The Dogs Don’t Like It

I once heard a story, probably apocryphal, about a pet food company that unrolled a new brand of dog food to great excitement. After the initial burst of interest, sales of the new brand dropped rapidly. Week after week fewer boxes of the new brand sold. Finally, the CEO of the pet food company called a meeting of all the chief executives of the company to determine why the new brand wasn’t selling. One executive after another proposed ever more elaborate theories about the declining sale. Maybe the advertising campaign needed to be changed, they said, or maybe the boxes were the wrong size or color. Perhaps the company needed to change the price. None of these theories seemed satisfactory to the CEO until finally, he turned to a lowly lab technician who had helped develop the new brand. “I think” the technician stammered nervously, “the problem might be that the dogs don’t like it.”

Last week the Democrats suffered some stunning losses in the off-year elections, elections they would normally have won easily. In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin narrowly defended former governor Terry McAuliffe in a race the Democrat was widely expected to win. The Republicans swept the state, winning the governorship and the elections for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General as gaining a majority in the lower house of the Virginia legislature. In New Jersey, one of the bluest states, Republican Jack Ciattarelli almost defeated Phil Murphy in the governor’s race. All over the country, the Republicans have won odd elections and ballot initiatives, which does not bode well for the Democrats’ chances in next year’s midterm elections.

Naturally, the Democrats are trying to discover the reason for their unexpected losses. Perhaps they were too moderate. Maybe if Terry McAuliffe had run more to the left he would have won. Maybe the voters are frustrated because Congress has not passed an infrastructure bill or done more to enact Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Maybe Republican voter suppression tipped the scale in their favor. Probably Republican fear-mongering about trumped-up culture wars encouraged conservative Deplorables to vote while discouraging decent people. Then, there is the old standby; it was racism. The people of Virginia and elsewhere are racist, and the unfortunate losses were the result of a whitelash. Never mind that Virginians just elected their first Black, woman Lieutenant Governor, this was White supremacy at work.

An obvious white supremacist

So far, what had been missing in these post-election analyses is the obvious fact that the Democrats lost because the people do not like the woke, extreme leftist policies they have been pushing. People do not want their children to be taught race hatred, even in the name of fighting against racism. White parents do not want their children taught that they are evil oppressors because of their skin color. Black parents do not want their children taught that they are helpless victims because of their skin color. No one wants their children to be taught to hate themselves and their own country.

Parents do not want their daughters raped by skirt-wearing boys who claim to be gender fluid. They do not want their children to be exposed to pornographic materials allegedly t0 promote gay acceptance but which seems suspiciously like grooming by pedophiles. People want their children educated, not indoctrinated. They are growing weary of schools shut down for COVID while they go out to work, somehow ensuring that remote education is working.

People are also tired of the vaccine mandates, the mask mandates, and the whole idea that someone in some office in Washington, or Richmond, should have the power to control or destroy their lives, based not on any consistent scientific principles but seemingly on random whims. People are exasperated by higher prices and empty shelves in stores. They are angered by a border in chaos, increasing crime rates, and their country being humiliated abroad.

Most of all, people are upset with a ruling elite that refuses to take their problems seriously. Parents who take issue with their children being taught Critical Race Theory are racists and domestic terrorists. Americans complaining about the economy are spoiled and need to lower expectations. We are deplorable for wanting leaders that put America and Americans first. Instead of coming up with solutions, they laugh at us.

If the Democrats want to win elections they need to start paying more attention to what the people out there really want and less attention to Twitter activists ideologues. If they do this, the Democratic Party might become a truly American political party again and not a continuing menace to our freedom and way of life.

The Yellow Jackets

I have been following Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast for the last year or so. It is interesting and informative and I highly recommend it. The subject of Revolutions is, of course, revolutions, specifically those revolutions which have shaped our own revolutionary age. While learning about the great revolutions of the past, it is a little exciting to witness what might be the first days and weeks of a revolution in France and perhaps throughout Europe. The gilets jaunes or yellow jackets, the workers who wear hi-viz vests, are fed up with high taxes and limited economic prospects and seem to be poised to play the role of the sans-culottes of the first French Revolution.

I read a great article about the gilets jaunes and their reasons for protesting in QuodVerum, a blog I might want to look at more frequently.

Mon, December 10, 2018

Millions of French citizens have been violently demonstrating across France for the last month.

They are known as the gilets jaunes, or “yellow jackets”. The protestors wear the yellow high-viz jacket, that is common on building sites and airports.

It’s a powerful totem for the French deplorables, a unifying symbol of ordinary, working class folk across the nation.

France is no stranger to organized protests, or as they are called, manifestations. These are a dime-a-dozen in France. Typically they are union-engineered strikes, used as a weapon in the never-ending negotiation between organized labor and the French state.

Forget what FakeNews is telling you. This is no ordinary manifestation.

This is a genuine uprising by millions of city and country folk, young and old, crossing different ethnic and cultural lines.

Macron’s diesel tax hike wasn’t the cause of the gilets jaunes movement. It was the spark detonating a bomb, that has been building for decades.

Why are the French Deplorables revolting? For one thing, France’s economy is absolutely stagnant and has been for some time. The article lists a few pertinent statistics.

  • • The French state has been bankrupt since 2004. A minister finally admitted it in 2013.
  •        • French GDP hasn’t risen above 2% in 50 years. Yes – FIFTY. The average annual GDP growth rate between 1949-2018? 0.78%.
  •        • In 2018, 14% of the population in France live below the poverty line (they earn less than 60% of the median income).
  •        • Worse, more than 50% of French people have an annual income of less than €20,150 a year (about $1,900 US per month).
  •        • The ‘official’ unemployment rate is 10% – about 3.5 million citizens (in reality, it’s much higher).
  •        • The youth unemployment rate is 22%. Yes, you did read that right.
  •        • Astonishing but true: the French government employs 25% of the entire French workforce…and it’s impossible to fire them.
  •        • Because the citizens make such little money, they pay no tax. Less than 50% of French pay any income tax at all; only around 14% pay at the rate of 30%, and less than 1% pay at the             rate of 45%.
  •        • The government can’t deliver services without taxes, so it borrows money. France’s debt-GDP is now 100%.

This would all be bad enough, but it gets worse. If you want are ambitious and want to get ahead in France, there is really only one way to do it. You have to graduate from one of three or four elite colleges. If you haven’t had the chance to go to one of these schools, well, too bad.

Many still understand France through the lens of Vogue magazine covers: a nation of affluent, happy people who live in elegant homes, with endless holidays, wine and food.

A 24/7 utopia of chic, elegance and style.

Important to note: that France does exist. It is the world of the French ruling class, less than 1% of the population.

This small group of citizens have dominated the business, banking, legal and political scenes for decades.

The ruling class comes from a small group of grandes ecoles, or elite colleges. There are only 3 or 4. The top of the top? L’Ecole d’Administration Nationale (ENA).

Emmanuel Macron’s journey is typical of the ruliing class. He completed a Master’s of Public Affairs at Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris(called “Sciences Po”), the #2 elite college, before graduating from ENA in 2004, age 27. He then worked as a senior civil servant at the Inspectorate General of Finances (The Treasury), before getting a high paid gig ad an investment banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque.

See how fast Macron worked his way into the senior civil servant position in the Treasury, before flipping into an exclusive investment bank? That is normal in France. It’s a never-ending protected cycle of patronage, promotion, favors and cronyism.

Here’s another French word: parachutage. It is normal for young ENA graduates to be “parachuted” into senior civil service positions at a very young age, some as young as 25 years of age, without even interviewing for positions.

ENA has a complete stranglehold on the French state. Only 100 students graduate every year.

Set up by de Gaulle just after WW2, the original concept was sound – to pool students of extreme talent and ability in one place, in order to create a new civil service that could re-build France.

It worked. Very talented patriots flocked to enter ENA and within a decade, the new French civil service had successfully rehabilitated France as a leading nation-state. From 1946 through 1973, France experienced what they describe as their trente glorieuses, nearly 30 years of economic success.

But by 1970, ENA’s meritocracy had become a self-replicating elite caste – and a ticket to the French ruling class. Astonishingly, every French President since de Gaulle has been an ENA graduate, excepting Georges Pompidou, who attended Sciences Po. Eight of the last ten French Prime Ministers have been enarques. All key civil service/government departments are run by enarques. How about business? 84% of the 546 top executives in France’s 40 biggest companies are graduates of a handful of elite colleges. 48% come from ENA and Sciences Po.

This ought to look at least a little familiar to us in the United States. We don’t have the problem of a small ruling elite running everything nearly as bad as France does, but the same sort of pattern is developing. How many people at the top levels of government and politics graduated from the same elite Ivy League universities? How many CEOs? How many intellectuals?How do these people feel about the ordinary people who make up the population in middle America? Isn’t a great deal of the elite hatred for Donald Trump and his supporters class based?

The article’s description of the arrogance and insular ignorance of the French elite could easily be applied to our own elite.

Notice Macron’s age, when he became a senior civil servant – 27 years of age. That’s important.

The French elites are young men and women, who have been told that they are not just the intellectual creme de la creme, but morally superior. Better human beings, than their inferiors.

These people are arrogant. But they are also ignorant. Raised in very wealthy families and cosseted in the networks those families are part of, they have no understanding of ordinary people and their real lives.

Arrogance and ignorance is a very toxic mix. Macron’s tone-deaf appeal to climate change to justify the rise in diesel taxes, as well as his outrageous suggestion that ordinary French folk must drive less, is a classic example of the problem.

Just 27 years old.

Young people without life experience, are suggestible. They believe what they are told by superiors and haven’t yet had time to test their opinions, against reality.

Macron simply doesn’t have a clue.

What makes the gilets jaunes protests unique?

Their main gripe? Elites blaming ordinary people, for problems that the same elites have caused.

Elites never being held accountable for their incompetence. And elites never having to experience the conditions, that their failed ideas cause.

French people are sick of being held in chains by a ruling class. They are sick of being poor and unemployed.

They want a new direction, for their beloved nation.

Sound familiar?

There is an obvious parallel to the France of 1789, but I don’t think that even the aristocrats of the Ancien Regime were quite as arrogant and stupid as the new aristocrats who rule France and Europe. In fact, more than a few of those aristocrats were the ones pressing for reforms in France. I hope that the new aristocrats in Europe and America find the wisdom to listen to what the people are saying instead of dismissing them as deplorables or they could find themselves losing their heads.

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