If you've been able to sift through the ever growing pile of pre-election horse shit as of late, you will have heard of the uproar in France regarding the projected raising of the pension age. Among other pension reforms, the French government intends to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the full state pension age from 65 to 67.
If you have had a chance to take a look at that uproar, it includes: blockading fuel depots, shutting down 12 of France's 58 nuclear reactors, all 12 oil refineries are on strike, students (yes, young, engaged people) marching in cities around the country including Paris, Marseilles, Toulouse and Bordeaux, tons of garbage piling up in the streets of Marseilles due to the collectors having been on strike since October 12th, and thousands of other marches, protests and upheaval.
So, why bring this up when we have witch ads, a new Bush youtube video, the first lady picking pumpkins and a White House science fair?! Well, because this actually fucking matters. France may be the "old world" but compared to our "new world" antics, they show a helluva lot more gusto when it comes to upholding the rights of a republic. And I'm not talking about the government. With all due respect to the French, raising the pension and retirement age is not the end of the world. Grapes will still grow and become wine, berets are still cool, and smoking while having a latte under the Eiffel Tower will always be chic. All joking aside though, major props to you Frenchies.
Do we even have a set retirement age? Isn't it just, work until your body physically won't allow it or your mind can't remember how to get there? At which point your social security will do less than dick to see you through the dusk of your days, in pain because medication's too expensive and cast aside because you serve no purpose to the big corporations who once sucked you dry? Ah, don't you just love the smell of freedom?
Actually, I'd prefer the stench of rotting garbage if it meant that the people were engaged and standing up for their rights. If it meant people were out there, fighting for their standpoints, as opposed to quietly muttering them over a beer and some wings at a redneck biker bar. Granted, I might not agree 100% with what's going on in France but any exercise of your birth right will get a "Vive!" from me.
Students are out in the streets, actual young people that are educated and interested in their country. Holy shit! That can't be possible! That's gotta be another one of those Frenchy propaganda things like freedom fries and frog legs.
Unfortunately for us, it's not.
While we reel from Christina Aguileras breakup, ooh and ahh over the first lady picking pumpkins with annoying children, there is a world happening, and most of it is our fault. Sorry to throw a wrench in the festivities, but of all the countries to be sitting back and enjoying the show, we should be last on that list. We're lighting fires all over the fucking place and not only are we not tending them, we're walking away and throwing an oil barrel behind us...well no, we'd take the oil with us...maybe some bud light or cheap American vodka.
As our government tail spins into utter chaos with each ill conceived election ad, each broken promise and back door deal, the American people sit and grow fatter, less educated and less engaged.
As Benjamin Franklin (also famous for his French diplomacy) once said to a woman who asked what the members of the Constitutional Convention were creating, replied: "A republic madam, if you can keep it." Well, clearly, we can't. Ben would be thoroughly disappointed if he could see us all now. As an avid inventor, enlightenment groupie, voracious reader and student, and obviously engaged politician and citizen, he would be utterly disgusted with the state of our union today. Not to put words in the old guys mouth, but he'd probably say, as I did: "Vive la resistance!"