The problems in France

My girlfriend landed in Paris last Monday. She’s staying at my favorite (Almost spelled that one favourite!) little hotel and taking in the sites before a trip to Lourdes she makes every year with her husband’s family.

I have to wonder what she’s seeing. I can’t say it sounds like a great time to be in Paris.

The thing that confuses me the most is the way the media is covering this thing. For Americans the French strikes are being sung as a laughable “poor France” tune because the retirement age is rising from 60 to 62. Most leave out the fact that age is for partial benefits. Don’t we in the US still have an age 62 partial benefit option? For full benefits, the age in France is proposed to move from 65 to 67.

That would be just like the US moving Social Security from 65 to 67. And yes, that might cause a little trouble here at home. But it didn’t.*

What’s clear is that France is preparing to make the hard decisions necessary to salvage their country’s finances. What isn’t clear is the why the American media is spinning this thing.

As I’ve mentioned before, I think these changes and the public reaction to them are important to watch. I just can not believe that we are far from the necessity of raising the benefit ages again here at home.

*One of you called to make sure I clarified this one. We did raise retirement ages once already back in 1983 to a staggered system we have now where the oldest age for retirement is 67.