Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Stupendous (and Absurd) Statistic

If you think things are bad in France, try Britain, which, according to Le Nouvel Obs, has achieved a mathematically unprecedented level of distress:

Ruinées par la chute de l'immobilier, qui donne souvent à leur maison une valeur inférieure à leur dette, rendues enragées par l'écart croissant entre leur niveau de vie et celui des super-riches épargnés par la crise, alors que 60% de la population vit au-dessous du revenu médian, les classes moyennes se rebiffent.

Since by definition 50% of any population is below the median and 50% above, one has to conclude that things have gone really haywire in Britain at Le Nouvel Obs (h/t Arthur Charpentier).

Marks on Flu Vaccinations

This is a guest post from my friend Harry Marks, who teaches the history of medecine at Johns Hopkins. Harry writes:

I was intrigued by the "H1NI vaccination" thread of a few days ago. There has not been a lot written, to my knowledge, either about the development of vaccination policy in France, or about anti-vaccination attitudes historically (in contrast to places likes Germany/UK/India where the story--for smallpox at least--has been well done. That said, I was able to find some data specifically on influenza vaccination over the past decade. As the attached graphic suggests, France was in the low-middling range of vaccination rates in the early part of the decade. While Germany and the UK dominate in the rankings (upwards of 30% in recent years), France has moved away from Spain and Italy and is now roughly average. The study (Infection, 2009, 37: 390-400) also offers some intriguing but a bit ambiguous data about why people in different countries get vaccinated against the flu. In Germany and the UK, upwards of 3/4 report "advice from the family physician" as one of the most influential motives, whereas in France, that figure is 32%, far the lowest. Whether that means that French physicians don't push vaccination, or whether it means that the advice of their physicians is not a strong motivator, is not clear from the article. In any case, before we make a special case of the H1N1 campaign, we probably ought to compare it to the customary rates of influenza vaccination. (click on graph to enlarge)

Compromise on La Taxe Pro

The government and the Senate have struck a compromise on the reform of la taxe professionnelle. This tax will be replaced by une contribution économique territoriale, which will be assessed on corporate real estate on value added but will be lighter than the taxe pro by some 4.3 billion euros. How will the shortfall be made up? Doesn't the new tax, er, make that contribution, perpetuate the negative economic effects of the old?

Since the elimination of the TP was to have been the compensation to businesses for accepting the carbon tax, will they feel betrayed? Will the mayors (who are strongly represented in the Senate and who strongly opposed the repeal of the TP) be satisfied with the new compromise?

Many questions, few answers.

Mignon Leaving Elysee

Emmanuelle Mignon, Sarkozy's dircab at the Elysée and one of the brains behind his election campaign, is leaving her job.

Obama Will Come to the Dance

President Obama has changed his plans and will return to Copenhagen for the final round of negotiations on the environment. President Sarkozy says that he's pleased, although he's been a having a good time as the world's point man on ecopolitics, whereas Obama will now upstage him. Sarko might take this amiss, since Obama's actual greenhouse gas reduction proposal is disappointing, and the French have in fact taken more effective action on this issue. But if anyone knows that symbolism can trump substance, it's Sarkozy. Perhaps he'll be pleased that Obama has learned this lesson. He can even take credit for it if he wishes.

Sarkozy's statement:

Le président français, Nicolas Sarkozy, a immédiatement accueilli cette annonce "avec beaucoup de satisfaction", jugeant que cette décision "témoigne de l'importance accordée par les Etats-Unis au succès de cette conférence sur le climat".

UMP Caught With Pants Down

The UMP has done it again. (h/t MYOS)