Thursday, January 21, 2010

Retirement Age, PS and Burqa

Martine Aubry has lifted the taboo on discusson of lifting the age of retirement. It could go up to 61 or 62, she says, if due allowance is made for those whose work is more physicall demanding. Le Monde calls this Aubryréalisme. One might also call it too little, too late. The PS saw the demographic handwriting on the wall at least 15 years ago but ceded the issue to the right for fear of alienating too much of its own electorate. Now it seems to be engaging in belated me-tooism.

One could say the same thing about the left and the burqa, as Gérard Grunberg notes here. I watched a bit of Yves Calvi with J.-F. Copé and François Hollande. Hollande seemed eager to be as blunt and unnuanced about the issue as Copé yet held back by the party's opposition to an anti-burqa law (as opposed to a resolution simply condemning the burqa as un-Republican and un-French). Neither man saw fit to address the possibility that a ban might be construed by the EU as a violation of fundamental human rights.

A PACS Is Between One Man and One ... Woman

Heterosexual couples are increasingly choosing the PACS over marriage. And other interesting demographic statistics from INSEE. (h/t Eloi Laurent)

Nuclear War

Well, not that kind of nuclear war ... it's just a squabble between Areva (91 percent state-owned) and EDF (84 percent state-owned) and their ample-egoed CEOs, respectively, Anne Lauvergeon and Henri Proglio. Proglio has issued a warning equivalent to Khrushchev's "We will bury you" to Areva, which he thinks should be merged with EDF, and Lauvergeon, a protégée of François Mitterrand who has somehow survived in Sarkozie, is resisting. The stuff of an epic battle. Now François Fillon has intervened in two contract disputes between the companies, while Proglio, who was once rumored to be an item with Rachida Dati and may be again, has come under fire for collecting two salaries, one from EDF, which he now runs, and another from Veolia, which he used to run and of which he now sits on the board, for which he collects 450,000 euros a work for an hour and a half of work per week. Christine Lagarde formerly said that this would not be tolerated (this was supposed to be the regime that favored la moralisation du capitalisme, after all, and that lambasted the excessive compensation of CEOs everywhere), but that statement has now been rendered inoperative, because, as Mme Lagarde told the Assembly yesterday, there is a competitive market for executive talent and M. Proglio cannot be expected to work for less than his peers. Of course one might put this thesis to the test by cutting his pay to the bagatelle of 2 million that he gets from EDF, but this is a risk that the government seems unwilling to run, even though it's perfectly willing to run the risk of capping the bonuses of bankers who are not in such good graces of the current regime as M. Proglio apparently is. This is crony capitalism at its finest.

Private Financing for the Arts?

In this respect, Michael Kimmelman thinks that Europe, like it or not, is becoming more like America. Frédéric Martel has studied the contrast in depth in an excellent book, De la Culture en Amérique..