There they go again: blocking traffic, disrupting fuel supplies, marching in protest against . . . against what? Why, against the draconian proposal by the French government that the retirement age be raised from sixty to sixty-two.
Yes, that’s right folks: the mean French government is actually asking French citizens to work for a living. Can you believe it? The next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to overturn the law prohibiting people in France from working more than 35 hours a week. In la belle France, it is (with some exceptions) against the law to work more than 35 hours a week. Nice non-work, if you can get it!
But back to the current protests by students, so-called “workers” (who obviously do very little work), and assorted canaille. President Sarkozy is pulling his hair out over their childish tantrums, and I can’t blame him. I mean, it’s not even springtime, the traditional season of French strikes, protests, etc., and here the children are restless, disrupting air traffic, destroying private property, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
I have a proposition for you, Monsieur le Président. When the United States instituted its social security program back in the 1930s, normal retirement age was 65 and average male life expectancy for whites was somewhere around 68. So the gap between retirement and one’s final reward was, on average, only a few years.
Now, life expectancy in the U.S. has been creeping up. As of 2008, it was close to 79. Retirement age has also been creeping up, only more slowly, doubtless too slowly. Your problem, Mr. President, is that the French retirement age has been creeping down, not up, while your life expectancy has been marching forward. According to the world bank it is now over 81:
Here’s what you should do: offer the children a choice. They want to retire at 60? Fine. Then they agree to a life expectancy of — let’s be generous — 65. If they go to 62, as you propose, let ’em go on till 70. And so on.
It is a modest proposal, but I think you will see its advantages. The children protesting get to retire in their prime, and you get to take hundreds of thousand of superannuated complainers definitively off the rolls at a respectably early age. What could be fairer?