Sunday, September 23, 2012

Where Lobbying is a Dirty Word

This is the BEST story that came out this summer while we were on vacation. Get this: The French Parliament was persuaded to pass a mandatory breathalyzer test law (which requires motorists to have a breathalyzer kit in their car at all times) by the guy whose company MAKES the devices.
The blood alcohol limit (or BAC) for most states in the US is 0.08%. In France, you only need to have a BAC of 0.05% to be considered driving drunk (a standard I wish the US would adopt nationwide). Parliament adopted the new law in an effort to raise awareness of just how few drinks (approximately two glasses of wine) it takes to be considered legally drunk.
Now, I’m all for this law, and again, I wish something like this would be adopted in the US, or even better yet, world WIDE! Drunk drivers are the source of so much devastation in this world; every effort should be made to stop it from ever happening again. Governments should have the freedom and, let’s be honest, the BALLS to take some extreme measures to curb this type of behavior.
That having been said, the reason I’m highlighting this story is not the content of the law but the fact that in France, lobbying is considered a DIRTY word (and a –gasp!) SHAMEFUL PROFESSION. Since this law was adopted on July 1st, Daniel Orgeval (President of Contralco, the non-profit road safety association that persuaded Parliament to pass the breathalyzer test law) has been getting DEATH THREATS!
Wearing a double casquette (literally two caps-doing business while trying to get legislation passed which directly benefits your company) is seen as…wait for it…a sacrilege and the APEX OF CORRUPTION! Imagine what a better place the United States would be if lobbying was considered a shameful profession!
PS: As a side note: foreigners are NOT exempt from this law so if you are renting a car here make sure you have your test d'acoolémie with you at all times!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vive la rentrée!

Did you know that most French people enjoy five weeks of annually mandated-by-law, paid vacation, which doesn't include all the official holidays and the extra days off associated with them? This a luxury most Americans can only dream of. La rentrée literally means 'the re-entry' and I'm guessing that they have been away from their jobs SO long that they feel like they are re-entering the planet WORK. For families with children, the contrast is even more poignant. I do love the fact that every single child in France returns to school on the same day, but it certainly is a shock to the system for the kiddos. The parents, on the other hand, were literally dancing in the streets after drop-off!