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France explodes (or so they tell me)!

I've been fascinated by the recent events in France concerning raising the country's retirement age from 60 to 62.

If you haven't been following it, you read that right. In France, you retire at 60 with a state pension. President Sarkozy (unpopular before, and quickly becoming reviled) and the French legislature that is likely to pass it feel the raise is necessary to reduce the country's debt. But most citizens are opposed, feeling that the age 60 retirement is a birthright.

France is a mess right now, financially, and these strikes and violence will only make it worse. Most of the protests, it should be pointed out, have been peaceful. The most violent ones make for the best photos and copy so they get all the press. And violence over this is appalling.

This article gives a better sense of the mentality fueling the outrage.

Whenever an entitlement is reduced or taken away, those affected are angry. Sometimes, as is the case in this country right now, many are angry simply because they perceive that something is or might be taken away.

But I'm thinking more about the mentality that retirement is not just a luxury but a right at your sixtieth birthday. I doubt I will ever be fortunate enough to retire, but I really can't imagine it until I'm very old (from a purely financial perspective - I can fantasize about it all day long). And sixty just isn't, especially living in a First World nation with today's advances in medicine and nutrition.

However, I do appreciate the mentality that work is just something you do to live, not as the crux of your life. I know too many people, myself included, who too often fall into that trap.

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