Un Grand Foutage de Gueule….or Urine Extraction on the Grand Scale

France is a country, a society, of entrenched monopolies….if the leaders of the various interest groups would just dress up in houppelandes and liripipes we should have no difficulty in recognising them as the successors of the masters of the trade guilds of the middle ages, carefully allowing only those who conformed to their rule to be able to work at a trade.

You can understand their attitude…to some extent. If they limited the numbers working at their trade they could keep their prices up and afford a bit of fur to line their houppelandes in the winter weather.

De Gaulle tried breaking the monopoly which he said was the permanent enemy of France…..the moneyed interest…so he set up the Ecole Nationale d’Administration to produce people to man the organs of the state.
As we can see today, the moneyed interest just sneered and made sure their kids monopolised the available places….and President Hollandouille busies himself stuffing people from his own time there – the ‘promotion Voltaire’ – into every well paid orifice the state affords.

His predecessor, President Sarkozy, came to power announcing that France needed reform and before his own party – startled that he actually meant what he said – could muzzle him he had attacked one of the sacred cows of France…..the monopoly of the artisan francais. The French craftsman.

One heard a lot about the wonders of the artisan francais in the time when the ‘living the dreamers’ monopolised what was written about France….he had served an apprenticeship (up to a point Lord Copper); his work was insured (it damned well had to be from what I saw of the breed); and he was a local independent workman.

It cost him a a packet to set up though and with unemployment growing the Great Reformer thought it would be good to allow people to try setting up their business without it costing the arm and a leg they would need to develop it.

Thus the new creation of something called the auto-entrepreneur who only paid contributions on what he actually earned as opposed to paying them on what some civil servant with no experience in business thought he should have been earning.

It has been a success. People have been able to try out their ideas without ruinous financial risk: people have stopped working on the black and have declared themselves – thus paying something into the state’s coffers as opposed to taking something out as being unemployed.
People may not make much money at it..not enough to pay the ruinous charges of the artisan francais…but enough to keep their heads above water.
A good thing, one would think, when times are hard.

So the Great Monopandouille wants to stop it.
Of course he does.
The scheme gives rise to unfair competition for the artisan francais.

While the simple answer would be to allow the artisan to operate under the same scheme as the auto entrepreneur which might make it financially possible for him to employ someone, unfortunately only paying up as a percentage of what is made would produce an immense shortfall in the social security budget, let alone leaving thousands of civil servants with even less to do than usual…and it would never do to try to reform the great monopolies of the health service and the state bureaucracy.

No,no…this product of the ENA, trained box tickers to a man, goes for the solution of the medieval guildmasters….if it doesn’t jump through our hoops it won’t be allowed to work.

After two years, it is proposed, the auto-entrepreneur must either cough up like the artisan francais or join the ever swelling ranks of the unemployed.
And very helpful that will be in reducing the deficit in the national finances.

With all the problems facing France, Hollande, Moi-je, President of France, can think of nothing better to do than to pander to interest groups to keep himself in power….which is what he did during his reign as secretary of the Socialist Party.
He doesn’t seem to have learned, to have understood, even to be aware, that running a country is a far cry from manipulating a bunch of brain dead would-be Borgias.

When his Interior Minister is busy allowing riot police to use tear gas at a demonstration where there are people with small children, could he not better employ his resources in clearing up the drug and crime ridden suburbs of the big cities where decent kids don’t stand a chance of setting up their own businesses…let alone entering the ENA?

But these are just ordinary people; people who have been marching in Marseille in protest at the lack of presence of the state in their areas, protesting at the corrupt police who are enforcers for the drug rings.
Much more important to reassure the bosses of the big companies that they can go on awarding themselves pay and perks at will…nomatter how dire their performance – after all, they’ve been to ENA. They deserve it.

Let it not be said, nor even whispered in Gath and Ashkelon, that the big cheese does not set an example in difficult times.
He has announced that he will not be lounging on the new garden furniture chosen by the light of his life for the presidential holiday home in the south of France.
No…he will be in Paris. At work. And so will his ministers.

They have to show they are there.

What is important, he says, is the impression.

Allo, non mais allo quoi!

Does he take the average French person for an idiot?
Impression of what exactly?

Selling off some of the wine from the Presidential cellars while those – far better – at the Lanterne (the house at Versailles on the books of the Prime Minister’s department but favoured by Hollande as by Sarkozy before him) remain at his disposal?

Announcing that the unemployment figures will improve – and allowing his ministers to do their bit by employing more and more advisors paid by the public purse?

The impression people have is that he is extracting the urine…..but what would you expect?
With the taxes he has imposed he has already extracted everything else.


32 thoughts on “Un Grand Foutage de Gueule….or Urine Extraction on the Grand Scale”

  1. *Applause* I’m an auto-entrepreneur, and as of February I will be taxed a whopping 50% of my part-time earnings. If this goes through won’t be able to afford to carry on unless I reduce the quality of my copyediting work- and I don’t want to. My customers will outsource to untraceable “foreign” companies because they are researchers whose budgets are also shrinking at the hands of Hollandouille. Apparently the French State neeeds English teachers….. There’s nothing like people who know how to adapt, even when they’re close to 50.
    At least he’s promised to give us foreigners the right to vote in the Presidentials, that way we’ll be able to get shot of him if France isn’t already on its knees by then. On the other hand, he promised that there’d be no more perks and bonuses for big bosses too, and we all know what happened to that.

    1. I saw his presidential campaign from afar…and shuddered.
      It was clear as could be that he offered no hope to France whatsoever – an intriguer and a box ticker, not a leader.

  2. This is something our friend Stéphane complained about a lot. He did much of the work on our house and in the end switched to registered as a SARL, but it was the biggest hassle ever. He had lived in Canada for a while and even though is French, couldn’t believe what a palaver and how expensive it was to set up in France as a registered artisan. On the other hand, he is very critical of other auto-entrepreneurs who set themselves up in the building trade with no more than bricoleur experience.

    We have rarely had less than an entirely positive experience of the French artisans, and our few negative experiences have been minor things easy to sort out. Our impression is that the artisans of our generation, and many of the younger ones, have a vocation. They love to work on old buildings, with all their challenges, but are bored by new builds. As a result the worst case of an artisan screwing up that I have heard of locally is on the new house of some (French) friends of ours. It is so bad I assume the house will need to be rebuilt. The insurance will cover it, but Jean-Michel is spitting chips at the delay and hassle value of it all. The really curious thing is the artisan is one who has an exceptionally good reputation on restoration projects (although he is personally not well liked, due to an abrasive personality).

    1. I had an older generation of the artisan francais….frankly, bloody useless. No eyes for old buildings, and slipshod if not watched.
      Then we found the Turks. The boss had been in France for years, had worked on historic buildings and set up his own firm…wow, were those boys good!
      He had en eye and a heart for old buildings….his men worked like demons and he kept to budgets, but the bureaucracy and expense of being in business in France used to drive him wild.
      We were lucky to have them….locally there were only a few firms…they would get a devis signed but it could be eighteen months before any work was started as French friends found out the hard way.
      No, I’m not keen on those who ‘became’ builders either…..but having seen what passes for professionalism with the firms building the rash of pavillons that were being put up on on the commune’s lotissement the ‘becomers’ couldn’t have done a worse job.
      Well, the builders’ lobby wanted to get rid of the AE builders…and Hollande promised he would do it.
      Pity that everyone else gets pulled down in the process.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. The French wonder why they have no base of medium sized companies to bolster economic growth. It’s because they have no small ones. Autoentrepreneurs works well so let’s kill it. Good plan.

    1. There seems to be a terrible fear among the French ruling caste of allowing anyone any power to decide something for themselves….they like everything to be encased in structures.
      But when the structures clearly don’t work they have no alternatives.
      Is there something in the upbringing of the children of the French elite caste that turns them into anal retentives?

  4. At the time of his election, it looked like a car crash about to happen – there couldn’t possibly be any good that would come of his policies.
    And so it turns out to be – talk about stifling creativity and the self employed.
    As you say, it’s like he doesn’t want to make critical decisions and meanders from one mistake to another – all fed my special interest pressure.
    It’s not pretty.

    1. No, he was the worst possible choice….but the press was all for him as he’d promised (a promise kept) to reinstate the provision by which journalists can have thirty per cent of their income disregarded for tax – something Sarkozy refused to do.
      I hold no brief for Sarkozy…..but Hollande was a disaster in the making.

        1. There certainly isn’t the vital spark between Merkel and Hollande, that’s for sure!
          And as for Melanchon with his calls for a 6th Republic…people should take note of the accumulation of pensions he holds from all his past elected posts before they take him seriously…another case of

          Do as I say not as I do….

  5. You wonder if he’s doing it on purpose, wrecking the country, because he’s doing a damned fine job. I signed the AE Poussin’s petition to save the AE regime, I just hope MoiJe 1er gets the message…

    1. Good job he’s not Jewish or we’d have people spouting the Protocols of Zion all over again….you do wonder what he uses for a brain though.
      It isn’t just that he doesn’t have the guts to reform things root and branch it’s that he doesn’t want to….

  6. Sounds like France is even worse than Spain! I’ve been investigating setting up a chocolate making business but as I’d have to pay a minimum of 254e a month just to be self-employed, it’s not worth finding out more. Too depressing. In Spain’s case, it’s a leftover from Franco but basically has the same effect as the one you describe so caustically and brilliantly above.
    I don’t always stop long enough to work out why things are so bloody difficult – your take on things is just so very illuminating. Axxx

    1. Well I have more time than you to chew things over!
      What you describe and what happens in France is part and parcel of a control from the top mentality…which with the entry to the EU has been taking over in the U.K. as well.
      They seem terrified that anyone should be independent in any way.

  7. The really depressing thing about political incompetence on this scale and cronyism is that it seems to be repeated in one way or the other in most countries. I It doesn’t give you a bolt hole – anywhere.

    1. Having moved from one banana republic (France) to another (Costa Rica) I am inured to incompetence and greed paid from the public purse.
      What upsets me is when the U.K. behaves in the same way…..its traditions used to be different.

    1. And isn’t that dreadful!
      I’m particularly fed up with this attack on the AEs as I knew so many capable youngsters in France unable to raise the wind to set up their own little one man bands and pushed by their parents into ‘safe’ jobs…more civil servants.

  8. It is somewhat reassuring to see that pandering politicians in other parts of Europe also equate stupidity and political ambiguity (doppeldeutigkeit being a leftover remnant from that awfie eejit Mr Sarkozy) as closely as chickens are to their eggs when it comes to aptitude in doctrines relevant to a particular fondness for raping the working class of their hard earned cash.

    Eat the rich I say…

    1. And no doubt you will have a recipe….

      My own ideas follow the instructions for cooking lampreys….which have to be cooked while alive
      First bring to the boil in water. Dunk for 10 seconds
      Remove, scrape slime from skin.
      Wash in cold water and hang over sink to bleed for 30 minutes into a bowl containing wine for the sauce having first cut off the tail at the anus.
      Cut off head, remove backbone (this might be difficult to find in politicians) and press out the intestines.

      Proceed to cook.

      I couldn’t do it to a lamprey, but line me up the politicians and I’ll have a hook over the sink for the whole pot and boiling of them…

  9. Helen, you encapsulate the situation so well. We have a business here which we set up in 2005 – ferronnerie d’art. The social charges (let’s not go there!) alone are enough to drive you to bankruptcy. It is just the silliest system. Your point, an excellent one, why not put everyone on the same footing as autoentrepreneur scheme makes sense. Aside from that, we honestly have no idea where France will end up economically. In general, the customer service is appalling. There is no notion of putting the customers needs first. Expensive, poor quality, stuff out of stock, no idea when new stock will arrive, pricey, couldn’t care anyway, extortionate prices, rudeness….I could go on. It’s not a question of speaking the language. We do that well enough & eloquently enough to make our needs and our unhappiness very clear. We have tried & tried again to use local suppliers in a bid to keep the money local & to support local businesses but more & more, we source our stuff from the UK. So do many, many others now, that we talk to. French speakers as well as English. In their droves. Having got used to the indifference nay hostility sometimes, of French service (a contradiction in terms), we are simply thrilled when a UK based supplier responds positively to our request, takes an interest in what we want & is actually prepared to help, can actually fulfil our request and yes!, ship it over here at a very reasonable rate! How are French businesses in fairly rural areas like the one we live in supporting themselves? They are still trading but who is buying? Could the free market put an end to those monopolies or will the grandees weigh in & close that ‘loophole’?

    1. How you cope without tearing out your hair I do not know….what you say reflects my own experience in France over the years when it was a mystery to me how firms could keep going with their poor service, lack of stock and sheer lack of interest in their customers.
      The only answer seemed to be that the French had it in their heads only to buy from a local supplier….there was the system of ristourne which kept prices up for the end client….and that, bluntly, most clients would do what their builder of other artisan told them to do.
      I wanted to install a new boiler…I knew what I wanted but no local man would install it…it was a brand they did not know, could not get their ristourne on at their suppliers so they dug in their heels, sure that they had the monopoly locally.
      I got someone from the next department to install it…..but it was a struggle to get him to cross the frontier!

  10. I couldn’t believe my eyes when i read last week that the plan is to make the AE scheme time-limited. AE has been one of the few rays of hope for those trying to be self-employed in France and its castration will be a disaster for a number of people I know. No wonder you write so blisteringly of the murky reasons why Hollandouille (I LOVE that 🙂 ) has decided to mess up one of the rare recent success stories of the French economy. The man is a fool and a knave and is really hurting a lot of innocent people. Grrr!

    1. Hollandouille is what my friends call him…good, isn’t it!

      He is typical of the forces that have ruined France….the well off, reserving the plums for themselves while handing out sweeties to various interest groups to keep them quiet and in the process stifling talent and initiative.

      Those running gites and B and Bs can start watching out too….the hotel and restaurant trade have them in their sights…unfair competiition for thin towels, sullen service and food direct from the Picard chain’s freezers….

  11. O dear, on this side of the channel M Hollande is hardly mentioned, we are too busy watching our own out-for-a-fast-quid merchants. But we are informed that his popularity rating is somewhere below the dust on the carpet. If what you say is true, the sooner he disappears under the fluff the better. (I used to enjoy the Merkozy show of fidelity)

    1. Friends tell me his ratings rose by four points last week…after he announced that the EU could say what it wanted about the French deficit he would do things in his own good time….which would make infinity seem like the blink of an eye.

      The Merkozy show was fun wasn’t it!

  12. It seems all of Europe is suffering from their own financial stupidity, France no exception. I noted someone commented that Hollande might be ruining the country on purpose. It has long been my belief that this was why The W went to war, to spend off the surplus and break the USA, thereby arguing that we could no longer afford “social entitlements.” We are certainly in sad times.I saw the news story of the selling of the wine and thought, Right. That’ll take the eyes off the prize. Blog onward, Helen!

    1. How anyone could expect the euro to work over so many differing economies I’ll never know…let alone the folly of letting Italy count its black economy to qualify and allowing Goldman Sachs to show Greece how to fiddle its figures….sheer greed and criminality.
      And Hollande will go along with anything which keeps Greece on board given the huge overexposure to Greek debt of French banks…

      At the moment bloggng on seems to pose problems…I’ve done a later post but it doesn’t seem to come up on the blogrolls….
      Hollande must have a long arm!

  13. The difference between a socialist leader and a conservative leader is….?
    I don’t know either.

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