Cities Paralyzed

French president Emmanuel macron is back in the hot seat over reform proposals. Over 800,000 protesters have taken to the streets in a Massive Strike that has paralyzed cities.

Cities across France were paralyzed by a massive public transport strike against a planned overhaul of France’s pensions system, in a test of President Emmanuel Macron’s resolve to modernize the economy.

Trains, including the high-speed line between Paris and London, subways and buses were severely curtailed if not halted altogether. Hundreds of flights were canceled. Many schools, and nurseries remained closed, while several museums, including the Louvre, said parts of their collections might not open. Even the Eiffel Tower was closed.

About 806,000 protesters—including lawyers, teachers, students and air-traffic controllers—hit the streets across the country, according to the French interior ministry. Unions warned the strike could last days and become one of the biggest in France in over two decades.

Mr. Macron wants to extend the number of years that people are required to work before collecting their pensions—now set at 43 years—rather than raising the age of retirement of 62 years old for all workers. That retirement age remains lower than in most other OECD group of rich nations. Under the plan, some people retiring before 64 could receive a lower pension.

Mr. Macron also wants to consolidate France’s 42 different retirement plans—and their special benefits—into one universal system that he says would be more fair. Civil servants, in particular, fear they may lose advantages they have compared to private sector employees.

Yellow-Vest Movement

Recall that the yellow vest protests went on for months.

On December 10, 2018 I wrote Macron Attempts to Placate Yellow Vest Protesters With Free Money.

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The protests started because Macron wanted global warming reforms.

To pay for it, he hiked gas taxes. Things quickly got out of hand, and riots lasted for months.

Paris Burning

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On March 16, I reported Paris Burning: Luxury Stores Looted and Burned in Latest Yellow Vest Uprising.

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Latest Protest Peaceful

So far the latest protest is peaceful. Unfortunately, the record suggests that peace won't last.

Riots and massive service shutdowns are a way of life in France.

Tariff Feud

The above protests are on top of a huge feud between Macron and Trump over NATO and digital taxes.

Trump threatens to impose tariffs on French wine and Macron promises to retaliate if Trump does.

Tariffs are a bad idea that will not solve a thing.

For discussion, please see Proper Revenge: How Should Trump Respond to France?

Free Stuff

Meanwhile, France provides yet another example of the impossibility of giving away free stuff.

No one can figure out how to pay for it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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