Every Side Agrees with the ‘Yellow Vests’ on Something

When a presidents approval rating dips below the 30’s, or in this case to 23%, the world begins to take notice. It would be an understatement to say French President Emanuel Macron is in hot water. Even after 5-weeks of protests and riots, the movement remains at 66,000 strong, down from over 126,000 the previous week.

With such bipartisan distaste for Macron, he has surely done something to anger people from every political ideology. 

Over the last year, Macron has cut the “wealth tax” (corporate taxes and taxes on the upper class), cut regulation, cut pensions, cut hiring/firing regulation, raise the “green taxes” (gas tax), increase investments in new technology, and expedite refugee immigration. Wow, we can all agree there are things we like and dislike in that bundle.

However, we no longer simply deal with the right vs left ideological struggle. Populism, which I must stretch is not a necessarily bad system of beliefs, has made its mark in modern society. Populists believe it is the duty of the government to protect and support the average Joe of the nation. We have right wing populists and left wing populists with similar goals, but radically different approaches. Both see Macron as abandoning them in favor of the “globalist elite.”

The combination of raising taxes and loosening immigration from potentially hazardous areas will rile the populists on the right while welfare reform and tax cuts for the rich will piss off left wing populists.

Dawning yellow safety vests, a symbol associated with the average worker in the country, French people from all sides of the aisle took to the streets in protest. Things quickly turned violent and France endured 5-weeks on continued riots, with no end in sight. Over 2,000 people were detained this weekend by police and countless streets were shut down. 

What makes the movement so unique is the structure. There are no leaders, no organizations in charge, no set demands, the ranks simply consist of disgruntled Frenchmen who found a yellow vest and began marching. Though I do not agree with all they stand for, as no one agrees 100% with such a diverse movement, I respect the grit it took for people to collectively come together in opposition to laws they do not like.

General demands include: raising the minimum wage, subsidies for young workers, and reduction of all taxes. It is hard to imagine how you would want more government handouts and spending all while cutting revenue. This is a prime example of socialists running out of other peoples money.

Macron has made some concessions in hopes of calming bitterness from the popular revolt. He has agreed to raise the minimum wage, cut taxes on overtime pay, and remove a tax on pensions. These measures will increase the French deficit beyond the 3% limit set by the European Union.

These concessions seem to be a continuation of policies which fueled the civil unrest to begin with. It is a roll back on the pro-business provisions he promised while keeping the left-wing immigration and fuel tax laws which grew resentment from the right.

Categories: World News

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