Camelid in the City


Last week, over a million people in France marched in protest of President Macron’s planned pension reforms. The reforms would raise the retirement age and require workers to contribute a minimum of 43 years in social security payments in order to qualify for a full state pension. 

In a 2013 chapter, JEAN-PAUL RÉVAUGER charts the long history of French pension reform, showing how successive administrations scaled back benefits by citing budgetary constraints and demographic trends.

From the chapter:

“The Fillon plan tried to embark on an exercise in social engineering by encouraging people to postpone retirement. Workers who, at age 60, left before they had accomplished 40 working years because they had started working after the age of 20 would see their pension reduced by 5 per cent per year, and those who exceeded 40 years would obtain an extra 3 per cent. In fact, the impact of this was extremely limited, since unemployment remained high. 

However, in official discourse, the notion of individual choice came to replace that of ‘intergenerational solidarity.’ The principle of solidarity was the cornerstone of the system created after the war: the contributions of working people would not be saved or invested, but used in order to pay for the pensions of older workers. The ideological climate of the twenty-first century was under the influence of the Atlantic neoliberal winds. The idea that individuals should choose for themselves whether they decided to postpone their retirement age, with the promise of a higher pension, or retire as soon as they could, with a more modest one, was given wide credence. In practice, the notion of choice is certainly a contemporary notion in keeping with dominant individualism, but the degree of real choice enjoyed by people was very limited. Not being in employment after the age of 55 is not necessarily the outcome of a choice. The relative demise of ‘intergenerational solidarity’ was to a certain extent due to the extremely precarious situation new entrants in the market found themselves in.”

Link to the text.

+  “More generally, beyond the question of life expectancy, the old idea according to which the retirement system is only there to perpetuate into advanced old age the inequalities of working life does seem to me today to be outdated.” A 2019 article by Thomas Piketty. Link

+  “Since 1993, the strategy has remained the same: first, the reform hits the pensions of private sector employees, that are less unionized than are public employees; then, after some years, new legislation is proposed to align the treatment of the public employees with the others.” Matthieu Montalban on the political economy of France’s pension reforms. Link

+  Sarah Le Duigou, Bérangère Legendre, and Mareva Sabatier examine the effects of the 2003 French pension reforms on older workers. Link. And Carole Bonnet, Sophie Buffeteau, and Pascal Godefroy look at pension reforms and gender inequality. Link


Private Prisons & Recidivism

GRACE PHILLIPS is a PhD candidate in economics at Cornell University. In a recent paper, she links private prisons to increased recidivism rates.

From the paper: 

“I find that private prison openings have increased recidivism among states that open private prisons in the last 19 years. This effect grows over time. Six to nine years after a private prison opens, 1-year recidivism rates are 8.6 percentage points larger than if a state had not opened a private prison. Interestingly, the increased recidivism is not driven by a change in crime; it appears that the rise in prison admissions are increasingly the result of parole or probation violations. These results suggest that private prisons systematically change state prison systems, making individuals less able to meet their parole or probation requirements. As more people ‘churn’ through the criminal justice system and recidivate more frequently, the long-run cost to states increases.”

Link to the text, link to Phillips’s website.  

+ + +

+   “Far from painting a picture of worker empowerment, the data shows that ‘The Great Resignation,’ both in China and the US, has particularly affected women working in lower-salaried jobs.” New on PW, Aida Hozić and Xiao Sun investigate the gender and class dynamics of “The Great Resignation.” Link

+   “In NATO’s new climate framework, the energy transition has been co-opted into an imperial project.” New on the Polycrisis, Mona Ali on the militarization of the climate agenda. Link

+   Gishan Dissanaike, Ranadeva Jayasekera, and Geoff Meeks unpack the relationship between General Electrics and the US airline industry. Link

+   A new report from the Climate and Community Project shows how the US can achieve zero-emissions transportation while limiting the amount of lithium mining. Link.

+   “The post-disaster market might select for wealthier buyers as they have a greater ability to both absorb the price increase and any ensuing insurance cost increases.” Joshua Graff Zivin, Yanjun Liao, and Yann Panassié on hurricanes and gentrification in Florida. Link

+  “Can Serbia survive EU’s economic ultimatum?” By Branko Milanovic. Link.

+   A report from the New Economics Foundation argues that the UK government needs to spend 50 billion pounds more that it does at present per year to adequately fund the country’s care system. Link

+   Amy Janzwood, Kate J. Neville, and Sarah J. Martin on the assetization of Canada’s oil pipelines. Link

+   “Adhikari’s translation of The Communist Manifesto must be seen in the context of the long history of the making of a Marathi literary sphere in colonial western India. When Adhikari and his colleagues in the Meerut jail translated the Manifesto, they had to navigate the structures of language and a social structure in which caste was an important feature to make the Jahirnama comprehensible to other intellectuals, trade union leaders and workers. It was in this process that the strategy of obscuring caste subjectivities and creating a new identity of class found its greatest success and also its ultimate failure. The paradoxical outcome of the vernacularisation of the Manifesto can be gauged by considering the Jahirnama’s strategies of denoting categories of people in the city of Mumbai such as kamgaar, Mavali and dalit. These categories may have seemed natural to the publisher and their readers but they had no fixed referents and their meanings were contested at the time Adhikari was translating the Manifesto and continue to be contested today.” By Juned Shaikh. Link

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