Another Darn Long-Weekend

photo: bar du marche, buci

Friday was a good day for sitting around in Paris.

These Freebies Riddle May

by Ric Erickson

Paris:- Monday, 8. May 2000:- Today is 'Victory in Europe Day' and therefore a holiday in parts of Europe even if the day has a different name in Germany and no name at all in Ireland. Looking a bit to the future, plain 'Europe Day' is tomorrow - and it is not a holiday. Not yet.

The end of World War II in Europe was 55 years ago. The 'Wall' in Berlin was opened to free passage, and knocked down, 11 years ago next fall. Over the weekend, Russia's new and democratically-elected President was sworn in, with gilded whiffs of former imperial pomp.

Since I haven't seen tonight's TV-news, I don't know if Moscow's ceremonies will be followed by a heavily militarily-oriented presence during the remembrance of the end of the war in Europe. I doubt it.

Some timid signs are pointing to the take-over of the 8th of May by 'Europe Day' on the 9th of May. I think most Europeans will welcome seeing 'Victory in Europe' disappear, especially if it is substituted by another day off; to add to 'Workers and Peasants No-Work Day,' known simply as 'May Day,' on the 1st of May - which was last Monday.

This year's calendar has worked out stunningly well in Europe with three Mondays in a row as public holidays. Coupled with France's 35-hour work week, many have been able to juggle a few vacation days into a three-week freebie. Three cheers for Europe and its inventive holidays makers!

Wretched Excess?

In case there are readers who may be toiling 60 hours a week and only enjoying one long-weekend off in May, and are thinking silly Europeans can't afford any of this extravagance, let me put you straight.

But first, a 'truth-in-advertising disclaimer:' the following is based not on personal experience, but on forecasts made by people I have never met, and do not know who is paying them to make these predictions - just as I am sure they are well-paid for them.

I suddenly find I have mislaid my sources; so I will gloss some of these 'facts.' In an area with 350photo: bateau lutece sit down million inhabitants, unemployment is going down increasingly rapidly, while inflation is staying low at about two percent.

Some people even sat around on boat roofs on the Seine.

Milo Minderbinder's plans for all of us being employees of one big corporation as well as being stockholders of it, are hectically being realized - soon the phrase 'Euro-22 Corp SA' will make pension fund managers jump for joy.

Meanwhile, even countries like France - which have believed that taxes are man's highest blessing - has lowered the crucial valued-added sales tax by one percent. I pooh-poohed this recently, but I think it is the first millimetre of a long journey to lower taxes for all.

Lower taxes will translate into people buying more stuff - resulting in tax collection increases - but will also mean that more people will have to make more stuff for people with more money, to buy - thus increasing employment, and new hordes of taxpayers, who are also becoming dividend-collecting stockholders.

The latest news from the US says its jobless rate has dipped below four percent. News like this generally makes central bankers nervous and they start reaching for higher interest rates.

Europe's unemployment rates are double or triple, so we have a huge cushion of unemployed to allow for before we have to worry that the bankers will be trying to depress us all again. We've been down long enough.

Now, if this continent just had a good five-cent cigar.

Café Racing

While looking for a city office that hands out licenses for non-profit activities such as this magazine last Wednesday, Iphoto: auto passion cafe chanced to visit the Porte d'Orléans a bit further along.

My curiosity about it was satisfied by one quick glance. It is a big place with a lot of space, and is of no particular interest whatsoever, unless you want to get out of town this way.

On a second scan I spied an establishment called 'Auto Passion.' Close-up it turned out to be a café, even if it did seem to have two BMW racing sedans in it. Some of the café's chairs were also racing models; but without seatbelts.

It is a big place, going back deep. Along the walls there are cabinets with car stuff in them; arranged like well-done displays at Rétromobile.

TV-screens above the bar were showing sedans racing in endless video-loops, and there was anotherphoto: traction passion cafe big screen in the rear - perhaps for showing whole races. There were a couple of Renault F1 motors scattered about as extra decor.

I had arrivedco-incidently with the racing BMWs, which were being prepped for some sort of occasion on the same evening. Two people from the racing team were replacing the sponsor decals and other racing trim.

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