Elon Musk is a CEO with one of the busiest agendas.
The billionaire considers himself a global CEO. As such he comments on major events taking place in different countries around the world.
He does not hesitate to give his opinion on the internal political affairs of these countries. The CEO of Tesla (TSLA) - Get Free Report and founder of SpaceX is taking advantage of the big vacuum of leaders on the world stage to take on this role.
He has just come to the rescue of French President Emmanuel Macron, who is facing social discontent due to a reform of the pension system he is considering.
The reform proposes to shift the legal retirement age to 64 in 2030 - and not from 62 to 65 in 2031, as Macron had announced during the 2022 presidential campaign - and to accelerate the extension of the contribution period to 43 years from 2027 (i.e. also an additional quarter per year). But no one will have to work for more than 44 years.
France Has Large Protests
This bill, unveiled on Jan. 10 by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, after several months of talks with unions and the political parties, is a new reform of the pay-as-you-go pension system, the objective of which is to restore the country's finances. The flagship measure of the reform is a gradual lowering of the legal retirement age.
Macron intends to move quickly. The government, deprived of an absolute majority in the National Assembly -- the French House of Representatives -- wants to limit the debate. The objective is for the adoption of the bill in March and its translation into law thereafter. Macron would like the main measures to be effective by Sept. 1.
But this is too fast, denounce the unions, which for the first time in 12 years have decided to mobilize together. As soon as the project was unveiled, they called for a first day of strikes and demonstrations on Jan. 19. Human tides, according to local media, have thus swept through many streets of French cities to protest against this bill.
The reaction of the French, and their degree of mobilization against this reform, which is largely rejected according to opinion polls, remains the great unknown.
For Musk, Macron is right to reform pensions and he has just sent him a message to that effect. The billionaire indicates that lifespans have increased considerably and therefore social policies should be adjusted to this new reality.
Macron Is Doing the 'Right Thing'
"Macron is doing the difficult, but right thing," Musk tweeted on Jan. 21. "The retirement age of 62 was set when lifespans were much shorter. It is impossible for a small number of workers to support a massive number of retirees."
The message of support for Macron triggered mixed reactions on social media. Some Twitter users agreed with Musk, while others simply asked him not to meddle in French politics.
"It is not your business," one Twitter user commented. "We are in France, we don’t need neoliberal lessons from a U.S. billionaire who lives thanks to the work of others."
"For Elon being an entrepreneur? What about Paris’ own Bernard Arnault?" the user was asked by another on Twitter who referred to Arnault, the richest man in the world ahead of Musk.
Arnault is the CEO and largest shareholder of luxury giant LVMH, which includes a host of major brands like Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton.
"We don’t accept Bernard Arnault’s lessons either," Musk's critic said.
Pension reform is a key part of Macron's second term. It is a highly symbolic reform, a major social test on which the French president is playing the future of his second five-year term, according to many pundits.
He faces a united trade union front, opposition from the left and the far right as well as opinion polls. A majority of French people are opposed to this reform, according to polls.
The question now is whether Macron will back down in the face of the mobilization of the unions.