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02 Dec 2018, 5:23 pm

Tim Pool's suggesting that this is a broad panorama and that the yellow jackets aren't really hard left or right but that you do have left-wing and right-wing populists joining hands temporarily in a Bedouin sort of way.

Is there anything new about this really or is this just par for the course?


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02 Dec 2018, 5:42 pm

Peasants’ revolt

“Macron has been hit by a faceless digital ‘peasants’ revolt,’” said Francis Brochet, author of “Smartphone Democracy: Digital Populism from Trump to Macron.”

“The Yellow Jacket insurgency is a product of the same phenomena that brought him to power — the discredit of the system and people’s ability to communicate on social networks and organize spontaneously.”

The angry mood resembles the anti-establishment fever that drove Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, swept Donald Trump to the White House and hoisted populist parties into government in Italy.

In Macron’s case, tax cuts for the rich and a stream of insensitive soundbites — about the “crazy dough” spent on social benefits or telling citizens to “stop whining” and “just cross the street to find a job” — have alienated many voters.

Ministers initially tried to discredit the Champs-Elysées rioters as neo-fascists, although none of those arrested have a far-right background or a criminal record.

Yet opposition parties have not gained much traction from the protests, according to opinion polls. Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left France Unbowed have both tried to surf on the wave of discontent but have been kept at arm’s length by grassroots activists keen not to be tarred with an extremist brush. The conservative opposition Les Republicains have attacked Macron as remote and arrogant but landed few punches.

Source: Yellow Jackets hit Macron’s blind spot

On Saturday, French mobs were protesting a tax hike on fuel. And they, not Macron, are directly to blame for the death and destruction. But the fact that these massive demonstrations happened at all—that they involved some 283,000 protestors—shows how little anyone really worries about climate change.

Macron is trying to get France off of fossil fuels. The French government recently raised diesel taxes by seven euro cents and had planned to raise the gasoline tax by four euro cents. But it turns out that people—not just Americans—care deeply about melting ice caps and rising sea levels only under specific circumstances. Namely, when they can be blamed on the greed and stupidity of their political enemies. They find that they suddenly care a lot less when addressing climate change means shelling out a few extra euro cents. So the French came out in droves, lit bonfires, tore up some buildings, blocked streets, and chanted slogans.

Last year, Trump fought back against critics of the Paris withdrawal by saying, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” But he might have represented the citizens of Paris, too. “We no longer know what kind of car to buy, petrol, diesel, electric, who knows?” said one protester interviewed by the Guardian. “I have a little diesel van, and I don’t have the money to buy a new one, especially as I’m about to retire. We have the feeling those from the countryside are forgotten.”

Another protestor said that “the fuel tax was just the final straw.” He went on: “All we can do is show that people are angry, that they are not alone and that they can do something about it. I hope there is no violence, but people are angry. I can understand why, for years they have voted for things and nothing has changed for them.” The protestors, known as gilets jaunes, for their signature yellow vests, enjoy 79-percent support among the French working class, according to IFOP.

Source: The Paris Climate Discord



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02 Dec 2018, 6:25 pm

When I think about the protests against the fuel tax I think he really needed some sort of equal-and-opposite carrot - like a massive tax-writeoff for purchasing fully electric light commercial trucks and cars and maybe something similar (albeit perhaps not as deep) for hybrids. While I laud the desire to decrease carbon emissions I think of everything Mark Blyth has been saying for the last few years about how the European neoliberal elite have been shooting themselves in the foot - ie. exporting jobs or running import deficits with China so high as to maintain double-digit employment and then putting things in place that hurt the poor and working class even more on top of the unemployment and terrible pay.

It's interesting to hear though that these are middle and upper-middle class protesters. Unless it's a bunch of college-age kids trying to find meaning, purpose, and possibly partner though activism it seems tough to get them energized and it sounds like - if they are effectively both holding far left and far right at bay - there may very well be some very disciplined people actually pulling the reigns which is a rare sight these days.


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02 Dec 2018, 8:06 pm

It is a grass roots movement. It pits the common man against the elites.

The demonstrators had been told to stay at the official protest site designated by the French authorities – the Champ de Mars by the Eiffel Tower – and to keep away from a number of sensitive sites in the city, including the Champs Élysées and Place de la Concorde near the Elysée palace.

The first arrivals were angry and frustrated, feeling abandoned by their leaders and determined to make their voices heard. Those who spoke to the [reporters of the] Observer were of all ages, held a wide range of jobs or were unemployed, and of various political persuasions. None of those who spoke to journalists – on or off the record – appeared to be looking for a fight.

Many talked of desperation at trying to make ends meet. As they passed the designer stores off the Champs Élysées, their complaints over inequality appeared to strike a chord: TV pundits spoke of an “insurrection of the people against the elites”.


Source: French 'gilets jaunes' protests turn violent on the streets of Paris

The Paris riots have resulted in 3 deaths, over 750 injuries, hundreds of cars burned in protest, and caused about 2 million dollars of damage and Macron may be in the process of issuing a State of Emergency. It has spread to Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.



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02 Dec 2018, 8:14 pm

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
When I think about the protests against the fuel tax I think he really needed some sort of equal-and-opposite carrot - like a massive tax-writeoff for purchasing fully electric light commercial trucks and cars and maybe something similar (albeit perhaps not as deep) for hybrids.


Someone usually has to pay for the tax incentives and that is normally the middle class. And the ones that benefit the most from these tax write-offs are the wealthy. When Obama implemented tax write-offs on electric vehicles back when he first became President, many people around where I live used the tax write-off to buy electric golf carts. The tax incentives were not well thought out.



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02 Dec 2018, 8:19 pm

jimmy m wrote:
Someone usually has to pay for the tax incentives and that is normally the middle class. And the ones that benefit the most from these tax write-offs are the wealthy. When Obama implemented tax write-offs on electric vehicles back when he first became President, many people around where I live used the tax write-off to buy electric golf carts. The tax incentives were not well thought out.

That does sound like a pretty goofy loophole to leave open.

I was thinking more about how just having a tax on gasoline and diesel is a bit like saying 'don't do economic activity so much'. It's just not what you want to do, especially on its own, if you want more jobs or want to help small business succeed.


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02 Dec 2018, 8:49 pm

The French do have a history of common people rising up. In this case, again, the middle and lower classes are asked to bear the burden of global warming and that is the problem. It's not that they don't care. They just can't afford it. While the people who can afford it, continue to make money off it. La Folle de Chaillot fights the businesses who care not that their exploitation of the earth's oil will result in the earth exploding (written in 1943) and just want to make money now. Reading it in high school was one of my first introductions to corporate greed. It is a wonderful fairy tale where it all comes out okay in the end. I am not sure our children will be so lucky. :(


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02 Dec 2018, 8:58 pm

I don't understand it. Right now where I live gasoline is around $2.60 per gallon. Is the fuel tax in France equivalent to doubling that? Equivalent to going from a $2.60 to over $5.00 per gallon? $10.00 per gallon? I guess I could see riots in the U.S. if gas tax increased the overall cost of gas to $10.00/gallon, $20.00/gallon. Especially since the cost of a barrel of crude oil is low right now. So I guess I'm not entirely sure why they're rioting. What would an equivalent be in the U.S.?


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03 Dec 2018, 1:16 am

The tax will increase the price of fuel by about 30 cents per gallon and will continue to rise over the next few years, the French government says. Gas already costs about $7.06 per gallon in France. So this might be the last straw that broke the camels back.

Source: Thousands in France are protesting gas taxes — and their president

Drivers protesting see these as disproportionately affecting those who use their cars to get to and from their jobs every day. In the main cities many people use public transportation to get around and are generally not affected by the tax increase whereas those in the suburbs and countryside feel the full effect of the increases.

If the economy is stagnant and wages flatlined, then I can understand that the common man may feel like they are being slowly continually taxed to death as their fuel cost continue to rise year after year.



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03 Dec 2018, 12:41 pm

Groups of masked protesters battled police through clouds of tear gas near Paris’ Champs Elysees on Saturday as thousands took part in a third weekend of “yellow vest” demonstrations, which have morphed from anger over fuel taxes into a broader anti-government movement.

Demonstrators, some wielding slingshots, threw rocks, construction barricades and even paint at police in protective gear and helmets, with some officers seen spattered with yellow liquid.

An acrid odor of tear gas and smoke from burning cars and trash containers filled the air in the areas near the clashes.

Stores and restaurants along the famous avenue as well as surrounding streets had boarded up windows, anticipating a repeat of the clashes last Saturday which President Emmanuel Macron compared to “war scenes.”

Chantal, a 61-year-old pensioner who came from an eastern Paris suburb, said she was avoiding the “hooligans” but was determined to send President Emmanuel Macron a message on the rising costs of living.

“He has to come down off his pedestal,” she said under cold rain on the Champs Elysees. “Every month I have to dip into my savings.”

Shortly after midday on the Champs Elysees, several hundred people began marching behind a huge yellow-and-red banner reading “Macron, stop taking us for idiots!”

“With all these tax hikes, there’s not much left for eating at the end of the month,” said Philippe, a high school cook in the Essonne region outside Paris.

The countrywide protests have included many pensioners and have been most active in small urban and rural areas where demonstrators blocked roads, closed motorway toll booths, and even walled up the entrance to tax offices.

But many protesters were unconvinced by Macron’s speech last Tuesday. “What we need is something tangible, not just smoke and mirrors,” said Yoann Allard, a 30-year-old farmhand.

Source: Violent clashes seen again in Paris as demonstrators vent anger about fuel taxes, cost of living

The protests in France have inspired a similar movement in neighboring Belgium, where protesters took to the streets on Friday.

There have also been small-scale protests in Canada over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to impose a federal carbon tax on provinces unwilling to combat climate change.

Source: France's Macron learns the hard way: green taxes carry political risks

Policy contradictions run like deep fissures through the detail of Macron’s energy transition. The president reaffirmed plans to arbitrarily cut nuclear’s contribution to France’s generating mix by one third and make way for a vast expansion of renewable energy, tripling wind capacity and solar fivefold. As Macron says, thanks to nuclear, France has some of the lowest cost electricity in Europe. Its nuclear power stations transmit high value, low cost electricity to France’s neighbours, constituting one of France’s largest net exports, at one point contributing €3bn a year to the French economy.

What hadn’t been foreseen was that France’s nuclear programme would give it a huge advantage in the age of global warming. Nuclear is already zero greenhouse gas emitting. With the sunk costs of existing nuclear power stations, you cannot do better. Anything that moves away from that is likely to see emissions increase, as is happening in Germany.

The fact is nuclear has the smallest environmental footprint of any energy source. By contrast, wind and solar are a giant step backwards because of the inherent drawbacks of weather-dependent generation, brilliantly described recently by Peter Foster in the Canadian Financial Post:

“The term Variable Renewable Energy, VRE, could more accurately be described as Unreliable Renewable Energy, URE, due to the terribly obvious fact that the sun doesn’t shine at night, and sometimes not during the day either, while the wind doesn’t always blow. Thus the more that wind and solar are part of your system, the more technical contortions they demand from backup power and the structure of the grid. The efficient part of the system has to twist itself into a technical pretzel to accommodate the inefficient part.”

Tuesday’s speech sounds the death knell of France’s nuclear programme. Macron’s announced the closure of 14 nuclear reactors between now and 2035. New nuclear power stations after the troubled Flamanville project would have to be price competitive. The problem, as shown by the premature closure of nuclear plants in the US, is having large amounts wind and solar destroy the economics of nuclear – transferring the inefficiency of wind and solar makes nuclear less efficient, raising the price at which it can break even. Nuclear doesn’t make for a good pretzel.

Macron describes the rise of wind and solar as “ineluctable” and at the heart of his government’s programme. One thing it won’t do is make the planet great again. None of the near 9,000 words of Macron’s speech explain or justify why it makes any commercial, economic or environmental sense to raise taxes to subsidise renewable energy. Instead it smacks of craven appeasement of a destructive green ideology that has always been hostile to nuclear, especially the variety emanating from its larger neighbour across the Rhine.

Source: Will the transition écologique be Macron’s Waterloo?



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03 Dec 2018, 12:50 pm

jimmy m wrote:
The tax will increase the price of fuel by about 30 cents per gallon and will continue to rise over the next few years, the French government says. Gas already costs about $7.06 per gallon in France. So this might be the last straw that broke the camels back.

Source: Thousands in France are protesting gas taxes — and their president

Drivers protesting see these as disproportionately affecting those who use their cars to get to and from their jobs every day. In the main cities many people use public transportation to get around and are generally not affected by the tax increase whereas those in the suburbs and countryside feel the full effect of the increases.

If the economy is stagnant and wages flatlined, then I can understand that the common man may feel like they are being slowly continually taxed to death as their fuel cost continue to rise year after year.


Thank you, Jimmy. This gives me the perspective I was looking for. I think there would be protests across the U.S. if gas was up to $8.00/gallon. Hopefully that doesn't happen, and if so, hopefully there wouldn't be riots.


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03 Dec 2018, 12:57 pm

> Any Ideas On The Paris Riots?

My thought was that if Hillary had been elected, this is exactly what would be happening in the US.


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03 Dec 2018, 1:03 pm

For years we have lived in a climate of ‘You can’t say that’. You can’t criticise mass immigration — that’s xenophobia. You can’t oppose the EU — that’s Europhobia. You can’t raise concerns about radical Islam — that’s Islamophobia. You can’t agitate against climate-change policy — that’s climate-change denialism, on a par with Holocaust denialism, and anyone who dares to bristle against eco-orthodoxy deserves to be cast out of polite society. And yet now, in this populist moment, people are daring to say precisely these unsayable things. They’re standing up to the EU. They’re demanding that immigration become a democratic concern rather than something worked out for us by unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels. And now they’re even grating against the hitherto unquestionable religious-style diktat that we must all drive less, shop less and do less in order to ‘save the planet’.

Of course the gilet-jaunes revolt isn’t just about fuel tax. It expresses a broader sense of public anger with the new political class and their cult of bureaucracy, their preference for technocracy over democracy, their gaping, astonishing distance from the concerns and beliefs of ordinary people. In essence, the people’s revolt against Macronism speaks to a profound crisis of legitimacy among the 21st-century political class and a willingness within the public to kick up a fuss about things they might previously have been silent about.

But it is not an accident that climate-change policies were, in the French case, the spark that lit the populist flame. Because environmentalism has always been a central feature of the new elitism, a means through which a self-styled virtuous political class could demonstrate its eco-awareness by shaming and punishing those who drive cars to work, or work in polluting industries, or fail to recycle their rubbish.

Source: In praise of the Gilets jaunes



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03 Dec 2018, 1:12 pm

Most European countries already have such monumentally high prices for gas, so I could understand how an increase could spark enough outrage to cause riots.

Years ago, I was involved with Swiss woman. Once, I was complaining about gas prices in the U.S., which were quite a bit higher at the time then they are now. Boy, did I get chewed out!



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03 Dec 2018, 1:16 pm

About five years ago, in the UK, gas was about $10.00 a gallon. Nowadays, it's about $5.00 a gallon.

In the US, gas prices are usually half of that found in most of Continental Europe.