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Ah, you beat me to that one. I was going to comment on this piece in my blog today. Great article, isn't it? Frankly, I am more and more disgusted with the life culture and politics in the U.S., and I keep on contemplating more and more often retirement in France (while being also aware that I am not quite sure whether or not I could easily re-adapt to living in France, especially since I never really lived there as an adult. I am not sure that I could afford it either...)

One should not think, however, that there is no "workoholic" culture in France, because one is emerging. I started hearing a lot of stories this spring about individuals (men, basically) who put fourteen hour days at the office "just to survive professionally." I have a cousin who is a judge and whose wife is an attorney - this couple is so overwhelmed by their professional lives that they barely have time to care for their daughter and, as a result, my cousin's father picks up the pieces at least twice a week, by caring for her granddaughter.

But I am convinced that the U.S.'s culture of workoholism has led to the deterioration of the family and to an increase in the divorce rate. And France has not yet fully embraced that culture - and may never really embrace it.

I don't agree either with Klugman's assertion that "because French schools are good across the country, the French family doesn't have to worry as much about getting its children into a good school district." Obviously he hasn't heard much about those "banlieue chaudes" schools where things are highly problematic. It would have been truer to say that "French middle class and upper middle class families do not have to worry as much about getting their children into good school districts."

But, overall, this Klugman editorial was very well put.


Well said! The thing that impressed me the most about the young French people that I met on my first stay was how carefully they take care of their clothes -- I was raised to think of most casual wear as relatively disposable and needing to be washed constantly (as I tend to leave my clothes on the floor after wearing once!). I noticed such a careful attitude towards stuff -- nothing should be taken for granted, and each posession is valuable. Such a contrast with American attitudes -- if it's worn out, just toss it and buy another one or a better one or two more...


Where to begin. Ok, first off let me say I'm as liberal as they come. I've come to accept that conservatism is an ideology. An ideology I may not agreee with but liberalism isn't an ideology conservatives would agree with either. We liberals preach tolerance yet we seem as intolerant as those we point the finger at. I don't know if Americans would accept socialism as it is in France just as the French would probaly never accept a system like ours. I think looking at both our histories would give each a new understanding of eachother. I've traveled and lived in enough countries to experience different cultures first hand and I never come away thinking one is better than the other, just different. Understanding or at least trying to understand is enlightening. I lived for several years in Dubai (somewhat liberal by standards of the middle east yet very conservative compared to the US or Europe. Yet I respected the culture. I didn't criticise the culture or people , or deem them backwards. I didn't call them names for their views towards women or homosexuals. I didn't agree with those views and had had very little in common with devout Muslims but I tried to understand where they were coming from. I often talked about such issues in a reasonable intelligent way. I even changed a few minds. I dont' think the few minds I changed would have even bothered to listen to me if I called them a backwards theocracy of sexist homophobes.
I prefer the word acceptance to tolerance and acceptance (and tolerance )swing both ways.
Michelle, on the one hand you could say placing such an importance on possesions is materialistic. One could argue that the disregard for automobiles in Paris shows just the opposite. It's not uncommon to have a transmission destroyed by someone bumping your parked car out of their way. Dent someones car and no big deal. Dent your own car and no big deal. One could argue the Americans regard for their cars is materialistic or as having a "careful attitude towards stuff" I'm not trying to be snotty , just make a point. In all honestly I have never seen such disregard for clothing as you mention. Most teens I know have part time jobs and buy many of their own clothes. I remember as a kid having a thing about my shoes. I liked to polish them (yeah , I know I was a weird kid ;). So to lump together Americans as spoiled brats who don't care about thier clothes is like, well lumping the French together as people who don't care about their own property and the property of others (cars).
Before leaving I have to say I love France and I love America. Seems to me neither country is perfect and both have some work to do. Personally I find differences facinating about both countries.


Glad to hear Lauren uses friendly persuasion to help folks achieve cultural understanding. I hate to see liberals who agree on almost everything going at each other over trivial matters of style or strategy, so I am not going to engage in that. Keep up the good work, Lauren.


Krugman's knock-out punch, however, relates to the family values to which the right pays lip service

Doesn't France have a considerably lower marriage rate than in the US? Some "knockout" punch, huh? And speaking of family values, how about all those vacationing French who could not be bothered to return from vacation early (including Chirac himself) to attend to their dying relatives who perished in the heat wave a year or two ago?

I agree with you that France is no economic backwater, although it's economy does seem to be getting worse (unemployment rates have risen to 10%+, 1/3 of whom have been without a job for more than a year) at a time when our economy (and the UK's) are doing quite well. I hope France can turn things around before the problems get really serious



The last comment is evidence of a new cliché that will be used forever by french bashers : the French let their elderly died by the thousands during the heat wave of 2003. Doesn't that show how wicked these people are ? (it's even worse than that, curvedbrain).
As a matter of fact, the heat wave of 2 years ago was simply unknown before, both in terms of intensity and in terms of duration. It afflicted the whole of Europe and caused 5.000 death in UK (the heat was simply less intense), 20.000 death in Italy and an unknown number in Spain etc. But strangely enough french bashers know only of France and, isn't that strange ? simply omit what happened in UK and Italy. But just why ??? Isn't it because american medias concentrated their effort focusing on the French and magnanimously omitted their faithfull british handkissers and Italian servants ?
The fact is that the French made a whole state affair of these premature death ( people in their 80' and 90' for the majority of them...) whereas the Brits, Italians, Spaniards etc. were much more discreet.
But nevermind... american haters have a new ready made cliché at their disposal... And you wonder why these people are despised as unsophisticated jerks the world over ?
Ayez la gentillesse d'excusez cette intrusion un peu vive dans votre adorable "carnet" (blog) Jean, je viens de le découvrir et me promets d'y revenir comme de le référencer sur d'autres carnets franco-américain.
Fare well et bonne journée :D


Thanks for setting the record straight about the European heat wave. Too bad there is so much misinformation and misleading negative spin from certain quarters regarding all things French, even to the extent of capitalizing on a human tragedy of this magnitude. Cela m'attriste, franchement.


Speaking of setting the record straight, I never once stated that only France lost a lot of lives in the 2003 heatwave.. nice strawman. It was shocking however, to learn that so many French hospitals did not even have ice machines or air conditioners. Yes, much of France has mild weather, but hot weather is not so uncommon as to excuse the lack of ice machines(!). Without such basics, it's reasonable to wonder what other needed equipment French hospitals are lacking.

My comment above was to point out that many French, including Chirac himself, were unwilling to interrupt their vacations during their tragedies. French Family values? Bernard Mazeyrie, managing director of France's largest undertakers told the NY Times:

..many elderly people were left behind by vacationing families. Some, he said, informed of the death of relatives, postponed funerals, not to interrupt the Aug. 15 holiday weekend, and left the bodies in the refrigerated hall.

Chirac himself was unwilling to interrupt his vacation in Canada at that time either. Is there anyone else frequenting this blog who also finds this sort of behavior to be incredibly callous? Is it really French "bashing" to point this out?

This is a nice blog. The host seems very gracious. And believe it or not, I think France is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. However, the French people have opened my eyes to how so many of them really think.. First, it was the surveys showing that 80% of France believed that the US invaded Iraq "for the oil", a hateful slander in my opinion.. then I (and others) started noticing attitudes like this, this, and this. It seems the French are not just disagreeing with us, it looks to me that many(most?) French are actually rooting for our failure.. so perhaps the negative attitude of some Americans toward France is not without reason. I understand that it's more comfortable for Francophiles to pretend that it's nothing but irrational France bashing on the part of some Americans.. much more comfortable to dismiss legit criticism against French behavior and attitudes, than to actually confront and address those attitudes and behavior


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