Kids, nowadays . . .


  1. One of the things I've always liked about the French is the way they stand up for their rights. If you, a Yank, travel there, expect the possibility of a strike. It's a little like a hopscotch game in which you arrive and leave between national "manifestations." If you, as a foreign traveler, are unlucky enough, you may be unfortunately caught, as the dancer leaps into the wrong square. This will test your basic sentiments. If they are fundamentally decent you will probably side with the strikers. If they are mean spirited you will become annoyed by the inconvenience, thinking only of yourself.

    On one of these periodic shut downs of the country Ellen and I were caught in Charles de Gaule, forcing us to be bussed to Brussels to catch our flight out. No problem, this offered us another opportunity to view the beautiful French countryside. And it was only a few hours delay.

    But I just love the way the French fight for their rights. (And I have friends living in Paris who detest Sarkozy.)

  2. And, yes, glumly such "manies," if that's what they're called in France (that's what they're called in Spain) reflect back on the U.S., where the working class doesn't even see itself as a working class and so often relates to the aspirations of the rich. As in, what's the matter with Kansas?

    All that does make one think the Europeans are more grounded.

  3. Today an American CEO earns about 300 times as much as an ordinary worker. In 1950, that number was only 30. The consequence is "social segregation": people go to different schools and parties and live in different neighborhoods, and there is no longer any overlap between groups.

    The fundamental bargain, the core of America, has always been that we can live with big gaps between rich and poor as long as there is also equality of opportunity. If that is no longer true, then the core bargain is being violated.

    What's happened here is happening all over the world. It is particularly hard felt in the "old Europe" (© Ronald Rumsfeld) , where a social malaise is growing, especially in France, and especially among teenagers whose anxiety about the future is palpable.