Friday, October 22, 2010

The Froggy apocalypse continues

More rolling strikes and national days of action are planned as the country waits for its Senate to vote on the bill to raise the retirement age by two years.

Let's get a message from the French street:

"I am 44 and I don't want to work until I am 62 or 67," teacher Odile Jaquet told the Associated Press news agency. "I am still young: I still have to work for another 18 years, and in my industry, I don't think that I will be able to work much longer."

Some comments:

First, let me point out to Odile that by saving and investing, one can build one's own (this would be worded less awkwardly if I had any idea what gender the name Odile connotes) financial assets and choose one's own retirement age. Waiting for the state's permission is not the only possible option. I don't want to work until I'm 67 either and have taken a series of steps to try and insure that I won't have to, whatever Uncle Sam may do to his official "retirement age".

Second, being a 52 year old teacher, I wonder what it is about our industry that would cause a 44 year old teacher to say "I don't think I will be able to work much longer". Maybe Odile just got done grading a bunch of mid-terms, that often makes me think the end is near.

Third, is this action being phased in over time or does it just hit everyone at once? If I was 59.5 and planning to retire, I'd be seriously pissed. At age 44, Odile still has a chance to make financial decisions that would allow retirement at 60 instead of 62 (or 65 instead of 67).

Fourth, I would reckon that this small raising of the retirement age is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the eventual retrenchment of the French welfare state. I wonder what kind of protests will occur when the big stuff starts to come down?


Anonymous said...

Odile = she.

A few months ago, I was talking to an Illinois public high school teacher who makes $60,000 a year. (About the same as some college Associate Professors, i.e. yours truly.) He was complaining about mooted plans to raise the retirement age, saying people in his field suffered from "burnout" after 20 years. (Well, the same goes for college profs who can retire as early as 55 in Illinois.)

Anonymous said...

Odile is a woman's name. dave.s.

dangph said...

Handy hint: To find out the gender of a name, type it into Google Images and see if dudes or chicks come up.

Pelsmin said...

This issue really highlights a major difference in cultural values between France and the US.
The US values the right to work, as evidenced by 1) difficulty in enforcing non-compete agreements for all but the most senior people (juries rarely rule against worker) 2) all of the laws ensuring that anyone be "accomodated" in the workplace, i.e. if you are handicapped, they need to make sure you can still do your job, etc.
France values vacations (the right to not work), early retirement (the right to not work), crippling strikes (the right to not work), and 35 hour workweeks (the right to not work). As a result, 10% of the population have enjoyed that right for a generation. Not just during the current crisis, but through every boom.

Damien said...

These protests are ridiculous but she does have a point. I don't know how things are at OU but high school teaching is quite different from teaching in college. There's much more to do to maintain control over your classroom, which has basically always been a sure thing for me in college. On average, college students are much less disruptive, much more interested in what you have to say, and have other options besides being disruptive if they don't like your class (e.g. not bothering to show up; their parents are miles away and can't do anything about it).

Even outside formal education settings, I've always found it much more taxing to work with teenagers rather than young adults.

This is not to say that high school teachers should retire on everyone else's money at age 50.