Class Warfare Escalates in France to pay for Out of Control Government Spending

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Once again a government is asking the rich to pay their fair share.  Well, not asking so much.  More confiscating their wealth.  In the name of fairness (see Socialists in France Announce New Taxes by STEVEN ERLANGER posted 7/4/2012 on The New York Times).

France’s new Socialist government announced on Wednesday billions of euros in tax increases and new taxes, to be borne by businesses and the wealthy, in a revision of the 2012 budget designed to meet promised deficit targets in a period of nearly stagnant growth…

For this year alone, the government announced about $9 billion in higher taxes, with about $7.6 billion more to come next year. A freeze on government spending is expected to save $1.8 billion.

So that’s $16.6 billion in new taxes and only spending cuts of $1.8 billion.  That’s $9.22 in new taxes for every dollar cut in spending.  When the Democrats snookered Ronald Reagan into increasing taxes they dangled $3 in spending cuts for each dollar in new taxes.  A deal he accepted and lived to regret.  Because governments just don’t cut spending.  Especially if they get the new taxes up front.  For Reagan it was about the reverse of the deal they offered.  There was $3 in new taxes for every $1 in spending cuts.  Guess the French are much more receptive to paying taxes than the Americans.  Or should I say, they are much more receptive to forcing higher tax rates on those who pay taxes.

Among the main new taxes is a special surcharge on the assets of individuals with more than $1.62 million of global wealth, which is expected to bring in $2.87 billion; the tax is expected to be made permanent next year, when there will also be a new tax bracket of 75 percent on incomes of more than $1.25 million a year…

There will also be a one-time tax on oil stocks, which is expected to raise $688 million and will hit refineries and gasoline stations, which supposedly have benefited from higher oil prices. About $1.13 billion is to come from ending a tax exemption for overtime income, a major effort by former President Nicolas Sarkozy to raise take-home pay, and there will be a new tax on dividends and stock options…

The figures are based on assumptions that the economy will grow by 0.3 percent this year, 1.2 percent in 2013 and then by 2 percent each year after that, which some economists find overly optimistic.

Taxing wealth.  Ouch.  This isn’t taxing capital gains on your investments.  This is taxing the value of your investments.  Even if those investments lose money.  Which means the rich may end up paying for the privilege of losing money in France.  It’s a good thing Europe is bilingual.  It’ll help the French rich as they settle in their new home.  Britain.  So those overly optimistic tax revenue figures will bring even in less revenue.  Making the French economy worse.  And the deficit bigger.  Requiring even deeper spending cuts later.

The auditors urged the government to cut spending more than raise taxes, because the latter hurts economic growth, but the prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, insisted that the key to growth was investment, not austerity. Still, spending cuts would seem to be inevitable to meet the 2013 target. For its 2013-15 budget, the government said it would reduce operating costs. It promises to balance the budget by 2017.

France’s government accounts for 56.6 percent of gross domestic product, one of the highest in the euro zone. It is projected to fall to only 56.2 percent this year and decline slowly after that.

Companies have complained that already thin profit margins are being hit and that France is losing competitiveness in a global market. The auditors said the same, and urged structural changes to better calibrate social welfare benefits to deal with France’s aging population and reduce the debt.

It’s the spending that’s too high.  Taxes aren’t too low.  In fact, taxes are too high.  They’ve transferred over half of private sector wealth to the government.  Over half!  That is an incredible burden on the private sector.  Which will simply collapse as they add the full weight of pension and health care costs of their aging population to their burden.  There will simply be no more wealth to tax.  Which will require draconian spending cuts.  Or a return to subsistence farming.

We may be witnessing the end of the European social democracy.  Which will end as all democracies end.  When the people learn that they have the key to the treasury.  And can vote themselves benefits.  When they learn this all spending restraint is gone.  And politicians pander for votes by promising to spend ever more irresponsibly.  Never worrying about the mess they’re making.  Leaving that to future generations.  Well, that future generation is here.  It’s why the Eurozone is suffering a sovereign debt crisis.  Because all of this social spending has come to a head.  And they can no longer sustain it.  But they still refuse to cut spending.  Instead, they escalate the class warfare.  And when that fails, as it will, then comes the subsistence farming.

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