France hosted in the November 15th week a summit dedicated to the “Fight Against Youth Unemployment.” This is an excellent initiative for a country where the 16-25 years-old population reached a 26.1 % unemployment rate. Yet, France should be doing what is being done elsewhere, especially in Germany, where the rate of youth unemployment is three times lower than in France: 7.7 %.
Between 3 and 5 per cent of the members of Parliament, and 6 per cent of the senators: the parliamentarians with a background in business represent a tiny minority. An IREF study shows the contrast with four other countries where economic legislation is handled by people who know what it means. In France, the elected representatives are chiefly interested in tax money.
By Alexandre Diehl, Lawyer and IREF research Fellow
For the past few weeks, and as Google has announced “bad” results on the financial markets, the media are gurgling with strange and technical news on a possible tax audit for the company. What is going on? Has Google broken the law, or are the French yet again attacking a success story out of envy? Has the government found another cash-cow?
By Nicolas Lecaussin
In France the national economy and the fate of thousands of employees are regularly linked to the grand “social conference”. Successive presidents have paid tribute to the ritual of “social dialogue”. Nicolas Sarkozy did so several times during his presidency with well-known results: the unions firmly opposed the timid attempts at reform and finally called for a vote for the socialist candidate in May 2012. François Hollande enthusiastically followed suit by imposing a two-day “grand social conference” in July 2012.
A petition was submitted by French MPs to the Constitutional Council regarding the limitation on the wealth tax and the new regulations which were to take into account “virtual” incomes.
On 28 November 2012, IREF and the French Taxpayers Association addressed an argumentary (see attachment in French) to the members of the National Assembly, urging them to seize the Constitutional Council in this matter. The MPs replied favourably and passed on the request to the Constitutional Council on 20 December.
By Nicolas Lecaussin
The French government recently announced the creation of 100 000 green jobs over the next three years. The goal is of course to stem rising unemployment. However, the tangible results of creating green jobs in several countries, as well as the real costs of these jobs, should have given food for thought before taking action.
In France, an IREF study (“Les mythes des emplois verts”) published in early 2011 showed that the term is ambiguous and calculated the real cost of a green job, based on official reports. The definition of green jobs is rather vague, although there is an official handbook on green growth (“Focus on 50 professions for green growth”). Among these, most already exist (gardeners, sewermen, cleaners, geologists …). Others seem to come straight out of a vaudeville: nature discovery guide, eco-museum guide, eco-interpreter, nature guide…
By Jean-Philippe Delsol
The fiscal frenzy which has seized the French socialists not only means that the economy grinds to a halt. It is attacking the very foundations of society by destroying entrepreneurship and responsibility. Taxes are raining on the people and the promised shelters often disappear before they have even been introduced. The 2013 finance bill has announced confiscatory tax rates on incomes, capital gains, and the payroll taxes will be increased as well. But the socialists are shooting themselves in the foot: such tax rates will destroy wealth and drive out entrepreneurs, capital, businesses and young people. Thus tax revenues will fall.
At his press conference on Tuesday 13 November, François Hollande declared that, “Returning to a balanced budget essentially means looking to spending cuts rather than tax increases. Are we better off with 57 per cent of GDP of public spending, whereas it was 52 per cent five years ago?” He is right. This is common sense coming from a socialist president who set out with a policy of tax hikes, practically without touching public expenditure that is the highest among OECD countries. France spends € 150 bn more than Germany per year. Does that mean that the Germans are less well off? The average public spending in Europe is some 48 per cent of GDP.
In his book The Anti-American Obsession, philosopher Jean-François Revel exposed French fantasies and clichés on the United States and towards its President. It is customary in France to poke fun at US Presidents, treating them like morons who have gotten elected head of state in some miraculous fashion: Nixon was thus a dangerous reactionary, Carter simply a “peanut salesman”, Reagan “an excited cowboy”, George W. Bush “a real idiot”. Two Presidents have largely escaped French insults: Clinton and Obama. Both are Democrats, the first being elected after “the disaster of the Reagan era”, the second after the “terrible years of Bush Jr”.
By Nicolas Lecaussin
Can you imagine that unemployment has been “priority number one” for French politicians over the past 35 years! Left, right and center have all claimed that their first objective was to reduce unemployment, in particular among young people. Yet they have failed every time. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy regularly repeated that “the French social model has protected us from the crisis”.