French weekly magazines review 30 September 2018

__ DR

This week the spotlight falls on pointless jobs, promised tax relief and the efforts of French former prime minister Manuel Valls to relaunch his political career in Barcelona.


Kicking off with Charlie Hebdo which this week devotes space to what the French call a cry from the heart about what the satirical magazine describes in English as "bullshit jobs" (pardon my French), the title of a book by American anarchist anthropologisgt David Graeber.

This is a reference to jobs which the paper says are ungratifying and badly paid. There are many in France, for example pizza deliverers, fast-food servers, or washer-ups in a restaurant, to name but three.

But in this day and age, writes Charlie, teachers, doctors, magistrates and civil servants are also often perceived as being badly paid, disrespected and overworked.

And many workers, it writes, are now also beginning to doubt the utility of their jobs.

What good is it being the marketing director of a company making pesticide which will then be used to poison the world to fill the pockets of the company shareholders?

Why produce so many different yoghurts in a country which throws away a third of its food every year?

Charlie compares all of this to the model of the former Soviet Union which produced goods just for the sake of it, just to keep people in jobs. It’s the same in today’s free economy, it writes, which has become as absurd as the former Soviet Union’s.

It’s time we stopped producing so many useless products that are using up the world’s dwindling raw materials, writes Charlie.

"President of the rich" turns to the poor

Moving on to another weekly satirical newspaper, Le Canard Enchâiné looks at the French government’s 2019 budget promise to lower taxes by six billion euros.

The paper says President Emmanuel Macron is desperate to get away from his image as the "president of the rich", so this announcement is one way of showing the voters that he is giving them back spending power by reducing their annual tax bills.

It might all looks good on paper, writes Le Canard, but the six-billion-euro figure contains several tax cuts already announced last year, which if subtracted from the total amount bring the boost in spending to only 3.5 billion euros.

This at a time when the public finance watchdog body in France has warned that, unlike most of its European neighbours, France has dragged its feet when it comes to reducing its debt and deficits.

Although Macron sees himself as the president of the "new world", the paper comments, he faces the same dilemmas as his old-world predecessors. Should be bring down taxes to increase spending power and hopefully stimulate employment or should be concentrate on France’s public deficit? In the latter case taxpayers’ money is, of course, what is needed.

Valls looks for work in Barcelona

Many of the magazines comment on this week’s announcement by former French prime minister Manuel Valls that he is to run for mayor of Barcelona.

On Tuesday Valls announced he would be standing down from his job as MP in France to seek election next in the poll scheduled for next May.

Right-wing Le Point wonders whether Valls is in fact not a perfect illustration of Macronism, emulating the man who was once one of his ministers and went on to win France’s top job. Could Valls do the same in Barcelona, it wonders.

A lot of Valls’s foes quoted by Marianne describe the former premier as a traitor and have only one thing to say to him: "good riddance".

But Le Nouvel Obs says the declaration of Valls's candidacy for Barcelona is probably the most important in his career. He is quitting the country whose nationality he adopted at the age of 20 to run for mayor in his country of birth.

A brave but risky decision, says L’Obs, as Valls is running in a competition in which he has no electoral base.

Is the French social model disintegrating?

Right-wing L’Express this week takes us on a trip this week to the northern Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where it says the model of French integration appears to be in serious difficulty.

Instead of people living all together, the norm now appears to be ethnic communitarism, it writes. L’Express says something appears to have gone wrong with the French model of integration.

It points the finger of blame at successive left and right-wing governments, which it says have been far too lax in letting ghettos emerge in areas where new waves of immigrants have moved in and chased out the preceding wave. A chronic lack of investment on the outskirts of the big cities has also led to residents feeling abandoned by the French republic, with many even rejecting French society.

This in turn, warns L’Express, has led to a sharp rise in anti-Semitism and to what the magazine laments as the "partition" of French territory.

It says the time has come for urgent action.

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