Only in France....

This page is under construction.....


Too many laws, many unenforceable...


Examples of shameful behavior

  • The Hardness Law : an example of government ignorance. The Left Wing government elected in 2012 is very reluctant to change the French retirement system (which all European countries did in the last decade) and push forward the mandatory retirement age. The previous government of Nicolas Sarkozy, with heavy strikes and demonstrations, had pushed it from age 60 to 62-63 (in Germany, it is currently 67, but lowering it is under consideration). The Hardness Law creates a system of points associated with the hardness of the job, such as someone who did a hard job could retire earlier : at the end of each year, the number of hardness points obtained will bring a reduction of the retirement age and this is applicable to any company, from your next door garage to Dow Jones'. Isn't that smart? But : what is a hard job? The law stipulates that it will be established from a set of 10 criteria (level of noise, carrying weights over 30 pounds, working with the angle of the back superior to 45°, temperature > X, vibrations, etc.). The law does not say how, when and by whom the criteria will be measured : this is done, in the French system, by "Decrets d'Applications" (implementation decrees published by the government). Now (July 2014), when the government listens to employers, who are furious, it discovers that this is almost impossible to do. Will the boss of a small contracting firm or your next door garage hire a additional employee just to follow each worker during is work day and note how many minutes he will be carrying a weight over 30 Lbs or working outdoors in a temperature over 35 centigrades or below 15, etc. ? Even the government understood that it is an absurdly complicated system and the private sector is right to protest ; it was wisely decided to suspend the implementation of the law for a period of one year. If at least a few of the Socialist deputies who (all) voted this law had ever set their foot in a private company, they would have known that it was impossible to implement. This absurd law was (practically) abolished one year later by the same government which had voted it. Doing business in France is not easy!
    In the public sector, it is easier. For instance, do you know why employees of the Operations Department of the national train operator SNCF (total staff : 250,000) can retire at age 50? Answer : because it is very hard to feed a locomotive with shovels of coal. After WW2, the (then Communist) Minister of Transport decided that it was hard for the whole Operations Department, from the guy in the locomotive to the secretary of the Vice-President. Since, today's locomotives use no coal but the rule still exist and the SNCF goes on a national strike every time any change is under consideration.

  • The 2013 law on Part Time Jobs is another example of ignorance. It is not fun to work only part time when you would prefer to work full time and some employers offer jobs with unreasonable schedules. This is a fact. But some jobs require only part-time employees and it is also a fact that that some people want to work only part-time : people are different and companies are different too. However, the governement decided that, by law, it is now forbidden to hire people for less than 24 hours a week. Guess what happened? More unemployment, more under-the-table jobs, more unhappy employees and more unhappy employers. Bingo!
  • More to come....

  • During the presidential campaign of 2017, several cases of misbehavior by major political leaders were revealed. They were related to tu hiring of family members as political assistants in the Parliament on public expenses, some if not all of them for fictuitous jobs (Francoi Fillon for the Right and Bruno Leroux for the Left).Read about the 2017 Presidential election. Extreme Right leader Marine Le Pen and sevreal of her colleagues hired such parliamentary assistants in the European parliament (EP) and was presecuted and sentenced for that after it was established that they had not worked at all for the EP.

  • Thomas Thevenoud, a promising Socialist deputy, had just been appointed Minister of Foreign Trade when it was discovered that he had not filed for taxes for several years, he had not paid his rent for the past three years etc. ; he pleaded "administrative phobia" but resigned after only 9 days (Sept. 2014)

  • Christian Blanc was a prefect, then the CEO of several major French companies (RATP, Air France) then the head of Merrill Lynch-France, then a deputy (Center Right) ; he joined the cabinet in 2008 as Minister in charge of the Development of Greater Paris ; he resigned in July 2010 when it was established that he had bought (in two years) on tax-payer's money 12,000 Euros worth of cigars.

  • Jerome Cahuzac, in the cabinet of President Hollande, was the (Socialist) Minister of Budget in charge of tax fraud ; after having explicitly denied it in front of the whole parliament, he admitted that he had a secret bank account in Singapore with over one million Euros undeclared money on it ; he resigned (March 19, 2013) and, later, was sentenced to 3 years of jail.

  • Other cases include Agnes Saal (and her taxi bills), etc.

  • More to come (alas....)





















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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books:

  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

More on Harriet's books (excerpts, upcoming events, testimonials, etc..)