Saturday, October 6, 2012

French Atlases Protest

French Socialist President Hollande and majority socialist government are trying to save their welfare state by raising taxes on the current and future wealthy (i.e. entrepreneurs). On top of the 75% tax on millionaires, a new progressive capital gains tax that would cost entrepreneurs up to 45% (60+% with other charges) finally prodded the victims to rebel. Anonymous entrepreneurs have formed 'Les Pigeons' in protest. Pigeon in French is slang for 'sucker'.

In any economy, it is the businessman who translates scientific and technical advances into new products and profitable businesses. Yet businessmen are targeted with guilt for their sin of profit seeking. They make possible the rise of civilization out of poverty into affluence and yet are pilloried and made to pay for welfare programs entitled to others by the virtue of not having been successful.

As of now, Les Pigeons is a protest movement with no positive defense of their right to pursue profits (and happiness), but it has already gained one victory. Their main leverage appears to be the implicit threat to go on strike. The government has backed off implementation of the progressive capital gains tax, for now.

I've watched several tea-party-ish movements in France over the last few years, but this one looks to have more energy than the rest. Since its creation a week ago, its facebook page has 60,000 likes. Its twitter account has 8000 followers and hashtag #geonpi is very active. I hope they find a positive message before they run out of anger. They would do well to read La Greve!

(H/T Mish Shedlock)

UPDATE: Confirming the lack of a positive message, les pigeon have released a video that states they are not a political party, nor are they dogmatists (i.e. they have no ideology), they are simply pragmatists who want economic growth and jobs. No movement without a moral foundation has ever succeeded. Get one.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Veronica Mars (TV)

I've just finished watching (with my family) the Veronica Mars TV series, the 2004 teen noir detective show by Rob Thomas. I highly recommend it. The central character is a high school student who works part time for her private investigator father. She's an effective sleuth herself and solves problems for her classmates. The plot arc of the first season revolves around the murder of her best friend, over which she is emotionally crushed, estranged from her friends and her father loses his job as sheriff. Within this arc there are usually two subplots: cases that take several episodes to resolve (e.g. the framing of a family friend) and an even smaller one that's resolved in each episode (e.g. the loss of a laptop). The plots are interesting and handled masterfully. The setting is the mythical town of Neptune somewhere in San Diego county, an ultra-wealthy enclave in proximity to a poor hispanic area, both of which are represented at the high school. The characters range from the smart and independent Veronica, to vacuous snobs, rebellious brats, nerds, gang members, athletes and momma's boys. Various characters undergo dramatic changes (for better or worse), changes that are explained by the events. Some characters you start out hating, but come to love. And vice versa. Veronica's character is by far the most admirable. She's smart, independent, proud, rebellious, sometimes vengeful, and most of all completely lacking in self-pity. The contrast with popular culture and other series is shocking. Think of Smallville for example, the story of a young Superman, who with all of his super powers can't stop feeling sorry for himself, and whose theme song has the plaintive line "somebody saaaaave me" repeated over and over again.

Unfortunately there are only 3 seasons. The first is the best. The characterization of Veronica towards the end of the second season loses its consistency, slipping from a very strong moralism in the first season to amorality in the late second and third seasons. Throughout the series Veronica is willing to break the law to solve cases, the one major flaw, but early on she acknowledges a moral conflict and has a clear if sometimes flawed justification. As the series continues, her law breaking escalates and the justifications just kind of disappear. Her relationship with her boyfriend also veers towards the irrational.

Veronica's target audience is late teens and does contain numerous references to sex (including rape) and violence. It is not visually racy, but references quite a bit of adult or young adult subject matter. It is definitely appropriate for late teens and adults. My wife and I loved it and plan to re-watch it in a year.

I don't know how I found Veronica Mars, but I think it was this review that finally convinced me to check it out: Veronica mars -- the Best Show Noone Bothered to Watch. Thanks CJ Far.

Veronica is available on Netflix.