[Discussion] European Politics Discussion

European Politics discussion

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Next door in Germany, it's being increased from 65 to 67 (which the video mentions), and some are talking about the need to go to 69 to stabilize pensions.
I've already accepted 67 for myself, but that's gotta be the upper limit for sure, unless they start to reverse biological and mental aging (which they apparently can in mice now).

It's already 66 years here in the UK and will increase to at least 67 by the time I retire. I suspect it'll be a few more years than that

Yeah, my expected retirement age is 69, and it has been designed to go up with average life expectancy, so younger generations will likely have even higher ones unless something changes (which it should, 69 is already getting too high).
That said, increasing the low retirement age in France seems like the right choice to me.
Spend that money better tbh. And yeah, that includes spending it on those who are not able to work to retirement age, because of health issues (preferably before the health issues get severe, thank you very much...)
I am 'leftish', but France has various kinds of worker "rights", especially when it comes to unions, that to me seem more harmful than beneficial overall. Macron might very much be an ass who just want to make the rich richer, but most of the policies I have ever heard come from Macron on this topic seems to be in line with what we have here, where unions are not exactly destroyed and worker rights are decent, for however long that might last... That fight never ends of course.

I’m not exactly sure why you’re using quotes on rights, Shadout. And I’m not sure why you’re vilifying unions so much when they’re literally the only ones stepping up to defend workers. Honestly, you don’t sound so “left leaning.”

The French pension plan system isn’t as unbalanced as the government would have you believe. Macron’s admitted aim is to take money from people’s work to inject it elsewhere. And to “reinstate the value of work.”
Raising the age of retirement (and that is just one reform and the most visible one, most news stories are completely forgetting the rest of the reforms, namely the increase of trimesters to apply for full pension) is a profoundly unjust measure, especially for the underprivileged who stay in low paying, physically demanding jobs for decades. On a personal note, I’m already going to be working I to the grave because I started working late and have massive bills for my son’s care, my son who will most likely never be independent. So I don’t feel personally concerned.
The government says “oh, but the worker health doctors can assess them”, completely forgetting that we don’t have enough of those (due to massively stupid policies from right leaning governments over the past decades). Not to mention that assessing someone at the end of their career, well… that’s all well and good, but it’s too little too late.

And the age of retirement may be raised in neighboring countries but so is the rate of poverty among the elderly.

A lot of us are asking that the larger fortunes get increased taxes, that would be a nice place to start if he needs to get money.

Edit: the next strike might be the 31st, but there’s an ongoing march going on today. Could make up for all the people who couldn’t strike on Thursday for financial reasons (and I know a lot of them). Striking isn’t free, it costs you a day’s wages.

Eleima wrote:

I’m not exactly sure why you’re using quotes on rights, Shadout. And I’m not sure why you’re vilifying unions so much when they’re literally the only ones stepping up to defend workers. Honestly, you don’t sound so “left leaning.”

Absolutely all workers should join a union, and yeah, for that reason.
Was using quotes because it seems to me like some unions in France, also elsewhere, have acquired, or are fighting for, rights that end up hurting workers more than they help. Each union fighting too much for their own small group instead of workers broadly. To me, the French job market seems inflexible, potentially hurting young employees who are trying to get their first job, which is a tragedy that will hunt them, and society, for their entire life (I know, increasing retirement age might seem like it would hurt youth employment, but tbh that generally dont seem to be the case if we look to other countries. Inflexibility seems to cause more unemployment in both ends of the spectrum).

Raising taxes is always a solution worth considering, but both France, and Denmark, are afaik already in a close fight on who have the highest taxes in the world. Which is good, but there is also a limit to how much you can squeeze out of everyone.

Eleima wrote:

Raising the age of retirement (and that is just one reform and the most visible one, most news stories are completely forgetting the rest of the reforms, namely the increase of trimesters to apply for full pension) is a profoundly unjust measure, especially for the underprivileged who stay in low paying, physically demanding jobs for decades.

That certainly might be. Was only saying I thought raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 seemed very reasonable. Not the whole package.

If you can be bothered, it would be interesting to get an explanation about the trimester thing, and its effect. Tried to google it, but didn't get much wiser on what was changing.

But I did seem to find that the pension rates in France depends on your wages before retirement...? That seems profoundly unfair to me.
On the other hand, I found some numbers showing France having fairly low 'retirement poverty', so maybe the above is not as impactful as it sounds to me. Always hard to compare these systems, as they tend to be insanely intricate in each country. In general, looking at OECD data, it seems like the French pension system has a very good coverage and rates, compares to for example the German system.

Eleima wrote:

On a personal note, I’m already going to be working I to the grave because I started working late and have massive bills for my son’s care, my son who will most likely never be independent. So I don’t feel personally concerned.

I am sad to hear that, but isn't it also an example of where money could be better spend, so individuals dont have to bear the cost of those massive bills themselves? Even if the cost is that most people need to work longer, or yeah, pay higher taxes. At least that should be the primary goal imo, protect those who are struggling the most, no matter if it is due to health, no/low income or whatever else life has caused.

And, to return to the unions, same there, I'd certainly rather have my union, or other unions representing relatively high wage workers, be less egoistic, and consider the struggles of other unions whose members are worse off than their own. In Denmark one of the larger worker/union-related issues these years is health care workers (in particular nurses, eldercare and such) claim they are underpaid (and seem to be quite right about it), demanding higher wages, as well as better work conditions (since, well, healthcare is, as I believe you know much better than I do, an extremely high stress environment). Because I work in local government my wage, and the wage of nurses are, in some sense paid from same box. I very much would want my union to consider their own demands compared to the demand of those groups next time there is collective bargaining going on, so those unions who might have struggled to get fair deals in the past might get a chance to catch up. Instead of each union forever after fighting to preserve their own status quo rights.
Another case to me, was the teacher union in Denmark some years ago, striking because they couldn't reach an agreement with the state employers (sadly ending with parliament ending the strike after some time, enforcing a new agreement). With some of us looking at the teachers agreements and thinking they might not be the ones who should be striking, compared to others, due to work conditions they have managed to get over the years, that would be unheard of anywhere else.
Not all workers, nor unions, are equal. So yeah, I will be critical of unions who I dont think are acting responsible, but might be preserving inequalities that should not be there.

Edit: And I am sorry if anything I said above comes off as offensive. It is of course much easier to sit on the outside looking into a conflict, vs. living with the stress and uncertainty of it.
I also think my 'bad Engrish' sometimes causes me to pick English words or sentences that might be harsher or more one-sided than I intended, so likewise sorry if anything I write sounds overly dismissive. It usually is not intended

It should only be 69 if you have a partner.

Or they could let in refugees.

Just a thought.

Paleocon wrote:

Or they could let in refugees.

Just a thought.

Always in favor of that, but how would it help in this particular situation? (well, other than helping the refugees obviously)

Shadout wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

Or they could let in refugees.

Just a thought.

Always in favor of that, but how would it help in this particular situation? (well, other than helping the refugees obviously)

The reason they are having issues because they all have shrinking populations and are unable to fund retirements, increasingly expensive medical entitlements, and services on the decreasing tax revenues you get from a smaller worker pool. If they provide meaningful paths to citizenship for refugees (who are generally more skilled and motivated than your average citizen anyway), you stand a decent chance of salvaging your social contract. Otherwise, you're stuck with an aging population unable to to replace itself or afford its promises.

But aren't the Japanese the teensiest bit xenophobic? A bit slow to embrace change? The reasonable course may run into unreason.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

But aren't the Japanese the teensiest bit xenophobic? A bit slow to embrace change? The reasonable course may run into unreason.

The Japanese have been in recession since the 1980's.

Untrue, and presumably wrong thread :p.

Paleocon wrote:

The reason they are having issues because they all have shrinking populations and are unable to fund retirements, increasingly expensive medical entitlements, and services on the decreasing tax revenues you get from a smaller worker pool.

France seems to have a fairly high unemployment rate though. Wouldn't that be the much bigger issue in this case.
For countries that are currently slamming into the nearly full employment wall on the other hand, yeah, get more people in from abroad as soon as possible.

High unemployment rate? It's at 7%, it's not even in the double digits, and it's decreasing.

Shadout wrote:

Absolutely all workers should join a union, and yeah, for that reason.
Was using quotes because it seems to me like some unions in France, also elsewhere, have acquired, or are fighting for, rights that end up hurting workers more than they help. Each union fighting too much for their own small group instead of workers broadly. To me, the French job market seems inflexible, potentially hurting young employees who are trying to get their first job, which is a tragedy that will hunt them, and society, for their entire life (I know, increasing retirement age might seem like it would hurt youth employment, but tbh that generally don't seem to be the case if we look to other countries. Inflexibility seems to cause more unemployment in both ends of the spectrum).

I'm very curious as to where you're getting your information, because all of the above is, simply put, false. What you are calling inflexibility is actually protection. You say "many unions protecting a small group" and yet they're fighting for the rights of all.

Shadout wrote:

Raising taxes is always a solution worth considering, but both France, and Denmark, are afaik already in a close fight on who have the highest taxes in the world. Which is good, but there is also a limit to how much you can squeeze out of everyone.

And yet, we have retired folks who have upwards of 4k€ a month pensions who are going on the radio and VOLUNTEERING to pay more taxes. I listen to two local radio shows and there are more options, it's just the government doesn't want to target the demographic that votes for them. Boomers are the ones who have been coasting their entire lives, taking advantage of the system their entire lives, and they should maybe start giving back a little. The CAC40 companies are also good candidates as a source.

Shadout wrote:

That certainly might be. Was only saying I thought raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 seemed very reasonable. Not the whole package. If you can be bothered, it would be interesting to get an explanation about the trimester thing, and its effect. Tried to google it, but didn't get much wiser on what was changing.

The trimester thing is a complicated calculation process that rests on how long you've been working and when. If you've worked five trimesters before the age of 20, you can reduce the working time by 3 and a half years, etc, etc, that kind of thing. The rules are so complex, and take account unemployment, and taking breaks for childcare, and they're just so convoluted, that it's impossible to explain them briefly here. Simply put, they want to massively increase the time we work and are removing parameters that take into account the difficulty of a job (say, factory work, physically strenuous stuff).

Shadout wrote:

But I did seem to find that the pension rates in France depends on your wages before retirement...? That seems profoundly unfair to me.
On the other hand, I found some numbers showing France having fairly low 'retirement poverty', so maybe the above is not as impactful as it sounds to me. Always hard to compare these systems, as they tend to be insanely intricate in each country. In general, looking at OECD data, it seems like the French pension system has a very good coverage and rates, compares to for example the German system.

Shadout wrote:
Eleima wrote:

On a personal note, I’m already going to be working I to the grave because I started working late and have massive bills for my son’s care, my son who will most likely never be independent. So I don’t feel personally concerned.

I am sad to hear that, but isn't it also an example of where money could be better spend, so individuals don't have to bear the cost of those massive bills themselves? Even if the cost is that most people need to work longer, or yeah, pay higher taxes. At least that should be the primary goal imo, protect those who are struggling the most, no matter if it is due to health, no/low income or whatever else life has caused.

We could go on about healthcare, but that's an entirely separate subject, in truth. I already touched upon it in my previous post, but the governments have systematically dismantled the public healthcare system piece by piece, and we're well on our way to doing as badly as the NHS. My own personal situation is also a separate matter which has no bearing on the broader picture, I only meant to say that I'm thinking and speaking for the "many", as I myself will not be impacted by this reform.

Shadout wrote:

Not all workers, nor unions, are equal. So yeah, I will be critical of unions who I don't think are acting responsible, but might be preserving inequalities that should not be there.

That might be seen as the case, and some unions here in France have certainly been accused of it, but you have to keep in mind that equality is also accommodating different needs. You can't have the same attitude or stance with a group of workers who are sitting at a desk all day in a low pressure environment, and, say, people who run metros and trains, or healthcare workers, or air traffic controllers, where mistakes can cost lives, and working conditions can be downright appalling. Some jobs take a bigger tolls than others, that's just the way it is, and pretending otherwise would be wrong. That's why, for historical reasons, we have some unions that are more... aggressive? than others.

The way unemployment is measured is also important. A French 7 is pretty close to an American 3.

Eleima wrote:

High unemployment rate? It's at 7%, it's not even in the double digits, and it's decreasing.

Sure, but compared to Germany etc. It is not crazy high, just higher. My point being; it hardly seems like what France is lacking is more workers (which to be fair, could also be used as an argument against increasing retirement age).

Paleocon wrote:

The way unemployment is measured is also important. A French 7 is pretty close to an American 3.

Agreed, US unemployment measurement set themselves apart quite a bit afaik. Could maybe use labor participation rate instead. I think this is less of an issue when comparing between most EU countries though.

Eleima wrote:

And yet, we have retired folks who have upwards of 4k€ a month pensions who are going on the radio and VOLUNTEERING to pay more taxes. I listen to two local radio shows and there are more options, it's just the government doesn't want to target the demographic that votes for them.

I just doubt those cases will add up to much, there isn't enough of them.

The one tax I really want to see applied across EU, and preferably most of the world, is a financial transaction tax. I believe France already got one though. But probably too easy to avoid it when only some countries apply it. Got to start somewhere however.

Eleima wrote:

You can't have the same attitude or stance with a group of workers who are sitting at a desk all day in a low pressure environment, and, say, people who run metros and trains, or healthcare workers, or air traffic controllers, where mistakes can cost lives, and working conditions can be downright appalling. Some jobs take a bigger tolls than others, that's just the way it is, and pretending otherwise would be wrong. That's why, for historical reasons, we have some unions that are more... aggressive? than others.

Yeah, I guess that is also what I meant, traditionally many of the high stress, and harsh work condition jobs, have lagged behind in both wages, and well, improving those work conditions. Being aggressive as a union is good, when there is legitimate things to fight for (as those above). Of course, somewhat subjective whether a reason are legitimate Used a teacher union example previously where it to me felt like they were being aggressive on preserving unreasonable privileges, but another might be a union/group that is ahead in wages, for no 'good reason', and another group who is behind manage to finally get a decent wage increase closing the gap a bit (could be the nurses I used as an example), the former group (like a legal/administration worker union) now demands an equal wage increase, to preserve the gap.

Eleima wrote:

I'm very curious as to where you're getting your information, because all of the above is, simply put, false. What you are calling inflexibility is actually protection. You say "many unions protecting a small group" and yet they're fighting for the rights of all.

It comes from many places, but some of it is expressed in the article below. Although it is arguing against going down the route I would argue for, but none the less...
(and whether these views are right might of course be debatable)

https://www.ft.com/content/29895d84-...

For many labour market economists, French unions are simultaneously too strong and too weak to support a Nordic-style system. They bargain aggressively on behalf of a small minority and can block lay-offs at company level. But they are too fragmented, and have too few members, to co-operate and take responsibility for management.

That is pretty close to the impression I have gotten of the French unions. Rightfully or not.

As Stefano Scarpetta, director of employment and labour at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, says: “Danish unions regard themselves as responsible for the unemployed as well as existing workers, and for skills as well as jobs.”

The French system is in sharp contrast. Although France’s economy has high productivity, it generates too few jobs and has high unemployment. A classic example of a “two-tier” labour market, it has a core of well-protected employees and a periphery of lower paid insecure workers, many self-employed.

The state of British politics:

A man who was - briefly - our chancellor, has been sacked after committing massive tax fraud, being found out and having to go through a multi-million pound settlement with the HMRC.

Only the best people!

Isn't this, like, a Tory rite of passage? Just like for Republicans in the US...

The Republicans usually don't face consequences though.

That's why they are role models.

Stay through to the end for Jacob Rees-Mogg arguing that "Brexit is going extremely well."

It truly is one of the few things going well for Putin these days.