Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter262



Letters to the Editor

(May 6, 2013)


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Guns are America's Masturbation: Jan Baughman's Child's [Gun] Play

To the Editor:

Jan Baughman's new article, on uncontrolled guns, was very good, very pointed. Her focus on child victims is, in my view, the the socially correct (the best) angle from which to assess the situation. Also, thanks for the pointer to Gabrielle Gifford's editorial -- that too was excellent. I do not have any arguments to offer that would change the status quo regarding lack-of-gun-control, but I have made a few jabs at the matter:


Best wishes,

Manuel García, Jr.
Oakland, California, USA - April 22, 2013


French Butterflies

Hey Mr. d'Aymery:

You are familiar with the butterfly effect which in chaos theory is well-known with weather patterns. A Butterfly's wing may affect the atmosphere. I know it's just theory but the tsunami in Japan had an effect all the way to the West Coast of the U.S. -- mind you, it was a big butterfly. In the economic sphere I suppose you could call this phenomenon a loop or a reflexive loop. You mentioned in your April 22 Blips that François Hollande's approval rating was down to 25%, but it is not just due to Jérôme Cahuzac's lying scandal. Yes, people are disgusted with the socialists, who are as corrupted as all the other politicians, but it's the economic crisis and their incompetence that hurt most, and where loops keep accumulating.

Take our balance of trade. France is the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world after the U.S. but it exports 70% within the EU and more that 60% of its industrial production is also destined to the EU. The EU is in bad shape. Spain, Portugal, Italy used to be substantial importers of French products, but with their austerity programs and their continued recessions these imports have come down to a drizzle. Result: The French trade balance is in a tailspin.

Take this other example: The French people are very pessimistic, 70% feel that the future will get worse. The purchasing power of households is shrinking, unemployment rising. Consequently, people tend to consume less. That's the very time the government decides it wants to increase the rates of the VAT -- a huge source of revenues -- but the purpose will be defeated because consumption will come down further. Economics 101 is completely ignored.

The funniest part of this economic mess (I don't know whether I should laugh or cry) is the government's stratagem to raise further revenues by increasing taxes on well-to-do, so-called wealthy people, an entire series of taxes -- and to raise them drastically... First, it was said that it would be for a two-year period only, then the tune changed: These taxes would last until the budget is balanced. And they began to shame the moneyed class with the help of the media. Big mistake. I know no super-wealthy individual but a few well-to-do. At first, they did not mind paying more taxes as long as, in exchange, government spending was cut accordingly and the money raised was used to pay back the country's debt. However, what they quickly figured out is that they were going to get milked, spending not cut, and debt not repaid. The government figured out that it could play a populist card by attacking and demeaning a few very wealthy individuals like the actor Gérard Depardieu, but it did not factor in a much larger segment of the upper middle class, much younger, not necessarily multi-millionaire yet. This younger generation is leaving the country in troves. So here again the demagogic purpose will be defeated.

Worse, talking about a butterfly effect, the real estate market for luxury homes and apartments is taking a dive. It fell almost 10% in 2012 and 20% in the first quarter of 2013. Prices are falling fast. This will have negative consequences on middle-class homes and modest homes. A shame.

I'm rather apolitical in the sense that I do not belong to any political party and I am not involved in politics, but I have friends and acquaintances on both sides of the aisle. When I ask them how they'd characterize Hollande and his government they all answer with no exception: "incompetent!" They wonder how this is all going to end. Seeking advice from my uncle, he told me to forget about my beautiful legs, take care of my kid (it's a boy, by the way), my husband, and my family. Things will get worse before they get better, he said. I'm aging really fast.

Incompetent he certainly is but he also is a shrewd politician. To deflect popular discontentment he went for a diversion last November. He decided to launch a campaign to legislate le mariage pour tous ("the marriage for all") -- what you guys call gay marriage. Then he tagged the right to adoption to the right to marriage. He knew exactly what he was doing. The majority of the French people are in favor of gay marriage and so is the majority of parliament. As you once quoted some American editor [ed. Sam Smith of The Progressive Review], "If you don't like gay marriage, don't marry a gay." It was a no-brainer but the timing was wrong and adding the right to adoption was a huge mistake. He should have gone one step at a time. The result was a huge backlash from a population, which sentiments are already raw. The divide in the country became clearer and clearer. He cannot get anything right. We are getting closer to what de Gaulle used to call la chienlit ("social chaos"). Anyway the law has passed. Meantime unemployment keeps rising.

Ironically, only the Muslim community took gay marriage in stride, not because they approve it, but for the past few months homophobia has replaced Islamophobia -- just a little respite for that community.

What a mess. In French we would say, c'est un merdier.

Take care.

Alouette Arouet
Paris, France - April 26, 2013


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Published May 6, 2013
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