Don’t Kill the Messenger
If what you want from my Parler Paris Nouvellettre® is “to escape the news and enjoy the best things that Paris has to offer” (what one reader wrote me yesterday), then forget it. You’ll have to find something else to read that doesn’t provoke thought or doesn’t report an honest view of life as an American in France. Quite honestly, escaping what’s happening around me is not something I personally want to do, nor do I think we should bury our heads in the sand. That’s how we end up in the messes we’re in.
Monday’s Parler Paris Nouvellettre® had its fair share of responses, primarily commenting about my comparison of French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent interview by The Financial Times to a recent press conference by the U.S. President who “communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents.”
Hey, don’t kill the messenger — I’m just presenting the facts based on what I see and read from reliable sources.
One reader wrote, “Adrian, you’re just anti-Trump. Face it.” (BTW, I’ve corrected the writer’s typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings so he’d look a bit more intelligent than the American president.) And yes, believe me, I face this reality every single day the moment I turn on the news and see the latest developments.
Quite frankly, Americans, I don’t understand how you can stand it anymore. I am a citizen of a country that I was taught to believe was the greatest nation in the world — that we could accomplish anything…anything and everything we set our minds to. The coronavirus pandemic has proven that to be false.
Don’t kill the messenger, but here are the official figures.
The U.S. has 32 percent of the world’s Covid-19 cases and 25 percent of the deaths. Compared to China, where the virus began, which has had 3 deaths per 1,000, the U.S. has had 135 per 1,000. The U.S. is doing a bang-up job of leading the world in managing the pandemic the worst. And you wonder why I am so angry with my native country’s leadership?
Yesterday I watched large groups of (primarily white) Americans outside on the streets of the Washington State Capitol and Denver and other spots around the country, waving American flags and demonstrating for their freedom to refuse the confinement orders designed to protect them from contracting Covid-19 or giving it to others. They didn’t care about their lives or anyone else’s — only that they could go back to their businesses, or their jobs, or have their nails or hair done (they actually said this to CNN reporters) and consider the economic downsides as important or more important than lives. The President applauded them for their patriotism.
I get why they aren’t happy. Losing financial security is very, very scary. We in France aren’t as worried since we have a bigger safety net thanks to the French social security system and protective labor laws. One of my readers wrote, “France’s approach to the crisis was to pay companies to prevent layoffs while in the U.S. we are going through capitalism (lots of layoffs then trying to get individual money from the government). So I think the French economy and buyers will bounce back faster with less friction vs the U.S. where companies will need to rehire.”
He’s right. According to USA Today, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was as low as 3.5 percent in February, but may hit nearly 16 percent by July, “higher than at any point since the Great Depression.” Currently, more than 22 million Americans are out of work.
In France, almost 9 million workers are on a temporary unemployment scheme to put employees on reduced or no hours while the state picks up all or most of their net wages for the unworked time. (france24.com/en/) The scheme is designed to help smaller companies stave off bankruptcy, asking the bigger companies to bear more of the costs.
So, do me a favor. If you’re going to write and tell me that my own publication is not a proper venue to voice these kinds of observations (mixed with my own opinions), then don’t bother. It’s exactly the right venue to provide you with a view of life in France from the point of view of an American. That’s what I do, regardless of whether you like my point of view or not.
And if you want to warn me that those observations are going to cost me business, then don’t bother doing that, either. In case you haven’t noticed, money is not what a happy life is all about, especially mine. My health? It’s at the top of the list.
Now, if you have real facts that are arguable with the ones I’ve found that present a different picture than mine, then I’m all eyes and ears. The only thing that matters is the truth and if I were you, I’d be seriously fed up with all the lies.
As I said, I’m just the messenger. Don’t kill me if you don’t like the message.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Special announcement: The annual “Meet the Authors” event that takes place every June in Nice will be postponed till further notice, due to the Covid-19 crisis…”bien sûr!” No worries, it’ll be back as soon as possible!