Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mélenchon Answers Montebourg's Letter

It wasn't addressed to him, but Jean-Luc Mélenchon is answering anyway. Since Montebourg is poaching on his terrain, he figures the quarry is his. So he's offering "a maximal ecological relocation of our agricultural and industrial production." The theory here seems to be that transporting goods is polluting, so we should produce as much as possible as close to home as possible. To this end he proposes issuing a "social and ecological visa" to prevent anti-social, anti-ecological outsourcing. Who could ask for anything more?

This "locavore" solution to the world's problems seems to be intended in all seriousness, but when I try to imagine myself in the position of Minister of Social and Ecological Visas, I find myself facing a host of knotty problems. Think of all those Parisians who are fond of poulet de Bresse. Shall I issue visas to hundreds of Bresse poultrymen to build coops somewhere near Rungis? That would certainly cut down on the fuel used to transport chickens from Bresse, but then I think of the railway cars full of chicken feed, and wonder how many times its own weight a chicken eats before it is ready for the oven. Hmm, perhaps this isn't such a good idea after all. Maybe we'd better issue visas to the Parisians of the 18th Arrondissement and ship them all to Bresse instead.

But this is unfair, you say. The social and ecological visa will be denied only in egregious instances of social and ecological dumping: when Renault wants to build cars in Hungary, for example. How offensive to the environment to build automobile subassemblies in Hungary and burn fossil fuel to ship them back to France. To workers employed in export industries, however, the idea of building things here to ship there doesn't seem quite so illogical. Indeed, it's their bread and butter, and there are quite a few of them, since France is a major exporter and wishes it were exporting even more.

How will "social and ecological visas" be allotted to French exporters by a government of the Front de Gauche? As Visa Minister, I suddenly find myself courted by all sorts of people eager for the S&E visa. But of course I'm immune to their blandishments, because I have taken to heart M. Mélenchon's admonition: "Quant à la corruption, je la tiens pour un symptôme de la décomposition de notre République." Of course the victory of my party would put an end to such corruption, because "elle est la conséquence de l’accumulation de richesse par quelques-uns." Once I have the power to issue the sociological and ecological visa, however, you can be sure that the accumulation of wealth will be limited to quelques autres.

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