French Hate-the-Rich Tax Hits Home

Belgium is not exactly known as a tax haven. Its total taxes as share of GDP are about 44 percent, above most other EU member states. General government spending reached 53 percent of GDP in 2010. Welfare spending alone is 30 percent of GDP, right up there with the Nordic social democracies.

Yet all of a sudden, Belgium has become a haven for wealthy French citizens. France’s notorious socialists, who dominate the national legislature and hold the presidency, have instituted a hate tax targeting successful citizens. One of them is the famous actor Gerard Depardieu, who has now taken refuge in a small town right across the Belgian border. The Daily Telegraph has the story:

The French actor whose eccentric personality has come to symbolise a certain, old fashioned form of Gallic love for good food and the pleasures in life, also known as a “bon vivant,” said he is finished with the country, in a letter published in the Journal du Dimanche. It is addressed to Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French prime minister, who called Depardieu “pathetic” for wanting to move just over the French border to the wealthy Belgian town of Néchin, where he will evade the current Left-leaning government’s tax hikes. “I am handing over to you my passport and social security, which I have never used,” he said. “We no longer have the same homeland, I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me to believe.”

This kind of tax flight does not go without punishment. Just like Democrats in America claim that it is a patriotic duty to pay taxes (unless, of course, you work for the Obama administration) the Daily Telegraph reports that the French ideological allies of America’s liberals are up in arms about those pesky rich who dare take their money out of the country.

A Socialist MP said Depardieu should be stripped of his nationality, and on Saturday President Francois Hollande said “everyone must behave ethically,” after being questioned about Mr Depardieu’s move. … [The] minister of culture, Aurelie Filippetti, joined her Socialist colleagues who criticised the actor’s decision on Sunday. She said he was “deserting the field in the middle of a war against the [economic] crisis,” and that “French citizenship is an honour, and includes rights and also duties, which include the ability to pay taxes.”

Depardieu, on the other hand, thinks he’s done his patriotic duty when it comes to taxes. The Telegraph also reports that the actor…

has employed 80 people, always paid his taxes, and “never killed anybody.” He said he paid 85 per cent of his income in taxes in 2012, and over 45 years, has paid 145 million Euros – or £118 million – in taxes.

At the end of the day, though, the French outrage is understandable. They thought, in their warped world of upside-down economics, that a higher tax on successful citizens would help save the country. After all, who would ever want to escape the opportunity to give all your money to the French government? If that is your mindset, then of course you are going to wake up one day and get angry when reality does not match the map.

That reality, by the way, consists of a French credit downgrade and outright destructive levels of youth unemployment. From Der Spiegel:

As in other struggling European economies, the youth of France face dire prospects. Some 26 percent are unemployed, and almost as many live in poverty. Though the problem has been there for decades, ambitious political programs have improved little. … Beyond France’s ailing economy, there is another disastrous statistic at play. Some 23 percent of the country’s 18- to 24-year-olds live in poverty, according to a study by the National Institute for Youth and Community Education (INJEP). These are mainly high school or university dropouts who have little to no access to health care and limited chances of improving their situations.

Wait… “little access to health care”? But France has a government-run, socialized, single-payer health care system? Could the supporters of Obamacare be wrong??

Oh, well. Back to Der Spiegel, who reports on what the compassionate French welfare state does for young citizens, whose future it has so thoroughly destroyed:

Affram failed his university entrance qualification exams twice, finally taking out a loan to secure entry into a private art college. He completed a program in web design, but only worked in the field for two months. The French state has categorized circumstances like Affram’s as “very precarious.” This gives him the right to government assistance in finding his place in French society. Three times a week, he visits the Mission locale, a sort of welfare agency with career counselling for unemployed young people. Here, he meets an adviser who tries to help him reconcile his dreams with reality.

Here in America, where young people can actually find jobs, that reconciliation would consist of eight words: Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job. In the cradle-to-grave French welfare state, it will be a matter of training this young man in cashing welfare checks for the rest of his life.

Der Spiegel again:

Youth unemployment in France has been high for some time, but it has now climbed to 26 percent. For decades, regardless of their political affiliation, lawmakers have been promising to create a better situation for young people. But exactly the opposite has happened. Labor laws protect those who already enjoy steady jobs, while the economic crisis and recession have limited the number of new jobs created.

Consider this chart, which reports Eurostat data for youth unemployment. Even with the irresponsible tax and spending policies that have become notorious in America, we still have not been able to match France in destroying opportunities for the young:


youth unemp Eurostat data

Since these data were pulled, Eurostat has new numbers for the EU countries that point to a rise in youth unemployment in Europe. France, again, appears to have exceeded 26 percent, which is an ominous recipe for social and economic disaster in the future.

With a hate tax on job creators, there won’t exactly be more jobs available for young Frenchmen.