Will French Unrest Spread?

The riots in France are directed at the administration of President Emmanuel Macron. They are emanating from the political left, right and middle class.

The French people have lost confidence in Macron. Two thirds of them believe the government will not be able to unite France.

To date there have been four deaths and 4,000 arrests among the “yellow vest” demonstrators. The original riots were inspired by an increase in fuel taxes, which significantly impacted the middle class and poor of the country. Macron rescinded the tax hike after violence and protest broke out throughout the country.

The beleaguered president also agreed to cut taxes on pensions and promised to “increase wages” for struggling middle class and poor workers in an effort to end civil protest.

The actions of the government have not make a dent in the negative polling of Macron. Fifty seven percent of the people are “not wooed by the young leader.” Sixty percent said the president is not listening to the people. Seventy three percent back the yellow vest movement. Fifty four percent want protests to continue.

The French unrest is reminiscent of the Occupy Wall Street disorder a few years ago. The movement is leaderless and disorganized. It is destructive to property and commerce in the big cities, which is impacting many of the people that, ironically, are supporting the demonstrations.

The poor, the right and the middle class all have gripes with Macron, which account for his horrible polling numbers.

The poor reacted violently to the gas tax hike and have not backed off in spite of the Macron’s actions to rescind the tax and call for higher wages.

The right wing demonstrators are angry about Macron’s progressive perspective towards illegal aliens. This group is encouraging a more nationalistic approach by the government to protect jobs that are being taken by interlopers.

The middle class is in an uproar that the demonstrations have not been controlled. This is resulting in huge losses for merchants and the destruction of stores and vehicles during the holiday sales period.

How does all this violence impact other neighboring countries? In Europe dissatisfaction is growing every day. The poor are protesting difficult economic conditions, while right wing groups are resenting illegals more each day.

Nationalistic fervor will continue to spread to other places. Already we have seen the announced resignation of Angela Merkel in Germany, chaos in the Italian and Spanish governments and an unsuccessful but significant no-confidence vote in Britain. The later situation has all the same issues as France but is exacerbated by problems relating to Brexit.

Is Trump culpable for the growing unrest in countries around the world? The left in the US would say yes. I would disagree and suggest that what is happening was inevitable.

Trump’s nationalistic sentiments are far different than in other places. For one thing the American people are not losing jobs to illegals. Illegals are straining the resources of federal and local governments, but that is of little consequence to lower and middle class Americans.

The US economy is cruising along seemingly immune to the issues in other parts of the world. Unemployment is low, inflation is virtually nonexistent and wages are increasing. Even fuel costs are temperate aided by a seemingly orderly oil market.

Americans have little to complain about. Yet many continue to be focused on income, gender and racial inequality.

The morale of this story is that the US is in relatively good shape, notwithstanding the absurd actions and commentary of our president. Average citizens and politicians disagree about immigration security, disparities among different groups and continued gains made by the affluent.

The US should continue to prosper in 2019, although political strife will not subside. But most importantly we probably won’t experience the kind of nationwide discontent that is overwhelming many other countries.

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