Tension and Pension

This is an image from The Guardian about the pension riots.

This is an image from The Guardian about the pension riots.

Currently, in France, there are 1.3 million people protesting the new raise to the retirement age. On Jan. 19, 2023, the French government increased the retirement age from 62 to 64. These ongoing protests are resulting in trash piling up on the streets and a halt in public transportation as well as violent outbursts from citizens. These protests can be related to people’s current opinion of the American retirement age limit. The current age limit for the U.S. is 67 which is 3 years higher than the age that is being protested. There are many different aspects to these riots that could lead to influence the future of the country and other countries.

There have been responses to these riots and protests. According to CNN, there are around 13,000 police officers serving across France to monitor the strikes over the pension reform. The Interior Minister of France is stating that these riots are a “major risk to public order.” These protests have escalated into violent outbursts and fights and have caused blockage of roads and highways, which delayed King Charles III’s visit to France. Protesters are angry after the government forced the legislation through without a vote in the lower house of parliament by using a special constitutional power, making the people feel less represented. Pennridge High School history teacher, Tim Deose, speaks about his thoughts on the people. He believes they are upset because “you are interfering with family economics.” Deose also elaborates on the belief of who is at fault. He states that “the people are reacting to a government policy and democracy the right of the people to protest is fundamental.”

There have been concerns about these riots regarding the U.S. retirement age if this were to happen in America. With America averaging a retirement age of 61 years old in 2022, we are not much far off from France; however, a forced raise in retirement age may not be so bad. The average American age has increased by around two years as time has gone on. Timothy Busch an American Government teacher at Pennridge High School talks about what could happen if a raised retirement age were to happen in America. Busch states, “I don’t think you would see a similar situation as  France. This is just an assumption. I don’t think a U.S. citizen is dependent on social security compared to a French citizen.” There is a gradual transition into retirement in the U.S. compared to France. The way of pay works similarly but the process works differently. The people after retirement must wait a few years until they may receive full Social Security benefits. Due to the process being different, there is not as high of a concern over increased retirement age, because the process stretches over time.

The riots still wage on as the government has given the people warnings. A message was released that the demonstrators intended “to destroy, to injure, and to kill”. Despite being riots there is organization to them. Unions were formed and called upon to have employees walk out of work to join the protest. This increases the number of protestors from the initial 13,000 as the push for the return of the initial retirement age continues. The current number is now around 450,000 declining from the 800,000 that were involved in the earlier stages of the protest. President Emmanuel Macron does not have any intention of changing the age back and letting the riots play out with continued security interference and regulation of violence.

There is no apparent end in sight for these protests, and no intended change to be done by the government. There are no violations of rights, the people are allowed to continue protesting for what they believe, but they may become liable when violence and property damage begins. The end is unsure, but there will be an uprising of French unions taking a stand.