If I told you that one of the following countries was experiencing massive street protests because the social security retirement age was being raised by two years, which one would you guess
A. If you guessed U.S., you must not live in the U.S., because if you did you would understand that we don’t really know or care a whole lot about policy changes like that here. Touch our football or shopping or fad diets and you’ll reawaken the sleeping tiger. Screw with our retirement age? Meh. I’m not even sure what our retirement age is. I thought it was around 65 but Wikipedia is telling me it’s up to 67. Do you remember being up in arms when it went up from 65? Nope, unless you’re a member of AARP you didn’t know or care.
B. Germans are too busy being German to protest this sort of thing. Take away der creamy und vunderbar chocolates und keela techno beats und you have beeg problems. Other than that, they can’t be bothered.
C. Far too good natured and contented for this sort of trouble. The more familiar I become with Canada and Canadians, the more I like the idea. Canada is Europe without that Europey speedo and female armpit hair oddness, and America without all the gluttony and extremism. I’m beginning to think our northern friends might really have things figured out.
D. Come on.
E. The Brits aren’t built for protesting. They execute their agendas with stodgy-faced news, shark-tooth-sharp satire, and raucous parliamentary debates. But yelling and stomping in the streets? Very low brow. Quite bad form.
The correct answer, of course, is F; France. The Frogs are up in arms because President Sarkozy wants to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62.
Stupeed, fat, eegnorant Amereecan, you know nussing!
The maximum workweek in France is 35 hours with at least 5 weeks of vacation, but many employers give 8 weeks. A Frenchman works an average of around 300 hours less per year than his Yankee counterpart. So this is a leisurely breed. But when some meddling bureaucrat tries to stick his boney, cheese-scented fingers into the centre of their quality of life, our longtime surrendering allies become Korean in their determination and industry. After all, the French wrote the book on protests. After wine, cheese, and superiority, protesting is the top export of the region. They protest everything, and they do so beautifully.
When I read about the French of WWI, WWII, and the French of our present day, I just can’t believe these were the same people with whom Napolean conquered Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. And surely the terrifying Gaulic tribesmen who dealt out horror to all-mighty Rome aren’t the progenitors of these waifish, snearing protestors (trying to imagine current day Italians as the heirs of the former hyper-organized rulers of the classical world is another post in itself).
Hallo, Pierre, zoes filthy Jermanz are attacking us again, do you have time to go fight a war weeth me? No problem, when you get back from the Riviera zen. September wheel be fine.
But good for the French, I say. I actually enjoy a good protest. Nothing I love more than stumbling across a group of protestors on campus or in a city centre. I push my way right in there and yell and hoist people on my shoulders without knowing the cause. I just love the camaraderie. Camaraderie. French word.
Keep fighting, Citizens. Take what’s rightfully yours. You work like dogs and it’s time you rise up and put an end to zees madness!
Viva La France! Viva la Revolucion!