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Monday, July 18, 2011

Frugal in France: Choc! Part Deux

After giving the French a culture shock about the absence of a mandated 5 week vacation, I was the recipient of a shock. Our hosts were retired. One daughter had two young children and was, as she said, paid not to work.

I turned to the three well-educated 30-somethings at the table (Emile, son of our hosts, Elodie, his amie, and their friend ?? who was so sullen that we never asked her name). "Are you on vacation now?" I asked. Much laughter. "We're not on vacation because we don't work."

I was a little embarrassed and said something about how that was too bad, the economy was bad, blahblahblah.

One said, "Not too bad for us! We don't want the stress of a job." Then they explained that they live on government benefits.

More shock when they asked about such benefits in the USA.

Well, dear readers. You need to know that I am way to the left of most Americans. Perhaps my latent Puritan work ethic emerged.

Are you shocked? If so, at me, at them, or what?

9 comments:

Marcela said...

That's the big debate in Europe, the abuse of social benefits, and why Germany -and other countries alike- are moving towards the right. I am all for social benefits, paid vacations, free education and health insurance, and a proper maternity AND paternity leave. To go beyond that, I just don't see how an economy can survive...maybe it's just me...

Artful Lawyer said...

HOLY CRAP! I think that I've had 2.5 days off this year (maybe 3). We had a vacation in 2009. I'm so fried I'm ready to combust again.

That said, I also cannot understand how a national economy can withstand people who choose not to work. Boggles the mind.

une femme said...

While I do lean to the left politically and support a strong public safety net (and worker protections!), I also have a strong work ethic and belief in personal responsibility. It's pretty appalling that able-bodied young people can just choose not to work (unless they are independently wealthy). Work also provides a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Their mindset is something I just can't wrap my head around.

Terri said...

I am shocked at them...

Being of the left politically does not mean that personal responsibility is not also part of my ethic.

Shelley said...

It's a shame when capable people abuse the system as it brings down the reputation of the system, which in itself might be quite good. It's also a shame because they may be in for a very rude awakening in the not too distant future. Another consideration, however, may be a shortage of work, which seems a real problem here in Britain. Finding jobs that suit one's education is fairly difficult apparently and it may take a while to become accustomed to leaving those aspirations behind. I'm really grateful I was able to walk away from all that madness that I hear about over here. From what I saw in the US it's not much better there job wise.

Duchesse said...

You can't collect welfare forever in France unless you have physical or mental disabilities. Sarkozy has your friends' children in his sights, see
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jun2011/fren-j28.shtml

Connecticut Blogger said...

How can you jump to the conclusion that they're somehow abusing the system? If it's legal, why judge them? Everyone makes their own choices. Me, I'm more jealous than shocked.

SewingLibrarian said...

Did you ask them if they know how their "benefits" are funded? Where do they think government money comes from? I could write more, but I won't because it will just upset me.

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...

I am not effing surprised. It annoys me to hear that when I visit France or see French people who think sponging off the government and NOT working (even if they could) is the way to go

Parasites. That's all they are.

I may sound like a hypocrite because I am not working right now, but it's my choice and no one is paying for my life except for me (out of my savings).

And they wonder why the economy sucks. Those people are just freaking lazy.