I originally posted this piece on Righteous Anger.
“Austerity measures” have become the European Union’s phrase of the moment. In France, the Socialist government transfers the responsibility onto the class that is largely responsible for the economic crisis: the wealthy. Instead of the slashing of social programs that many European nations have engaged in, the French government is raising taxes on the wealthy and big businesses.
According to the Guardian article “French government targets rich with tax rises”:
The raid on the wealthy is in line with François Hollande’s election promise: “If there are sacrifices to be made – and there will be – then it will be for the wealthiest to make them.”
More than half the measures target households, mainly the country’s richest, and just under half target big business. They include lowering France’s wealth tax threshold, which had been raised by Nicolas Sarkozy. France’s wealth tax is unique in the EU and Hollande will now add a one-off higher levy on those with net wealth of more than €1.3m.
While in the U.S., the right-wingers demand that social programs be cut and attempt to point fingers at undocumented immigrants for draining the coffers, the French are actually moving to retain the funding of their vast social programs with money from those who caused the problems. It was the wealthy who ran the financial sector into the ground by speculating and running amok. That was not done by the poor, the middle class, or undocumented immigrants. In the U.S., the rich were given bailouts, while the working classes were told to take pay cuts. Unions were blamed. Social programs were blamed. The French, being the inscrutable French, have decided maybe the sacrifice should be made by those who benefited from and created the mess.