Operation Escargot and French pension reform
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As public pension systems all over the world face growing shortfalls, some countries have taken steps to close the gap. In France, a movement to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 has passed the National Assembly and awaits approval in the Senate. Unwilling to concede to those that argue the French are living longer and the financial trajectory of the French pension system is unsustainable, the general public has undertaken a series of protests that are crippling….the general public.
Truckers have instituted “Operation Escargot,” a “time-honored” form of protest for the French. This involves trucks forming slow-moving convoys on major roads between Paris, Lille, and Angers, clogging the roads, stopping traffic, and causing everything to slow to a snail’s pace.
In a more impactful protest, oil refinery employees have stopped working causing many fuel stations to run out of gas. French drivers have started to line up at stations, fearing widespread shortages. Incoming flights are being told to bring extra fuel for their return legs.
Even students as young as high-school age refuse to be left out, turning to burning tires and cars. “I don’t understand these young people who don’t know who they’re fighting against and why they are doing it. If they want to fight it, ok. But they have to understand the meaning of what they’re doing,” said a woman whose car was burnt out by students.
But we’d expect all this from the French, right? They are a generally passionate populace, after all. Though, it begs the question: when faced with the necessary cuts to bring our current fiscal crisis under control, will we respond a bit more maturely?