Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sixty: The Magic Number

So, the Socialists have had their third debate, and the field still looks pretty much the same. All except Valls and Baylet seem to think that "the legal retirement age of 60" is carved in stone and promise to abide by the Socialist platform, which pledges to return to it.

Ah, but there is fine print in the statements of the frontrunners. Sure, you can retire at 60, but only if you've paid in to the system for 41 to 41.5 years, which means starting work at 18.5 or 19, if math serves, and not missing any quarters because of unemployment, illness, childbirth, etc. And there will of course be exceptions for women and those whose work is difficult, but we'll talk about those things later ... which of course opens the door to all kinds of wheeling and dealing with this or that union when it comes down to brass tacks. So, in short, what you'll get is not what you see, but don't expect anyone to come clean on this issue. Don't even expect them to discuss the principles that might figure in their calculations. This is just too sensitive a topic, discussion of which might upset any number of applecarts. In other words, business as usual--and in the end, not much difference between the Aubry/Hollande position and the latest round of reform from the government. The crux of the matter is whether it will be necessary to go further, and if so, how far. On these questions the candidates are silent.