French Letter

Plus ça change….

…….plus reste la meme chose:

Welcome back to The Slog. French Letter is a familiar old favourite, and provides the perfect backdrop for today’s headline, which means (basically) the more things change, the more they stay the same.

You may wonder why you are staring at a young lady’s pert buttocks in that context, but there is a reason for this beyond flagrant sexism on my part, so stick with it.

The Dépeche front page records the fact that the Boy King Macron his replaced his Prime Minister Eduard Philippe along with the entire Assembly-based government. It is one of the vagaries of the Fifth Republic’s constitution that the President can do this at any time for any reason. As Macca didn’t supply a reason, the media here have filled in the gaps.

The first thing to note is that Philippe has been replaced by a man who is indeed an elected official, but in a very minor way: Jean Castex is a Hollywood-casting ‘plat écran’ bureaucrat with very little national experience and a media profile that can be summed up by the question, “Jean who?”

This allows the Roi de Soleil in the Elysées to do two things: first, get rid of the previous Prime Minister who was becoming dangerously popular – as in, a rival to Macron; and second, take advantage of Castex’s inexperience in order to become not just the President, but also de facto Prime Minister. It is another step along the Yellow Brick Road that leads to L’Empéreur Macronapoleon.

To be fair, Philippe has become the fall guy for the bonkers decision to institute the confinement (Lockdown) on such a broad scale…..whereas thus far, Castex has done a very solid job in organising the end of it. Also, he comes from the Gers, so he can’t be all bad.

Eduard Philippe has become the scapegoat for the La République en Marche (Larem) Parisian mayor candidate getting such a drubbing at the hands of the Greens et al earlier this year – which is curious, given that said candidate was very much a Macron man.

What’s actually changed in all this amounts to little more than a hill of beans: Macron needed to look decisive as his poll ratings plummeted, and by firing Philippe he has secured a more direct control over events in the run-up to the 2022 Presidential contest.

As for the Wunderkind’s chances in that forthcoming pillow-fight, it is going to take a very radical joint-alliance candidate to unseat the soi-disant “Centrist” crony-capitalist énarc Rothschild graduate. The Left won’t deal with LePen, and the Gilets Jaunes won’t deal with either of them. But the GJ’s have a Green element in their ranks, and the Greens themselves saw a surge in the recent Mayoral elections.

Aware of this, the week before last Manny Macron promised a €15 billion boost to ‘Green’ State actions. But the Greens’ surge was effected via an alliance with the Partie Socialiste.

Eduard Philippe himself is now expected to run, but on which ticket?

For my money, Macron remains the man most likely. On verra.

Apart from these goings on, France remains a country whose potential success remains severely nobbled by risible after-sales service, an appalling delivery record, overpriced goods of dubious quality – and the now more or less planetary commercial trick of hiding behind Artificial Intelligence online.

Hence the pert buttocks of earlier, upon which I shall now expound – and no fnar-fnar in the background if you please.

Let’s not beat about the bush here, Credit Agricole is a terrible bank. Two years ago, I signed up at €3 a month for a service whereby they would automatically email me when my current account balance fell below €350. Well, they took the monthly fee and did the square root of nothing….gaily continuing to bounce cheques, standing orders and even local tax payments without bothering to inform me…..let alone point out the monies in the account as promised. What they did manage to do, however, was write to me (charging me for the letter) and giving me a fat bill for ‘an unarranged overdraft’.

So I rang the bank. They denied all knowledge of the arrangement, but were unable to explain why they had trousered €36 during the previous year.

I fired them a month ago, but the transfer of my account (scheduled to take four working days) is still ongoing. So reluctantly (as I was doing my online tax return this morning) I went to my CreditAg Espace client to copy the interest received justicative form I need to send the Tax Office. This they are supposed to do this by the end of March every year….by law.

Since I last went to the site, what was a two-stage sign-in has become a four-stage affair: to customer number and password have now been added confirmation of email address and an SMS-sent passcode.

It took five pages to get to my documents section, but under the Fiscal justicative heading, the latest document was dated 2017. So I went to ‘Help’, and was offered ten options, none of which were relevant. I was then offered an email send box, so I typed in ‘my fiscal interest documents are missing’. Back came the reply, ‘You need to look under ‘Documents fiscales’. I typed, ‘I’ve just done that, and it’s not there’, to which the response was ‘Sorry, your search did not yield any results’.

So I went back a page, and there I found the cute girlie bum jumping in the air for joy because online banking had given her freedom from a human voice. I also found the notice saying that the website was suddenly unavailable…..and how désolé CreditAg felt about that.

Such is the ongoing triumph of Artificial intelligence: forty minutes wasted for zero achievement.

This sort of AI Cercle de danse is not of course restricted to France. It’s just that France manages to use AI as a delaying tactic better than any other nation.

After five weeks of lies and abominably rude engineers, I still have no SFR internet service.

After three weeks of nagging, Butagaz eventually refilled my underground tank, having promised to give me three days notice of the delivery. For the third year running, they turned up without any notice at all, while some aggressive jobsworth complained that my entry drive wasn’t wide enough.

That’s my trouble, really: I’m just a fucking nuisance.

After three years of telling Engie boiler services that my water pressure has to be adjusted manually every month, a human being turned up, spotted that the pressure balloon had not been refilled during previous Engie services, and corrected the failure. It now works perfectly.

I have yet to receive a response to my email asking for two years’ money back for incompetent boiler service.

After three months of skullduggery from Pacifica Assurance, I still have no refund for irreparable damage done, during a storm, to the plunge-pool’s solar heat exchanger.

All these latter processes involved answering the same braindead AI questions over and over online. The latter two look like (at last) being solved….by the intervention of humans.

Only two things ever solve the AI impasse go-slow in France: going to the supplier’s Twitter page and posting “Why are you so shit?”; and human intervention.

The post-Contrick19 unemployment level in France is now 8.5%, and forecast to rise to around 10.6% over the next year. As a reasonably knowledgeable pro-Am economist, I have searched in vain for any kind of credible rationale as to how and why roughly 80,000 personal and institutional shareholders in companies like those above seem to be more important than 6.7 million perfectly employable souls who are jobless – and costing France a small fortune in welfare – thanks to Artificial Intelligence employed by rapacious neoliberals and (of late) utterly delusional and/or corrupt virus advice given by those in the pay of Big Pharma.

I have been a confirmed ant-Socialist since 1975. But this stinking globalist sewer of thinly disguised monopoly is utterly retrogressive.

There are those who will accuse me of being Luddite about AI, but such an accusation is riddled with holes: 18th century spinning jennies that could do the work of 200 individual human weavers were an improvement in the path of which no Lobby Ludds could ever stand.

By contrast, the application of AI to after sales service and customer liaison is far worse than the telephonic approach that preceded it….and is woefully anti-social in the Treasury costs and lost citizen hope it evokes.

So, two weeks of change on both sides of la Manche have seen apparently dramatic changes….but they solve no problems at all. My two week furlough, by contrast, has transformed large parts of the garden and given me time to think…as well as observe the realities of natural science.

This is Henry the Hare. He is unconcerned about fiscal deficits. He dreams not of a Utopian system of government, but rather of lettuce and dandelion leaves.