Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back On The Streets

France is back on the streets today, with a general strike and demonstrations throughout the country to protest the hardships brought by the recession. This photo snapped by Eric at Paris Daily Photo perfectly illustrates the mood.

Pundits and politicians are all over the French media talking about the danger that discontent will degenerate into social unrest or worse, civil war -- as if calling for it. Not only are they irresponsible, they are failing their duty to devise solutions, provide hope, and a much needed reality check: the Trente Glorieuses are long gone and there is no turning back, so move forward, anticipate, and adapt.

The French may be biting the dust, but they are far better off than most, with a social net envied by many, and a diversified economy. Financial excesses and executive pay, outrageous as they may be, still pale compared to those in other countries. The French model has a lot to offer, but it needs to evolve to survive. Stirring up frustrations won't preserve it -- au contraire.

and on this side of the pond, millions of Americans are struggling beyond hope, with little protest but much individual initiative. Sometimes you feel like putting the two countries in a blender, and see what happens. The result might be totally indigestible, or the premise for a new future. Who knows?