In an article found in French online news The Local, the headline read, “Unlike the US the French don’t blame the poor.” The gist is that although France has a problem with poverty, it is not anything like that of the United States, because Vive La France. This attitude comes out after a poll was conducted which suggested that French people showed less and less sympathy for poor people.
It seems that when anything bad is mentioned, the French quickly act by pointing out someone or something else that is somehow slightly worse. Take for example the French position when, amid the financial crisis, they proclaimed that “the American middle class has been falling apart…whereas the French middle classes were not affected by the crisis until 2012.” We are supposed to believe that although France has high unemployment and visibly more homeless people, there has been no increase in the number of actual poor people.
Interestingly, the French online paper criticized Americans for blaming poor people for being lazy, and yet their own studies concluded that 71% of French believe poor people receive benefits too easily. In addition, 63% said these benefits encourage laziness. Then the article immediately turns back to picking on the U.S by saying, “The United States will celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty…even if people today estimate that it was poverty that won the war.”
In a final assault on the United States, the article said, “The US has now moved from a war on poverty to a war on the poor, but the sense of community and solidarity remains strong in France.” Unless of course, you believe that statistic about 71% of French people thinking poor folks get those benefits too easily…or that 63% number who say it encourages laziness.
The article ended by saying, “It is always easier to give to our neighbors if they are similar to us.” Perhaps a more fitting ending would have been, “It is always easier to deal with negative news about yourself by criticizing someone else for being much worse.” We can thank Julien Damon, the former president of the National Institute for Poverty and Social Exclusion for the bias in this story. Viva la France, or as they said on Normandy 70 years ago, “Where are the French?”