A Yellow Streak Along Paris’ Back
Our 36th House Hunters International episode is now “in the can” with “contributors” Julie and Isabel Fry happily installed in their new apartment in Paris. We taped in three areas of the city last week: Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Le Marais and near Le Centre Pompidou, all in studio apartments perfect for a young student and her mother to share with her from time to time.
Don’t ask me when the show will air, because there is no way of telling! First it must be edited and polished, then HGTV schedules it, but have no fear…we’ll be the first to let you know!
Don’t slip up and miss the exhibition at the MAHJ — the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaism — “Sigmund Freud: Du Regard à l’Ecoute,” or “Sigmund Freud: From Looking to Listening.” On until February 10th, 2019, the exhibition marks the 20th anniversary of the museum, with more than 200 paintings, drawings, prints, books, objects and scientific instruments, including major works by Gustave Courbet, Gustav Klimt, René Magritte and Mark Rothko. For those of you who are as intrigued by Freud as Freud was of the human psyche, I warn you that the room housing “La Vie Sexuelle” may not be suitable for minors and that none of the works in this exhibition are accompanied by English-language notations or brochures. If you don’t read French, you may find yourself at a loss.
YELLOW BACKS AND BELLIES
While I was enjoying California sunshine over the Thanksgiving holidays, the “Yellow Vest” (“Gilets Jaunes” in French) movement was taking shape in France. The French are so good at expressing their discontentment at even the slightest issue, that I can’t say I thought too much of it at the time, but in the last few weeks, it has reached monumental proportion.
It all started in May of this year with a petition, but real action didn’t take place until this past November 17th while I was eating boiled blue crabs and partying with my family in New Orleans. The movement is founded on unhappiness about rising fuel prices (thanks to an increased tax on petrol), but the bottom line is the rising costs for the middle class and the discontentment with Emmanuel Macron, who they see as the “President of the rich.” While he has eased up on taxing the wealthy and businesses to encourage the economy, the increase of tax on fuel affects the middle and lower income classes, and this comes in advance of planned reforms of the pension and welfare systems.
The Yellow Vests — who have wreaked havoc, destruction and deaths with demonstrations and riots the past two weekends in Paris with more expected this coming weekend — want him to resign. The media would make you think that Paris is a war zone, and while this past Saturday night a lot of public transportation came to a halt, we here in the Le Marais didn’t notice at all. I was merrily out and about shopping, visiting museums and minding my own business without much care, but then later heard a personal account by someone living in the neighborhood of the “Grand Magazins,” that the department stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps were evacuated of their Christmas shoppers and she could smell the tear gas from her own apartment.
Google it and you’ll find the reports and multitudes of articles and photos on the movement, but what fascinates me is the diametrically opposite viewpoint the French have of how to grow an economy from our own American Capitalistic one. They elected M. Macron to make significant changes to improve France’s economy, increase jobs, make it easier for businesses to prosper, etc., etc., etc. (or so we were led to believe). But, when he does what he promised, the reality hits them in face that they might have to tighten their belts on one hand to prosper on the other. That’s when they complain that he’s the “President of the rich” and don’t want to make any sacrifices.
One of my businessman friends remarked last night that his policies have made a real difference for the success of his business. Perhaps Macron has adopted the idea of “trickle-down economics” — that if taxes on businesses and the wealthy were reduced, it would stimulate business investment and benefit society at large, a joke originated by humorist Will Rogers and a criticism of economic policies that favor the privileged. Later, thanks to Ronald Reagan who adopted the philosophy, the term we used was “Reaganomics.
U.S. President Donald Trump is betting that it works, too. Plans for corporate tax cuts are proposed with the idea that companies will hire and invest, ultimately reaching the pockets of the middle class. But, in works in theory and not in fact. What really happened under the Reagan and Bush administrations is that instead of helping people at all income levels, the opposite occurred. Income actually worsened. Instead of it trickling down, prosperity trickled up and yes, the rich just got richer.
So, perhaps the Yellow Vests have a point. And without a doubt, they’re doing everything they can to make it.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. My daughter, Erica, and I have put our West Village apartment on the market. You can take advantage of a two year rental or purchase it outright. You’ll find details and contact information in a recent edition of French Property Insider