France: Yellow Vest Rebellion Subsides, Problems Just Beginning.

The Yellow Vest Movement, at times an insurrection, will be a marker in the history of France. There are only three ways a leaderless, spontaneous, grassroots revolt could have ended up:

  1. Violent confrontation, blood and chaos, with its share of tears and gritting of teeth, for in a battle between the rabble and the organized state, the state’s machine of repression always wins.
  2. A charismatic leader steps forward, galvanizes the movement and manages to impose its political will on the system, stopping its normal functioning, forcing elections, creating political and economic instability for a prolonged period.
  3. The movement fizzles out, leaving in its wake massive demoralization and a total lack of confidence in the system and its actors; Like a volcano leaves its trail of destruction, hot ambers remain with the occasional after-shocks. Nothing gets done.

It seems the French Yellow Vest movement is now in the third option, but that does not mean President Emmanuel Macron can go on with business as usual.

The Arrogance of King Macron

The “arrogant” Macron, and his government, along with the political system, have lost all credibility in the eyes of the vast majority of the French people. “The president of the rich” will no longer be able to go ahead with his reform program to encourage capitalists to invest in France, create jobs and lower government spending and chronically high unemployment. 

Even if he could carry out new pro-business reforms, the political chaos of the Yellow Vest movement will dissuade “job creators” from investing in France. There is just too much instability. It is estimated the revolt cost France over two billion euros in revenues. The government welfare offer to hand-out 100 euros per month to those on minimum wage will cost at least ten billion euros a year. It is hard to see how Macron can keep the deficit under three percent and bring down a debt which is already 100% of GDP.

Macron also scrapped a fuel tax hike, which sparked the yellow Vest movement, and which was meant to compensate for the elimination of a wealth tax on the super rich. Macron refuses to reinstate the wealth tax, so there is another five billion in lost revenue.

The Yellow Vest revolt has not only hurt the French economy, it is also responsible for a fall in the value of the Euro (click here).

And this is where Germany and other European partners come in. Wealthier, better performing countries, are fed up with subsidizing French “labor privilege” which comes at the expense of “excessive government spending.” All face European elections in May and the so-called ‘populists’ will be hitting the system on the very issues the Yellow Vest raised: globalization only serves the rich, the Euro Zone bailouts hurt workers, Brussels has too much power to dictate domestic policies and, yes, immigration.

Macron’s March Stopped Dead

Macron and his En Marche Party are set to suffer a humiliating defeat in the European ballot. Polls show that the right wing National Rally party of Marine Le Pen has benefited the most from the November rebellion and is now France’s leading party. For, no matter how many ‘Brown’ faces you saw on television, this was an overwhelmingly White, ethnic French, working class revolt of people who vote right and harbor much animosity to those of migrant background. (Click here)

As this Tweet shows, Macron’s MPs tried early on to paint the Yellow Vests as extreme right wing thugs.

Polls released mid-December seem to back a right wing thrust. They show the left wing Insoumis party, which backed the Yellow Vests, continues to fall and is at 9% today, down from 18% a year ago. Macron has become the least popular president since the Fifth Republic was created in 1959, with 24%-26% popularity, and his party is at 18% of voter intention. 72% of the French still identify with the Yellow Vests demands although many reject the violence. (click here).

Macron has repeatedly complained of the “reform recalcitrant Gauls.” He has now met those Gauls and they proved to be a formidable match. He should have realized that history has proven time and again, that the Gauls, when suffering, will not stand for inequality. Macron failed to reform in such a way as to show people the sacrifices were being shared and rather concentrated his efforts on making France ‘business friendly’ to the detriment of worker’s rights.

The French president and his government only have themselves to blame for sparking a revolt which has probably now stopped a much needed reform process. The consequences on the European level of the Yellow Vest revolt have not yet even begun to make themselves felt.

Continue reading →

France – Yellow Vests: Can Macron Ride It Out?

Russian Radio asked me, an American reporter based in Paris, to analyze the Yellow Vest Revolt in France. This is a five minute excerpt from that interview. Just click on the icon below or click here.

Please leave a comment.

Yellow Vests – France’s ‘Deplorables’ Explained

images“A medieval peasant revolt with social media. An Arab Spring without the Arabs. Don’t underestimate the potential danger of the Yellow Vests.”

They are the ‘deplorables’ of France. They get up early and go to work. If they were American, they would be those that make up Trumps hardcore base but no French worker is stupid enough to believe a billionaire can represent their interests. In the 1960s and early 70s they would have voted Communist. Today they vote for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and other hard right conservatives. The Yellow Vests are White and ethnic French. They are mad as Hell and won’t take it any more! (1.) Continue reading →

WWI Celebrations: Revising History to Do It Again!

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The cost of war is counted in lives while the gains are counted in dollars.

The First Casualty of War is the Truth!

 

There is a conservative movement in France rewriting the history of World War One. These people say the Allies should have never accepted an Armistice and marched on to Berlin once the German 1918 offensive was broken, thanks to US intervention. They say this would have prevented World War Two. They made the 100th anniversary of the Armistice a celebration of the Generals. They claim the war was fought by “patriots for liberty.” They say we are wrong to measure the killing with today’s yard-stick. Continue reading →

The USA Needs A New Constitution

 

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To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The United States must organize a Constitutional Congress and write a new, 21st Century, text to govern our nation. The further we go, the deeper the messes caused by a text written for the world of 1787. It would be a long process but I don’t think a few Amendments or Referendums will get the job done. However, there are things that could be done now. Continue reading →

N. Dakota: GOP Massacres Indians’ Right To Vote

imagesWhen North Dakota, in 2012, elected Democrat Heidi Heitman to the Senate by some 3,000 votes, Republicans, who run the state, went scrambling for solutions. They found one which eliminates 75,000 potential Democratic voters from casting a ballot, including the quasi totality of the state’s Indians, roughly five-and-a-half percent of the population.

The solution Republicans found came in the form of a change in identification presented at polling stations. In 2018, a voter must present an ID which has name, date of birth and a provable address with street and house number. Fair enough you may say except in rural North Dakota people live in sparsely populated areas where dirt roads often have no names and houses rarely have a number. In all nearly ten percent of the Flickertail State could be denied their right to vote.

 

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Every General Store has letter boxes

Many people, including most Indians, don’t have street addresses. They have Post Office Boxes. Voters in North Dakota never needed a street address.

 

Although a lower Federal Court overturned the law saying P.O. Boxes were fine addresses, the new rule was upheld by a Federal Appeals Court and, this month, by the US Supreme Court. This gave Democrats and Tribal leaders three weeks to get on their horses or in their pick-ups and get papers to people which will be accepted at the polling stations — an almost impossible task.

North Dakota is the only state with no voter registration. Until the law change, it was enough to show up at a poling station, show an ID with your name on it and vote. Only cities like Bismarck and Fargo can do voter registration if they feel the need. 

You would be on the voting list if you voted in a previous election. If you had no ID, it just took somebody to recognize you to be able to vote. If you were not on the list or it was the first time you voted, you signed a affidavit saying you are you and voted. Believe it or not, there has never been voter fraud, even though that is the pretext Republicans used to change the law.

Republicans said they could not verify 3,600 affidavits after the 2016 elections. That does not mean there was voter fraud, nor has anybody claimed there was voter fraud. Everybody in North Dakota knows everybody else for dozens of miles around. It was the Voting Rights Act a Republican Congress passed in 2013 that gives states much more power in policing polling stations so you can bet your wooden-nickels they will enforce the new law on Tuesday.

images-2The Republicans claim people can all get a 911 address and then obtain the proper papers with a “911 street address” on it. The emergency response has designated addresses for people in the state’s 53 counties. 

Many Indians don’t have the means to travel to, nor the money to buy the new ID once they get to an administrative center with their 911 address. There is also a high level of homelessness among them, not to mention many Indians don’t have birth certificates. Tribes are trying to get free ID to voters in time for election day and reach out to those spread around in the prairies and hills.

Why is this election important? Without the Indian vote, it will be hard for Heidi Heitman to win the election and if she loses, the Democrats have no hope of taking back the Senate.

US Unemployment: Figures that Don’t Figure in the National Debate

Real unemployment in the US is much higher than the official figures tell us, perhaps over 20%.

“Figures don’t lie but liars figure!”

images-1When Donald Trump claimed during the 2016 election campaign that real unemployment in the US stood at 42% (click here), he was closer to reality than you may think.  He was using a number called ‘The Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate (click here)‘: all those Americans 16 and over minus prisoners, military, mental health patients, etc.. This figure shows that only 62% of Americans have meaningful employment which is the lowest it has been since the 1970s. In all 102 million Americans are out of work. ( See note 1.)

Both Dems and Reps Hide the Real Figures

Trump’s hyperbola should have sent the press digging because, this time, Trump is right to call the figures ‘Fake News.’ Once adjusted, you should come to an unemployment rate of around 20%, much higher than the 3.6% touted by the Bureau of Labor which only counts those who are on unemployment benefits.

Even by their calculations, if you add those who are no longer eligible for unemployment, those who gave up looking for a job, and those working part-time but would like a full-time job, unemployment would stand at 7.6%, twice the “official” figure. (Click here)

The government added 608,000 people to its “not in the labor force” category in May 2018 or what the web site ‘538’ calls the “official” discouraged workers (click here). We get the 102 million jobless from adding the 95 million “not in the labor force” to the seven million unemployed.  In 2009, a year after the crash, the figure stood at 93 million: 83 million “not in the labor force” plus 12 million unemployed. (click here)

In reality, the fact that 48% of working age Americans are not working is worse than the 1950s and 60s because, back then, a family could survive on one salary. Today both parents have to work to make ends meet. This explains why there are so many working people among the 44 million who live off of Food Stamps and why 23% of American households with one full time job are on Welfare. And lets not forget those who can’t ‘afford to work’, such as welfare mothers whose salaries could not cover child care?

Dems or Reps – Wages Just Go Down

A good indicator that unemployment is so high is that wages are standing still when they are not going down which means there is a large reserve army of labor out there for bosses to choose from (click here and here). In other words, they can keep wages down because so many people want work. Wages count for only 43% of GDP today, down from 52% in 1969 and worst it has been since 1929, according to economists like Paul Kraugman. And don’t forget what those at the top are earning when contemplating that figure.

No, Trump no longer uses this way of calculating now that he is President. It is amazing how much truth he actually spoke to get elected such as when he denounced his competition for being “bought off” by big money. And don’t expect the Democratic leadership to speak the truth either. They get their money from the same financiers, banks and industries as the Republicans.

The Debt Bomb

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Pissing on the truth.

Another sign Americans are not doing well is debt. Household debt stands at $13.3 Trillion which is an all time high and will reach four Trillion by the end of 2018. This does not augur well as interest rates are set to rise and Americans are spending much more than they earn.  Many economists predict they will default on their debt and send us into another crisis. Corporate debt is well over six Trillion dollars. The dominoes are teetering.

With a budget deficit set to reach a Trillion dollars in 2020 ($890 Billion in 2018) and a debt of 21 Trillion, (105% of GDP!) the US government is doing no better. The crazy idea, economists say, is lowering taxes and raising the deficit at the same time while claiming the economy is doing fine. As long as the world thinks the US is safe and continue to buy Treasury Bonds, we can slither by but how long will it take for people to understand we are fast becoming an economic Paper Tiger? Today, 35% of world transactions are in Euros which shows the currency catching up with the dollar at 39%.

Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen, told Congress in November, 2017, that they should be losing sleep over the debt. (click here)

And don’t think they are telling you the truth when they say the Defense budget is $720 Billion either, even though that in itself is outrageous. You need to add at least 500 Billion more in discretionary spending, which includes financing our wars, and other forms of military spending. (click here)

President Eisenhower warned us against the appetite of “The Military Industrial Complex” and its hold on politicians.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 23.14.14If the Democrats win the mid-terms, they may find themselves dealing with a major economic crisis before the 2020 elections. As with Obama in 2008, they would have to fix an economy broken by the Republicans. And of course, they will do so by bailing out their friends on Wall Street on the backs of Americans who can’t pay their bills.

Somehow, both parties have managed to convince Americans that Freedom means total insecurity, that migrants are the reason they suffer, and that tax cuts which benefit the super rich are in their interests.

Please leave a comment.

 

  1. PolitiFact ruled the 42% figure false. I agree but as you can see from the links I put in, they were using different measures. Here’s the link to PolitiFact (here). They eliminate from the count many I include but PolitiFact still end up with 16%-17% unemployment rate which is six times more than the official rate. The reality is, many, many more people are out of work than the figures admit to.
  2. I am not an economist, nor do I pretend to master the subject of unemployment, but I think these things need to be hammered on so that angry Americans understand that they are right to be angry. That is the starting point for any discussion with those people Clinton called “the deplorables” if we want to fight the rise of right wing extremism in the US.