Steven Hill is reporting from France for the Washington Monthly, and he relays a simple fact that almost all other reporting on the proposed increase in the retirement age has missed:
The media has been reporting that the French are protesting the increase of their retirement age from 60 to 62, but this is only part of the proposed legislation. It also raises the age for retirement with FULL benefits from 65 to 67. Most of the French retiring early do so with only partial benefits. This is an important distinction, yet most media outlets have stubbornly refused to report it. It seems that they have decided that the French are whiners and complainers — come on, is 62 years old for retirement really such a bad deal? — and want their news audiences to think that too. But that’s not the entire story, many French effectively are having their retirement age increased to 67, not 62 as widely reported. It’s amazing to me that the media can’t get this simple distinction right. Perhaps they don’t want to.
I’d lose the “perhaps.” The whole thing is taking place against the backdrop of potential increases in the retirement age here in America. Elites who have been banging the drum for retirement age increases surely are pleased at painting the French as a bunch of freeloaders. But in fact, the French are resisting what amounts to a similar change to what the US could face in December.
Now, their protests have apparently come up unsuccessful. The French Senate just passed the increases, and surely the US press will paint the legislation as responsible and serious. Just as they will if it comes stateside. And at some point, you have to echo the question that a French passerby did of Steven Hill:
He translated into French for the others, and they all shook their heads. That’s when the one with the accented English blurted out, “Where are you Americans? Why aren’t Americans out in the streets? If Americans are angry, why aren’t they out in the streets like we are?” He said something quickly to his comrades in French, then reverted back to English. “It’s like Americans have gone to sleep or something. You used to have many protests.”
I’d say a pliant media has a bit to do with that as well.