Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No, I don't like the reform. It's too weak.

The French have got a bad case of the gimmies.
The general retirement age is currently 60 (yes, my American friends, a mere 60, and even 55 if you work for the train company or many others). This is, inevitably, driving the country into debt very quickly.
The government is trying to introduce a reform that would raise this age to 62, already with many exceptions and special cases. It’s a timid reform, and not nearly enough to offset the change in demographics that means fewer and fewer young people supporting more and more retirees.
The French people want their retirement Right Now, and they want it well-paid. No Way will they accept working two horrible more years. They look forward to turning 60 and putting the shop and office behind them.
I can see that for somebody who’s 50ish and not in love with their job. Me too, I'd love to have a secure future that didn't require me to work. But I think it's reasonable for me to give up my job at 65 or 70, as long as infirmity doesn't require an earlier leave-taking. (And the reform doesn't prevent people with disability from retiring when they need to.)
It’s harder to understand the 60-and-out attitude from the high school students who are out in the streets today. Not even at work yet, and they want to hang it up. These people are being duped in two ways:
First, they don’t seem to have thought out the problem of the incredible debt their elders are burdening them with. Today, one retiree is supported by about 3 workers. Without reform this will be one-to-one within a generation. Without reform, the system will either crash and burn and there will be no retirement benefits at all for those very strikers, or the level of payout will be so low as to not support any decent kind of food, shelter & clothing.
The second argument of the high-schoolers is that the 'elderly' people in work are taking jobs that would otherwise go to young people. As if there were a fixed number of jobs in the country. As if a significant number of jobs left by a 60-year-old would indeed be filled with a kid just out of lycée.
Geezers not making space is not the problem with the job market. The big problem there lies with the rigidity of the market: the rules that make it so difficult for companies to lay off workers that they simply don’t hire them. A temporary contract can last up to 18 months, but beyond that an employee must either be let go or hired permanently (Permanent with a capital P). That means an awful lot of jobs with a revolving door policy. Grandpa is not taking your job, kid, the government itself is discouraging hiring.
But that’s a whole different reform.

The young people skipping class to parade and shout slogans should in no way be supporting the NO campaign that wants to keep the status quo. They should be out there demonstrating for a reform far tougher than the one on the table. It’s their own future that’s being mortgaged here!



Tabor said...

In the U.S. we are trying to push the retirement age beyond 65. Of course, this would not work for those who do heavy labor or dangerous jobs. France does have a little more socialism than I like, but it is a fine balance.

Cezar and Léia said...

Your article is wonderful!I also enjoyed the lovely poem in your previous post, thanks!It's so interesting!
I'm from Brazil and I'm studying French, so your poem also helps me with my French!Merci beaucoup!