Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thoughts from France

There is a love-hate relationship between the United States and France. The French often seem to do things to enrage this nation's government (and who can blame them, when we get such stupidities handed down as "freedom fries" instead of French fries?).
Remember how this whole caper escalated? It was engendered when
1. Emperor George decreed that every right-thinking nation would gladly fall in line to support his one-man vendetta against Iraq.
2. France declined to obey.
3. The American government decreed that all visitors holding French passports suddenly needed visas to enter this nation.
4. In return France dumped its American dollars.
5. Your dollars and mine abruptly lost who knows how much value against the Euro.
In researching earlier cultures, we ourselves have spent some time in Brittany (Bretagne) (a land not to be confused with France itself because the Bretons too have a love-hate relationship with France).
We have observed that French people have some wonderful, effective, innovative ideas that make a lot of sense. When diesel prices climbed outrageously, French truckers united to blockade access to the oil refineries of France. Only emergency vehicles could get fuel. The blockade lasted one (1) entire day; then the French government decided to change the tax structure on fuels. We hear truckers complaining impotently on TV today about diesel at $4 a gallon--and well they should. Why don't American truckers take positive action?
From the point of view of gasoline prices in this nation, the only thing that will convince the oil cartel to lower its prices is if we all stop using as much fuel. Again if we turn to the French, they used the good old Irish boycott--they declared a no-driving day. Of course with public transportation in Europe it is easier to do that than it is in the United States. Of course. We understand--but still we could do it too. Surely if we can declare a no-smoking day, we can declare a no-driving day.
As a last resort, write your congressman, futile though it may be, to tell them in words of one syllable that while the oil companies are making today's obscene profits, they don't need or deserve multi-million-dollar tax breaks and subsidies.
Have a good day. Have a nice walk.
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

1. All of us drastically cut our consumption of fuels. Carpool, ride a bike or a motor scooter, take a bus.
2. Consolidate errands to do them all on one trip instead of on three or four.
3. Until the auto makers catch on, simply stop buying and driving the big SUVs and vehicle-envy machines that implicitly vaunt their low mpg.
4. Finally, a four-letter word that we hesitate to use on a site accessible to young people:


SecondComingOfBast said...

Those last four items you listed is great advice, even for times of cheap energy. As for France, yes, they have some good ideas. For example, in order to efficiently meet their own considerable energy needs, and at the same time combat Gorebal Warming, they have embraced nuclear energy (ahem).

Actually, I for one don't hate the French, in fact I like the people, though they have this unfortunate habit they share in common with Americans of electing assholes for leaders.

Our problems with them predate George Bush, though, and in fact predate the existence of the United States as an independent nation. It is in fact traceable to the French and Indian Wars, which is in fact the major origin of our problems with the Indians as well.

There have been problems with them ever since. Washington's refusal to side with them against the British, the X,Y,Z affair under Adams, etc. Even Jefferson's funding of the disastrous Napoleonic Wars by his purchase for a basically bargain basement price of the Louisiana Territory probably caused a lot of bitterness, if the truth was known.

The few times we've gotten along with them have been but hiccups along the way. I look at our brief affair with Freedom Toast and Freedom Fries as an episode of temporary insanity, or at least outright childishness.

On the other hand, when I think of some of the characters they've had as leaders, it makes me pine for the reincarnation of Robespierre.

SecondComingOfBast said...

By the way it was a famous French philosopher (though I forget which one) who made the statement "America is the only nation in history that went from barbarism straight into decadence without the usual intervening period of civilization".

I get the idea he actually meant that as a backhanded compliment of sorts. Which just goes to show the French and we Americans have a long, long history with our love-hate relationship.

Raven said...

Concerning protests in the United States - apparently the truckers have been taking action, but the mainstream press does not cover it. Here is a link for those who are curious:

The Mr. Anderson said...

PT, the "famous French philosopher" who said, "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between" was Oscar Wilde. Only he was born in Ireland and was primarily known as a British poet and playwright.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Mr. Anderson-

I stand corrected. I remember though somebody on some tv show a long time ago mentioning that in connection with a French philosopher. I would have remembered had he said Wilde. Are you sure Wilde himself didn't just repeat it? Then again, that's been so long ago my memory might be playing tricks on me.