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U. S. passionate about French protests »

Many on the Left have a particular distrust fo...

Many on the Left have a particular distrust for Nicolas Sarkozy; specific "anti-Sarko" movements hav...

Ah, France. A nation known for its passion in food, wine, love…and protests.

Many French citizens have been rallying for days against the proposed increase of their retirement age from 60 to 62, leading to riots, school closings, and the shutdown of a major airport.

What’s interesting is how passionate people here in the U.S. are getting about the French protests. Strong opinions abound in the CNN.com comments, from users envying the French retirement age to saying the protesters should get back to work. And, of course, some commenters are using the story as an opportunity for some good old-fashioned France-bashing…

ntcz: “I am impressed; this has been going on for a few days and the French haven’t surrendered yet?”

RandyF offered a clever reply: “The US would not exist if it were not for the support of the French during the Revolution. Why all the sour grapes about the French? Seems more like jealousy from the 50% of folks who are going to die before they reach 65 from stress, over eating and the general American lifestyle.“

But seriously, RandyF’s sentiments are echoed by many other contributors. Some feel like the U.S. should adopt a system more like France’s, with a relatively low retirement age and increased vacation time.

zeitsev: “Good for them. A nation whose laws and society expect people to have a life, family, and happiness outside of work. Meanwhile, people in America boast working 60 hours a week while they rarely see their children. Yeah, America, good job.”

Z8888: “Retirement at age 62? Still sounds pretty good compared to the U.S. retirement age…which is retire when you are dead.”

And waspoam has a different reason for admiring the French: “There is one thing to be said for the French people…when the government does something the people do not like, they have the balls to protest. In America, all we do is sit around and whine about it.”

Meanwhile, other commenters are calling a retirement age of 60 unrealistic or even lazy.

rkt210: “People are living longer and healthier than they used to. Birth rates are also down. That means that unless the retirement age rises, the pension system is unsustainable. 60 is ridiculously low, and they’re only talking about raising it to 62.”

crazyliz: “France has created a socialist society where the people expect the government to take care of them regardless of what they have ‘paid for’ over the years. So high school kids are revolting because, just like their parents, they expect to be taken care of. America is headed in the same lazy direction. The money is not there. Go work hard and save your money and get out of debt. No one else is going to take care of you. That’s the lesson we need to take from this.”

tdsianac: “The younger French citizens are plotting their own downfall. With prolonged life due to better science in the medical industries, someone who is 21 today may live to 100 years old — on average 80 years from now. Those who are in the streets rioting today should be demanding laws be put into place denying companies the right to force retirement before the age of 80, and not demanding it be kept at 60. Their thinking is very short-sighted.”

glas45: “I love France; however, the French have to realize like we all do that we live into our 80s now. Times have changed, costs increase with the increased older population and the retirement age does have to go up.”

Horgh: “What they should be protesting is nearly 50% taxation for people who want to work, and a social system that enthusiastically subsidizes entire populations who have no desire to work whatsoever.”

jrseygypsy48: “These protestors have disrupted air travel and vehicle travel, the tourist trade, fuel distribution, and general business over the small inconvenience of working two additional years at the age of 60? And now they engage in violent protests in order to make their childish demands heard? No, I will not work until 62….stamp, stamp, stamp….beat my fists….throw my bread and cheese. In order to stabilize the economy there must be some concessions. For too long they have enjoyed government sponsored healthcare, benefits, pensions at 60 and other benefits that have drained the economy. One cannot merely expect that the government will provide for all your needs without some concessions on your part. Stop whining and get back to work.”

And finally, usullivan, who lives in Paris, doesn’t think the protests are really about the pension system at all. He says the French people are using the law as a way to channel their anger towards French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“I have to tell you the truth,” he wrote. “The problem is not the pensions but the president himself. Most of the French people are fed up with Sarkozy and his way of governing the country. And this law is a pretext on which to focus all the anger towards Sarkozy. Young people don’t think about their pensions, but need a real president to lead them towards the future.”

[Some comments have been edited for length and clarity.]

Posted by: rachel8 // 9 hours ago

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