“At the time of the political re-entry in this presidential election year, we can see the old moons of “on shave free” blooming again: a 4-day week, retirement at 60, minimum wage of € 1,500, sometimes even Frexit or leaving the euro. Not only do these measures come from a magical thought by virtue of which there would be spontaneous resources and that our creditors are blissful patrons who lend without counting for the beautiful eyes of the French, but they are the exact opposite of what our country will have to undertake to escape the debacle when interest rates rise. Let us repeat it here, a debt of 118.2% of the GDP will be unsustainable when the rent of money returns to “normal” levels. And this return to a conventional situation can be done suddenly, in just a few weeks.
A reduction in hours worked? Not the solution
Beyond the issue of public debt, that is to say of our lifestyle “overdraft” during the past years, which can still argue that it is necessary to increase compulsory levies to finance measures such as the 4-day week or retirement at 60? Not only are we already world champions of these compulsory levies (44.5%), but everyone can easily understand that such a reduction in the volume of hours worked would immediately increase the shortfall in terms of tax revenue, increasing hence the gap between expenditure and income.
We have to face the facts: if the growth in per capita wealth has been lower in France in recent years than among its neighbors, it is because we work less and less: 1,609 hours per year in 2018 against 1,957 hours per year in 1975. Of course, the increase in productivity compensates for the drop in hours worked, but in this mix between the evolution of hours worked and productivity, it is clear that we are doing less well than our German neighbors: German per capita wealth is 15% higher than ours, whereas they were identical in 2004.
The question of civilian nuclear power
The other hot topic of the presidential election is, and fortunately, the climate emergency. The indisputable imperative is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There is consensus on the solution, we must decarbonize our economies. This will involve the gradual disappearance of gas consumption for our heating, better insulation of offices and homes, the development of electric vehicles and teleworking … These provisions will not reduce electricity consumption, but on the contrary, make it explode. However, producing this electricity from coal, gas or oil, as 80% of world production is today, only accentuates climate change.
With 70% of the production of nuclear origin and 10% of hydraulic origin, France is rather good student in the production of carbon-free electricity. If the shares of wind power and photovoltaics are set to grow rapidly, these two renewable energies will be (very) far from being able to meet all the demand for electricity in the next 30 years. It is therefore imperative to relaunch an investment program in civilian nuclear power to replace our power plants as they are closed. The subject (very divisive) is strangely absent from the programs of most of the candidates. By dint of looking elsewhere, we are heading straight for electrical “blackouts” during peaks in consumption and even paralysis much more severe than that caused by the health crisis. In this area too, it is urgent not to make the wrong diagnosis on the eve of the next presidential election. “