Paris: December 7, 1995Let's start with a few figures : Today, snow storm and 333 kms of traffic jam in Paris and all access ways to Paris, not too bad when you compare it with the 625 kms of last Monday morning's traffic, but worse than yesterday's 215 kms. Today, a lot of school teachers have joined the strike. Imagine, you have kids going to school, you live in a far away suburb, you hitch-hike every day to work, it takes you 3 to 4 hours each way, you have to work anyway, your boss is not paying you when you don't show up. That's the situation thousands of people have to face, and still, according to pool surveys, 60 % of French people are still favourable to the strike, after 14 days without a train in France and 11 days without a subway in Paris.
Of course, huge media coverage of the social situation, with a quite surprising tendancy among reporters looking for the same type of exclusive story : that is, the number one concern among hot-blooded French people : romance ! How many love stories have occured thanks to the strike and subsequent hitch-hiking to work? And would you believe that French people have suddenly discovered that they can talk to each other on the street, and express some type of solidarity that, selfish and individualistic as they are, are not used to.
Another quite striking figure : only 3-6 % of civil servants have stopped working, but no problem, they can paralyze the whole country. Of course, when you have a monopoly in transportation and many benefits that you refuse to give up (the main claim of railwaymen is keeping the possibility to retire at 50), plus a powerful stubborn union whose credibility is at stake, and a government whose credibility has been definitely damaged by huge financial scandals, a President who based his campaing on promises not to raise taxes, and six months later a conceited Prime Minister who decides to raise taxes as never before, huge budget deficits, 3 millions people unemployed, a terrible international image because of nuclear tests, a social security system on the verge of bankrupcy, you can understand the situation is quite intricate and the crisis in French society huge and deep !
And what about all the homeless people who can't find any shelter in subway stations since they are closed?
What about people with small companies who just can't do any business because their products cannot reach their destinations? And you should see the riots in supermarkets : only 2 cashiers (the others live too far away to come to work) and huge lines of people filling their trolleys because they've heard on TV that supermarkets are soon going to be empty and they're panicking.
And I'd like to know why, since most of the post office is on strike, the only mail I receive is tax invoices to pay ? That's a joke. I received 2 days ago 2 invoices for professional taxes for 1993 and 1994 which of course, I have already paid ! And civil servants working in tax offices are supposed to be also on strike ! Isn't there a contradiction there ? Either you don't agree with the government and you're on strike, or you obey the government which is telling you get the money where it is : that is professional people like me, but you do your job properly and you just don't send threatening letters to pay something people have already paid.
That's it for the day
December 8, 1995
Now, something very interesting regarding the Internet is happening : according to Internet providers, the number of subscribers to Internet is skyrocketing, newsgroups have started discussions about it, and more over, students and professionals are using it for very real reasons, that is, a meeting place at a time where the total paralysis of the transportation system doesn't allow people to commute. Definetely something more intesteing than Chirac's summit in Cotonou (Benin, Africa, last week) where he was debating about the importance of having French-speaking webs. Well, he has them now, and he should be careful about their efficiency !
15th day without a train, 12th day without a subway
Juppé, the Prime Minister, announced at the beginning of the conflict that, as long as there are not 2 millions people demonstrating on the streets against his new social security plan, he wouldn't not consider negociating it . What a provocative statement ! Well, yesterday, 1 million people were on the streets throughout France. If he's lucky, by the end of next week, he's going to get his 2 millions people ! Poor Juppé, may be he's going to soon experience unemployement. And still 59 % of French people approve the continuation of the strike, and 62 % people think Juppé is not convincing and definitely not the man of the situation. Scary !
Chirac was visiting yesterday the German Chanceller Kohl in Baden-Baden to get his approval about French politics regarding the European community. Ironically, in mai 1968, de Gaulle went to Baden-Baden as well, but not for the same reasons, since he packed his family and suitcases with him, and he seeking help from the army based there. But he army General Massu told him to go back to France immediately and face the crisis. He faced it so well that he was gone a few months later. Chirac, a faithfull "Gaulliste", should ponder over one of his guru's famous phrases, that is " how can one govern a country that has more than 350 kinds of cheeses".
All you need is love :
Charles Pasqua, ex- Minister of the Interior and President of Hauts de Seine region (one of the most populated and wealthiest regions of France) gave an interview in a major magazine yesterday and stated that "Les Franćais ont besoin qu'on leur parle d'amour, et pas seulement de taux d'intérźt et de déficits". I'm telling you he's the right person to talk about love, since during the French-Algerian independance war, he was part of some extreme-rights movements who massacred hundreds of people, and one of the most frightening Minister of the Interior we ever had, only recently, when Balladur was Prime Minister. And as a President of the Hauts de Seine, he recently had a private University built in Nanterre, who opened this past fall. Well, Nanterre has another university, which is definetely the most popular in France, since May 68 started there. And you know the reason why : because male students weren't allowed to visits female students in their dormitories at night ! I'm not joking, this is really the truth, the government was overthrown because some students wanted to discover the mistery of amore with their female friends. Now you have to consider that this 1995 social movement started with students demanding more money and professors, (not dreams nor love), that the old Nanterre university is dramatically lacking space and professors, and that Pasqua's university is considered as a true provocation in front of their eyes, and it is. The entrance fees to this university is so high that only 20 % of expected students registered there, and that the governement is paying for its huge deficits.