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October 23, 2010 at 2:01 PM

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French students, unions protest retirement age

Posted by Letters editor

It’s about labor, not entitlement — something American media wouldn’t understand

Editor, The Times:

In all of the press coverage regarding the strikes in France over the proposal to raise the retirement age, nothing has been mentioned about one of the major reasons for the strikes and the main reason that students are protesting something so far off in the future for them [“Students turn violent, unions defiant in protest over French retirement age,” News, Oct. 22].

If France raises the retirement age, it will put more workers in the labor market, thus lowering wages. It is a labor issue, not mainly an “entitlement” issue. Lower wages means a lower standard of living; it will hurt the economy as people have less money to spend.

Unlike in America — where our textbooks have been methodically scrubbed of the history of labor in this country, newspapers no longer have a “labor” section but still have a “business” section and unions have been demonized by conservatives in an organized campaign — French students learn about labor in school.

However, until that changes, I am sure that the coverage will continue to portray the French protesters as foreigners whining about their entitlements.

— Roger Burton, Bothell

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