From our Parisian Friend

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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5 Responses

  1. Simon K says:

    I second that the French have the best healthcare system I’ve ever used, although since the other two are the US and the UK I might not be holding them to the highest standard.

    The thing about the Roma, though – I’m afraid I’m pretty sure it is appealing to a lot of people. In my experience there’s a constituency for xenophobia everywhere, and travelers in general are pretty easy to demonize.

    As for this “changing their whole way of life” thing, though – Sarkozy has been president for quite a while now and I’m not really seeing France dramatically transformed. I’m pretty sure its not going to be. Some tendencies – dirigisme, arrogance, and lunch, for example – are too firmly embedded to really change. Thatcher and Reagan only did what they did in the UK and US because those tendencies were there and pretty powerful already. They are not there, or much more subdued, in France.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Simon K says:

      @Simon K, Yeah, I think people are unnecessarily worried about Sarkozy achieving much, although like some have noted here, France is a very (small-c) conservative country in a lot of ways. Change is often resisted until the worst possible moments.

      The Roma aren’t exactly beloved by anyone, but she didn’t think that won Sarko any votes from Le Pen, which I thought it might have. Her point with the protesters was that perhaps some of them are Algerian immigrants who are upset about the Roma. They’re very much isolated in France and, in spite of the fact that they’re all French citizens, she thinks they might be taking this as a sign that their citizenship could be taken away. I don’t know if that’s right, but it’s an interesting theory.Report

  2. Jason Kuznicki says:

    Health care: I make no secret of the fact that I received superlative care in the French system, and it cost me a pittance. I think it would be very shortsighted, however, to stop our analysis there, as so many seem to do. In particular two things stand out — the long-term sustainability of the system, which will be severely taxed as the population ages, and the question not only of relative excellence, but absolute. It could well be that their (essentially socialized) system is better than our (mixed, highly confused, perversely incentivized) system, but that a socialist system still isn’t the best one in the long term.Report

    • @Jason Kuznicki, I think she was just using health care as an example. She says there are a lot of French people who think everything is getting cut or privatized- for example, she said there a lot of people think all the arts funding, the public television channels, museums, cultural patrimony stuff- all of that is supposedly getting cut. To me that sounds totally unrealistic and more than a bit paranoid, but I think part of the tension over there is that you have a huge state system that is unsustainable in the current form, so that changes have to be made, and somewhat hysterical fears that any change signals that an entirely new economic system is now being instituted over the entire country. See also: the US health care debate!Report

  3. Anecdotal vindication!Report