Archive for August 25th, 2011

I’ve seen a couple of jokes connecting the earthquake to what’s happening in Washington, but none of them have been overly funny (i.e., the “earthquake was caused by all the Founding  Fathers rolling over in their graves”).

But maybe it’s not easy to find humor in things such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Indeed, my only attempt at disaster humor was to mock Paul Krugman for claiming the threat of an attack by space aliens would stimulate the economy.

So I definitely need to give Mike Ramirez credit for this cartoon from Investor’s Business Daily.

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I enjoy mocking the French every so often, including posts about the nation’s absurd fiscal policy, its protesting government workers, its oddball laws against meanness, its penchant for high taxes, and its shallow attempts to redefine success.

Sometimes, I even criticize the French when they move policy in the right direction.

But it’s worth pointing out that my animosity is only directed at the French elite. After all, 84 percent of the French people support less government spending and 52 percent of them would be interested in escaping to (evil, bad, capitalistic) America. And how can you not admire a people who are so aggressive about escaping the tax net?

With that lengthy caveat now on the record, let me unload a wheelbarrow full of disgust and disdain on the aforementioned French elite. I’m motivated by a BBC story about (surprise) a French tax hike.

The French government is to impose an extra tax of 3% on annual income above 500,000 euros (£440,000; $721,000). …The tax increase came after some of France’s wealthiest people had called on the government to tackle its deficit by raising taxes on the rich. …Sixteen executives, including Europe’s richest woman, the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, had offered in an open letter to pay a “special contribution” in a spirit of “solidarity”. …It was signed by some of France’s most high-profile chief executives, including Christophe de Margerie of oil firm Total, Frederic Oudea of bank Societe Generale, and Air France’s Jean-Cyril Spinetta.

I obviously have little regard for the French politicians who are imposing this tax hike. You might think they would know better, particularly after they benefited from a Laffer Curve effect after lowering tax rates a few years ago.

It’s also worth pointing out that France’s deteriorating situation has nothing to do with inadequate tax receipts. Revenues consume the same share of economic output they did 10 years ago – about 50 percent of GDP. The problem, as you might expect, is that the burden of government spending has jumped to more than 55 percent of GDP, up from 51. 6 percent a decade ago.

Most of my scorn, however, is reserved for the rich people who are copying Warren Buffett and asking the government to seize more of their income.

The story cites a billionaire heiress, who presumably might sing a different tune if the politicians wanted to boost the tax burden on wealth rather than income. In any event, it’s rather odious for someone who inherited money to endorse a tax hike on people trying to make money.

And the other people cited in the story are top executives with three companies that are deeply dependent on favors from, and good relations with, the French government. They’re behavior is on the same level as a dog that is willing to roll over in exchange for some scraps from the dinner table.

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