20 February 2017

Benoit Hamon's Biography

 (Breton coat of arms courtesy of Wikipedia)

I was born June 26, 1967 at Saint Renan in the Léon north of Brest.  Through childhood and adolescence I lived between Brest, Le Kremlin-Bicetre, and Dakar (Senegal).  I am the oldest in a family of four children.

My origins are entirely Breton:  on my mother's side I stem from Saint Renan and Saint Pabu, on my father's side Plougastel-Daoulas.  My father worked all his life at the Brest arsenal; my mother alternated periods of homemaking and different secretarial jobs.

I've adhered to the Socialist Party since January 1987, in the wake of the student demonstrations against the planned Devaquet law which would introduce ability to pay as a criterion for university admissions.  I became President of the Young Socialists' Movement in 1993; four years later, I joined the cabinet of Martine Aubry, Minister of Labor and Solidarity and was tasked with the youth jobs portfolio.  Following this I chose to work in the private sector, joining Ipsos France under the leadership of Jean Marc Lech and Didier Truchot.

From 2004 to 2009, I was an MEP and leader of the European socialist group.  I served on the commission for economic and monetary affairs and became vice-president of the delegation for relations with the USA.  Notably, I authored two important reports, one on the strategic revisioning of the IMF and the other on the struggle against tax shelters* and secrecy in banking.

At the party congress of Reims (November 2008), I moved the motion titled A world to win:  rebuilding hope on the left.  As candidate for the position of First Secretary, I obtained 22.6% of the vote.  I was a spokesperson for the Socialist Party from 2008 to 2012.

In 2009, I rejoined the company that I had co-founded several years earlier, and taught at the University of Paris 8 as an associate professor:  my subjects were the functioning of multilateral organizations and decision-making in the European Union.
Having settled at Trappes in Yvelines, I was elected Representative for the 11th district of Yvelines in June 2012.

I was named Minister for the Social Economy and Consumption in the government of Jean Marc Ayrault.  I drafted a proposed law on the social economy that recognized for the first time economic models and the specificity of enterprises in the [ESS].  I was furthermore instrumental in a bill on consumption (which came to a vote) putting tools in place to re-balance power between consumers and firms.  This law instituted a class-action procedure**.

In March 2014, I was elected municipal councilperson in Trappes.

On April 2, 2014, I was named Minister of National Education, Advanced Teaching, and Research in the first Valls government.  I completed the reform of school hours and negotiated the triennial budget, which preserves and reinforces the upkeep of schools, universities, and research through 2017.  I began reform of the student evaluation process.  I left the government in August 2014, demanding a change in the government's economic policy so that we could more effectively fight unemployment and inequalities.

I again took up my mandate as Representative in the National Assembly in September 2014, and integrated the Commission on Foreign Affairs#.  I was at the forefront of the resolution in favor of recognizing the State of Palestine, passed on December 2, 2014 (339 yes, 151 no).  At the start of 2015, I opposed the Macron law, which pushed the government to invoke article 49–3.  I militated for the recognition of "burnout" as a professional illness and, in July 2015, successfully advanced the Rebsamen bill on social dialogue and jobs.  In December 2015, I stood against amending the constitution to allow forfeiture of nationality for dual citizens, a move that was eventually abandoned.

In the first half of 2016, I rejected the labor law change proposed by the government and called for a real negotiation with trade unions.  I was particularly opposed to the reversal of the hierarchy of standards, which will erode compensation for overtime hours; therefore, I twice signed a motion of censure in violation of article 49-3 of the Constitution.

I'm the father of two daughters.

I'm a member of the National Assembly rugby fifteen.

*The French phrase is "paradis fiscaux," literally 'tax heavens.'
**I'm pretty shaky on this paragraph.  I have no idea what the ESS (French acronym) is, and as for the last sentence, "action de groupe" is pretty vague.
#"J'intègre la commission..." Not sure what to make of this.

18 February 2017

Nor was he content to show off his experiments in these arts to Rome, but as we mentioned, he also sought greatly to move people in Achaia. The cities there (having a tradition of holding musical contests) had all set up awards for singers on the cithara that he himself would win.  He would agreeably receive these crowns ... the legates asked him if he would sing at dinner too, and he garrulously declined.  "Only Greeks," he said, "are able to appreciate me and are worthy of my efforts."  He was no more broad-minded at the time of departure.  As his party was starting to leave Cassiope,* he took auspices and then steadily sang a song of Cassius at the local altar of Zeus, proving himself against competitors one after another.

--Suetonius, on Nero (my incomplete translation; thanks to perseus.tufts.edu for the Latin word study tool). 
*A city called Cassiope existed on Corfu and this would have been a convenient stopping point on any Achaia-Rome journey.
A parody of Dante's Purgatorio, Canto 16, v. 46 - 120
(based on the translation of Allen Mandelbaum)

'I was a Democrat and I was called Harry;
I knew the world's ways, and I loved those goods
for which the bows of all men now grow slack...
The laws exist, but who applies them now?
No one--the leader who precedes his bloc
can say the buzzwords but does not have the grit;
and thus the people, who can see their guide
snatch only at that partial loss which is their win,
feed on that and dream no further.
Misrule, you see, has caused the world to be
malevolent; the cause is clearly not
district boundaries -- they do not corrupt...
Within the territory watered by
the Potomac and Delaware, one used to find
valor and courtesy--that is, before
Carter was met by strife; now anyone
ashamed of talking with the righteous or
of meeting them can find consultant jobs there.'

15 February 2017

...protecting our way of life -- that's not just the job of our military.  [pause] Democracy can buckle when it gives into fear.  So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are....
Barack Obama, in this January's farewell address

14 February 2017

Why I will buy nothing on Friday (at least from non-union vendors)

So there's a general strike / protest / day of service planned for Friday the 17th, it appears.  I could attempt to write a learned discourse (when they heard the learn'd social theorist, they grew unaccountable weary ...) explaining why I want to join it.  Instead, I will cite some people of the internet whom I think understand what we have to do now.

Greg Sanders in Washington DC said recently:
there’s just loving our neighbors including those that don’t look like us, standing up to threats to life and liberty of all that live in our land, holding tight to those we care about, and seeking whatever common ground can be found with those on the other side that does not compromise those principles.
(Sorry, Greg:  I rewrote your sentence because I'm a grammar nazi.  I hope I preserved your meaning accurately.)

Francine Prose in New York said recently:
Recently a reporter asked me if a general strike, which I proposed in these pages several weeks ago, had any possibility of success, given the complexity of our country’s labor history and the fact that such strikes have not been part of our political culture*. I replied that no single event should be seen as a success or failure, but rather as preparation and practice for the next event.

Czeslaw Milosz (he died in 2004; he lived to see the Internet) once said:

The voice of passion is better than the voice of reason. The passionless cannot change history.

*nota bene:  this reporter needs to read some f**king American history before asking such loaded questions.

10 February 2017

"We can discard the notion that it's a fundamental technology that you have to use: nonsense, it's a slot machine in your phone; we can discard this notion that you're not going to get a job if you don't use social media: nonsense, anything a six-year-old can do with a smartphone is not going to be what the market rewards."

--Cal Newport.

08 February 2017

One measure of survivalism's spread is that some people are starting to speak out against it.  Max Levchin, a founder of PayPal and of Affirm, a lending startup, told me, "It's one of the few things about Silicon Valley that I actively dislike -- the sense that we are superior giants who move the needle and, even if it's our own failure, must be spared."  To Levchin, prepping for survival is a moral miscalculation; he prefers to "shut down party conversations" on the topic.  "I typically ask people, 'So you're worried about the pitchforks.  How much money have you donated to your local homeless shelter?' This connects the most, in my mind, to the realities of the income gap.  All the other forms of fear that people bring up are artificial."  In his view, this is the time to invest in solutions, not escape.
Evan Osnos, "Survival of the Richest"(the print article's title), New Yorker, Jan. 30, 2017.