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Jacques Attali Headshot

A Very Strange Summer

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While planes disappear, explode or fall one after the other, around the world, without explanation (there is still no information regarding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to Beijing; the identities of the crew that launched a missile are not known for certain, on Ukrainian soil, against another plane from the same airline: Kuala Lumpur-bound flight MH17, and same for what caused Air Algerie Flight 5017 from Ouagadougou to Algiers to crash), while civilian populations die under bombs, without media coverage (in Libya, Syria or Iraq) or live on television (in Gaza and in Israel), while some countries crumble (Iraq and Ukraine) and others arise (Kurdistan and South Sudan), while new and unexpected alliances are formed (Egypt, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran against Sunni Islamists), while people starve and die, more than ever before all over the world, while everywhere the poorest continue to bear the brunt of crises for which they are in no way responsible for, financial markets continue to go up, the rich to spend and politicians to prattle on.

One hears of ministers, from all countries, going from one capital to another, from one television studio to another, pretending to deal seriously with problems whose dynamics and solution are totally beyond their comprehension.

In Europe, very sleepy continent, where all energies have been focused for a month on soccer results, occasions for strange returns (who has actually read the slogan that appeared on the German national team's bus? "One Nation, One Team, One Dream," which recalls the appalling slogan of the Third Reich ("One People, One Reich, One Führer"), all the more so as the slogan became, after their victory: "Masters of the world"...), summer time is now being spent on the saga of the allocation of portfolio responsibilities in the governance of Europe, the Commission, power all the more insignificant that, over the past twenty years, it has not made use of it.

In France, too busy celebrating, recalling and mourning the dead of yesterday and today, we forget a little to take care of the living with earnest attention.

Our country is likely to regret for a long time to come its sleep in the summer of 2014.

Indeed, it is in the midst of a tragic world, and it will increasingly be so, the last moment, at least during the term of office of the current president, that finally courageous decisions will have to be made that general cowardice, blindness and procrastination have for more than 20 years now prevented.

It is in this beautiful and awful month of August 2014 that the final choices for the 2015 budget absolutely have to be made, with implementation that will lead up to the eve of the forthcoming presidential election campaign.

Everyone knows what has to be done, from the suppression of departments to the eradication of all revenues proceeding from rents, from the radical reform of vocational education and training to that of housing, from VAT in the catering industry to abatement for "occupational expenses" for pensioners. There is another month to go, six weeks or less, within which to take and explain these decisions so cowardly neglected, so shamefully bungled by the previous Presidents, and which the current president has not yet taken.

The urgency of the decisions is all the more important as the situation of the country is tragic; much more than is recognized; much more than attempts to hide it from view through a series of diversions: growth is not present; unemployment is increasing, deficits insist on not decreasing, despite efforts to make savings; public debt is not decreasing. Foreign trade balance is not improving; our elites are leaving; and those who are staying give up. The far right is settling in cities and neighborhoods.

The entire country is divided up into a juxtaposition of castes, communities, corporations, provinces, generations, and no one explained to them that they will have, no matter what they do, the same fate. And no one explained either, the great future they can have together, provided they work at it.

Now, in truth, it is necessary to have the courage to think about the interest of the country and not one's own tranquility, update, at last, the country on the tragedy that lies ahead, showing it the path, democratic, towards its greatness and security.

j@attali