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The End of the World or the End of the Month?

There is some doubt about whether French President Emmanuel Macron is quite the anti-nationalist he says he is. But he has perhaps been truest to his anti-nationalist rhetoric in his willingness to have his countrymen bear the brunt of (purportedly) addressing a global problem — and it hasn’t gone well. After more violent protests in Paris, his government has backed down from a new fuel tax meant to chase people from their cars to help save the planet:

Along with a suspension of the gas tax increase, the government said it would also delay new vehicle inspection measures and increases in electricity rates that were intended as part of Mr. Macron’s plans to transition France toward cleaner energy.

But to the protesters, Mr. Macron is concerned about the end of the world, while they are worried about the end of the month. They say that their purchasing power has dwindled so much that they have trouble making ends meet in rural areas and in the suburbs and exurbs of big cities.

There, working people need cars to get to jobs and conduct their daily lives, unlike many wealthier city dwellers who are unburdened by the gas tax increase and form much of the core of Mr. Macron’s support.

Macron might not have stumbled into this debacle — which will seriously diminish him and, thankfully, his ambitions for the E.U. — if he had taken the concerns of his own struggling citizens as seriously as U.N. climate reports. 

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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