Friday, April 07, 2006

Hothouse Fleurs de Lis

Heres' to those brave French students putting it all on the line once again in the service of cradle to grave coddleage (triple word score). How dare the French state put two years of their young lives at risk to termination by an arbitrary merits system ! They are brave, oui? Non! Le Duck drops turds in their general direction!

Will noone come to the defense of these brave poetic souls in their hour of need? Amazingly, oui! Serial looner Barbara Ehrenreich rushes to the barricades with words of encouragement:

Was it only three years ago that some of our puffed up patriots were denouncing the French as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys,” too fattened on Camembert to stub out their Gaulois and get down with the war on Iraq? Well, take another look at the folks who invented the word liberté. Throughout the month of March and beyond, they were demonstrating, rioting, and burning up cars to preserve a right Americans can only dream of: the right not to be fired at an employer’s whim.

The French government’s rationale for its new labor law was impeccable from an economist’s standpoint: Make it easier for employers to fire people and they will be more willing to hire people. So why was Paris burning?

What corporations call “flexibility”—the right to dispose of workers at will—is what workers experience as disposability, not to mention insecurity and poverty. The French students who were tossing Molotov cocktails didn’t want to become what they call “a Kleenex generation”—used and tossed away when the employer decides he needs a fresh one.

You may recognize in the French government’s reasoning the same arguments Americans hear whenever we raise a timid plea for a higher minimum wage or a halt to the steady erosion of pensions and health benefits: “What?” scream the economists who flack for the employing class. “If you do anything, anything at all, to offend or discomfit the employers, they will respond by churlishly failing to employ you! Unemployment will rise, and you—lacking, of course, the health care and other benefits provided by the French welfare state—will quickly spiral down into starvation.”


I would post more of her article, but I fear that too large a dose of such stirring words will stir your stomachs to revolt all over your keyboards, and the Duck does not want to face the liability. It is part of the DD's insurance policy. I'm sorry, you will have to follow the link and read the rest for yourselves, after you e-mail me an electronically signed waiver of liability form absolving the DD of any damages done to your computer equipment, clothing and tastebuds.

I would pick this apart according to the usual anal-ytical DD method, but it is too easy, like overdone BBQ that just drips from the bone. I must raise the degree of difficulty, or it's just like shooting beached whales with a Tow missile. So, I challenge the Daily Duck denizens to once again take to verse, to honor this Ehenreichian effluence with a fitting paean.

Update: OK, so I'm rescinding the poetry requirement, please have at it. Dreck like this is too good(bad) to let go unfisked.

33 Comments:

Blogger Duck said...

The bold young men of Paree
The tyranny of life did they flee
For if bosses could can them
In unison their anthem
Sing "No Kleenex you'll make of me"

The horrors of life uncertain
To outbursts of rage did exert them
In riotous glee
Bold statements decree
In no way would reality hurt them

April 08, 2006 1:06 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Well, since Duck removed the verse requirements...

One of the problems in France, as far as I can tell, is that it is extremely difficult to start a business, especially relative the United States. I think that leads to an 'Us' versus 'Them' mentality between employers and employees. Whereas here the attitude is more "if you don't like the employment opportunities, get off your ass and go start a business" (which I've personally done a few times now).

But if I couldn't have done that, I could easily see being sucked in by these protests and the resulting riots. It must feel terrible to be subject to the whims of existing employers without having any other realistic options.

So as much as I think that what they're doing is probably counterproductive, I can understand it.

April 08, 2006 9:49 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

Come one and all to Gay Paree,
Where the National Pastime is free!
So be sure to try it:
Just join in a Riot,
It's more fun than EuroDisney!

(Though that isn't hard anymore:
The rollercoasters have been rather poor
Since an EU decree
On Health and Safety
Outlawed fun in 2004.)

But I digress from the matter at hand,
Which is slamming the kids of Frogland,
For who could despair
Of employment somewhere
Where the Riot Police must always be manned?

April 08, 2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Dominque was a poet of flair,
With manners divine as his hair,
Symbolic was he
Of all La Patrie
Stood for poor lesser folks born elsewhere.

Now, France was a beacon most bright
To a world without culture or light,
Thus confusion did reign
when that world went insane
one day, spurning the left to go right.

In consequence France had to play
under rules most unfair all did say.
Not just against Yanks,
But as well Chinese banks,
And smart chaps working hard in Bombay.

Dominique made a pledge with thrust jaw,
He would fix Anglo-Saxoniste flaws,
“No question”, said he,
“Who better than me,
Who eye-balled “le cowboy” to a draw?”

But his counsellors warned of defeat,
(The best of the Sorbonne’s elite),
“We know it sounds queer,
But our history makes clear,
When attacked, France is best to retreat.”

So a modest proposal was sprung
to end job guarantees for the young.
Dominque swore the measure
Would both increase leisure
and put France right back on the top rung.

His genius brought screaming and flack,
Sans-culottes swarmed the streets to attack.
Poor Dominique learned,
French Prime Ministers burned
Need les flics well-supplied with matraques.

He quit when it came to the crunch,
To duck a career knock-out punch.
For he dreamed he'd come back
To lead France’s attack
against threats to the three-hour lunch.

April 09, 2006 6:13 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Peter, I am impressed! You may just wrestle away the Poet Laureate of the Daily Duck award away from Brit. Tres bon!

April 09, 2006 7:04 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Bret,
Yes, it is frightening, but so is going to the dentist. It is a fact of life. What makes the French protest so bizarre is the extent to which these people can actually outlaw such necessary inconveniences of life.

If you started three companies then you are obviously comfortable with living with more risk than the average wage earner would accept. But the wage earner, who would prefer the security of a regular check over the risk/reward numbers for a startup, still is capable of understanding reality. The company owner must have the flexibility to fire bad workers or trim payrolls to sustain profits. It is a level of risk that we all accept, which we mitigate by trying to put forth our best efforts, and looking for opportunities to upgrade our skills.

I've been laid off four times in the last 26 years, and the total number of weeks I've been out of work during that period is 10. And those ten weeks were covered by severance, so I've never been without a paycheck, although it did get stressful during those layoff periods.

So it is hard to feel any sympathy for these spoiled brats. These are people who are frightened of their own shadow.

April 09, 2006 7:51 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Duck,
Do you think it's fear? I wouldn't have guessed that. I thought it was more that they didn't like someone else to be in control. Hard to know.

April 09, 2006 2:12 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

After a double shot of Famous Grouse fortitude, I decided to see just what Ms. Ehrenreich is up to.

Even before I started reading, I expected the worst. The article is in The Progressive. A .45 slug to the temple could scarcely analytical thought to a more sudden stop than the word "Progressive."

What corporations call “flexibility”—the right to dispose of workers at will—is what workers experience as disposability, not to mention insecurity and poverty.

Ms. Ehrenreich is clearly incapable of distinguishing the inverse relationship between tenure and employment, although even a casual glance at the academy should make that distinction clear. Besides being immune to analytical thought, Progressives also have super antibody powers against Irony.

How? When companies have complete firing flexibility, they are far more likely to hire. So while workers will have much less certainty of being in the same job some time in the future, they are much more likely to find other employment.

In contrast to dirigisme. Job security laws are great for those with jobs, but a vicious combination of millstone and deep water to those without.

After I got laid off from my airline job in 2002, the only reason I was able to find a good job here in Detroit was because my employer could get rid of me at a moment's notice.

You may recognize in the French government’s reasoning the same arguments Americans hear whenever we raise a timid plea for a higher minimum wage or a halt to the steady erosion of pensions and health benefits ...

Amazing. She repudiates the Law of Supply & Demand (second only to the Law of Irony) AND invokes a couple Free Lunches in one sentence.

Where is the outrage over the massive layoffs at Ford, Hewlett-Packard, and dozens of other major companies?

Given that the US unemployment rate is effectively zero (4%, in a country the size of the US, covers the number of people transitioning between jobs), the absent outrage over massive layoffs seems to have met its match in the absent inrage over equally massive hiring throughout the economy.

Compared to those “surrender monkeys,” we’re looking like a lot of soggy used Kleenex.

Barbara ... call your office. The French unemployment rate is over twice the US rate, and among workers younger than 26, roughly 6 times.

The Progressive immunity to facts is every bit as formidable as to irony. And to think they claim membership to the reality-based community.


BTW. Peter, that was most excellent.

April 09, 2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger M Ali said...

Dayum.

That was a great post Skipper.

April 10, 2006 4:08 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

Looks like those "brave French students" won (and lost at the same time). According to Don Luskin's site:

* French President Chirac bowed to pressure and abandoned the youth-labor law that made it easier to fire young workers. Mr. Chirac's capitulation tells companies that labor laws are not going to be reformed in France anytime in the foreseeable future, meaning that more French companies may export jobs to other countries, thus worsening French unemployment over the longer-term. The recent widespread protests and disruptions are also expected to cut a tenth or two off French Q1 GDP.

* French industrial production in Feb unexpectedly fell -0.9% following Jan's +0.3% rise, suggesting that the French manufacturing sector was weaker than expected going into the large student protests that occurred in March.

April 10, 2006 8:38 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Thank-you, guys. It was fun. But, Duck, the next time you call a poetry contest, don't pull it so fast. Do you think we secrete this stuff on demand?

April 10, 2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

I did wonder if that format had run its course, but I was surprisingly wrong. That's good to know. I will look for future opportunities to play the muse. Thanks!

April 10, 2006 4:45 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Yeah, you closed the entry book too quickly. It takes a while for a Tennessee redneck to write a poem in French, even a short one.

Pauvres ouvriers
en deux mondes

Soixante ans
de Troisieme Reich
au Ehrenreich.

April 10, 2006 5:24 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

Le poésie de Monsieur 'Arry
Has banished limerick ennui.
Mais I do have to say:
Un haiku en français?
C’est trop intelligent par demi!

April 11, 2006 2:16 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Can I buy a vowel, or better yet, a subtitle?

April 11, 2006 5:05 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Poor workers
in two worlds

60 years
from the Third Reich
to Ehrenreich

April 11, 2006 5:11 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Fantastique! Although we will have to open a new category for Haiku, which is'nt a problem, I guess.

April 12, 2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I have an idea to make this an ongoing feature of the DD. Every week I will post a news story from that week and let the DD denizens ply their poetic license to encapsulate the essence of the story. Limericks and Haiku are ok, as are any other traditional forms of poetry. No open verse!

It will have to be judged by an impartial non-participant. Skipper and Oroborous have not contributed any verse to date, to my knowledge, so if either of you wish to become a judge, let me know. You can be creative with your judgments, a la Simon Cowell.

We'll run the contest for a week, From Sunday to Saturday at 23:59 Zulu time, and award the winner on Sunday evening. If the DD ever gets some ad revenue, we could actually award prizes!

Good idea? Oui? Non?

April 12, 2006 7:22 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Oh, super idea. And then every second week we can have a novel contest (Harry will specialize in Italian stream of consciousness.) And how about a symphony contest once a month?

Easy, man. Some of us actually have semi-real lives. Or try to.

April 12, 2006 6:05 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Ha! You're not fooling me, Burnet. You have no real life. I bet if I ran a sarcasm contest every week, you would flood the blog with entries.

Seriously, I'm just putting out a feeler. You don't have to submit something every week, we do have other patrons, you know. Several, in fact!

April 12, 2006 6:19 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Speaking of literary compositions, what's the Detroit paper doing with Skipper's opus?

April 12, 2006 10:35 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

You don't have to submit something every week, we do have other patrons, you know

This is where consumer loyalty gets you in today's world.

April 13, 2006 3:10 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

So we have a 'non!' from Peter (whose patronage we value highly!), and no comment from the group so far. I'll wait for Brit to get back from holiday, but it isn't looking good for the Proposition.

April 13, 2006 5:15 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Non, you don't have a "non". You have a curmudgeonly grumble. Completely different things.

But no free verse, ok? Can't abide the stuff.

April 13, 2006 5:51 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Harry:

I have heard precisely nada, nil, zero, zilch, squanto moto.

However, on Monday the Free Press did publish this from the anti-AA side.

April 13, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Sheesh, do you think I can order my muse around like a French prime minister? Mais non!

Sometimes she shows up, sometimes not.

April 13, 2006 9:16 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

BTW --

I'm happy to act as an impartial judge.

However, given my verse skills, that might well be akin to considering a horse an impartial judge of Sanskrit.

April 13, 2006 9:33 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

So, Harry, is that a 'non' or another curmudgeonly grumble? I wonder if there is a website that translates curmudgeon to english?

If I held it once a month, would that give you sensitive, artistic souls enough time to replenish your creative juices?

April 13, 2006 10:02 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Once a month seems like a decent interval.

Declaring a winner is positive only if it encourages competition, but doesn't cause disappointment, since the only prize is admiration.
Both Peter's and Harry's attempts were brilliant, but in very different ways and for different reasons, and Brit's reminded me of Dr. Seuss - fun and a bit absurd.

Why choose one over the other ?

As for me being a judge, I'm open to the idea, but, like Skipper, I'm not sure that I'm qualified.
I haven't yet seen any bad poetry submitted to the site, so if anyone else thinks that some of it was poor, they're probably a better judge.

April 13, 2006 11:44 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I'm game. But my participation will be spotty.

Most of my published poems have been sonnets, and they take me a while, even in English. I have to take off my socks to count the syllables.

April 13, 2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Most of my published poems have been sonnets...

Hmm. Most of mine have been epics. I'm now working on my third. The first two were failures.

April 13, 2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

Nothing stifles the creative muse quicker than writing to order (except when it doesn't, and necessity is the mother of invention).

Some topics, like the cartoons and the French students, lend themselves to poetic analysis because they are too farcical for prose.

So I propose we do it on an ad hoc basis, and when inspiration strikes Duck can collect all the poems in a giant compendium post, and this new Golden Bough, this Rattlebag of Poetic Gems, this Magical Miscellany we will commit to blogworld posterity, to amaze and delight future generations of like-minded timewasters.

April 19, 2006 12:45 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

OK, well that settles it. You can't herd cats, and you can't organize poets. Very well. I will look for a less regimented way to showcase the incredible creative talents of the DD staff and contributors. Thank you all for your input!

April 19, 2006 11:00 AM  

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