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Westlake Legal Group > Emmanuel Macron

The Moggcast. He is “very concerned” delaying Brexit would allow “Tommy Robinson to win the European elections”.

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Yellow vest riots spreading from France to Latvia

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France has now experienced thirteen straight weeks of yellow vest protests in the streets, many turning into riots, where demonstrators have demanded President Emmanuel Macron abscond from office. It’s a clear signal of public opposition to the “reforms” Macron has been trying to enact as well as a broader rejection of globalist economic initiatives. But is the movement threatening to spill outside that nation’s borders? The AP reports that this weekend saw similar activity well to the northeast in Latvia, where demonstrators made direct references to the French troubles.

Earlier Saturday, activists in Latvia staged a picket in front of the French embassy in Riga, the capital of the small Baltic EU country, to support the yellow vest movement and urge Latvians to demand higher living standards.

The activists waved Latvia’s red-and-white flag, shouting slogans like “the French have woken up, while Latvians remain asleep.”

This has been brewing for a few weeks now. In mid-January, smaller protests called by the Latvian Russian Union (LKS) resulted in people showing up wearing yellow vests and mimicking some of the speeches given by protest leaders in Paris. Thus far, however, violence has not broken out and the demonstrations remain largely peaceful.

Meanwhile, back in France, the yellow vest squads were back out in force this weekend as well. Sadly, the same peaceful nature did not prevail as the protests once again turned into riots. One demonstrator had most of his hand blown off by either a smoke bomb or a “grenade” of some sort. Either way, they’re blaming the police for heavy-handed tactics.

A French yellow vest protester’s hand was ripped apart Saturday during violent clashes in Paris as demonstrators tried to storm the French National Assembly in a 13th consecutive week of unrest.

Police said the injured protester lost four fingers as police swooped in to stop protesters from breaching the parliament’s exterior. Police could not confirm French media reports that the hand of the demonstrator, who is now being treated in the hospital, was blown up by a grenade used to disperse unruly crowds.

As scuffles broke out in front of the National Assembly and French police responded with tear gas, paramedics huddled around the injured protester at the National Assembly gates.

In some ways, you can’t really blame the municipal government and the police. As we’ve discussed here many times, your demonstration is no longer just a demonstration after the first window is broken or the first building or car is set on fire. At that point, it’s a riot and the government is going to respond with riot police.

But with that said, the cops have really been coming down with a heavy hand. They’re issuing semiautomatic rifles and life ammunition to the riot police. They’re also breaking out tear gas, batons, and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds. Macron has already conceded to several of the demonstrators’ demands, but it doesn’t appear to be enough. If you push the people too far, particularly in France, the guillotines start showing up in the streets. What’s that old saying again? History doesn’t actually repeat itself, but it very often rhymes.

The post Yellow vest riots spreading from France to Latvia appeared first on Hot Air.

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Italy’s spat with France shows the EU is at threat not of disintegration but of hijack

While various prominent figures in Brussels occupied themselves with threatening Brexiteers with eternal damnation this week, they might perhaps have spent their time more productively somewhat closer to home. No doubt Donald Tusk and Guy Verhofstadt dislike the EU losing one of its largest members, but the union has other problems with the relationship between its remaining members.

Only yesterday the simmering tension between Italy and France boiled over, with Paris taking the extraordinary step of withdrawing its ambassador from Rome for the first time since the Second World War.

The spark was a visit by the Italian Deputy Prime Minister to meet some of the Yellow Vest protesters who have rioted against the Macron government in recent months. That meeting was an obvious provocation, and is rightly seen by the French government as an insult to its legitimacy by an outside power.

It didn’t come out of the blue, though. Ideologically, Emmanuel Macron and Matteo Salvini are cut from very different cloth, and their potential to clash is further heightened by the fact that each has eagerly pursued a strategy of defining himself among his domestic supporters by criticising the other. Last June, when Macron described populism as a form of political “leprosy”, Salvini derided the French President as a “chatterbox” who liked to “preach” to European leaders who actually got things done.

The format of the Italian governing coalition also lends itself to a bit of one-upmanship in the game of publicly insulting Macron, as neither party wants to look weaker than its partner. In January, the Deputy Prime Minister – from the 5 Star Movement – accused France of contributing to illegal migration from Africa by a continued policy of imperialism. Salvini then upped the ante by openly calling for French voters to “get rid of a terrible president” – meddling in the domestic politics of an ally to a degree that would be unthinkable in ordinary times. Not to be outdone, his coalition partner has now held this meeting with the gilets jaunes.

Both are playing to a home crowd, quite openly with the goal of outdoing their coalition partner in the forthcoming European elections. While the Italian coalition between Salvini’s nationalist Lega and the anti-establishment hotch-potch which makes up 5 Star has held together far better than most observer (and indeed many members of both parties) expected, that doesn’t mean they have stopped viewing one another as rivals, or dreaming of governing alone. Macron – preachy, smug, and responsible for refusing to admit migrants across the French border while expecting Italy to accept those who come across the Mediterranean – is the punchbag that they now use to display their strength.

It might be a primarily domestic performance, but the effects have been international. France is fuming, and a breakdown in diplomatic relations between two major European nations is a remarkable and rare sight. British Eurosceptics habitually look out for signs of rupture and division within the EU and are prone to declare “Aha, now the wheels are starting to come off.” But is that really the case?

The EU obviously has persistent problems. The eye-watering scale of youth unemployment in the south is well-known. Italy, Austria, Hungary and Poland are now governed by parties which are far from the tastes of the Brussels establishment. Long-established parties of the integrationist mainstream have been swept away in tumultuous elections in several member states. A poll in France earlier this week put support for leaving the EU at 40 per cent – a startlingly high number which would may well cause a cold sweat in various offices in Strasbourg.

However, we Brits should resist the temptation to assume dissent – even explicitly Eurosceptic dissent – across the EU takes the same format, or comes from the same tradition, as Euroscepticism in the UK.

For historical, political and economic reasons, actually wanting to escape or dismantle the EU and its institutions is less popular on the Continent than here. Consider that even in Italy, where a large chunk of the younger generation have had their economic prospects sacrificed on the altar of monetary union, only 25 per cent of people want to leave the Euro, never mind the European Union. Marine Le Pen, supposedly unafraid to court controversy, rowed back from considering Frexit once she got into the final two for the French presidency. Even Yianis Varoufakis, an eye-witness to the willingness of the EU to trample people and countries in the pursuit of its political project, always shied away from advocating an end to membership.

That might change (as Fraser Nelson points out, perhaps the presence of a successful former member might have that effect in time) but ever closer union has so far persisted as an idea, despite a severe buffeting from some pretty horrendous storms of its own making, and it isn’t dead yet.

And yet these tensions between France and Italy (and between Warsaw and Brussels, and Hungary and almost everybody) are real, painful and intensifying. They shouldn’t be misinterpreted or over-interpreted, but equally they can’t simply be ignored or wished away. In reality, what we’re seeing is an attempt not to break up the EU by people like Salvini and Orban, but an attempt to bend it towards their way of thinking and away from that of so-called centrists like Macron.

They know that, at the moment, those wielding power in Brussels are generally in agreement with their opponents, so most of their speeches and actions are pitched against the sensibilities of the EU institutions. But later this year they will be able to appoint their own people to a new Commission, and they will gain a voice at the heart of the EU. When that happens, I wonder if supporters of the current Brussels establishment will be quite so keen on the unaccountable, centralised structures which they built on the assumption that they would run them forever.

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Six cautionary lessons from Macron’s France

1. Maybe this new-party-with-a-charismatic-leader thing isn’t as easy as people imagined.

Macron’s initial victory was stunning; he went from a standing start, to setting up a new party then sweeping to power in a matter of months. Inevitably, it set minds racing – what if someone could do the same here? What if…what if I could do the same here? The marching bands, the banners, the magazine front covers. Just imagine. This Macron syndrome was misguided at the best of times – too many people disregarded the unique circumstances, or the entirely different electoral system, and went ahead and launched gimmicky but doomed new parties in the UK. The current state of Macron’s government suggests that not only is his success quite hard for others to replicate, it is quite hard for him to sustain, too.

2. The centre can be quite an empty place

There’s a fallacy about centrism which runs as follows: if there is a chunk of people on the right, and a chunk on the left, then imagine what vast numbers inhabit the middle. Just strike a balance and you will secure an unchallengeable majority! Except, of course, that view is founded on defining the centre as an average position between two poles – there is no guarantee that many people, or even anyone at all, occupies that actual mid-point themselves. Macron managed to build a coalition of voters, but the practicalities of government have revealed what divides, not unites, them.

3. Day-to-day concerns are at least as emotive as high-flown goals

Macron’s election pitch was a call to reach sunlit uplands, to open up the economy and revolutionise France through democratic consent. It worked, not least because it cast an implicit comparison with the hidebound and clunky older parties. But the gilets jaunes protests which have caused so much chaos lately represent that rhetoric crashing down to earth – yes, they’ve become caught up in many other issues and causes, some of them alarming and extremist, but they began in protest against a proposed fuel tax. A politician should have wide horizons and high goals, but they do need to bring people with them – particularly those for whom the theoretical ambitions equate to real-life pain.

4. A new man cannot necessarily banish old problems

It’s notable that while everything about France’s president seemed new in 2017, since then many of his experiences in government feel rather familiar. The battles over economic reform, for example, track those fought – and often lost – by predecessors including Sarkozy and Hollande. The structural issues faced by the French state, economy and society still dictate the form of its politics more than vice versa.

5. Today’s revolutionary can be tomorrow’s arrogant establishment

It didn’t take long for the new broom to become the unpopular government. To an extent, that’s a function of the populism Macron used to gain power – it is easier to criticise than to wield power. And to an extent it’s an effect of the sheer egotism required to found your own party and give it your own initials (En Marche/Emmanuel Macron). Moving into a palace, of any sort, doesn’t help but comes with the gig. It is difficult – perhaps impossible – to retain the appeal of the radical outsider while setting taxes, or limiting budgets, or making winners and losers in other ways. Imitators, would-be successors, and incumbents fearful of challengers are all watching closely.

6. International leaders look less shiny at home

We have a depressive habit in this country of looking at our leaders on the world stage, with our intimate knowledge of their flaws and weaknesses, and then taking their interlocutors at far more generous face value. Think of all the lavish articles in the British press about the resolve, strength and certainty of Macron, or indeed Merkel, in recent years – normally contrasting the British government we know to be troubled and weakened with the firm and steadfast occupant of the Elysee. And yet, we now know, the French President also has feet of clay. Perhaps we should be a little more sceptical of lionising international leaders from a distance.

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Nadine Dorries: Thuggery. Abuse. Threats. Unacceptable everywhere. But no-one came to Brexiteers’ defence when we were victims.

Nadine Dorries is the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire and a Sunday Times top ten bestselling author.

“I want to see you, trapped in a burning car and watch as the heat from the flames melts the flesh from your face.”

Just one of a huge number of threats I have received since the day I became an MP. I decided not prosecute the originator of that remark, since he pleaded that his wife was pregnant, that he had just started a new job and his life would be in ruins if I took action.

That was the moment for me when Twitter transformed from being a platform of debate to one of abuse because within weeks, I had inherited a stalker who stuck with me for eight long years. I wasn’t his first victim. He had targeted his local female MP for three years before me, but she didn’t have a Twitter account and wasn’t on social media, so he moved across the country, rented a house, yards from my own, and then began eight years of intimidation and torment that affected me, my family, my job and my wellbeing.

Did anyone care? Was anyone bothered? Did anyone understand? No, not a bit. Especially not the Crown Prosecution Service, which appeared to believe that, since as an MP I was accountable to the electorate, it followed, unfortunately for me, that this accountability could manifest itself in a variety of ways. I had to move out of my own home and constituency because I was terrified – and it appeared, I was entirely on my own.

I didn’t think things could get much worse after that.  But then came the EU referendum, and it was as if the floodgates of abuse had now opened to the full, leaving my own stalker looking like a third rate amateur.

In addition to the social media and email onslaught, I have barely been able to use my own office for over a year, thanks to the ‘Stop Brexit’ campaigners outside of my window – meaning that, most of the time, I am displaced as I work on a canteen table, or in the Commons library. Month by month, the threats have intensified and they reach the darkest corners of the all-abusable me.

Forget the ‘C’ word. That comes as standard – usually as a subject header on an email. I have become immune. Forget the death threats – for goodness’ sake, there are, so many; so gruesome. It had become very obvious, by the standard of notifications on social media and the comments aimed at me as I walked to Millbank to give interviews, that something was afoot. The language of social medial via the immunity of the keyboard was becoming normalised. I haven’t given an interview on College Green for months, thanks to the stop Brexit protesters. I haven’t walked to Millbank without a male member of staff for over a year. What people would once only have said in private, they have beeb saying in public, as discourse noticeably deteriorated.

This Christmas, I deactivated my Twitter account. It hurt. There are things I care about, deeply. When you post a tweet that has 10,000 likes and almost three quarter of a million impressions, you know you have an effective platform. To advance my views is one of the reasons I became a politician. Not to duck down behind the sofa, but to jump on the parapet, to put myself in the public space of debate. What’s the point otherwise?

However, the abuse became so bad that I felt the need to stop giving media interviews, writing articles and to remove myself from the public arena. To get off the bus. It was all too much. People were becoming far too angry.

And it’s not just here in the UK. You only have to look around the globe to see how the internet is empowering people – and always in a good way. How minority groups can bully and dominate social media platforms to establish acceptable norms on so many issues. In politics, the paradigm is shifting. Walking the corridors of Westminster is like trotting through quicksand, and many are struggling to understand the new politics.

The Remain Metro Elite thought it was all absolutely fine to project fearmongering, scream “Stop Brexit”, campaign for a second referendum and present themselves on TV to systematically denounce and traduce the result of the referendum and to even, via the courts, try to have the result overturned.

Alastair Campbell of dodgy dossier fame, who proclaimed that the will of Parliament alone was enough to take us to war in Iraq, now endlessly calls for a second referendum, yet no one has died as a result of the referendum vote. He campaigns for a second poll to that the people vote again until they vote the establishment way. The metaphorical equivalent of removing the pin from a hand grenade.

The BBC thought they could spout pure unadulterated bias. Give Gary Lineker a free pass as he abuses elsewhere those 17.5 million people who agonised over their vote, and believe that there would be no consequence as a result. Broadcasters describe working classes leave voters as “gammon” and thick, and so much more besides. Well, I am gammon. I am working-class and proud. I never for one moment thought that these developments would end in anything but tears, and the very worst is still to come.

The handling of Brexit. The fudged negotiations. The deceit, the lies, the attempt by Number Ten to Brexit in name only will soon come home to roost.

People said it was impossible for America to elect Donald Trump, that it would never happen.  That Angela Merkel would go on and on and on in post. Emmanuel Macron was a slap in the face to the French establishment. Shifting political sands.

People here in the UK have reached their own tipping point. Some will become totally disenfranchised, remain at home and will possibly never vote again. Some will vent on social media and the abuse will continue. Others will step away from the keyboard and out onto the streets, and that is already happening. Journalists, Westminster elite, MPs, Prime Minister – we are all to blame, as while we fiddle, Westminster may burn. And someone not at all committed to democratic norms – someone we haven’t yet thought of, or maybe we have – will rise from the ashes, and we will only have ourselves to blame.

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France prepares to teach those protesters a lesson

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As we discussed over the weekend, the protests (well… riots, actually) in Paris aren’t over yet. Despite having many of their demands met when French President Emmanuel Macron caved to the increasing public pressure, the yellow vest squads are still out in the streets calling for his resignation. It seems that the French government has had enough of this unrest and is preparing new legislation aimed at tossing the unhappy peasants into the dungeon if they don’t go home and shut up. It’s really sort of an homage to the France of a couple centuries ago. (BBC)

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced plans to punish people who hold unsanctioned protests after seven weeks of anti-government unrest.

His government wants to draft new legislation that will ban troublemakers from protests and clamp down on the wearing of masks at demonstrations.

He said 80,000 members of the security forces would be deployed for the next expected wave of protests. Protesters smashed down the gates to a government office this weekend.

In other chaotic scenes in Paris, demonstrators fought riot police, and cars and motorbikes were burnt.

Details of the new penalties and how the crackdown would be executed were a bit sparse, but the Prime Minister did offer some general guidelines. Everyone will need to submit requests to hold a protest and obtain approval from the government. (This seems a bit more onerous than the usual permit system used in the United States.) Because some of the protesters/rioters have been showing up with yellow bandanas covering their faces or, in some cases, Guy Fawkes masks, the wearing of anything covering the face will also be outlawed. The usual penalties for destruction of property remain in place.

In addition to possible jail time, Phillippe said that those engaging in arson or other destructive activities would be held accountable for the cost of repairs. In other words, the people who are rioting because they are too poor to afford food will be given new bills they won’t be able to pay. That’s not to say that I’m endorsing such destruction, and protesters should indeed be prosecuted when they become rioters, but it’s a bit of harsh irony nonetheless.

The point here is that the government is quickly moving toward increasingly repressive tactics to end the unrest. Many of the yellow vest squad members aren’t burning anything or destroying property. They’re just airing grievances against government policy. That’s the danger of living in a far more socialist society than our own in America. When you begin surrendering your rights and freedoms to the government, trusting that they know what’s best for you, the iron fist of control can come smashing down pretty quickly.

The French don’t have the same broad list of fundamental rights that are provided by the United States Constitution. And when pressed or discomfited too much, the government will take advantage of the power they’ve been given over their citizens. There’s a lesson in here for all of us if we pay attention.

The post France prepares to teach those protesters a lesson appeared first on Hot Air.

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I bet you thought those riots in France were over

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After much of November and December were characterized by riots in Paris and various other cities across France, it looked as if peace was going to be restored when President Emmanuel Macron completely caved to the protesters’ demands. A new, drastic increase in the gas tax was scrapped and higher wages for the working poor were announced. Having put the elitist president in his place, the angry rabble were then free to go home and take a victory lap.

The problem is, they didn’t. Or at least not all of them. Significant numbers of the unhappy citizenry were back in the streets this week, setting fire to government buildings and clashing with the police. One common element in their demands appears to be a desire for Macron to resign immediately. (Associated Press)

French security forces fired tear gas and flash-balls after a march through picturesque central Paris went from peaceful to provocative Saturday as several thousand protesters staged the yellow vest movement’s first action of 2019 to keep up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron.

A river boat restaurant moored below the clashes on the Left Bank of the Seine River caught fire. Smoke and tear gas wafted above the Orsay Museum and the gold dome of the French Academy as riot police, nearly invisible at the start of the demonstration, moved front and center when protesters deviated from an officially approved path.

Police boats patrolled the river while beyond the Seine, motorcycles and a car were set on fire on the Boulevard Saint Germain, a main Left Bank thoroughfare. Riot police and firefighters moved in, and barricades mounted in the middle of the wide street also glowed in orange flames.

Since we tend to see these terms used interchangeably in the media too often, I should point out that these aren’t actually “protests” going on in Paris. They are riots. Whether you agree with the sentiments of the yellow vest squads or not, a protest is just a demonstration. These people are setting fire to boats and buildings, smashing windows and, in at least one case, attacking the police. That’s a riot by any meaningful definition.

Another thing that’s missing from much of the American press coverage I’m seeing is the outrage over the police using tear gas and pepper spray on a regular basis. Aren’t those “chemical weapons” and a violation of human rights? But I suppose when it happens in France in support of a socialist leader who is a liberal icon, it’s just the way the world works.

What’s unclear here is precisely what the yellow vests are looking to get out of the government. The original gatherings all seemed to focus on the gas tax, skyrocketing prices for food and common goods and insufficient pay. Macron has already given in on all of these demands. But the rioters are now calling for his resignation, claiming that he is a “president for the rich” and doesn’t care about the working class poor. That may be true, but it seems unlikely that Macron will be packing his bags anytime soon.

Macron isn’t facing any new elections until 2022, so he’s got some time to patch things up if he’s willing. Will the tenacity of the yellow vests last that long? If the president’s reforms are rolled back and wages go up it’s hard to imagine that they will. But he’s definitely no longer the golden child and his public honeymoon is definitely over. Just as a closing note, Macron’s approval ratings have tanked from above 60 after his election to somewhere in the 20s today.

The post I bet you thought those riots in France were over appeared first on Hot Air.

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Michael Fabricant: It’s high time for us to rediscover our gung-ho spirit

Michael Fabricant is MP for Lichfield.

One of the many old jokes in the Carry On films is: “where is all your get up and go?” The answer comes: “it got up and went.” It seems, sometimes, that half the population feels that way, when I read some of the more depressing letters and articles about Brexit in the national press.

I travel to the United States three or four times each year – not for fact-finding at taxpayer’s expense, I hastily add – but with and to see friends. I was part-educated at the University of Southern California (Go Trojans!) and still have a home on the east coast near where my business had a base in New Haven, Connecticut. So before I became an MP I travelled a lot to the US on business, too.

I’m there right now – in San Diego, southern California. But thanks to the internet, I was able to hear Woody Johnson, the US Ambassador to the UK, on the Today programme yesterday. He was clear that the present terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration will prevent the US (or any other major economy, come to that) from entering into a Free Trade Agreement with the UK.

But the main issue expressed by Johnson – and Americans that I meet over here – is the surprise at Britain’s reluctance to let go of the apron strings that seem to tie us to the EU.

It’s a lack of self-confidence that might be appropriate in a developing country, but in not the fifth-largest world economy, which can boast more Nobel Prize winners than any other country apart from the US; intelligence services which match those anywhere in the world, three of the world’s top ten universities, with the top two places being British, and a major centre for biotech and space research. Why are we so timid in our dealings with Europe?

In Prime Minister’s Questions a few weeks’ back, Jeremy Corbyn claimed that the UK has “no leverage” with the EU.  No leverage? We are the biggest export market in the world for the German automotive industry – bigger than the US and Chinese markets combined. And Emmanuel Macron knows that the ranks of the gilets jaunes would be increased tenfold if French farmers could not export to their number one market – the United Kingdom.

So why all this timidity by government and civil servants in dealing with the EU, and the fear of leaving the EU by so many in the British population at large?

Friends of mine working in the City for large American banks admit that they explored the possibility of moving to Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt after the referendum. But they soon realised that continental Europeans neither have the financial work pool nor the work ethic to keep long hours deep into the night when the need arises. Those plans to move were soon abandoned.

Johnson can see the opportunities open to the UK in leaving the UK and from being unshackled from the ball and chain of rules so beloved of European regulators. My American friends over here say to me “Why are you guys so lacking in self-confidence? We just don’t get it. Just leave!”

Having been in business and travelled abroad extensively exporting broadcasting systems to some 48 countries worldwide, I can see the huge opportunities that will be open to us after a clean break with the EU.

It is unfortunate that many commentators on Brexit, including journalists and some politicians, never had the get up and go in the first place. The gung-ho spirit eludes them. We should not allow their lack of aspiration and gloom to frustrate the opportunities that are there if only we have the confidence to seize them.

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Why the French protests were going to happen

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No one should be surprised by the protests in France. The antipathy towards the government has been bubbling like some sort of concoction in a mad scientist’s laboratory. The gas tax appears to be the one final volatile element needed to cause an explosion.

What an explosion it was! Protests. Riots. Tear gas. Emergency meetings of government officials and, finally, concessions. France won’t do any tax or utility increases this winter – although it’s still up to the French Legislature to get the bills to President Emmanuel Macron’s desk for his signature.

Macron noted the onslaught of anger directed towards his government, writing on Change.org he was trying to reduce the gap between the people and government but, “I have not yet succeeded. And after 18 months of action, the changes we are making are far from being sufficiently perceptible.”

The frustration is still palpable, and no one knows exactly who will end up benefiting from the protests.

American conservative commentators are trying to frame the issue as a rejection of globalism (whatever the blue cow it means this week). The reality is the anger in France started – much like the 2011 Arab Spring – as a rejection of government overreach into the economy.

The clash has been a long time coming and dates back to earlier this decade when the French government was controlled by Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy’s government attempted major spending cuts and tax increases in 2011 – before he was replaced by the socialist Francois Hollande in 2012. Yet, Hollande discovered the harsh reality you can’t tax and spend your way to prosperity and France’s budget crisis refused to abate – while debt exploded.

“Everything is taxed,” Charline Petit told The Telegraph in 2014 as she explained why her bagel shop was shutting down. “You can’t move without being taxed. Even when you are not making any money, you are taxed. I had to lie about my income to rent an apartment. So then the tax authorities said I had not been declaring enough. I was taxed again. If I stopped working, I would get all kinds of benefits, but as a business person, I get nothing. You are better off unemployed.”

This was the situation Macron was coming into last year when he won the presidency. He attempted some tax reform, but The Economist noted his budget was rather light on actual spending cuts. His gas tax proposal ended up being the spark which set off the protests and riots of the past several weeks.

His reaction to said protests proves the tenet that politicians are fickle in their promises to the electorate they claim to serve because of the desire for power. Macron is trying to appease everyone by enacting multiple increases in government spending – whether it be giving police a raise for battling protesters or a minimum wage hike “without it costing your employer one more euro.” The government’s hope is this will increase participation in the workforce, and their budget for next year – which was proposed months before the “Yellow Vest” protests – already included a minimum wage hike, “to reach a total of almost €80 per month at minimum wage level by 2022.”

Of course, the question is who will pay for these changes?

“The people,” Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy declared to me over the phone. “This is what basically taxes, right, because the government won’t pay for it and that’s the problem with subsidies; gotta be paid by someone. And the problem with the French government is it’s too big and needs to be shrunk and not grown.”

This is why de Rugy is disturbed by France’s insistence on giving out more subsidies instead of trying to actually get their financial house in order – even with the repeal of the gas tax.

“These are just band-aid (solutions) because the problem is going to continue over and over and over again until they address fundamental problems with the spending structure,” de Rugy, who is originally from France, noted. “Retirements are very generous to the public sector. Macron knows he needs to change those. But each time there are big, big, big strikes about this…This is not going to address anything. I don’t even know if it’s going to help calming things down now.”

Hence why Macron’s appeasement may not solve anything and, in fact, may exacerbate France’s budgetary problems.

“I think Macron needs to buckle up,” de Rugy declared. “Realize that there’s no way he can placate them in ways that is good for France, so he needs to go on with reforms and accept he won’t be re-elected in five years.”

See previous statement regarding the fickleness of politicians.

The solution – which Macron and the French government seem averse to try – is to heed the words of eminent French economist and philosopher, Frederic Bastiat.

“Reduce taxes. Reduce expenditure in an even greater proportion,” Bastiat wrote in Peace and Freedom or the Republican Budget in February 1849. “And, to clad this financial thought in its political formula, I add: Liberty within. Peace without. This is the entire plan…I grant you only that the attempt is bold. But first, if the gravity of the situation has been clearly established and second, if it has been proved that the tradition means will not extricate us, it seems to me that my thought has at least some right to be considered by my colleagues.”

Bastiat’s theory is obviously daring – but also completely correct. France and Macron would be wise to heed his words (and de Rugy’s “buckle up” declaration) and enact more spending cuts – instead of trying to make everyone happy. He’d risk not being re-elected, but the alternative is more businesses leaving the country and France spiraling into even more chaos.

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