Up for judgment: Macron’s Great Debate, and the ‘re-looking’ of the Champs Elysees.


Part 1

It is desperately unfashionable to spare a good word for President Emmanuel Macron. You may call him elitist, aloof, politically deaf and dumb, an imperious windbag or vacillating introvert, a conservative in progressive clothing or vice-versa, or all of the above. Just don’t give him any credit.

The current global nationalist/populist movements have roots beyond national borders, have mushroomed to a greater or lesser degree in nearly all Western-style democracies (hello Japan and South Korea, where are you?) The Yellow Vests are hardly a ‘French exception.’ However, early on Macron launched a strategic counter-move whose exceptional, earnest optimism quickly invited ridicule: Le Grand Debat.’ Nothing less than an inclusive convocation of the French people, primarily via city halls and other local meeting venues, to openly vent their concerns, grievances and preferences. Since January 15th, crisscrossing forgotten France, Macron has attended in person most of these 21 pow-wows intended to ‘give the word back to the people.’ Over 500,000 individuals contributed their thoughts in person, an estimated additional million via Internet et al.

12 million Euros for futile window-dressing? Or a step toward restoring some degree of national cohesion? The next few weeks should be telling, as the government promises to announce concrete policy measures based on ‘Le Grand Debat.’ But meanwhile, today April 8th, the process came to an official close, with a general and concise summing-up by PM Edouard Philippe.

  • The tax burden must (of course) come down
  • people recognize that therefore public expenditures must be cut (but who loses out?)

This duo could be called the Sisyphean squaring of the political circle. It has proved particularly unattainable in France. Recently, talk has resurfaced of extending the retirement age past the current 62, which is expensively out of step with the rest of Europe. Logical, but a dangerous rail for Macron to touch nonetheless.

  • Perhaps surprisingly, ahead of any other topic the third top concern of the 1.5 million consulted is climate change. As in, god damn it, you so-called leaders, do something!


Part 2

After the unified outrage over the Yellow Vests’ desecration of the Arc de Triumph, angry indignation has broken out anew among many Parisians over changes at the other end of the Champs-Elysees. The large round basins near the Grand Palais, long dry and idle, are now being irrigated by a new set of ultra-modern devices – are these in fact fountains? – designed by the brother designer team of . Talk about turning a concept on its head!

Some speak with derision of YMCA-type showers (albeit crusted with Swarowski crystals). I’m personally reminded of the ‘tippy-tap’ hand-washing system disseminated to poor villages by my non-profit, Techxlab.org. Okay, they only cost 6.3 million Euros, ‘privately financed’ from a special fund set up by… Paris Mayor Anne Hidago.

Audacious aesthetic? Hilarious hoax? Next to be seen at: Mare-a-Lago?

Please, you be the judge.




  1. I, for one, could do without the fountains…as if Paris needed another fountain…

    Quite frankly, after months of hoo-ha by the president of U.S. (you’ll notice I did not capitalize president) we could use a little more of President Macron’s style here in U.S.

  2. Not tasteless enough for Mar-a-Lago. No gold fixtures.

    Macron may not be up to the task, but here we are being “led” by a demented bigot advised by simpleton relatives and a propaganda network. What could go wrong?

  3. MARGOT LIVESEY · · Reply

    As always so eloquent and informative. I wish we weren’t living in such interesting times.

  4. Taxes have to come down, so spending has to come down? And taxes always come down most for the wealthiest and spending comes down most for the poorest. Isn’t that an odd coincidence?

    1. Sorry for this belated reply, Ellen – but worth confirming that what you describe is certainly at least The American Way. In France, to be seen. Taxes on the middle class are being lowered in the wake of the GVs, etc., but rising debt is the challenge in a country that lacks the collective spine to eliminate redundant public positions or raise retirement age above an unaffordable 62.

  5. Andrew Halper · · Reply

    Hi, Kai

    I hope all is well.

    Please note my new email address:


    Best regards


    From: “POINT de VUE: PARIS” Reply-To: “POINT de VUE: PARIS” Date: Tuesday, 9 April 2019 at 17:37 To: AndrewHalper Subject: [New post] Up for judgment: Macron¹s Great Debate, and the Œre-looking¹ of the Champs Elysees.

    WordPress.com maristed posted: ” Part 1 It is desperately unfashionable to spare a good word for President Emmanuel Macron. You may call him elitist, aloof, politically deaf and dumb, an imperious windbag or vacillating introvert, a conservative in progressive clothing or vice-versa, “

  6. 6.3 millions? That’s 2 millions and change per fountain tube…
    Was that really necessary?
    As an afterthought, the Gilets Jaunes lost a great opportunity this week-end to “pause” and mourn Notre-Dame. Early this (my) morning (Central Time) close to to 200 arrests in Paris. Was that really necessary?
    Thank you Kai for your post. As a lifelong Market researcher I wonder how they will synthesize so many contributions in one single, objective analysis. Tecnhically? I don’t think they have had the time.
    Take care, mon amie.

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