Think things are bad in the US?

Economically they may be... the market is tanking, the FED is printing like crazy, entire parts of the country are being nationalized. I do however remain optimistic because the people are still not totally corrupt, they still have a decent moral compass and some remain of respect for property rights. The following story happened in Rennes, in the Bretagne region of France. Should the following happen in the US, I think hardly anyone would support it, and emphatically not the democratic party. In France, this was quite popular...

A few days ago, the AFP published this (my crappy translation cannot even begin to describe the socialist newspeak used here. The substantive "précaires" essentially means someone who can be fired).

According to the police, around 25 people, belonging to a collective of "chômeurs et précaires" - unemployed and people with short-term jobs - grabbed food today, and left without paying for it at the Galeries Lafayette, a French department store, in Rennes.

The activists stuffed their carts with food around noon then blocked the checkout counters, unfurling a banner: "chômeurs et précaires en lutte", indicating their social struggle. After negotiating with the management of the store, which was crowded with Christmas shoppers, they managed to leave with their provisions without paying. No complaint was filed with the police, who went on site but did not arrest anyone.

The AFP contacted the store management who declined to comment.

A look on the activist website is even more eye-popping.

An autoreduction (sic), organized by the "Mouvement des Chômeurs et précaires en lutte de Rennes" - Movement of the unemployed and insecure job holders from Rennes in social struggle - happened at the Galeries Lafayette, in downtown Rennes, Saturday the 20th of December.

Saturday the 20th of December, the MCPL of Rennes made an autoreduction at the food aisle of the Galeries Lafayette.

The purpose was:

- To stop, for a time, the consumption pace during the Christmas season
- To get some eats, that the store management would gladly give us. Playing the negotiation card, we hope that we can't be charged for theft in reunion.
- To put forward the ongoing struggle against the government reforms (a list of French government programs follows, in particular one that makes it mandatory to accept a reasonable job offer at some point or lose your unemployment benefits, and another one that requires you to check in every month for job offers to continue receiving money).


Thirty of us gathered in front of the store, and we entered in small groups. Everyone grabbed a shopping basket and filled it, as he wished with food.

Once our baskets were full, we went to the checkout. The plan was to get three people for each cash register, one behind another with a basket, the first one would refuse to pay and explain our action. We asked to meet the manager and negotiate with him.

All of this while avoiding any kind of violence that could justify arrests. We blocked around height cash registers total. Meanwhile, two of us unfurled the banner "chômeurs et précaires en lutte", while others handled leaflets explaining our actions.

Quickly, a line formed at the checkout. Some of us took the floor to explain our action.

Two security guards from the store came along. They were angry but quickly calmed down. The chief of security called the store manager. The manager chose to let the situation deteriorate rather than immediately start negotiating.

20 minutes after our blockade, first proposal from the manager: "put everything back in the aisles, free the registers and send a delegation to negotiate in my office". AH AH AH AH !!!

Meanwhile, discussions get heated with some consumers who do not support us, mostly old people and bourgeois from downtown. A few reactions: "you're taking us hostage", "my cat's hungry", "you don't know what work is, you've never worked", "you've nothing to do here"...

A few supports: "I'm with you, don't give up anything". A security guard talks to us about a man and his child "move along, can't you see you're preventing them to go through". The man's answer: "not at all, and by the way, I support them".

To put it in a nutshell, unusual activity for this store.

After 40 minutes, a member of our collective takes his walky-talky to discuss with the manager. He becomes more reasonable and agrees to come down, but he does not seem ready yet to give in to our demands. He comes down and gives conditions which we seem unacceptable to us : for example, he wants us to take a value brand foie-gras instead of Fauchon foie-gras (N.B one of the most expensive brand), that we free the counters and go settle this discretely in a small room, away from the clients. We jettison ballast by offering to take only 10 baskets out of twenty. The talks are moving fast, we feel the situation is going to unlock.

Last disagreement, he wants to check the article in the registers, something we refuse to do thinking it can be used against us. He eventually gives in and we leave with 10 bags of eats.

Intense moment of joy among us, we leave victorious from the store, with 10 bags of eats, checkout blocked for an hour, everything without a glitch. The cops were indeed called but remained discreet. We saw to national cops and a member of the RG (Renseignements Generaux, an internal intelligence service). To this day, the store manager has not filed a complaint.

We will redistribute the eats to unemployed in front of the unemployment bureau in Rennes starting Monday morning.

Let's spread this practices, let's get organized!!!

If you are interested by our movement, contact us by email (go spambot, go)

Our reunions are held 22, Bellevue street, Mondays at 6 pm. The next one will be held on the 5th of January.

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The "value-brand" foie gras? An outrage!

"He comes down and gives conditions which we seem unnacepptable to us : for example, he wants us to take a value brand foie-gras instead of Fauchon foie-gras (N.B one of the most expensive brand)"

My god! What a monster!

The Fed Doesn't Print Anything

The treasury does. My God, my Austrian sympathies only go so far. Aren't intellectual elitists above these kinds of shibboleths?

Who buys treasuries ?

Who buys treasuries ?

Federal Reserve Notes

I think that he actually means what used to be referred to as greenbacks, the United State Note. Those haven't been printed by the treasury since 1971. What's in his pocket are Federal Reserve Notes, and are produced by the Fed. The term greenback has been shifted to refer to the FRN which were purposely printed to look like the old greenback.

The system has been purposely been made confusing so the sleight of hand isn't easy to spot.

Mugabe Printing Money

Am I allowed to say that Mugabe has been printing money like crazy, or do I have to identify the actual guy feeding the paper into the machine?

The base money supply is exploding and the Fed is responsible, unless you have some conspiracy theory about Jews or something.

When the FED wants to buy something to increase the money supply (and it doesn't have to be treasuries it can be MBS, gold, guano, whatever) it either invents additional electronic cash balances for the agency from which it bought the asset, or requests the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to print up actual bills for it.

The FED is in control of printing the actual Federal Reserve Notes (a.k.a dollars).

Where did you get the idea that the treasury was in control of this process? As far as I know it is the Fed that controls this process so it is perfectly reasonable and accurate to say "the Fed is printing like crazy". It really makes not difference if actual paper notes are printed up for those electronic balances or not, they can still be spent without actually producing the physical money. In fact, the fed manages the conversion between electronic balances and physical cash also, and this doesn't effect the base money supply in the least.

Much appreciated

Thanks for the schooling. I'll have to re-think this argument, since I use it a bit. :-)