Thousands of workers are striking in France over a proposed increase in the retirement age to 62. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been pushing austerity measures due to France’s exposure to the Debt Contagion. Recent spending cuts of some $25 Billion dollars are meant to offset possible bailout risks where French banks hold over $500 Billion in bonds from Greece and Spain. Now, Sarkozy wants to increase the retirement age from 60 to 62. To demonstrate his own austerity, Sarkozy is canceling the annual Bastille Day party at the presidential palace.

French workers are upset over the retirement age issue, and of future austerity measures that the government may impose. The Debt Contagion sweeping across Europe is forcing all Euro Zone nations to review their social welfare programs as well as wages, benefits and pensions for public employees. Meanwhile, several scandals have emerged in Sarkozy’s government, including one minister using taxpayer money to buy $15,000 of Cuban cigars. Others involve an official possibly dodging taxes with a Swiss bank account and another chartering a private jet for $125,000.

If that weren’t bad enough, the French are unhappy about the poor performance of their soccer team at the World Cup games. Le Monde, one of France’s major newspapers, compares the defeat in the soccer tournament to the German occupation of France in 1940! Health and Sports Minister, Roselyne Bachelot, said of the French soccer team “You have tarnished the image of France”.

The striking workers may feel as indignant about the soccer losses, but their anger over austerity measures is certain. Thousands have taken to the streets to protest, shutting down facilities and causing delays at airports and other services. Whether they we feel any sympathy for President Sarkozy scaling back his own fun by canceling the Bastille Day party is difficult to say. The annual garden party on the lawn of the Elysée Palace cost $1 million dollars last year in just champagne and food. In comparison, the Obama White House has spent some $10 Million dollars in the past year just on music concerts.