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The Politics behind the Cost of Living

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French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen and US President Donald Trump

French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen and US President Donald Trump

courtesy of CNN

courtesy of CNN

French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen and US President Donald Trump

Isabel Thompson, online editor in chief

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Large cities have a high cost of living, and Paris is no exception; Paris was ranked the 5th most expensive city to live in by the Independent in, September. Paris is compact, apartments are small, and with every additional square foot, prices grow. Apartments near the center of Paris can range from thousands to millions of Euros. The cost of living is extremely high and draws only the wealthiest individuals.  

Unrealistically high prices mean there are few opportunities for cheap living in the city, and as a result poverty levels have increased by 50% since 2001. Oftentimes, the best housing options for lower class citizens are in the banlieues, which resemble American housing projects, and are far outside of the city. Rich parisiens are white, highly educated, allowing them to continue a cycle where they’re the ones receiving the higher paying jobs. The extra expense of the long commute to Paris means that people with lower class jobs are paying extra for their travel expenses when the job that they’re working doesn’t cover it, as they’re focusing on paying for their basic needs. Many of the people that live in banlieues are immigrants who come to France for opportunity, but are ultimately faced with rejection by mainstream French society once they arrive.

Not only do white, French elites reap economic benefits, like in the US, they also control politics. These politicians control the lower classes and make promises that they often do not keep. France’s conservative resurgence, marked by the recent success of the National Front Party, has also meant the passage of harsh immigration laws and the removal of refugees. Politicians run on platforms of anti-immigration policies to increase their popularity. Cracking down on ISIS in the name of safety is at the heart of their anti-immigration stance, but in reality such positions target innocent families who have already established their life in a country, making it harder for refugees to find safety.

In the U.S., Donald Trump invoked fear of ISIS to control his campaign, exacerbating the stigmatism of muslims. In France, there is a similar candidate: Marine Le Pen. Le Pen has taken an aggressive stance against immigration, and, in doing so, increased the hatred which already exists in France against Muslims, especially Maghrebins. France’s rich, privileged politicians capitalize on fear and naivete and their ignorance and hatred of other cultures has bolstered hostility in the region. The U.S. election of Trump demonstrated how fears of a large terrorist organization can be projected onto innocent people with popular support. The rise of Le Pen shows that the U.S. isn’t isolated. Even in the city of love, hatred is permissible and potent.

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The Politics behind the Cost of Living