September 9, 2014 Print

Liberté Chérie says that France’s Social Security system began with a simple question: how can we increase the overall prosperity of our people? After World War II, the French Communists succeeded in implementing a pay-as-you-go pension system, where cuts from current workers’ salaries would be paid out directly to retirees.

Changing demographics have rendered this model completely unsustainable. Underemployed Millennials are shaken down to pay the aging Baby Boomer population, building a wall out of debt and mistrust between generations. But any calls to raise the retirement age or reform the pay-as-you-go system are immediately met by union strikes, making a top-down solution practically impossible.

Liberté Chérie’s goal is to explain the costs of such a disastrous system to voters, and show that there are workable alternatives. Looking to the Chilean pension system for inspiration, it has translated and distributed a short book about Chile’s successful experiment in privately invested retirement accounts. And it built a tool into their website, “Salaire Complet,” to show how much purchasing power a salaried French worker actually has after Social Security and other taxes are deducted.

The Berlin Wall was perceived to be permanent, until it wasn’t. Liberté Chérie knows that reforming France’s broken pension system will be hard, but change will come when the public is educated about the problem and believes in the solution.