France's streets are filled with garbage and fury. Here's why.


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  one week ago  •  26 comments

By:   Nancy Ing, Bill O'Reilly and Patrick Smith

France's streets are filled with garbage and fury. Here's why.
Protests have erupted in Paris and several other cities in France over President Emmanuel Macron's plans to increase the pension age.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

PARIS — Piles of stinking trash lay next to people sitting in Paris' chic street cafes, uncollected for days. Torched cars and burned out tires litter some of the French capital's roads.

Paris is no stranger to political and popular unrest, but in recent days thousands have taken the streets and stormed police barricades, facing tear gas and water cannons in response.

Protesters across the country are angry about President Emmanuel Macron's long-promised plans to raise the national retirement age from 62 to 64 during an acute cost-of-living crisis, exacerbated by spiralling inflation.

The French government says that with rising life expectancy the reform is essential to ensure that the pension system remains intact. But the policy's critics are not convinced.

230317-france-protests-mb-0743-db520b.jpg Sanitation workers in Paris, angry at plans to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64, are on strike, leaving piles of garbage to go uncollected. Lewis Joly / AP

Their fury only increased after Macron, facing a divided Parliament and lacking the support of the right-wing Republican Party, instructed Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to invoke article 49.3 of the Constitution on Thursday, allowing the legislation to pass without a vote from lawmakers.

Thousands gathered Thursday in Place de la Concorde, which faces the National Assembly building, and sporadic protests persisted into the night. Large plumes of black smoke rose early Friday over Gare du Lyon, a busy rail station on the eastern side of town.

Protests also played out in many towns and cities, including Rennes in the west and the southern port city of Marseilles.

Some 310 people were arrested, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

The next nationwide day of strikes — the eighth in the last three months — is set for next Thursday, unions have said.

In the meantime, the piles of garbage littering Paris' famous streets are a very visible — and pungent — symbol of the anger felt by public-sector workers over the pension plans. Paris City Hall estimates there are some 13,000 tons of it on the streets.

The city's enormous tourist economy continued regardless, with tours of major sites ongoing. But the experience had some added and unwanted features.

Doris Arseguel, navigating a small group of Brazilian tourists through the narrow cobblestone streets of the garbage littered 5th arrondissement, told them to be careful of any rats, which are having a field day.

"It's very difficult to show the beauty of Paris to tourists with all the garbage and barricades," Arseguel, 53, told NBC News. "Paris' beauty is completely covered up now. It's become too much."

The anti-reform cause has also been enthusiastically taken up by young people, who face working longer under tighter financial constraints.

At the prestigious Lycee Henri-IV school in central Paris, around 100 students blocked the entrance Friday morning in protest of the policies of Macron, an illustrious former student.

A stone's throw from the 18th-century Pantheon, the monument that houses the remains of the French philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau, the students clapped and cheered wildly, chanting: "Macron, you're done! Your high school is on the streets!"

"I want to get my voice to be heard because it's the only way we can show we don't agree with what's going on. It's important for the young to tell what they feel because without a voice you don't count," said Emma Mendzesel, 16.

Soren Lafarge, also 16, said the students were making their voices heard despite not having the right to strike or vote in elections.

"We are here to show that we support the movement against the pension reform of the people and that we are all against that kind of system of democracy where you can pass a law without a vote and that we advocate a better democracy," he said.

This week's civil unrest was the capital's worst since the gillet jaunes, or yellow vest, protests in 2018 and 2019, which were triggered largely by the cost of gas but evolved into a populist movement against Macron's centrist, technocratic government.

Those protests ended in a partial U-turn, with Macron scrapping a carbon tax rise. But there is much less chance of him reversing the pension age plan, which was a key manifesto commitment ahead of his re-election win last summer.

230317-france-protests-mb-0742-8066b8.jpg Garbage burns during a protest in Nantes on Thursday, after the government pushed pensions reform through Parliament without a vote.Loic Venance / AFP - Getty Images

But the saga is far from over.

Opposition lawmakers say they will present motions of no-confidence in Prime Minister Borne, who pushed the reform through, calling for her to resign. Parliamentary votes on this are expected over the weekend or on Monday.

But even if they succeed in removing her from office, Macron is unlikely to change course, according to Rainbow Murray, an expert in French politics at Queen Mary University of London.

"Macron is secure, he's elected on a five-year term. But his reputation is damaged. This is obviously bad and not what he wanted. He wanted a parliamentary majority but couldn't achieve it," Murray said.

Borne, she added, "risks being the scapegoat in order to cleanse himself of all this."

Unlike most political leaders in such a febrile situation, it could be that Macron isn't all that worried, Murray said.

"He's well-positioned to do it: he's a second-term president, he can't run for a third, and unlike pretty much every president before him he doesn't care in the same way about his party's legacy because his party was created around him — his party is him." she said.

"I'm sure people within his party are concerned about this, but he doesn't have the loyalty to the bigger picture in the way that others do," Murray said. "In a way he's got political capital to burn, and he's burning it."


jrDiscussion - desc
Sparty On
Professor Principal
1  Sparty On    one week ago

Foreshadowing for big cities all over the US. 

PhD Silent
1.1  SteevieGee  replied to  Sparty On @1    one week ago

Try to get rid of MY social security and I'll be right there with you.

Drinker of the Wry
Sophomore Principal
1.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  SteevieGee @1.1    one week ago

Your SS benefits are safe and secure in a lockbox somewhere.

PhD Guide
1.1.2  Snuffy  replied to  SteevieGee @1.1    one week ago
Try to get rid of MY social security and I'll be right there with you.

Are you drawing SS now?  What will you do if your expected benefits are cut down the road due to a lack of funding to the SS system?

However, the recent 2022 Social Security Trustees report finds that in 2034, retirees will start receiving a reduced benefit if Congress doesn’t fix funding issues for the social program. In other words, Social Security will exist after 2034, but retirees will only receive 77% of their full benefit starting then.

Professor Principal
1.1.3  Tessylo  replied to  Snuffy @1.1.2    one week ago

The republicans/gop/gqp have to stop looting Social Security.

Drinker of the Wry
Sophomore Principal
1.1.4  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Tessylo @1.1.3    one week ago

How are they looting it from the Trust Fund?

PhD Guide
1.1.5  Snuffy  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.4    one week ago

Don't expect an answer, all some have is partisan deflection.

Professor Principal
1.1.6  Texan1211  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.4    one week ago
How are they looting it from the Trust Fund?

Here is an interesting link:

Who Borrowed From Social Security? U.S. Treasury Bonds, Explained (

Professor Principal
1.1.7  Tessylo  replied to  Snuffy @1.1.5    one week ago

Yes that's all you have snuffy.


charger 383
Professor Silent
2  charger 383    one week ago

Something worth protesting and striking about. 

Drinker of the Wry
Sophomore Principal
3  Drinker of the Wry    one week ago
Torched cars and burned out tires litter some of the French capital's roads.

Seems environmentally irresponsible. 

PhD Guide
4  Snuffy    one week ago

Sure wish they would spell out the specifics of the plan.  All I can seem to find is they want to raise it from 62 to 64 and you have to work 43 years to qualify for a full pension.  It is changing for everybody or is there an age cutoff where people above a certain age would be grandfathered in to the old plan?

But yeah, this is a foreshadowing of the US as well.  We've seen the pushback on this site where so many people are against any changes to the Social Security system.  The systems are running out of money and if nothing is done in ten years Social Security will only pay about 77% of a persons expected retirement amount.  It's simple math.  

Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
4.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Snuffy @4    one week ago
It's simple math.  

What's crazy ae the plans that call for raising taxes to increase benefits, rather than use that money to simply shore up the current levels and make sure they are sustainable.  

Reforming SS and other entitlements and making them sustainable is, and has been, the biggest issue facing the country for decades. But its just ignored, and will be until the cuts are mandatory, at which time panic will set in and some crazy ass last minute emergency solution will be tossed together that will undoubtedly cause more problems shortly thereafter. 

PhD Guide
4.1.1  Snuffy  replied to  Sean Treacy @4.1    one week ago

Yep, politicians have always viewed their first and most important job was to do everything they can to be re-elected.  And touching that 3rd rail called Social Security is always held as something to avoid as it only pisses people off and will have a negative impact on their primary job.  So the cowards kick the can down the road and hope it doesn't blow up while they are in office.

I'll be ok with a cut in my SS payments so that's not a bother for me so much due to my savings for retirement, but there are so many people who rely on their SS payments for a major part of their daily expenses so when those cuts come along how many retirees will be out in the cold? The average savings for a 65-74 yo person is $426,070 and for those over 75 the average is $375,920.  While that may seem like a good sum to have in savings, a single medical emergency can easily wipe that out and at our ages the possibility of such a medical issue is higher.

Of greater impact to me will be the cuts in Medicare and how much more we will be forced to pick up on our own down the road.  How much more insurance will we need down the road to cover the cuts to Medicare as the Medicare system is expected to deplete it's funding around 2028.

Junior Principal
5  Hallux    one week ago

The French are politically a hot blooded bunch who never miss an opportunity to trash trash. Tout est de la merde, même Macron!

Sparty On
Professor Principal
6  Sparty On    one week ago

French social spending has been a problem longer than ours.    Now when the government try’s to do the right thing, the kids spit out the medicine.

Thats it in a nutshell 

Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
6.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Sparty On @6    one week ago

Agreed. And I am going to say the unpopular thing, the age of SS in the US needs to be raised. Additionally the SS tax cap needs to be unlimited. I just solved the SS Trust Fund problem.

Oh, and fucking congress, pay back the trillions you owe to the SS fund, that'll help.

Sparty On
Professor Principal
6.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Thrawn 31 @6.1    one week ago

You also gotta set it up so Congress can not longer raid it.    We do that and I’m all for it.   Been saying it for years.    And if you raise the cap, you likely won’t have to the age.

The shysters in congress will never buy any of it though.

Professor Principal
7  JBB    one week ago

Liberty Equality Fraternity 

Drinker of the Wry
Sophomore Principal
7.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JBB @7    one week ago

Les Misérables

Sparty On
Professor Principal
7.2  Sparty On  replied to  JBB @7    one week ago

Viva la free shit ....

Professor Principal
7.2.1  JBB  replied to  Sparty On @7.2    one week ago


Sparty On
Professor Principal
7.2.2  Sparty On  replied to  JBB @7.2.1    one week ago

Pow, bang, zoom!

Captain memes ...... zowie!

Drinker of the Wry
Sophomore Principal
7.2.3  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JBB @7.2.1    one week ago

Magnificent les tetons.

Professor Quiet
8  bbl-1    one week ago

Meanwhile here in America, one political party wants to diminish, end, or increase the age of eligibility of Social Security and the 'old folks' continue their support for that political party.

There it is.  There you have it.  Read em' and weep.

Professor Quiet
9  Ed-NavDoc    one week ago

If I wanted to see all that, I'd just go LA or Portland!


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