Monday, April 12, 2010

And Even More on Retirement Reform: Thomas Piketty

Here. Both right and left have avoided the central questions, he says, the right by trying to frighten the people the left, by saying that all will be well if only we can undo what the right has done. Both are wrong.

Réforme des retraites - Thomas Piketty (1)
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Still More on Retirement Reform: It Could Be Worse

France doesn't have the best old-age dependency ratio structure, but it doesn't have the worst either. That honor belongs to Japan. Discussion here and here.

Marine or Bruno?

Come January, we won't have Jean-Marie Le Pen to kick around anywhere, but we may have his daughter. Or then again, it may be Bruno Gollnisch. Place your bets and name your "favorite" here.

Still More on Retirement Reforms

Two OECD economists note the issue of finding work for older workers if the number of years of work required for full benefits is increased. They further note the difficulty of increasing payroll taxes, which would increase labor costs and thus be a competitive disadvantage.

More on Retirement Reform

Who is proposing what? A handy guide.

A Whiter Shade of Green

Cécile Duflot has put forward her own ideas about the future of the Green political movement. Le Monde is quick to paint this as a rebuke to Daniel Cohn-Bendit and to voice the suspicion--which Sylvia Zappi attributes to unnamed others--that the latter joue trop perso. True, Duflot does not endorse his idea of establishing a network of Europe Écologie collectives around the country. She wants a more open, fluid, and pluralist structure. But it's too early to conclude that this signals any real split in the ranks of the Greens, who find themselves at a crucial point of transition, having emerged as a strong electoral force. Duflot wants to anchor the movement on the left, linking it to the traditions of the workers' movement and feminism. I see it as more of a rallying point for the "radical center," that emerging swing group of voters who for disparate reasons cannot identify with either the PS or the UMP but are also immune to the blandishments of the left and right fringes. This is an inherently volatile group, defined more by attitude than by issues. "Green" is a convenient color for the moment and in some ways captures the "post-materialist" motivations of the members. Moving from there to issues and candidates will not be an easy task.

Palier on Retirement Reforms

With retirement reform apparently the centerpiece of Sarkozy's domestic policy in the runup to 2012, it is worth listening to this series of interviews with one of France's leading experts on retirement policy, Bruno Palier. Below is one segment in which Bruno makes the interesting point that France has more unions with fewer members than other countries, making for a fragmented and competitive negotiating environment. He also discusses the difficulty of resolving the issue of how to deal with difficult and stressful jobs when confronting the issue of length of working life.

Réforme des retraites - B. Palier (4)
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Back from the Desert

So, what happened while I was gone? I didn't have much time to read the news while in Arizona for the annual conference of the Society for French Historical Studies, which was a real treat. My compliments and thanks to the organizers, especially Victoria Thompson, who did a fabulous job and really made me feel welcome. It was great to swim in the morning, listen to lectures all day, and dine in the evening with old and new friends.

But now it's back to real life, and I need to catch up. I see that the First Lady was out and about trying to prevent Affairsgate from turning into the Assassination and Persecution of Rachida Dati by the Inmates of the Elysian Asylum. It might be interesting to see what would happen if Mme Dati were turned over to the justice system whose collective back she got up while serving as Justice Minister. We might see her condemned to be broken on the wheel, drawn, and quartered on the place de Grève.

ADDENDUM: It looks as though one of the inmates has been sent to solitary by the warden. Yet another bizarre twist in this loufoque affair.