Forum du Mouv, April 9, 2011

... 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. The Mouv's Forum ....

Eric Lange :
And the phone number to reach us 01-45-24-20-20 and we are going to go to New York immediately to join Richard Ortoli, good evening Mr. Ortoli.

Richard Ortoli : Good evening.

Eric Lange : Welcome to the show. You are what is called a councilman at the assembly for the French living abroad ..

Richard Ortoli : That is correct.

Eric Lange : It is therefore you who represent expatriates for the United States, a part of the United States, the east coast of the United States ..

Richard Ortoli : That's it. We are five representing the French citizens of the east coast of the United States, I am therefore one of the five.

Eric Lange : So, we received an email from a listener, "hello Christian," who lives in the United States as well, and sent us a copy of a newsletter you published.

Richard Ortoli : That is correct, every two or three months I send a "mood" newsletter, in which I address a subject of general interest, and there I was addressing the situation in Wisconsin.

Eric Lange : Exactly. As a matter of fact that listener had called us to mention what was going on there ... I summarize : there is a new Republican Governor in Wisconsin who attacked the condition of public employees, he cuts services because of the financial crisis, and he attacks the power of the public employees unions, the salaries. And then there has been some marches in Wisconsin, which is very rare in the Unites States ..

Richard Ortoli : Very very rare, indeed, and there was therefore a lot of mention about it in the media, huh.. there was even apparently up to 100,000 folks who marched in front of the State's Capitol .. and therefore we might say it was a burning issue.

Eric Lange : If it might seem to us normal that 100,000 people get together, in the United States, that is very very rare isn't it ?

Richard Ortoli : It almost never happens ...

Eric Lange : It might even have never occurred ... But the Governor did not flinch ...

Richard Ortoli : No,

Eric Lange : And so, you , in your newsletter, for what I understand, I don't now if you approve or not, but you say "maybe he is right ?"

Richard Ortoli : I did not say that, but indeed, it could be interpreted in such a way. I simply opposed the rights of the unions, and .. at least the ones of the public services in Wisconsin, against the ones existing in the private sector. You probably know that in the United States there is almost no social protection. The social rights that we have in France, here are almost not existing, and one is therefore employed at the pleasure of the employer. There is some good and some bad in this ok. ., but it is a different system. What I wanted to do in raising this issue, is trying to compare both systems because sooner or later what happens in the United States ends up infecting the rest of the world, in good or in bad, and I simply wanted to express what is going on in the United States, the "why" and the "how." Could that happen in France ? I concluded that no. But .... the debate was launched. But what surprised me most in fact, was the reaction, rather viral, from those who voted for me, or rather read me, because I don't know if they voted for me. They told me "it is a shame, it is scandalous, it is a trial for intentions ..." which was not at all my intention as a matter of fact. I was not at all intending to create a controversy, but to open a debate.

Eric Lange : And the debate is finally on the different status inside one society ..?

Richard Ortoli : That is it, exactly. We have on one side in the United States, and as well in France, let's face it, those who have rights, and very substantial ones, and the ones who don't have any. And that is what is a little chocking in both systems, if I may say, less so in France than in the United States, since the U.S., as I told you , there is almost no social protection, except for public employes, federal and state. Because as you saw in Wisconsin there is a big reduction of their rights, as a matter of fact, their right to collective bargaining has been abolished. In other states such as in the New York state, there is a very substantial protection, they almost have the same protections as in France, for instance a fixed retirement, which in the public sector is almost never seen. And ... there is a system comparable to the French one, at tax payers' expense.

Eric Lange : But where you create a controversy, is when you say that in France it might be time to have this debate.

Richard Ortoli : This is not what I said. I said "is it possible ?" And I concluded "no," for many reasons. Aaah... But does the debate need to take place ? Why not ? As a matter of fact, this is what I found a little curious, because it is true that we live in another bubble huh ? Everyone lives in its bubble ... But in our bubble, speaking of all possible subjects is well accepted, no harm done ... So what surprised me most, is that there is apparently taboo subjects
among French folks, inside the French community, and therefore some things that we should not talk about. But in order to rectify problems, to iron up questions, we need to talk about them. Huh ....

Eric Lange : Yes but where I wanted to go to is that indeed, we live in two bubbles, and it is true that these are two societies very very different, the American society, and the society, shall we say, European. The European social democracy and American capitalism, are really two different universes. But we are today in a world more globalized, as you know, and consequently, we influence each others more. Therefore the debate, shouldn't it be "how we Europeans are we going to try to influence America rather than the opposite ?"

Richard Ortoli : Well, why not ? Absolutely. But the, the ... big debate, the root of the debate is economic. How to resolve a dilemma, which apparently has no solution for now. The States, I am speaking of the States in the United States, ok, ? The States do not have enough revenues to face their expenditure. What is there to do ? It is very simple, as in the end a State, a Nation, is an economic entity, with revenues and expenses, so when revenues are not enough to face expenses, how do we resolve the problem ? When there is for instance a group, for instance public employees unions in the United States, who have rights for life, life employment for instance, determined retirement etc ... Those in the private sector don't have such rights, how does one justify that ? And that is the dilemma. I talk from an American perspective because we live here, I am a representing the French, and I argue for France to the max, but it is interesting to compare both systems. And what should we conclude ? Very logically, there should be a balance somewhere, which is not necessarily to impoverish those who have rights, but also to give more rights to those who do not have any. And that is not very much our economic model in the United States, that is the European model. So, what are the pros and the cons ? In the United States one falls back on its feet more easily, one gets back faster and more easily from economic difficulties, but on another hand it is the individual how is victimized in between.

Eric Lange : Yes, here we are, it is harder for individuals.

Richard Ortoli : Collectivities vs. individuals, that is the dilemma. Here the large collectivity, in the long term, has benefited from the sacrifice, of the sacrifices of the individuals.

Eric Lange : It is really a choice between two worlds ... Thank you, thank you very much Richard Ortoli for clarifying ...

Richard Ortoli : But not all all, you are welcome ...

Eric Lange : Until next time ....

Richard Ortoli : I wish for it.

Eric Lange : 01-45-24-20-20, of course in this comparison between both systems, American and European, shall we say, French in any case ... is Pierre langlais here ... ?

Support the Rich, Work Harder

TRaleigh, Protest in support for Wisconsin.,
February 26, 2011.