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'Free crèches, where? Milk at €6 a litre, where?'

Ben McPartland · 7 Jan 2014, 11:05

Published: 07 Jan 2014 11:05 GMT+01:00

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Newsweek journalist Janine Di Giovani appears to have made herself public enemy number 1 in France this week after her article 'The Fall of France', in which she describes how for a variety of reasons her adopted country is going down the pan, caused uproar among the French press and on social media.

In 'The Fall of France' Di Giovanni slams France's high taxes, which she says are driving the best brains abroad as well as France's welfare system which allowed a friend to spend three years trying to get a job, whilst all the time receiving a hefty salary from the state.

Di Giovanni, also lamented the modern cost of living in France which she claims had meant milk now costs $4 or €3 for half a litre.

On Tuesday Newsweek continued its French-bashing theme when it published a second article titled "The Fall of France II - How a Cockeral Nation Became an Ostrich" in which the publication again scorns the state of the French economy. 

Just like the French media, readers of The Local France are sensitive to French bashing among the Anglo press, especially when they believe it is completely unwarranted. After reading how the French press and social media were up in arms about the article, it was the turn of our readers to react. Here's a selection of your best views.

Daniel Bukowski: “What an exaggeration. I know you can get a litre of milk for around 1€ with ease. There's some truth to all of this. At least in France money (and the chase of) isn't the only objective.

Steven Kale: “First of all, this sort of trashing of "socialist" France is a staple of American journalism. Second, the article is ridiculous: it decries the brain drain but spends most time talking about the fabulous social benefits available to French people that make France such a wonderful place to live.”

Yvonne Flavin: “Even here (Annecy) milk isn't that expensive! Where's she buying it? The motorway services on a Sunday night? As for free nappies, never saw those. Or crèches. I had some re-education after having my kids. Is that so bad.”

Di Newnham: "[France] is still on a decline from Socialism to near Communism. [It has] drained us financially and emotionally. Bureaucrats have no kindness or subjective thought."

Elisabeth Kruch: “Free nappies and crèches ? Where? Milk at 6 Euros a litre? Where? Having said that living in France is extremely expensive, salaries have stagnated for years, and everything went up about 40% after the introduction of the Euro.”

Commenter Kevin said: "True or untrue that doesn't change the fact that France is in the decline and there is no sign of recovering anytime soon, so keep that in mind before getting carried away by that exaggerated article from Newsweek. France is not well and may be it's just few years away from the 1789 style.”

Emily Montès:  “Career paths are so rigid in France that once embarked upon the pre-destined path, it's do or die.  Fancy a change of career?  You were a nurse, you would like to sell cars for a living?  Forget it, it's "impossible".  A nation whose citizens are weighed down with fatalist thinking, the French state comes across as controlling and desperate.  Desperate to control every aspect of our behaviour. The system of tax deductions for everything drives consumer spending to the point that a household has nothing much left over to spend at will."

Anonymous reader: "The journalist deserved the backlash a bit. She came across as a rich Anglo, ensconced in some rich arrondissement of Paris with rich expat friends, and who is disappointed Paris is not like the city she’d read about in dated novels."

Ms Di Giovanni had not responded to a request for an interview with The Local at the time of publication but Newsweek itself did hit back at criticism of the piece. Here's what the American news site, that is actually owned by a Frenchman, had to say.

"The Fall of France," a Newsweek story by the magazine’s prize-winning Middle East Editor Janine di Giovanni, who lives in Paris, highlighted some of the challenges the country is facing – from the (much-debated) high cost of certain dairy products to the migration of France’s more entrepreneurial-minded (who, we fully understand, are aware that once upon a time “entrepreneur” was indeed a French word, even if it has fallen into abeyance) received a cool receptions in, of all places, France.

"Indeed, there’s a lot of rhetorical mileage to be had by elaborately missing the point.

"As one detractor pointed out, “If the elite are fleeing from France, how is it that three of the top six MBA schools for Fortune 500 CEOs are French?”

"A good point. Indeed, since the Fortune 500 companies are all based in the U.S., why are so many top French business executives heading across the pond to make their fortunes elsewhere – rather than staying in France?

"This is just one question avoided by the cockerel nation that has become the ostrich nation. As the French say, “Pour être continué.”

Story continues below…

Let us know your views in the comments section below and we will consider them for publication.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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