

You're welcome.

kswl is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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...America was started by a bunch of rich white guys who didn't want to pay taxes...

Good grief. At least they didn't make themselves royalty. I've always felt their wealth and standing made it even more remarkable that they were willing to take the risks they did. I'm grateful for it every day.

Let me also add, a lot of people have gotten rich since those guys started their little "experiment" in freedom.

JeanneB is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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Simply said about the root causes of what is transpiring in France:
1. The 35-hour work week
2. The 36-hour dining week
sfosjcoak is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Those same rich white guys made it easy for you, Seamus, to shoot your mouth off and not get thrown in jail!
wren is offline  
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