In March 2006, the government of Jacques Chirac, then eleven years in office as president of France, and his health minister Xavier Bertrand, announced that dozens of medications would no longer be covered by the state, including many medications for digestive problems. Because you’d had to spend your days lying flat since your accident, and because you had bad nutrition, digestive problems were a constant for you. Buying medicine to relieve them became more and more difficult. Jacques Chirac and Xavier Bertrand destroyed your intestines.
Why do we never name these names in a biography?
In 2007, presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy leads a campaign against what he calls les assistés, those who, according to him, are stealing money from French society because they don’t work. He declares: The worker… sees the assisté doing better than he is, making ends meet by doing nothing. What he was telling you was that if you didn’t work you didn’t belong, you were a thief, you were a deadbeat, you were what Simone de Beauvoir would have called a useless mouth. He didn’t know you. He had no right to think that: he didn’t know you. This kind of humiliation by the ruling class broke your back all over again.
In 2009, the government of Nicolas Sarkozy and his accomplice Martin Hirsch replace the RMI—a basic unemployment benefit provided by the French state—with the RSA. You qualified for the RMI because you could no longer work. The shift from the RMI to the RSA was supposed to incentivize a return to employment, as the government put it. In truth, from that moment on, the state harassed you to go back to work, despite your disastrous unfitness, despite what the factory had done to you. If you didn’t take the jobs they offered—or rather, forced on you—you would lose your right to welfare. The only jobs they offered you were part-time, exhausting, manual labor in the large town twenty-five miles from where we lived. Just getting there and back cost you three hundred euros a month in gas. Then, after a certain period, you were forced to take a job as a street sweeper in another town, making seven hundred euros a month, spending all day bent over gathering up other people’s trash—bent over, even though your back was destroyed. Nicolas Sarkozy and Martin Hirsch were breaking your back.