France’s motto is “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité,” or “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood.” Over several decades the French government has tried to achieve this motto through socialist policies. However, French President Emmanuel Macron’s climate change gas tax hike appears to be a watershed moment.
Many French working and middle-class citizens feel they have little liberty to live how they would like. They also feel that there is a lack of equality regarding public services and a lack of brotherhood between different parts of France as well as between government officials, like President Macron, and the middle class.
This sentiment has created much of what is being called the “yellow vest” movement. This movement appears to be comprised of mainly the French middle class; however, many supporters are said to be from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The one uniting factor appears to be the gas tax. France has been rocked by yellow vest protests for the last four weeks. Now this movement is appearing in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Could this be the beginning of the end for European socialism? Maybe. According to interviews with yellow vest protesters and their supporters, liberty, in terms of being free and having the power to do what they wish, is diminishing.
Some protestors took control of a toll booth and allowed cars to travel free of charge. Jacques, a teacher and yellow vest protester, said the road was once used by everyday French people to go on vacation and was known as the “holiday road,” but due to increasing costs average citizens can no longer afford to take such vacations. Another protestor said many people feel they can’t afford Christmas presents for their children.
Chris Despres, a baker, lamented that he cannot hire more employees because of the taxes he would pay. Cindy Conseil, a wife and mother, was forced to move her family from their home to be closer to her husband’s workplace in order to reduce his fuel costs. Every month at the end of the month, both Florian Dou, a warehouse handler, and Fabrice Girardin, a former carpet layer, wonder if they will have enough food for their families.
[Read It All]