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The children of the French welfare state

 
 
Foxfyre
 
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Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 06:13 pm
This discussion is not about homosexual marriages but is rather about a shrinking tax base to support a foundering welfare program. Did you and the loyal rabbit not read the thread starter at all?
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Diane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 07:18 pm
E_BrownP, wonderful. And aren't they some of the best parents? I guess they are much more aware of the responsibility than many straight couples.
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Lord Ellpus
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 10:58 pm
I can understand the thinking behind the French idea of encouraging larger families, so that there would be a substantial workforce to pay for the pensions etc. of their retired population.

The only piece of the jigsaw that seems to be missing, is the creation of future jobs for all of these new citizens.

It could be that, with the threat of cheaper imports getting ever bigger on the horizon, all the French may end up with is a very much larger bill for unemployment benefit ?.

IMO, they have to sort out their competetiveness in the world markets, before this "baby boom" leaves school.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:03 pm
Right.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:16 pm
With more people however, you need more mechanics, more doctors, more nurses, more bottle washers, etc. So until the population becomes excessive large, generally I think the needs of a larger society would provide a lot of the necessary new jobs.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:34 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
This discussion is not about homosexual marriages but is rather about a shrinking tax base to support a foundering welfare program. Did you and the loyal rabbit not read the thread starter at all?


Huh? You're, as far as I can see it, the one who started rabbiting on about social engineering and single parent families!

I was responding to you.


And I amn't anyone's loyal goddamn rabbit.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:41 pm
I was responding to the thread starter Deb. If you don't like the words I use to express myself, that's your prerogative. It's also my prerogative to use them and also to refuse to be dragged off topic as I find this topic rather interesting. And if you think my opinion about the causes of poverty are out of line, by all means show your own data.

And I am so sorry you aren't loyal. That must be tough.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:45 pm
I had been going to add, but didn't want to get involved, sigh, with the discourse...

that in my twenties girls and women bore children in shamed quarters and quickly signed them away to adoption with promises never ever to darken the child's door, or adoptive parents door.

Or went to Tijuana or east Los Angeles for a creepy abortion.

Or carried on a campaign to get the guy to marry them... so the child would have the all important name,

or some combination of those.

<frowns that such stuff may come back>
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:50 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
I was responding to the thread starter Deb. If you don't like the words I use to express myself, that's your prerogative. It's also my prerogative to use them and also to refuse to be dragged off topic as I find this topic rather interesting. And if you think my opinion about the causes of poverty are out of line, by all means show your own data.

And I am so sorry you aren't loyal. That must be tough.


Fox, sometimes you need a really withering stare.

Just imagine I am giving you the most withering one you ever saw.


You really do lose a lot for that one.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sun 25 Sep, 2005 11:55 pm
I'm certainly not advocating any scarlet letter here, Osso. I'm simply citing the facts--I provided four links up there to support them and can probably find 40 more without too much effort--that one of the most common causes of poverty is single parenthood. That is not casting blame on anybody in particular. It's just a fact. You have far fewer instances of poverty when there are two parents in the home.

That is the situation in the United States. I don't know if France is having the same problem. Walter rather expected that single parenthood is not as common in Europe. I've seen no statistics on that at all, though two-parent families was one of the recommendations for the U.K. in one of the links I posted.

The fact is a single mother struggling to make ends meet is not likely to willingly have additional children. We all know that there are welfare mothers who do have child after child with correspondingly greater government benefits, but nobody sees that as a solution to the problem of proverty.

The article Nimh posted cited the concern in France that there were fewer and fewer children being born and thus fewer workers to provide for all the social services provided. The solution was seen as increasing the younger population and they were looking for ways to do that.

My solution would be to encourage more traditional two-parent families as that is where we get most of the folks who grow up to be workers. And it is a simple fact--no aspersions on anybody--that it is the traditional family who generally decides to have more kids.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 12:15 am
Foxfyre wrote:

That is the situation in the United States. I don't know if France is having the same problem. Walter rather expected that single parenthood is not as common in Europe. I've seen no statistics on that at all, though two-parent families was one of the recommendations for the U.K. in one of the links I posted.


I must have had a bad day yesterday, regarding my Englisn.

I tries to respond to the topic of this thread: "The children of the French welfare state".
And therefor (because I used to do some research re history of poverty/welfare) I was referring to this.

And I'm quite sure, I actially said (or: was trying to say) that single parent families were unknown in European history - referring to the roots of (European/French) welfare.

And I still doubt that any US data are that much helpful for this topic when we leave aside the more than 100 year old history of welfare by the state in Europe.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 12:49 am
Not so bad a day Walter. You did say two parent families were unheard of at first, but you corrected that. No problem with anything else.

However, U.S. data is all I have, and we are also experiencing the same phenomenon with too few workers to support the growing body of people who are depending on government entitlement programs. Currently the income is exceeding the outgo for social security, for instance, but 12 to 20 years down the road, that will no longer be the case.

But I'll shut up for now and just listen.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 01:03 am
Well, okay then :wink:

Creating the Welfare State in France, 1880-1940, by Timothy B. Smith. Montreal, Québec and Kingston, Ontario, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.

Critics from Canadian Journal of History, Apr 2004 by Karen Offen:

Quote:
This forcefully argued, though somewhat repetitive, book seeks at once to overturn existing historiographical and contemporary French misinformation about the founding of the French welfare state and to highlight the efforts of municipalities such as Lyon in its early construction. Elaborated in six chapters, with World War I as the fulcrum, and with nearly fifty pages of notes, Timothy Smith demonstrates that the French welfare state was created, in its essential elements, long before the end of World War II, and by a combination of secular republican and Catholic elements coalescing at the municipal level, rather than (as so often claimed) by the post World War II Left. "The French welfare state did not emerge via immaculate conception on the day of liberation. It was already in existence in 1939" (p. 99).

Focusing on issues in health care and unemployment policies, primarily (though by no means exclusively) in Lyon, the author hammers home his points. In a time when national entities in Europe are chafing (and sometimes outright resisting) the centralizing requirements of the post-national European Union, it is instructive to read about how local officialdom in France, which long resisted national efforts to establish their authority, finally swung the other way, even promoting the "nationalization" of charitable and welfare efforts in the name of social solidarity during the period from 1920 to 1940. It took a cataclysmic war to make it happen.


Creating the Welfare State in France, 1880-1940 is especially important for illuminating the nineteenth-century tug-of-war between local notables and their institutions, such as the hospitals, and those who were already promoting centralization - and secularization. It tells us a great deal about the strength of the local loyalties of elite men before 1914 and about their urge to retain local control. Following the war, Smith documents the extent of the change. In the end, the transition seems to be about money - about the inability of the city fathers and board members of local charities to come up with the funds that could continue to undergird local charity, whether in the hospitals or at the bureaux de bienfaisance. The war ushered in a time when migrations of labourers accelerated, when refugees poured into the provincial cities, when an influx of foreign workers forced the hand of the municipal authorities. Only the nation-state could mobilize the necessary resources, as formerly localized problems became national concerns. While before the war local notables were resisting the national state apparatus with all their might, during and after the war they became the first to advocate solutions at the national level. To paraphrase Eugen Weber, it was a case of "local notables into Frenchmen." And the national state pumped in the money: "Central state subventions to the provinces increased from Fr139 million in 1913 to Fr3.1 billion in 1933, an increase in real terms of approximately six hundred per cent. National plans to distribute over Fr20 billion in subventions to the communes and departments were drawn up during the 1920s and 1930s and carried out" (p. 95). From the author's perspective, this is progress. Implicit in this book is a pro-state centralization bias and support for the notion of welfare as a citizen's right. For example, the long overlooked 1928 Health Insurance Law is touted as "the most important piece of social legislation to date in French history" (p. 130), "the Magna Carta of the modern French welfare state" (p. 131).

This book also offers reader a study about "men's history." In Smith's work, "the French," the officials, and "adult workers" (even the unemployed), all turn out to be gendered masculine. Women and the poor constitute the "acted upon," although to be sure, their concerns are occasionally mentioned. Smith is conversant with recent works that focus more on women and the issues that affect them, such as those by Susan Pedersen, Rachel Ginnis Fuchs, Laura Lee Downs, and others, but he remains oblivious to the lessons that they teach about observing gendered distinctions and listening for women's voices. He acknowledges their findings concerning welfare measures for families, and for mothers and babies in the interest of combatting depopulation, but also insists on the far greater difficulties encountered with reference to unemployment assistance and health care for (male) workers. He conveys the viewpoint of the male administrators and political authorities without any particular sensitivity to the sexist or patronizing views that are embedded in their statements and approaches. He speaks of pronatalism with reference to men becoming fathers, and highlights diminishing infant mortality, but not women as actors or motherhood as a compelling and life-altering (sometimes even life-threatening) condition. Smith argues that "The notion that social services such as family allowances and child support should be provided as a right emerged during the war first on the local level, in such cities as Paris and Lyon. Soon it became a national goal, achieved in two steps: in 1923 and 1932" (p. 74). What he does not say is that, faced with demographic catastrophe, the men finally became aware of women's needs; feminists throughout France had been advocating such social measures for some fifty years! No mention is made of this salient fact, which is amply elaborated in the work of Anne Cova (notably her Maternité et droits des femmes en France, XIX^sup e^-XX^sup e^ siècles, published in 1997), for example. In a book published in 2003, I would have expected to encounter more critical awareness concerning such issues.

Despite these caveats, this is a well-written and important book, which drastically revises earlier accounts of developments in French social welfare, particularly for the interwar period. All the more pity that the author, in his quest for historiographical revision, could not step back a bit from his male subjects' perspective and illuminate the gender biases that undergirded some of the central features that became embedded in France's welfare state.

Karen Offen

Institute for Research on Women & Gender, Stanford University

Copyright Canadian Journal of History Apr 2004
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 01:23 am
Bismarckian social insurance in the 80's of 19th century and Britain's later National Health System are seen as 'sign posts' in European welfare.

In France, and this is neglected in my opinion a bit, it was the "Musee Social" which led to the rise of a welfare state. (Founded in 1894, but more firmly rooted earlier in the social economy section of the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris, the Musee social was a republican think-tank that brought together reformers from diverse social, political, and ideological backgrounds. A good book about that is: A Social Laboratory for Modern France: the Musee Social and the Rise of the Welfare State, by Janet R. Home, Durham, Duke University Press, 2002)
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 07:27 am
Walter, you're scaring me!

Don't tell me you learned all this is social work school?
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 08:04 am
Well, no - but I've been a lecturer there, and that due to the fact that I studied history and law (before) as well :wink:

And when I studied history again some years ago, one of my profs was a capacity in research of the "Essex Pauper Letters"; thus, he liked to give themes from social history focussing on poverty, pauper relief, welfare .... Laughing
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JustWonders
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 10:05 am
Diane wrote:
Unless there is a secure policy from one administration to the next, our welfare system will continue to founder. I realize that Europe has trouble maintaining a large enough budget to pay for all of this and that their taxes are very high compared to the US, but at least they can provide decent living conditions, even though they are very basic.


Really? You might want to tell that to those living in slum conditions in the French housing projects of France, or to the thousands upon thousands of elderly who died in the 2003 heat wave there.

Quote:
The French national government controls everything from law enforcement to healthcare to transportation. City and regional officials have more limited powers and duties than their U.S. counterparts, especially when it comes to disaster response. So New Orleans' woes appear to confirm suspicions that Washington leaves Americans at the mercy of the forces of nature as well as markets.

Some pundits predict that Americans will now want a more muscular, "French" approach to government. But others suggest that it's best not to point fingers. They recall the heat wave two years ago that killed about 15,000 people in France.

In that tragedy, many elderly people perished in hospitals and nursing homes that lacked air conditioning. Thousands of corpses were discovered in sweltering apartments as the death toll escalated and French leaders, as well as some relatives of the dead, were criticized for remaining on summer vacation.

"The denigrators have rushed to condemn the 'American model,' " wrote Ivan Rioufol in Le Figaro. "But have they looked at the state of their own country? The Third World, exposed in the [American] South, exists in French housing projects…. The indifference to the marooned corpses recalls the 15,000 elderly, dead and abandoned in the 2003 heat wave…. It's indecent to suggest, in this jubilation at describing a humiliated superpower, that France would have fared better."

Source


Careful what you wish for.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 10:06 am
By the way Foxy,

Did you see "March of the Penguins"? I heard this film celebrates the kind of two-parent nuclear family you are advocating.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 10:30 am
True, JW, a scandal that was.

What point that is supposed to make about the advantage or disadvantage of the welfare state, I'm not sure.

The French heat wave, the New Orleans hurricane: both revealed the existence of large strata of vulnerable people whom the country failed to save in an emergency.

In the case of New Orleans, those included the most impoverished of the country.

In the case of France, they included the elderly. Whether those were poor or not, or what their living standards were in non-emergency situations, however, the story doesn't really say one way or another.

The heatwave story is fodder for criticism of an apparently failing health care system. Even more so for criticism of lacking family responsibility: where were their children?

In fact, the French policies I quoted in this thread can be said to actually be a response to the catastrophe you describe. Something to praise rather than deride, in its context?

I dont see, on the other hand, how the massive death of thousands of elderly in a heatwave shows that there is too much investment in the social policies of a welfare state.

In fact, I cant really discern what argument you are making (or the newspaper article, going on your excerpt), beyond a nya-nyah, you-too kind of thing.

"They should look at themselves" remains one of the weakest retorts in the face of criticism.
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Diane
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Sep, 2005 10:59 am
Nimh, as usual, was right on spot.

Of course there is much to be improvedupon in any society, but continuity of sevices is an important concept when you are at the lowest rung of society.

Please don't ever think that I am responding to all the ills of our system or social welfare. I am simply stating what i know, from personal experience.
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