It may be a sign of the times that I haven't received the annual, prized envelop from David, to use as a clin d'œil to introduce a few words to celebrate the first day of the New Year, 2014.
He always manages to find an idea to scribble out on his addressed envelops to illustrate the mood in France, if not in Europe generally, regarding the year that has just ended.
As things seem even worse in France, it would be understandable if one is less inclined to bother to try to underline the fact in an amusing way. The bleak situation would hardly inspire this.
So, at least for the time being, we shall have to settle for a candlelit scene with Gatsby (the cat). This was taken before the oysters were opened and the Champagne uncorked.
Last year on the first of January, I wrote a long litany about the French political scene. As nothing has changed for the better, I would be repeating myself by expressing the same opinion of why, in my modest view, this is still the case.
But what has been particularly irritating during 2013 is the French government's tendency to use social issues to hide its incapacity to solve far more urgent matters. Thus the government led by the potely image of F. Hollande, marches as to war against mythic 'racism', also to rescue Madam Taubira the minister of Justice, (who was more a target of justified criticism for her laxist stance and ministerial incapacities than of any racism). Then there was the noble fight against 'homophobia', because according to the socialists 'mariage pour tous', (except for F. Hollande) is an honourable cause as well as a means of boosting the importance of the State, reducing the importance of the family, and trampling on the Church for good measure.
In fact the year ended with the ridiculous circus of trying to outlaw a mediocre comedian for alleged antisemitism. Hardly anyone had ever heard of the guy before, but now he has benefitted from free promotion thanks to the French government's ministers. They are even considering to outlaw the 'quenelle', a sort of salute that one pretends has Nazi connotations. Thus naturally this ambiguous salute, which I had never heard of before, has also been given a free boost.
It seems evident that the French government has no idea regarding basic pyschology. By shedding light on the obscure, on unimportant mediocrity, one not only brings it into light, one even gives it a greater reason of being. One is therefore responsible for encouraging whatever 'evil' one intended to quash.
From time to time F. Hollande and his government come up with formulas or pactes. They seem to think that pat phrases are remedies in themselves. The most important one announced by Monsieur Hollande during his televised New Year speech was 'le pacte de responsabilité'.
In a way it seems more like the shedding of responsibility. The idea is that the government is at last prepared to reduce to some extent the heavy charges and taxation that French companies have to contend with, but in exchange the companies have to employ more personnel. Obviously this is to try to reduce the disconcerting, ever increasing unemployment level in France.
Had Monsieur Hollande thought of this before he was elected, instead of pandering to the naive and the frustrated by declaring his populist intention of making the rich pay, naturally including any businesses that were still managing to survive the crisis, it may have already produced the desire effect during 2013. So it really seems to be an unrealistically belated proposition, simply because it should have been applied as soon as possible in 2012.
To make a simple parallel, it's seems to me as if one had a work horse that one fed and treated badly, to the point where the horse was no longer capable of doing the work expected of it. Finally exhausted the horse becomes very ill. Seeing the worsened state of things, the person responsible decides to give the horse a bit more to eat, but in exchange the horse must immediately get well, pull itself up in order to accomplish not only the work normally expected of it, but even more.
Hopefully. I'm wrong and that at last Monseur Hollande has begun to get things right, and that it's not too late. Hope is a wonderful thing. One cannot live or achieve anything without hope, providing that it's always tempered with realism.
So let's hope for a better year for everyone, with special, get well thoughts to those who need them most.
Happy New Year to everyone!
Text and image © Mirino. January, 2014