Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The pipes, the pipes, are calling

Now of course, plumbers are notoriously difficult to get hold of worldwide. This is understandable, because I'm sure many of their clients call them in for a seemingly innocent bit of washer changing only to spring something nasty involving sewage on them. And let's face it, the prospect of a working life spent dealing with springy sewage doesn't really hold much lure.
This said, supply and demand being what it is, this means that those plumbers out there can charge gazillions for their services.
So you'd think that plumbers in France would be a happy bunch. Far from it. In fact you'd be hard-pushed to find a more depressive, morose bunch of nascent millionaires anywhere.
"Why?" I hear you cry, the softer sides of your natures touched by this tale of glumness in the face of fast-accumulating wealth.
The reason is simple. French plumbers are forced by their government to work alone. In solitary toil they must tackle every compression joint, every blocked soil pipe, every leaking spiggot.
Why is this? This is because French business and employment laws are so draconian, so punitive that even the very best plumbers do not dare to take on additional help and thus grow their businesses.
Like their fellow mint-makers the pharmacists the plumbers are trapped into their perpetual struggle with the black dog by the very same system that makes them rich. They are not happy about it. Not happy at all in my experience. In fact, on the whole, they are bloody miserable. If you ever manage to get a French plumber to come round and knock your bodily wastes back down into some sort of order, never, ever offer them a cup of tea and sit down for a friendly chat.
You'll be slitting your wrists by the end.

Those draconian laws in brief

  • Company creation and registration requires the giving of significant quantities of blood, bone marrow and the slaughter of the founder's first-born child (exemptions might reduce this to light wounding, where the first-born has reached the age of majority)
  • Social security contributions from the employer are between 12 and 17 times the wages paid to the employee. This is to pay for all the pharmacists.
  • Employees, once hired, are not allowed to work. Instead they must be tucked into a neat bed of feathers and cosseted.
  • Employees can never, under any circumstances be dismissed.

Thank you for listening
LibEgFrat to you all

Thursday, February 01, 2007

An open letter to José Bové

Dear José Bové
I note press reports (like this one) that you are keen to stand in the forthcoming Presidential Elections in France and that you already have 100 of the 500 mayoral signatures required for nomination. Well done on your achievement so far!
I have followed your career with interest ever since your involvement with the Larzac campaign. I accept that we disagree on many things, most notably economic and social policy. However, I'm also sure that we also have much in common, such as our status as outsiders, our direct popular appeal and our agreement on the importance of large fluffy moustaches (although I prefer to let others do the actual wearing of same).
My reservations about your campaign are that it is rather single-issue (the political equivalent of entry-level) and that it is doomed to failure because you have raised too many hackles, and put too many danders up.
I therefore appeal to you directly, JoBo, to put your weight behind a more centrist, conciliatory, unifying candidate, namely myself. I can assure you that we have many areas of similarities in policy and although I lack the luxuriant 'tache, I have considerable other personal charms.
José, for the sake of France, I appeal to you to put personal ambition to one side and to come over to the Latrine campaign.
LibEgFrat, you old MacDonalds botherer you