Will theLucky Winner Step Forward?

This week's Paris Bistro

Super Loto Win Set to Pay 150 Milion Francs
To Unknown and Possibly Shy Winner

Paris:- Saturday-Sunday, 22.-23. March 1997:- We need something to take our minds off the shifty weather and our other troubles, so the people who have got us hooked on gambling The 150M Loto have decided to let us gamble some more for the money they've taken in and we haven't won yet.

A couple of weeks ago the Loto put up a special draw, with a top pot of 100 million francs, and what do you know? Nobody got six right out of 49. There was gloom in Mudville over that.

So last Thursday night they did it again. I can see them sitting there saying, "The vault is full, the rent's going up, we gotta get rid of some of this loot!"

Normally the Loto rolls off on Wednesday and Saturday nights, just before and right after the 20:00 TV-news. That makes four draws a week, and I think the minimum wager is four francs for two sets of 49-number grills. There is a horrible variety of combination plays, and I understand none of them.

Times are so tough that people are betting far more than they're winning - partly on account of the odds and mostly on account of their stupid ping-pong-ball selection machine.

Somehow the Loto got permission to let the players win the 'surplus' all at once, instead of using it to bail out Crédit Lyonnais again. For the special pot there is a special bet-card, and the stakes are higher than normal - and last Thursday, the pot was 150 million francs.

After the last ball fell out of the transparent ping-pong-ball machine around 20:42, somebody in France was richer by exactly 150,077,770 francs. I checked Friday's Paris and New York closings, and that sum translates into about 26,329,433 US dollars. Tax free, and all at once.

There is a little neighborhood bar in Asnières, just across the Seine from Levallois, where the bet was placed, but the cheque had not been collected by Friday evening. There's time.

Papa Will Be Unemployed Forever

This was a headline in last Monday's Le Parisien, over a photo of angry Belgian Renault workers protesting in Brussels. Renault is not budging a millimetre over the affair, but it no longer matters because during the week medical interns and externs were protesting all over the place and they were joined at week's end by teachers, while the interns promised more for next week.

Le Parisien's weekend 'Demo Map' published today shows pilgrims on parade, bank workers in the streets, homeless protesters, some sort of foot-race up on Montmartre, the renewal of the pedestrian-bicycle action, public service workers on the streets for employment, and finally, the football game at the Parc des Princes is another area to avoid late Sunday.

I had a chat with an intern at Bastille last Wednesday where a white-coated group of them had occupied the steps of the Opéra; not bothering anybody. Demo Paris Interns The beef is all about the government finance people shifting the payments for medical services from the state insurance coverage to the users, who also pay for the state insurance and incidently pay the salaries of the government, so it is only logical that they must be able to pay their own medical bills too.

It's the old idea of throwing everybody out of work in order to reduce salary costs to zero, which looks very pretty on the bottom line. I heard an estimate that 40 percent of all workers in France, work for the state in some way. I don't know if it is true; but does it matter?

They may not produce anything truly useful, but they are not a drain on unemployment funds, and, best of all, they do buy things that other people make and that is positive.

If we all worked for the state and bought stuff, that might cause even more people to be hired to make stuff for us to buy, and we wouldn't have to pay the unemployment tax because there would be negative unemployment; and that would give us even more money to spend on thing, causing yet more insane employment, and gradually we could convert the people who work for the unemployment agency to making things too, and paying them more so they could buy more stuff too.

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