Thursday, October 21, 2010
Americans caught in French protests

High school students stormed the streets of Paris on Thursday, fearing the proposed pension reforms will rob them of jobs in the future. French lawmakers are due to finish voting on a package that would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.

 

American iReporters in France were thrust into the madness, some finding themselves in the midst of the country’s civil unrest.

 

 

Elisa Penner, an American student studying abroad, fled a riot that broke out on Tuesday in Lyon when tear gas inundated the area.

 

“We are all ok and safe now, but transportation has been very much affected,” she said. “All metros and trams have been ordered not to stop at the main stops in town. There is a huge influx in the number of people therefore walking the streets trying to get places, at least in the heart of the city.”

 

 

Elsewhere in Lyon that same day, Mike Masten was walking through Plaza Bellecoure with his girlfriend when they got caught in the middle of a riot. He studied abroad here in 2005 and had returned to the city for a visit at a tumultuous time.

 

“While there were many out creating destruction, it seemed that few were really truly passionate about the ‘cause’ but were rather using the riot as an opportunity to vent anger and frustration at the French authorities,” he commented in his iReport.

 

 

American expat Larry Langner, who lives in Paris, has observed the last protests over the past month and sees the battle as a means for many people to express their thoughts. "However the question remains: Can they get satisfaction? Will they ever be satisfied?"

 

We appreciate hearing about this angle into the French pension protests. If you’re in France, share your images and videos with iReport, but please stay out of dangerous situations.

44 Comments
October 21, 2010
Click to view nlcatter's profile

I love watching thsese idiots

October 21, 2010
Click to view amarjitsingh's profile

French initiative to increase retiring age is misinterpretted & misunderstood.It was better if entry age into jobs could have been increased to force children to educate better for life & entry into jobs. Late retiring by two years meen longer & unproductive or less productive age of two years for working people & creating unemployment & filling in employalabe young children despite fincial resources avalibility of highest paid parents.This point must be considered before increasing retiring age & delay in recruitment of the young & new high tech generation.

October 21, 2010
Click to view Skeptisch1's profile

Many of the people in the photo don't look "French" to me?

October 21, 2010
Click to view dcatty's profile

I love that French people are striking.  Don't you actually have to work first in order to strike?

October 21, 2010

i think they drank to much coffee lol

October 21, 2010
Click to view GotThumbs2's profile

Skeptish1:  Have you ever traveled abroad?   Should they be wearing barets and holding 'French' bread?  What you should notice is the diversity of the crowd.  Its definitely not the US.

October 21, 2010
Click to view ArizonaYank's profile

This is Obama's model for our future...how disheartening.

October 21, 2010
Click to view gaspillage's profile

First, what does French look like and why are they "idiots"?

 

France is a civilized country that nurtures education, a healthy lifestyle, the arts, etc. Retirement is part of their employment contract and is paid into along with healthcare.

 

They work within this contract and recognize work as a means to and ends and not necessarily "living to work".

 

It is a privilege and a fundamental right to contribute to one's economy and receive a reciprocal degree of respect and dignity. Unlike our every man for himself mentality,

France suggests a lifestyle that doesn't depend on a "we're number 1" mentality.

 

This mentality has neither moved the US to a happier country, healthier or more sane.

October 21, 2010
Click to view bolivar6's profile

It is cool they will protest cut backs and we just sit by and take the cut backs/ cost hikes.

October 21, 2010
Click to view jmadisonprez's profile

dcatty in fact the French are FAR more PRODUCTIVE than Americans are. Because they have FAR better work conditions and compensation. America only wishes it was in as good of shape as France is. Personally If I spoke the language Id move from the US to there without a second thought. Happiest people in the world. Look it up.

 

Btw, I used to think the French are arrogant myself but now I realize that in fact Americans are much more arrogant and rude. This nation went to hell because of greedy people who wanted their mansions and didnt care how they got it or what happened to their workers who made their money for them.

 

Most rich people dont work a day in their life.

October 21, 2010
Click to view Aeromechanic's profile

nlcatter, why are they idiots for standing together and demonstrating for something they perceive as a right? If we had the balls and fortitude to do what they are, instead of letting corporations make or break our futures we'd be a lot better off.

October 21, 2010
Click to view ALindor's profile

Okay, many of you posting here as missing the point. At least they are not sitting on their thumbs saying the government is not listening to me. When was the last time you stood up and shut down your country because you believe in something so passionately?

October 21, 2010
Click to view Aeromechanic's profile

Amen ALindor. We should have revolted when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers, we should have struck this entire country when American airlines cut their employees pensions. We need to be more militant.

October 21, 2010
Click to view mboston's profile

What do you think the French look like american idiots

October 21, 2010
Click to view jmadisonprez's profile

The French were and still are the best at keeping their Govt in check. Our people just have big mouths and hot gas.

October 21, 2010
Click to view HIH's profile
HIH

A little revolution is a good thing....Goverments seem to forget why and who they work for.

October 21, 2010
Click to view jmadisonprez's profile

Anyone who reads about France and understands the freedoms they have and economic stability and still thinks America is the better place to live is delusional. France is very stable and the people are happy and in a much better position than Americans are.

 

America has become a slave state to Corporations, the rich and rightwing idiots.

October 21, 2010
Click to view JBSac's profile

jmadisonprez, is things there were as good as you claim, it seems to me you would move there and learn the language.  So, by all means go, be happy.

October 21, 2010
Click to view jmadisonprez's profile

JBSac I am indeed considering it. I wish it was as easy as it sounds to do so. Ive about given up on America. Its descending into a wreck of greed and chaos.

October 21, 2010
Click to view gaspillage's profile

I agree with Jmadisonpres - I wish I could move as well. He/she is right, it is not as easy as it sounds.

 

BTW - I have learned the language.

October 21, 2010

That idiot who said the people in the photo don't look French to him-Tell me what does a French person look like?

October 21, 2010

nclatter-

At least the French are protesting and fighting for what they want-What about you.?Why dont you get up off your fat behind and do something.

October 21, 2010
Click to view DrGreg's profile

jmadisonprez:  I would be happy to pay for your one way ticket to France.  It would be my contribution to a better society in the USA.

October 21, 2010
Click to view gaspillage's profile

EXCELLENT CYPRESS GIRL

 

(btw - married in cypress in 1976)

October 21, 2010
Click to view madashl's profile

I just returned from a three week vacation in France a week ago when things were still quiet. In answer to the person who said that many of the protesters don't look "French"... I was astounded by the population of folks from "third world" countries that now call France home. Almost every town of any size I traveled through had citizens from Africa and the middle east. The world's population is definitely becoming homogenized.

October 21, 2010
Click to view Voltairine's profile

Those that currently protest in France have a lot more guts than We the People. They are on their Fifth Republic, and we submit to remain slaves of the corporate beast that has made a flailing, dull-witted grotesque out of “our” government and sheep of our people.

 

The people of France should force their government to take every franc they need to keep their retirement age precisely where it is completely out of the obscenely profitable hide of the corporate beast and if they don’t like it, then remove them both.

 

The people should never fear their governments, or the corporations; they should fear us!

 

Let no government or its usurpers ever put any above the people, least the sword of Anarchy be drawn and set alight a righteous revolution!

 

Long live humankind! Long live the people of France! Long live liberty!

 

Vive l'humanité! Vive le peuple de France! Vive la liberté!

 

- Julie Labrouste

 

"For it must needs that offences come, but woe to him through whom the offence cometh." The crimes of the future are the harvests sown of the ruling classes of the present. Woe to the tyrant who shall cause the offense!

 

Sometimes I dream of this social change. I get a streak of faith in Evolution, and the good in man. I paint a gradual slipping out of the now, to that beautiful then, where there are neither kings, presidents, landlords, national bankers, stockbrokers, railroad magnates, patentright monopolists, or tax and title collectors; where there are no over-stocked markets or hungry children, idle counters and naked creatures, splendor and misery, waste and need. I am told this is farfetched idealism, to paint this happy, povertyless, crimeless, diseaseless world; I have been told I "ought to be behind the bars" for it.

 

Remarks of that kind rather destroy the white streak of faith. I lose confidence in the slipping process, and am forced to believe that the rulers of the earth are sowing a fearful wind, to reap a most terrible whirlwind. When I look at this poor, bleeding, wounded World, this world that has suffered so long, struggled so much, been scourged so fiercely, thorn-pierced so deeply, crucified so cruelly, I can only shake my head and remember:

 

The giant is blind, but he's thinking: and his locks are growing, fast.

 

- Voltairine de Cleyre

 

October 21, 2010
Click to view thadea's profile

@amarjitsingh - sure it is...thats why when they raise it a second time over here...you will be the first to grab your ankles

October 21, 2010
Click to view mattsopinion's profile

I just got back from a business trip to France where I work closely with a small business owner in Paris.  I have a pretty different opinion of what is going on there than Jmadisonprez.

 

First, I'm not sure where he/she is getting their data, but the French are not far more productive than Americans.  I'd like them to state where they got their information.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in a report delivered last year using 2008 data, the US has quite a bit higher GDP per employed person.  Granted the US laborer works more hours, but even converted to GDP per hour worked, the US was slightly higher than France.  Hardly "FAR" more productive.

 

Second, I'm not sure all of America shares their sentiment about the state of France vs. the US.  Don't get me wrong, I love France and the French people but they have their own problems as evidenced by the issues there this week.  If jmadisonprez really wants to live there and is serious about it, they should take some French lessons and go for it.  There really shouldn't be anything holding them back unless they are just full of hot air.  However, I doubt they'd see a long line of other Americans following them.  I have many close friends in the US from France, South Africa, Germany, England, and other countries.  Surprisingly, most of them are opting to become American citizens.  One of my Dutch friends said it best, "America isn't perfect, but it is a wonderful place to live".

 

Finally, I'm not quite sure what he/she means by "most rich people never worked a day in their life".  I guess they'd be referring to the wealthy who have inherited their money.  These people exist both in the US and other countries like France.  However, I'm not sure I'd agree with the term "most".  Rather I think most people who have achieved a relatively comfortable level of wealth in the US work quite hard for their money and have usually achieved it through ingenuity, determination, and hard work.  This is something the French culture is losing.  With a 35 hour work week and retirement at 60, they may be happy but they are also losing the ability to understand what hard work really means and instead see everything they get as an entitlement.  I don't believe having everybody in a society work 60 hours a week is a good thing, but I'm not sure France's opposite approach is much better.

October 21, 2010
Click to view jmadisonprez's profile

DrGreg, pay for my French lessons, moving expenses for a family of 4 and I will gladly take you up on your offer to move me to France. Please leave an email address to contact you at

October 21, 2010
Click to view USMC79's profile

High school kids in France are worried about their future jobs so they protest. Our high school kids can't even spell and are worried about what Miley Cyrus is doing!

October 21, 2010
Click to view thadea's profile

@Voltairine - well said. The quality of life of the majority should not take a backseat to government/corporate affairs

October 21, 2010
Click to view cheddar33's profile

@ Cypressgirl ... you're hot!

 

Protest all you want but WHY destroy businesses and cars that belong to normal citizens like yourself ... that's where you just become idiotic and lose support!!

October 21, 2010
Click to view Yea's profile
Yea

I only thought such type of violent protest happened in undeveloped countries like Nepal.  Boy was I wrong.

October 21, 2010
Click to view sanjosemike's profile

The French: "Buy me, bring me, give me, take me." (For free of course) sanjosemike

October 21, 2010
Click to view madashl's profile

Kudos to mattsopnion. I travel overseas often (leisure) and on my travels get to know many folks and hear their thoughts and comments. if you think America and American citizenship is not envied by a (large) majority of folks worldwide, you're mistaken.

 

October 21, 2010
Click to view veejmar31's profile

jmadisonprez,

I understand your frustration, but I don't think it's fair to say that Americans are more arrogant and rude unless you've lived in both countries for an extensive amount of time. Every country is going to have it's share of such people. America is going through tough times and while I can't blame you for wanting to be happy, I've always found that the grass isn't always greener. I don't think you'll find a completely happy, perfect country anywhere. Having been to France, I found that my stereotypical beliefs were (happily) unfounded. The people there were friendly and helpful to this American tourist - probably because I treated them with respect and showed how grateful I was for their assistance. It's the same way in America--yes, there are arrogant morons aplenty, but for the most part people are friendly and helpful and if history tells us anything, it's that America rebounds when times are tough and I am confident it will again. If you do decide to move to France, then all the best. Can't blame anyone for wanting to and trying to be happy.

 

On a lighter note, as a Yankee fan, I like that there's a guy wearing a Yankee cap in the bottom photo.

October 21, 2010
Click to view jmadisonprez's profile

sanjosemike- dont buy into the typical rightwing propaganda about how the french are lazy and want everything free. Thats just a pack of lies spread by people who dont want Americans to get the same ideas because it means more money out of the pockets of the wealthy and into the homes of the workers.

 

Screw the rich. They have bled us dry as a nation

October 21, 2010
Click to view windwalker96's profile

Ok, ive read enough posts. I think the average age of the posters is probably around 20-23, I can tell by the comments. So im to believe from these comments that; 1) France is more productive than the US (can anyone name me 5 things France has given the world in the last 50 years that most people will recognize?)2)France has a stable society?? (All those people who were rioting in the streets of Paris a few years back because of the 40% unemployment rate among foreign born people, who are all compressed into the countries ghettos, this was before the world economy took a nose dive, and you dont have those rates here.)3)These people are RIOTING, not just protesting, for "something they perceive as right"??? The person reporting said he was surrounded by high school kids. How many highschool kids are worried about how their life will be at 30, let alone 60. 4)Frances government/economy is more stable than the US, so they must be raising the retirement age because they like the soft glow of tire fires in the street. Get out of your psudo-intellecutal heads, and see reality.

October 21, 2010
Click to view SSIStCajetan's profile

"That point in misery that makes the oppressed man regardless of his own safety-makes him too lord of the oppressor" 

October 21, 2010
Click to view Irishbagpipe's profile

I agree with Matt's opinion.  I'm also not sure many of the people commenting on this post have been to France.  Their quality of life is NOT better.  Have you lived with a lower middle class French family?  No.  I have and the conditions were horrible.  Most people barely make enough to pay rent and Parisians live in tiny apartments.  At least here you have the option to buy and mortgage a house.  The French force all of their minorities i.e. the Arabs into the slums of Paris.  Not to mention French people are extremely racist.  Many French people do work hard, but they have lost their way.  The populace expects the Government to provide them with a comfortable life.  Where in the Constitution or rationale in general, is comfort guaranteed? Every country was built by toil, and civilization will continue to evolve in the same way.  IT IS UNFAIR that there are rich people.  Life is not fair.  You just try to do the best you can and do something you find pride in.  Sarkozy is trying to keep France from going bankrupt like Greece.  The French people fail to understand let alone care about this.  IMO they need to get rid of the whole government paid retirement thing...it will be the end of them.

October 21, 2010
Click to view Irishbagpipe's profile

veejmar31 for President!!  oh and go Rangers. Claws out!

October 21, 2010
Click to view windwalker96's profile

jmadisonprez; what are you smoking. I really hope you mentioned wife and 4 kids for effect, because you sound around 16 years old. Your only answer to the facts laid to you were to ask for the poster to pay for you. Im waiting for you to start calling people "fat cats". What's with all the hyperbolic "Evil Corperations" about?

October 21, 2010
Click to view LordDG's profile

I honestly commend the French citizens in standing up for what they believe is right. Sadly that same exuberant spirit is lacking in the United States. Everybody is so quick to say things are wrong and that somebody should fix it but hardly anybody does anything about it.

 

People are so easy to forget that WE THE PEOPLE, have the power to fix the problems that we aren't happy about by demonstrations, protests and other such methods. The citizens of a country give up some of their personal rights in order for a government to provide them the essentials that the people believe they want and need.

 

It's even mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

 

I'll be waiting to see how everything turns out for the French citizens.

October 21, 2010
Click to view petervujin's profile

Yeah rite! Since the War of Northern Invasion (US Civil War) all our citizens have been degraded to consumers. Thats a step above bondage. Our government does not derive its power from our consent - thats ludicrous today! Long gone is the Old Republic. Nowadays, the brainwashing propaganda machinery prohibits most Americans from even thinking. Thats good for the elite. Automatons don't complaint, protest or rebel. They just take the 'news' drink the 'beer' and enjoy their 'life'.

Like Jefferson and Franklin, we have a lot to learn from France. I support the French in this protest, and I wish that we could learn the lesson, too. The elite needs us - its cattle - to live. No play and all work makes us dull boys. If we stopped working, like the French, they would listen. Thats the only way to succeed. Otherwise, we can all expect our whole society to fail and then our elite will be replaced by a Chinese elite and then...well I told you so.

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