”Everybody singin' in the kitchen bangin' on the pots and pans”— Bobby Bare
A concert of casseroles.
That’s how the Free French began their resistance to “overreaching” retirement reform, enacted by French President Emmanuel Macron in April. Banging on pots and pans.
Now, the photos coming out of France look more like a hostile takeover than a walkout.
“The page is not going to be turned as long as there is no withdrawal of this pension reform,” exclaims Sophie Binet, a French trade unionist and leader of the General Confederation of Labour.
“We will not give up, there will be no truce,” she resolves.
108 police officers were injured in riots across France, Gérald Moussa Darmanin, Ministre de l’Intérieur reports.
“Black Bloc” anarchists ransacked a McDonalds on Place Leon Blum and wrecked several real estate agencies, lighting everything in their wake on fire. Police responded by throwing tear gas and firing rubber bullets.
Trash continues to pile up on the rues and avenues as sanitation workers continue their revolution.
“Regrettably,” writes our friend Egon von Greyerz, a Swiss gentleman who runs Matterhorn Asset Management, “a rotten and bankrupt financial system needs to go through a cleansing period which the world will now experience.”
Do we sound any less dramatic than the labor leaders and their voyous anarchiste?
We actually have a Tennis Buddy Indicator (TBI) edition francaise to share today. You’ll recall the TBI uses tennis buddies as a way to take the pulse of the everyday man.
When we were living in France, we played tennis at the 5th arrondissement public courts near Jardin de Luxembourg.
M. George was the coach. He was a debonair gentleman of a certain age. He was giving tennis lessons to the public just for something to do.
On occasion he’d pull me aside and ask me how life was in the United States. He’d never been but he heard it was awful. At the time, 9/11 had recently happened, there were frantic reports of anthrax being mailed to government employees and a father son duo were driving around the Washington D.C. area shooting people at random.
“Not so good, I guess,” I would reply. The French presse seem to enjoy stories of horror coming from the States.
“I think what your problem is,” M. Georges would remind me – you can imagine his French accent if you want, it makes the story better – “you Americans live to work. We French… we work to live.”
I heard that exact phrase come out of the mouth of one of the protestors near a fire being interviewed for NBC Nightly News.
“Must be a theme,” I thought to myself, “the exact same phrase 20 odd years later.”
The protestor went on to explain that while a 2-year increase in the retirement may not seem like a lot to Americans, the unions took to the streets to draw the line somewhere. The change was pushed through L’Assemblee without a vote.
“If we don’t draw the line here,” we paraphrase, “what stops them from doing it again? We don’t want to be working into our 80s like Americans. We want to stop working and enjoy life.”
He’s got a point. To a point.
“What, are you turning into a socialist now?” Jennifer, my wife, asked when I was talking to her about the dramatic videos of protests on streets we know well.
“No, not at all. It’s not an economic argument, it’s a cultural one.”
The Free French feel it is their collective responsibility to rise against government reform without their consent. It’s in their blood going back years… even if the laws of economics come and bite them in the ass.
Follow your own bliss,
The Wiggin Sessions
P.S. The whole time we were living in France we never made it to the French Open. We always seemed to be traveling back to the states that time of year. This year, Rolland-Garros starts May 22 and will continue to June 11.
That is, if the protestors don’t carry out their promise to cut the power to the tennis facility.
Addison Wiggin is an American writer, publisher, and filmmaker. He was the founder of Agora Financial and publisher for 18 years. An acclaimed New York Times best-selling author, his books include: Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt, The Demise of the Dollar, and The Little Book of the Shrinking Dollar. Addison is also the writer and executive producer of the documentary I.O.U.S.A., an exposé on the national debt, shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2008. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his family. Addison started his latest project, The Wiggin Sessions, powered by Consilience Financial, in March 2020. He films from a homegrown studio in his basement.