The News Personified—a Fresh Look at the News

A short daily humorous piece on state France radio ‘France Info’

Every morning, Marie Dupin takes on the role of a personality, an event, a place or a fact at the heart of the news.   

News report usually leave out historical context, even history as old as 10 years ago, or even any context at all from news report: a bare fact is presented as a bolt out of the blue, there is usually no ‘before’, but also no ‘after’: the media don’t follow up; this approach invites reactions of emotion and incomprehension.    The obvious example is the war in Ukraine, presented as starting in February 2022 with the Russian invasion, with no mention of what came before. 

 Another example in England is the news that the police force contains elements with a criminal record or connections with crime.  The response expected is one of horror and indignation, and speculation about generalities.  

Nobody connects it to the drastic cuts to the police service dating from the very distant past of 2010:  23% of the police staff workforce was cut between 2010 and 2016. 

Marie Dupin will probably not impersonate Ukraine to give us the context of the war.  Not all historical context is suitable for France Info, but any foray in that direction is refreshing.  In the case of Social Security, Marie Dupin goes against the dominant story, that communism is bad, and that social security is unaffordable.  In the story about masks made in France, she debunks the pious words of Macron on reindustrialisation.

SOCIAL SECURITY 21/10/22

On 21 October 2022, the Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne pushed through Parliament the Social Security Finance Bill, without a vote.

Marie Dupin takes the opportunity to remind listeners about what Social Security is.

“I am an old lady of 77 years. Your granny next door you might say, known to all, with my 150,000 employees and my four branches, Health Insurance but also Pensions, Family Allowances and Urssaf. Today, I am so much a part of the landscape that we almost tend to forget where I came from.

Born in 1945, the Sécu was already in the making in 1943. At the time, Ambroise Croizat, a communist campaigner and hero of the working class, formed the National Council of the Resistance’s project for a universal compensation fund. A few months after the Liberation, my founding father became General de Gaulle’s Minister of Labour and established the fund. This is where I got my reputation, as some people say, as a “communist relic”. But in reality, I could never have existed without a consensus of all the political families, when the left and the right were determined to work together to establish on a collective scale the imperative need to take care of others. A matter of dignity, and the realization of the utopia of a better life against the backdrop of a hope: that of preventing the return of totalitarian regimes…

But today, the talk is mostly about the famous deficit of the Social Security system: a deficit that is expected to rise again this year to nearly 18 billion euros. But is the deficit so deep? When you know that every year 470 billion euros of benefits are paid out, far more than the 350 billion euros of the State budget.

In the long run, this deficit is perhaps a strength, the proof that we can absorb the most powerful shocks, the biggest crises like Covid-19. After all, with roots firmly planted in war, I am programmed to resist and bounce back.

In fact, the deficit is expected to shrink considerably next year, so new branches should start to grow, such as the dependency branch. And there are always plenty of new challenges to take up.”

What happened to MASKS MADE IN FRANCE?  17/11/22 

Presenter: You were the star of Covid, but today you are only a shadow of your former self.

Marie Dupin:  Yes, because I am an anti-Covid mask made in France and my activity has dropped by 90% compared to the beginning of the year when I was mandatory, even though the pandemic continues.  Fewer and fewer of you tuck me behind your ears and even if you all keep me safely in your cupboards, I know that you are relieved to have got rid of me, feeling guilty from time to time for not having kept me at the bottom of your bag when the person next to you on the bus or the train starts coughing.  However, I have not totally disappeared: hospitals, local authorities, some companies continue to issue invitations to tender, and the State is preparing to build up its strategic stock. In principle, I, as a mask made in France with my quality criteria, should be able to benefit.  But not at all.  Even during the pandemic, I was never able to compete with the Asian mask, which was sold for around 2 cents, whereas a French mask costs between 4 and 8 cents.  But the price criterion has always prevailed.  97% of hospital masks were ordered from China during the crisis.

Presenter: Yet Emmanuel Macron had promised that you, the French mask, would now be a strategic production.

Marie Dupin: That was on March 31, 2020, when the president solemnly called on industries to revive my sector to produce more on national soil, to reduce our dependence and equip us in the long term: 23 million euros of state investment, in eleven companies, production lines created, brand new machines ordered, several thousand jobs created. At the height of the pandemic, France produced each month more than 200 million surgical masks against 14 million before the crisis, except that two and a half years later more than 80% of the masks in France are still imported, despite the recommendation of the government to include in the calls for tender the criterion of European preference, a recommendation still not respected. In short, today the government assures us that it wants to maintain a strong production sector, but the opposite is happening, one after the other my companies are putting their activity on stand-by, when it is not the key under the mat, laying off people in vast numbers. Some try as best they can to reinvent themselves by launching lines of recycled sneakers, or beauty products made in France, products that are not really strategic and that will not be of much use in case of a new pandemic.”

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