Maîtres mots

  • Il y a longtemps que notre pays est beau mais rude.

       --Newspaper editor Olivier Séguret, 25 January 2012

    The USA are entirely the creation of the accursed race, the French.

       --Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), writing to Nancy Mitford, 22 May 1957

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French Freedom of Speech

Today the cheminots are:

  • "À nous de vous faire préférer le train!"
    "Voyager autrement"
    "Avec le SNCF, tout est possible"
      --Former ad slogans of the SNCF (French national trains), each in turn quickly dropped

Fun French words

  • ouistiti

    (literally: marmoset)
    Etymology: onomatopoeia from the sound a marmoset makes. Actual meaning: this is what you say in France when you want people to smile for the camera.

    Selon une étude réalisée par le fabricant d’appareils photo Nikon, le « ouistiti » utilisé en France au moment de se faire prendre en photo est le petit mot le plus efficace pour s’assurer un joli sourire.

Who's en colère today?

  • Private sector

    First strike in 43 years at an aeronautics company in Toulouse, Latécoère

    Public sector

    The SNCF (toujours eux), regional train employees in the Lyons area guaranteeing unpleasant travel from the 17th-21st December
    Also yet another strike by Sud-Rail, a particularly truculent SNCF union in the south of France, this time five days in January: 6,7, 21, 22 and 23. "We have no choice." Right.

    Marseilles trams on strike until February

Go back to school in Paris!

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« Only the normal number of cars burned last night | Main | Dinner at a Michelin-two-star restaurant; protest near the Ivory Coast embassy »


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Hi !

Amerloque must admit that reading these comments – so full of "yakas" and "fokons" by, one supposes, well-meaning people who are apparently not too aware of the real France around them but who see the problems with American eyes and apply particularly American solutions – is quite frustrating. (smile)

Two of the comments almost sent Amerloque into gales of laughter. Amerloque hates to say it, but they're so … so culturecentric …

"We are the ones who pay most of the taxes."

Not really. Personal income tax is actually quite low for the majority of French people, compared to the USA. (Amerloque is not speaking of senior executives' taxes, but of "normal" French employees.) Something like 13 million French households file an annual income tax return … and over half of them pay no income tax whatsoever: they are exempt. Many of the normal entitlements are simply not taxed. VAT (TVA) accounts for, I believe, over twice as much gov't revenue as income tax. Companies are heavily taxed but individual taxpayers ? Not really. One should reduce one's consumption if one does not want to pay VAT. (smile) If cutting taxes means seriously reducing the standard of living for the common woman/man (as has apparently happened in the USA, based on what Amerloque has seen recently) then the French won't buy it, no matter how many politicians advocate it.

"Politicians here are career politicians; if not re-elected, they have no job. "

Not really. The majority (70% 80%) of national politicians are on leave – "en détachement" – from their civil service jobs – in the Education Nationale, for example, or the Inspection des Finances, or some other corps d'origine. Amerloque remembers seeing once a while back that 62% of the Assemblée Nationale of one of the "leftist" gov'ts was made up of individuals from the Education Nationale en détachement. Nowadays "les Finances" accounts for a lot of deputés … The question is more nuanced for local politicos, who receive a fixed stipend and frequently keep their "real" jobs.

By the way, the whole question of "service jobs" is, of course, linked to salaries. Employers are frequently unwilling to pay what the job is worth - just as in the USA. It's a race to the bottom which no one will win. Another part of the problem is simply the word "service", which far too many French people confuse with the word "servitude". (smile)

Note, too, that last time Amerloque looked, a few years ago, he was surprised to see that, according to the OECD (or perhaps it was another int'l organization: they're hard to keep track of), the country which had lost the most annual working days to strikes, when computed on a per capita basis, was … the United States of America.


I don't agree with everything they have said but I do agree with some. My parents came to France to have better life than in Algeria. They always made clear education and hard work was the path to a better life. Our schools were not as good as those in Paris but we studied and had good education. I have two brothers and one sister. All but one have left France. Even with our education and our hard work we could not find good jobs. I was born in France and will always love it but all my life I felt like an outsider. I am just as French as anyone but was not treated as such. I moved to Toronto and it was like another world. I found a good job within my field in a month and didn't feel the discrimination I felt at home. I lived in Canada for three years before I moved to America. It took me three weeks to find a good job. My boss is minority as are many of my collegues . I feel if you work hard in north america you can get ahead and be accepted. This was not the case for me in France.I have a brother here and sister in Montreal. My parents and brother visited me and now want to come live here or Montreal. I do love France but I don't want my cildren to go through what we did.I feel finally my hard work has paid of the sad thing is I had to leave my home to find a better life.
I don't like violence but I understand the anger and hopeless feeling. I think all will be good but the unerlying problems must be thought .

The post above made me curious .I looked at figures from two European labor organizations (based statistics on OECD data) and the countries which lost most annual working days to strikes per 1000 workers were Denmark, Finland, Italy and Spain NOT USA or France. Japan had the lowest days lost to strikes.

From Sedulia:

I admit France doesn't have the most days lost to strikes but I suspect the public suffers more from French strikes since it is usually public workers who strike in France and often at the last minute.

Hi Nouria !

>>The post above made me curious .
>>I looked at figures from two European
>>labor organizations (based statistics on
>>OECD data) and the countries which
>>lost most annual working days to strikes
>>per 1000 workers were Denmark, Finland,
>>Italy and Spain NOT USA or France.
>>Japan had the lowest days lost to strikes.

Thanks for updating Amerloque on this ! As he said "… that last time Amerloque looked, a few years ago …" – it must've been just after the 2002 elections, when the "French competitiveness" issue began hitting the front pages (smile) Of course, he is unable today, at this very minute, naturally, to put his hands on the exact study with the statistic. (sigh ... it is ever thus ...)

Just went onto Internet, but unable to find the requisite stat. (re-sigh) On the Federation of European Employers (i.e., only European countries, at, in its European League Table of Strikes and Lockouts, the ones with the most annual working days lost are: Greece, Iceland, Spain, Italy and Sweden. France is only 14th in number of days lost - in Europe, anyway. Over on Nationmaster (i.e., the world, at, the ranking yields Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Spain and Norway. France is is 10th, while the USA is 11th.


PS: ... who came to France for a better life. (smile)

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Today's quotation

  • In Paris, the purest virtue is the object of the filthiest slander.

      –Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), in Scènes de la vie privée

    À Paris, la vertu la plus pure est l'objet des plus sales calomnies.

Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

  • Annual Geminids meteor shower (shooting stars!) coming this weekend, if it's not too cloudy out at night.

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