Monday, May 7, 2012

Sarkozy Took a 'Nosey' - Why The French Are Freaking Out

So, it looks like Sarkozy took a nosey. (you get it? Like, he took a ‘nose dive’- see what I did there? did ya? Yup. #lameismygame)

The socialist party in France has gained presidential power for the first time in over twenty years and this has a lot of French people scared crapless for a few reasons:

Most of what I learned about socialism came from high school history class (I still have a mental image of communist Russians collecting their rationed shoes and clothing) – but the basic idea is that a country shouldn’t have wide divides between rich and poor, but one big, thriving middle class. Everyone should have the same rights and be pretty much at the same economic level.  So, they tax the wealthy. Basically a ‘take from the rich and give to the poor, robin hood’ type deal. 
Thus the funny photo here, showing all the rich French people heading for the Swiss border. Unfortunately, like the image suggests- if big corporations are taxed too severely, they might be forced to take their business and their (much needed) labor/employment some place less expensive (like China) - further depleting the economy and job market here.

Another problem with trying to create an economically equal middle class is that, in addition to taking from the rich – you have to pick the poor and disfavored out of the gutter (which costs time, money, and resources) and try and teach them how to be middle class. Since most of the poor and disfavored in France are un-integrated Muslim and African legal immigrants, this means awarding them help and benefits. But with a lot of French feeling as though their cultural identity is already being threatened by this population (i.e.: A different birthplace+ a different culture+ different religion + different language = you’re not French, dudes!), they’re appalled at the thought of the nation’s money being spent to benefit the ‘non-French’ who’ve come here to take their jobs and collect benefits. And they’re afraid this will incite even more immigration in a country that is already suffering from job and housing crises. 

Needless to say, it definitely didn’t please the French to see African, Palestinian, and Algerian flags at the Bastille for Hollande’s speech yesterday when, logically, this is a French election with two French candidates. And, um, oh yeah, we’re in FRANCE!

The French aren’t reassured by what’s happened/happening in Greece. Basically the socialist regime in Greece lied about their debt, their economy collapsed and they’re in the midst of uprisings and riots galore.  Like Greece, France has a huge international debt and is in economic crisis.  They’re also, like Greece, suffering from rises in immigration, unemployment and housing costs.  It would only be on a hop, skip and jump for the French to end up where Greece is.  So, yeah. Scary.

The last socialist president, Mitterand, was kind of a gangsta.  His regime used money and fear to put pressure on national media and journalists for their own benefit- covering up personal and political scandals for himself and those in his entourage.  Also, a lot of the national debt was acquired during his reign when programs to build a crapload of housing for the disfavored, establish free health care for all, and give money to the willingly unemployed (in addition to the unwillingly unemployed) pretty much sucked up every penny the government had.

So, there you have it- The French socialist debate in a nutshell (well,creepy style). I have to ask- what is the American’s take on all of this? Is it getting any coverage in the U.S.? Do you think a socialist government (while having noble intentions) can succeed in maintaining a politically, culturally, and financially strong country?

34 comments:

Sarah said...

Well, I hear your concerns, but ... I know it was relatively close, but Hollande got over 50% of the vote, didn't he? I haven't been following it closely, so I don't understand it at the same level of detail you do--I hope all remains peaceful there!

Old Kitty said...

I say Vive le France! The (French) people have spoken. Glad Le Pen junior is not there is all I'm saying - although for a while she and all that she and daddy le Pen stands for were pretty close. Yuck!

Take care
x

Creepy Query Girl said...

Sarah- Hollande won 50% of the side ballots but there were 20% white ballot electors who didn't want either candidate. So basically 70% of French electors didn't necessarily want him in power. But it is what it is. Just hoping things stay calm 'round these parts.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

What swung the vote in Hollande's favor, do you think? The election has gotten some coverage here, but most of Americans think "socialist" is a dirty word, so everybody is mystified how "somebody like that" could get into power.

Remember, a big chunk of our population get their reality from Fox news, where some numbskull can say 80 Democrats in the House of Representatives are actually in the Communist party and be believed, even though it is provably false. And don't get me started on Obama being born in Hawaii (which everybody knows isn't really American ...)

I feel for your pain and turmoil.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Dianne- I'm not sure. I try not to get too 'into' french politics but from what I can gather- the young electors here don't remember what things were like under the socialist regime and the other voters were ready for a change. Civil service and agricultural workers also suffered under Sarkozy so they rallied for a socialist movement as well.

Laura Pauling said...

That is scary and I don't blame them for being concerned. Definitely a side of France that people don't usually see! Thanks for sharing!

Connie Keller said...

I appreciate your insights--things make a little more sense to me now. Often times when I read the news (no matter what my source), I feel like the reporters don't know what's going on or why.

SA Larsenッ said...

I haven't heard a lot about it, but I rarely watch the news. It is unsettling. As I finished reading your post, the only thought I had was 'If everyone simply concerned themselves with their neighbor, no one would go without or remain needy.'

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing this. You're witnessing a huge economic challenge in France first hand. I doubt the news here in the United States will cover it much unless they riot like in Greece. It'll be interesting to see if his ideas work.

Matthew MacNish said...

They were covering this on NPR this morning. I still think France is one of the best countries in the world. I mean there is a reason so many immigrants flock there. But yeah, I hope it stays peaceful for you too.

TC Avey said...

I'm going to tweet this!

America is headed down the same path- those who do not agree are blind and ignorant, which is mainly the media and educational systems fault.

The socialist agenda has penetrated American media, entertainment, politics and educational system years ago.

There are some here in America speaking out, some asking Americans to see what is transpiring in Europe but not many.

When I heard yesterday about the French election I said a prayer. God help us all.

I have a question for you: if so many French are upset about this, why do you think a socialist was elected?
I'm curious because I wonder if this path can be stopped in America or if we are doomed to go the same route and lose our freedoms.

Vince said...

The one thing that characterized the Mitterrand period was the very lack of socialism. His style was much more center right.
That he was shtupping a gal on the side was hardly a shock to anyone. Any more than it would be if Sarkozy was getting "intellectual" relief for none thinks that Carla is anything more than arm candy.
Since you've lived in France for some time now you darn well know that what the French say to you and what they actually do normally isn't in the same province never mind the ballpark.
So I don't expect anything like the new broom that Hollande is make out to be.

Talli Roland said...

It always amuses me how much people freak out about socialism - being from Canada with free health care and such, I can't see how that's a bad thing. Of course, it depends on how the gov't implements it, but I'm glad that the scary far right dude is safely out of the way in France!

LTM said...

what a fantastic cultural analysis of what's happening across the pond--Thanks! We're not getting much news about the situation in the US, but it's an election year here. So we're hearing how Mit Romney strapped his dog to the roof of his car and Prez Obama ate dog as a child.

Seriously. World shaking. No, we'll get our heads out of our asses eventually, you know how we are.

But I'm sorry you're living through this crisis! It must be very scary. I know my college roommate was Swedish, and they didn't care for the equalizing tax code in their country. You've added a whole new (nonFrench) layer that just complicates the situation further.

Here's hoping things don't deteriorate. The global economic crisis is just a box of kindling. :( ((hugs))

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think it is scary. Take away the incentive to be more than middle class and you take away so many job opportunities and income coming back into the economy.

Slamdunk said...

I think you did well with the opinion CQG. I have not watched much news over the past week, but I am sure that some segments of the American media are hot on this story.

I say let folks decide how they want to run things. Like Americans, if things don't change for the better, the ruling party will be thrown out and a new perspective will get a shot.

Interesting times we live in.

Janet Johnson said...

I'm not a huge news watcher, but I learned of this through my French friends on Facebook. It's been an interesting mix of comments.

I personally am not a fan of big government, and the scenario makes me a titch nervous. In today's world, it's such a global economy that I'm sure this will affect us in America (and other people in other countries). Holding my breath to see what happens!

Carrie-Anne said...

I've been proudly Socialist since I was 15 and realized I'd been fed a bunch of fear-mongering lies and propaganda about Communism and Socialism. Once I realized it was all about helping the exploited have-nots, I was converted. I don't get why so many Americans are so hysterically afraid of Socialism and act like it's a dirty word. It works just great in places like Scandinavia, whose countries have a much better healthcare system than America. The only reason I'm not an actual member of the SPUSA is because I don't agree with some of their positions, such as wanting to abolish the death penalty and being against Israel's right to exist and defend itself.

Glynis said...

The Russians have moved into aid Southern Cyprus. Funny, we have just found gas. Although this find is fortunate as the country can borrow against it, and fend off the Greek onslaught.

Scary world.

Carolyn Abiad said...

Interesting. But I don't think any type of government will be able to stop corporations from sending jobs to China/India, regardless of the tax rate. :(

Anne Gallagher said...

Excellent job covering this, Katie. I think Obama's trying to do this very same thing over here, perhaps not quite so openly, but there is a big divide between the have's and have not's.

Obviously Sarkozy must have some idea of what he's going to do, and how to do it, because he did win the election.

Patti said...

I was listening to this on the radio and wondered what this would mean for France. I got say the way you've described it, it sounds like scary times ahead for France.

Nancy Thompson said...

Socialism is a noble effort, but it can't sustain itself in the long run. It'll be too much of a drain and all the big money will leave and who's gonna support everyone then? It might last for a while, but not forever.

running4him said...

Good post!! I was there recently, I cant believe the Socialists are in power again, crazy...

Clarissa Draper said...

It's a democracy, right? Well, call me stupid but if people are so afraid, why did they vote him in?

Mark Murata said...

Here in America, deep insights into the French election are mostly found on the conservative talk shows. But your blog has the best analysis I've seen. You combine a good grasp of the subject with a naivete about telling the truth.

If you were to publish this in a college newspaper on some leftist campus here in the states, you would be accused of bigotry and have threats of violence made against you.

Botanist said...

I don't know enough about the policies of the socialists in France to guess how this will pan out. All the ideologies around the world show a range of behaviors from moderate to extreme, and the ones that scare me are the extremists.

Extreme socialism doesn't work. Neither does unfettered capitalism & market forces. Not if you believe that the purpose of government and societies is to look after the interests of its citizens ... OK, call me an idealist, but I'd be curious to know exactly who else governments are supposed to serve! :)

I think moderate socialism can work, providing it is not corrupt and makes intelligent choices about what to manage and what to leave alone. Now there's a tall order.

farawayeyes said...

Just one more reason to pray for us all.

Tamara Narayan said...

I think you did a great job explaining the situation. Much better than what I've heard on the news. I'm not sure how long your presidential terms are, but if things don't go well, maybe someone better may come along in the next election.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Really great wrap up of the issues France is facing. I can see how the change in government could be quite unnerving, considering the precedents that have been set. I suppose at this point there's not much to do but wait it out and hope for the best, leave, or attempt a major coup, but I only know how to do the first two and the third option does seem awfully dirty.

Elana Johnson said...

This is all I've heard about this. I am pretty bad about keeping up with current affairs, here in the US or abroad...

Liz Fichera said...

The French election did not get a lot of coverage here. It is very interesting to hear your take on things. It seems like the French did not have a lot of good candidates to choose from? Sarkozy started off strong but obviously ended badly. My fear is that the French economy is only going to get worse. More government involvement, in my opinion, is never the answer. My two cents.

Samantha Vérant said...

My husband totally pointed out the flags, too. In fact, it was the first thing he noticed!

Melissa Bradley said...

I'm not sure what to think about the French situation. I think as with any election, you have to wait and see. No one party can push through all of their agendas all at once. Thanks for the insight.

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