A list of grievances? That is something I can relate to!
I was surprised to discover an entire history behind the ‘cahiers de doléances’ or grievance books currently in the news as part of the Macron government’s ‘Grand Débat National’ or what I am calling the great debate.
It seems that such books, called ‘cahiers’ or notebooks because people write in them, were first instated just before the French Revolution in 1789. At that time, King Louis XVI decided to gather the input of the three major ‘estates’ or social classes: the first being the clergy, the second the nobility and the third, the working classes and poor. What a modern fellow was Louis! Imagine crowd sourcing public opinion to manage the revolutionary winds over 200 years ago!
It didn’t end well for poor citizen Louis who was, bien sûr, decapitated along with the remaining royals. I only hope that outcome for our current leaders involves less bloodshed. For now, the cahiers have been collected by the mayors and we are waiting to hear what the government intends to do with the list of grievances expressed by the French citizens. Little has been said about the specific complaints, but the overall trend has to do with regional disparities and taxes. More on that later.
(I am no history buff. All of this comes from Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahiers_de_dol%C3%A9ances)
In our corner of the Haute Savoie, we did not get any info about a debate or an opportunity to share our thoughts with the powers that be. However, in the spirit of airing grievances, I have compiled a few of my own:
Cahier de doléances de FranceSays:
- Stop resisting every little change
France has a well-earned reputation for being ‘irréformable’ because its people will fight any change made to laws with demonstrations, strikes and riots.
- Support the democratic process.
Laws voted by our democratically elected leaders are valid and should be respected as such.
- Stop inventing new taxes
The people are taxed to death (or that is the perception). Simplify the way taxes are collected; make it fair and transparent.
- Teach foreign languages better
Hire native speakers to teach foreign languages in their own tongue.
- Stop dubbing foreign content with French voiceovers
Use subtitles on TV and in films if the production is not originally in the French language.
- Have fewer laws and actually enforce them
See my recent post on ‘Les interdictions’.
- Allow people to demonstrate peacefully but…
Crack down on anyone who is violent or damages public property
- Prison reform must be a priority
The conditions in our penitentiary system propagate criminality and waste public money; only lock up those who are a real threat to public safety. Find creative ways for offenders to pay their debt to society, for example through enforced public service
- Reform driver education
It should be less costly and more accessible for all; essential rules of the road for driv ers, pedestrians, cyclists and others should be taught in school; people should be able to learn to drive with a family member or private tutor.
- Create a code of conduct for all
This should include the values of the French republic and ‘good citizenship’ rules for all. Every citizen should be required to know it and agree in order to receive public services like healthcare.
So there you have my thoughts, for what they’re worth. Between you and me, I doubt that many will be on the list of grievances.
What do you think?