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Commentary :: Labor
American Workers Should Take a Lesson from the "Sissy" French
06 Apr 2006
Modified: 10:02:13 AM
While young French workers express outrage at a proposed law making them endure three years of probation on a new job, U.S. workers wonder what the term "job security" means.
A column in the April 5 New York Times asks whether perhaps the once widely-hailed "philosophy" of Henry Ford, dubbed Fordism, which argued that paying workers higher wages so they could afford to buy the goods they made, is no longer an appropriate economic operating principle for America.

Putting aside whether Ford ever really believed that idea, or whether fair pay was ever really the practice in America, it seems to me the real question of the moment in the U.S. should be why young people here aren't taking to the streets along with their French counterparts to demand better treatment from employers and the government. A second question might be why the U.S. labor movement isn't out on the street with them.

French young people are angry that they face 20 percent employment, and they're angry that the government's "solution" to this crisis is a law that would allow employers to fire them "without cause" any time within three years of their being hired.

Young Americans face similar jobless rates, but forget three years' probation; they can be fired any time throughout their careers without their employer having to give a reason. Heck, they can be fired for having the wrong bumper sticker on their car in the company parking lot. The only people who cannot be fired casually like that in America are the 9 percent who still have a union, and even then, it's getting increasingly easy for the boss to give workers the sack.

Why the militancy in France, and the lack of it here in America?

We Americans like to think we're tough. And lately, we've taken to characterizing the French as sissies. But when it comes to gumption, young French people have shown us up. They're not taking this abuse. They may not drive around with "Fear This” stickers on their SUV windows, with gangsta rap blaring, but they're bringing the French economy to a halt by sitting on rail lines, blocking trains, by blocking major traffic arteries, by closing down the centers of major cities.

American workers, in contrast, are bemoaning their declining wages, watching quiescently as companies declare fake "bankruptcies" in order to void long-standing pension obligations and union contracts that leave them facing old ages of penury, and signing up for "retraining" programs so they can go from $25/hour automotive jobs into $6/hour burger saleswork--if they can even find them.

Americans are voting into office political hacks who then endorse trade agreements that subsidize the export of jobs to low-wage, anti-union countries like China, India and Indonesia, who gut worker rights here at home, and who in myriad ways act to empower and enrich the rich and the corporations while disempowering and impoverishing working people.

France remains one country where lifestyle and culture are valued. French people still insist on taking time to enjoy life, on having vacations when they are most enjoyable (summer), on receiving a fair wage, and on having some security in one’s job and health. Here in the U.S., we Americans are working longer and harder every year even as our standard of living falls, no one is secure in her job, health benefits are being gutted and our hope of retirement security is being undermined by political charlatans and an administration that is bankrupting the country with outlandishly expensive imperial wars.

The youth of France are standing up and fighting against the effort by a conservative government to Americanize their economy. Good for them!

When will we Americans wake up, take to the streets, and demand that our economy be humanized?

For other stories by Lindorff, please go (at no charge) to www.thiscantbehappening.net

To find out more about the new book, The Case for Impeachment, go to www.thiscantbehappening.net and click on the title in the navigation bar.
See also:
http://www.thiscantbehappening.net
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Re: American Workers Should Take a Lesson from the "Sissy" French
06 Apr 2006
Yes, everybody take a FEW lessons from the French:
1. Chain smoke
2. Don't shave your arm pits
3. Don't wear deodorant
4. Start a Nazi Government as the French did
in1940
5. Swear allegiance to Adolph Hitler (see 4 above)
6. Drink too much wine.
7. Build 20 nuclear power plants for a country
the size of Georgia
8. Cheat on your spouse
9. Be lazy
Having read the above, I want to be French.
07 Apr 2006
So long as you include fucking goats, zhe young goats.
Having read the above, I want to be French.
07 Apr 2006
So long as you include fucking goats, zhe young goats.
Re: American Workers Should Take a Lesson from the "Sissy" French
07 Apr 2006
Eeet eez zhe sheep zat we frrrrench typese luf.
Dumb Fuck
07 Apr 2006
I *am* French.

For fuck's sake, read occasionally.
Re: American Workers Should Take a Lesson from the "Sissy" French
08 Apr 2006
The French have balls. 3 million+ people hit the streets a few days ago. And they're still walking the streets as I type.
How I wish WE could do the same.
Impeach Bush NOW!
Re: American Workers Should Take a Lesson from the "Sissy" French
08 Apr 2006
They may have balls however consider the illustrious French Military history:

- Gallic Wars
- Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian. [Or at ths time in history, a Roman -ed.]

- Hundred Years War
- Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman." Sainted.

- Italian Wars
- Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.

- Wars of Religion
- France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots

- Thirty Years War
- France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.

- War of Revolution
- Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.

- The Dutch War
- Tied

- War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War
- Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.

- War of the Spanish Succession
- Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved every since.

- American Revolution
- In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."

- French Revolution
- Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.

- The Napoleonic Wars
- Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.

- The Franco-Prussian War
- Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.

- World War I
- Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States [Entering the war late -ed.]. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.

- World War II
- Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.

- War in Indochina
- Lost. French forces plead sickness; take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu

- Algerian Rebellion
- Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.

- War on Terrorism
- France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.

The question for any country silly enough to count on the French should not be "Can we count on the French?", but rather "How long until France collapses?"

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage."

Or, better still, the quote from last week's Wall Street Journal: "They're there when they need you."



With only an hour and a half of research, Jonathan Duczkowski provided the following losses:

Norse invasions, 841-911.
After having their way with the French for 70 years, the Norse are bribed by a French King named Charles the Simple (really!) who gave them Normandy in return for peace. Normans proceed to become just about the only positive military bonus in France's [favour] for next 500 years.

Mexico, 1863-1864.
France attempts to take advantage of Mexico's weakness following its thorough thrashing by the U.S. 20 years earlier ("Halls of Montezuma"). Not surprisingly, the only unit to distinguish itself is the French Foreign Legion (consisting of, by definition, non-Frenchmen). Booted out of the country a little over a year after arrival.

Panama jungles 1881-1890.
No one but nature to fight, France still loses; canal is eventually built by the U.S. 1904-1914.

Napoleonic Wars.
Should be noted that the Grand Armee was largely (~%50) composed of non-Frenchmen after 1804 or so. Mainly disgruntled minorities and anti-monarchists. Not surprisingly, these performed better than the French on many occasions.

Haiti, 1791-1804.
French defeated by rebellion after sacrificing 4,000 Poles to yellow fever. Shows another rule of French warfare; when in doubt, send an ally.

India, 1673-1813.
British were far more charming then French, ended up victors. Therefore the British are well known for their tea, and the French for their whine (er, wine...). Ensures 200 years of bad teeth in England.

Barbary Wars, middle ages-1830.
Pirates in North Africa continually harass European shipping in Meditteranean. France's solution: pay them to leave us alone. America's solution: kick their asses ("the Shores of Tripoli"). [America's] first overseas victories, won 1801-1815.

1798-1801, Quasi-War with U.S.
French privateers (semi-legal pirates) attack U.S. shipping. U.S. fights France at sea for 3 years; French eventually cave; sets precedent for next 200 years of Franco-American relations.

Moors in Spain, late 700s-early 800s.
Even with Charlemagne leading them against an enemy living in a hostile land, French are unable to make much progress. Hide behind Pyrennes until the modern day.

French-on-French losses (probably should be counted as victories too, just to be fair):

1208: Albigenses Crusade, French massacared by French.
When asked how to differentiate a heretic from the faithful, response was "Kill them all. God will know His own." Lesson: French are badasses when fighting unarmed men, women and children.

St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, August 24, 1572.
Once again, French-on-French slaughter.

Third Crusade.
Philip Augustus of France throws hissy-fit, leaves Crusade for Richard the Lion Heart to finish.

Seventh Crusade.
St. Louis of France leads Crusade to Egypt. Resoundingly crushed.

[Eighth] Crusade.
St. Louis back in action, this time in Tunis. See Seventh Crusade.

Also should be noted that France attempted to hide behind the Maginot line, sticking their head in the sand and pretending that the Germans would enter France that way. By doing so, the Germans would have been breaking with their traditional route of invading France, entering through Belgium (Napoleonic Wars, Franco-Prussian War, World War I, etc.). French ignored this though, and put all their effort into these defenses.

Thomas Whiteley has submitted this addition to me:

Seven year War 1756-1763
Lost: after getting hammered by Frederick the Great of Prussia (yep, the Germans again) at Rossbach, the French were held off for the remainder of the War by Frederick of Brunswick and a hodge-podge army including some Brits. War also saw France kicked out of Canada (Wolfe at Quebec) and India (Clive at Plassey).