Image via WikipediaCommuters Walloped by Strikes in France, London
Public transit ground to a halt across France and on the London Tube on Tuesday, with tourists and commuters bearing the brunt of a wave of discontent over government austerity measures.
The strikes came as European Union finance ministers met in Brussels amid worries that the government debt crises that alarmed markets worldwide earlier this year could flare up again. The ministers are discussing introducing a levy on banks and whether a tax on financial transactions can deal with another banking crisis.
In France, the strike coincides with the start of debate in parliament over a plan to overhaul the money-losing pension system so it will break even in 2018. The government insists the reform is essential as people are living longer, and it has urged everyone to show "courage" as it tries to chip away at the huge national debt.
The French retirement age of 60 is already among the lowest in Europe. In contrast, neighboring Germany has decided to bump up the retirement age from 65 to 67 and the U.S. Social Security system is gradually raising the retirement age to 67 as well.
Unions were hoping to mobilize 2 million street protesters at more than 200 demonstrations throughout France on Tuesday, at a time when Sarkozy's approval ratings hover in the mid-30 percent range. A similar effort June 24 drew nearly 800,000 people.Enjoying the fruits of socialism is every human being's right; paying for it is someone else's problem.
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