President Nicolas Sarkozy has moved through the National Assembly and is pushing through the Senate a measure raising the retirement age for state pensions from 60 to 62.
For if France does not raise that retirement age, its social security system will face a $58 billion deficit by 2018. Sarkozy's reform follows his victory in repealing a decade-old Socialist law that mandated the 35-hour workweek in France.
What world, one wonders, are these French living in?
Around 2050, those high school and college students will be near or above today's retirement age of 60. Who do they think is going to pony up for their pensions? Are they not aware of what is coming for France and Europe?
Today, 23 percent of French men and women are 60 or older. That will rise to 33 percent by 2050, when there will be one French worker for each French retiree, if 60 is retained as the age of retirement.
Today, 5.5 percent of French men and women are 80 or older. By 2050, that doubles to 11 percent.
Yet France's population of 62.6 million is projected to make a healthy leap to 67.7 million. How can a population continue to grow when the birth rate for almost 80 years running to 2050 is below replacement level?
Answer: As the French retire, age and die, France is filling up with immigrants coming to replace the departed and departing French, and the millions of French children who were never born because their potential parents did not want them.
What is true of France is true of Europe, where not one nation has a fertility rate that will replace its native-born. Among Russians, Ukrainians, Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians, the death rate already exceeds the birth rate. These countries have begun to pass away. And their neighbors will follow.
With the financial crisis of 2008-09, followed by the threatened debt default of one or more of the European Union PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain), all of Europe also seems to be slashing defense budgets to save all they can of their welfare states.
Which raises questions we debt-swamped Americans cannot put off forever. Why, 65 years after World War II, are we still defending these nations? When Europe has more wealth, more people and a more lavish welfare state than we do, why should we impose sacrifices on our people to pay for the privilege of defending her people?
Instead of borrowing from Europe to defend Europe, why do we not charge them for providing that protection?
If we are going to play Romans, why not demand tribute, as the Romans did?
America is the first empire in history to pay tribute to its satraps.