France’s Socialist government irritated and perhaps frightened millionaires across the world when it confirmed its intention to implement a temporary top Income Tax band of 75% on income above €1,000,000 per year. Many British observers predicted that the tax would damage the French economy, as the Laffer Curve took effect (the idea that if such taxes are raised too far above the international norm, revenues will fall as high earners flee the country). Even I was somewhat unsure, but eager to see if France could pull it off.
The 75% band has yet to come into effect- the courts blocked legislation on a minor issue, and a new bill will take a few months to pass. Nevertheless, the French ultra-rich have entered into a class warfare mentality. The arrogance that over a decade and a half of UMP government encouraged has yet to fade: multiple public threats to emigrate have been made, and not just about matters of tax.
Gérard Depardieu, the loathsome actor, originally pledged to scurry off to Belgium. Unfortunately, he didn’t bank on the fact Belgium might not want him. Fortunately, his pal Vladimir Putin was happy to help him out, granting the multimillionaire Russian citizenship. Fortunately, France has only lost an exploitative, unpatriotic tax dodger who feels so little for his country that he fled from it over the prospect he might have to help it financially in tough economic times.
However, he has given his wealthy peers the false idea that they are so valuable to France that the government will alter its legislative agenda according to their wishes. In dissimilarltly melodramatic fashion, the Socialists are ignoring them.
Take the case of the Tuberculosis-infected elephants. The two animals who are used in a circus in southern France have had a government order placed on them ordering that they be killed this Friday. President Hollande has said he cannot intervene (unlike in Russia, the President cannot cheerfully override the law on important matters such as, say, citizenship at the drop of a hat), and that the owner is free to appeal via the proper channels.
This is not good enough for actress (notice a pattern here?) Brigitte Bardot, who has now also threatened to creep off to Russia should the President fail to breach the constitution and “pardon” the elephants, leaving the unfortunate creatures free to infect humans with TB. She is quite literally asking the impossible.
How long will it take these people to grasp that the French public voted to take back ownership of the country last year? They are free to seek out corrupt tax havens if they are unwilling to contribute, for all the nation will lose are those who show no loyalty to their country anyway. But in Russia there isn’t the option not to be onside with one’s political masters. Freedom of speech is invaluable, and yet these people are throwing it away.