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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

French Protest strikes & The God-Awful News Coverage of it


The situation in France, where the people are protesting having their retirement pensions extended by two years, fascinates me very much.  Not only because it is deeply refreshing to see a people fight to protect their rights rather than taking things with a stiff upper lip or with casual indifference.  I'm also fascinated by how intentionally poor a job mainstream news does in covering the strikes in an accurate and objective light.

This morning AP wrote an article entitled "France: Strikes costing up to $560 Million Per Day".  It mentions the expense to France after two weeks of strikes and protests to this point.  The article mentions things like trash collecting in the streets and the notion that France is a laughingstock or oddity to the rest of the world.  This of course is meant to conjure up pictures in the mind of radicals and fringe elements, which are meant to discourage others from considering strikes and open protest as reasonable remedies.

Yet buried at the very bottom of the article is this nugget of truth- "The demonstrations against the retirement reform have brought millions into the streets, and polls have shown that a vast majority of French people support the strikers. Meanwhile, the conservative Sarkozy's popularity is plummeting."

AP's story is 10 paragraphs- it waits until the very end to begrudgingly admit that the French people overwhelmingly Support the current strikes.  Even though its affecting transportation, garbage pick up, schools, mail delivery and pretty much every other aspect of normal everyday life for two full weeks-- The French people Support the striking unions because they understand what is at stake.  They fought long and hard to have retirement at 60.   They understand that if they lose and the age becomes 62, it can easily become 65 or 70 or 75.  They also understand all other economic and social safety nets can be taken from them.  They will not surrender without a fight; a public pronouncement of their anger and betrayal by their government.

When austerity comes to America.. and it will..  and the retirement age is moved up to 70, and Social Security and Medicare are permanently tampered with, how will we respond as a nation?

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