Wednesday, March 01, 2006

France to Fight World Poverty by Taxing Airline Tickets

Chirac just doesn't get it. He's proposed a(nother) tax on the French to "diminish global poverty by one-half by 2015." That sounds feasible, right? A euro here, 40 euros there, little by little we can all climb to paradise together. So warm and touchy-feely. And he's only asking for 50 billion dollars. Goodness knows the French can afford it; unemployment is only around 10%. Oh, all right, if you insist on the details, it's 40% for young ethnic immigrants living in "sensitive" zones; whatever.

[Thanks to for the image.]

An article in "La Liberation" says the operation will be "painless -- a simple, just and economically neutral tool..." Yes, it's well known that taxes have no effect on the economy. And they're definitely painless.

A French group called "ATTAC," for "Association pour la Taxation des Transactions Financieres pour l'Aide aux Citoyens" (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions to Aid Citizens") (...?...) seems to be at the origin of this excellent idea. ATTAC also favors (I'm paraphrasing): (1) stopping expulsions of people from their apartments when they don't/can't pay, (2) eliminating real estate speculation, (3) requisitioning and rehabilitating abandoned buildings, (4) relocating squatters of unhealthy housing, (5) freezing rents, (6) increasing national housing assistance payments, (7) massive construction of truly "social" (in the French socialistic sense) living quarters by state enforced mobilization of real estate investors, and (8) the creation of a governmental oversight board for public housing that is truly democratic.

Whoa. I'm exhausted.

You'll be glad to hear this is an international effort. The UN has signed up. Kofi Annan will soon give a speech in Paris to encourage these efforts. Sweden will be chipping in as well, in the form of a few euros on airline tickets to "finance the combat against global warming." After all, "the aeronautics industry, ... responsible for only 4% of carbon emissions, is the source of the most rapid pollution (15% of CO2 emissions in 2050.)" Yes, a little consumer penalization should cut that short.

Any more taxes in sight? "Oui," says someone close to Chirac, "We want to open other horizons." Liberation suggests: weaponry, shipping, nuclear waste, luxury products, the internet, water, bank card withdrawals, world lotteries, multinationals, and why not those "grandes fortunes," those great rich families of France, that notorious 1% of the population that holds as much wealth as the lowest 57% combined. (How they still can hold so much after 48% income tax, another percent or two annually on everything they own, and dozens of other property and social taxes, is a mystery.)

Read the horror story in the original French here.


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