September 29, 2003


Three new books -- all written by French authors, and published in France -- claim that France is on the way out:

The biggest splash is being made by La France Qui Tombe (Collapsing France) by Nicolas Baverez, an historian and economist.

Hostages to tyrannical state sector unions, farmers, subsidised film-makers and other interest groups, successive governments have squandered national wealth and heritage to maintain a protectionist, Soviet-style state, he says.

He also draws unfavourable comparisons with Britain, the favourite destination for French emigrants in the past decade. British per capita income has overtaken that of France, where taxes are now much higher. Britons pay 45 per cent of their income to the state in taxes, compared with ...

Wait for it:

... 75 per cent for the French.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 29, 2003 07:37 PM

I dunno. I prefer Anglo-Saxon economics too. But I've been to Paris and I've been to London. And if I were forced to choose between the two, that 75% income tax would be a price worth paying (for me personally)

Posted by: Jason Soon at September 29, 2003 at 09:31 PM

Paris is not all of France.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 29, 2003 at 09:41 PM

PS: I've been to both cities too. I'd prefer London. But I'm not sure what criteria you are using -- you don't say what effect taxes had on your enjoyment of both cities. I must admit that my visit was over twenty years ago, so I am sure things have changed.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at September 29, 2003 at 09:43 PM

Haven't read the Times article but searching to confirm that amazingly high figure for personal income tax. And this when the Govt is supposed to be honouring their electoral promise of slashing tax rates.

All the current sources I've been able to find indicate France's top income tax rate just above the 52% mark.

Posted by: Clarke Kent at September 29, 2003 at 09:53 PM

Its a wonder how anyone can stay rich over there, even if you make (the equivilent of) a million dollars, your paying 750k income tax. Guess the politicians have to be pampered somehow.

Posted by: Swift at September 29, 2003 at 10:11 PM

OT but a biggie:

Media Watch has uncovered a case of a journalist directing Iraqi kids to stand next to a missile. The journalist was doing a story stating that kids were at risk from unexploded ordinance. (Can't provide a hyperlink yet, they haven't updated the website yet)

Posted by: Andjam at September 29, 2003 at 10:52 PM

Holy crap that is reckless

Posted by: Random_Prose at September 29, 2003 at 11:20 PM

The French have Income tax, wealth tax, social sercurity tax 3.4%, debt reduction .5%, a Vat tax of 20.6% plus state taxes on top. I assume the 75% was arrived at by adding these taxes togeather based on an ordinary taxpayer. France's US Embassy

From the site this line.
'For taxpayers residents of France for tax purposes, a system of upper limit aims at capping the aggregation of wealth tax and income tax of the previous year to 85 % of the aggregate income.'

That's nice of them.

Posted by: Robin Wade at September 29, 2003 at 11:21 PM

I would take London over Paris, if only because your chances of not stepping in urine are slightly better in the former. Edinburgh beats both, though.

Posted by: Bruce at September 30, 2003 at 12:16 AM

Paris is lovely, except of course for the French.

Posted by: CCD at September 30, 2003 at 12:36 AM

Hmm.. anyone know where I could find the income taxes for different countries? I'd like to know how Estonia's 26% compares with others.

(starting next year, it drops to 20%)

Posted by: dr.dna at September 30, 2003 at 12:59 AM

When I was a child I dreamt to go to London. And today I even don't know whether I want to go there or not. Of course, yes, I want go there, but I think that child feelling of dream have dissapeared;-(

Posted by: Sandra at September 30, 2003 at 01:51 AM

"One for you, nineteen for me..."

Posted by: mojo at September 30, 2003 at 02:21 AM

Ah the French ...

it's been downhill all the way since Napoleon - yet nobody seems to have told their politicians, farmers, eurocrats etc etc.

Think about it - not a singe foreign policy or millitary success since 1812. Their colonies were all bloodbaths and none has risen out of despotism - some legacy.

It's as if they really believe that they deserve a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Unfortunately, the tide of history and simple budgetary economics will catch up with them. Then they will find out that there is more to being a world power than, Parisienne style (my strongest memory of Paris was the dogshit on the footpaths and the ridiculous yellow headlights), fine cuisine (if you can afford it) and le sneer.

Je suis l'Elephant

Posted by: The_GOP_Elephant at September 30, 2003 at 02:21 AM

What was that technical term for a person with a 100% tax rate, again?

Oh, I remember now - such a person is a 'slave'!

Posted by: Parker at September 30, 2003 at 03:46 AM

I recently looked at opening a business in France. I discovered that if you pay someone 100, you then have to forward 50 to the social security. The employee has to also forward 22. So on a gross of 150, the employess nets 78.

After this they also have to pay income tax, property tax, residential tax, a social levy on all unearned income, Value added tax.

I decided not to open the business in France.

Posted by: Edmund Burke at September 30, 2003 at 04:14 AM

Jason, I agree. Would take Paris over London anyday. But because of the french and the taxes, I'll stay here. But note that 90% of the culture taxes are spend in Paris. So the rest of the country is robbed to give Paris its grandeur.

Posted by: Berend de Boer at September 30, 2003 at 06:22 AM

Hostages to.... subsidised film-makers

Oh! those evil susidised film-makers.

Posted by: Jonny at September 30, 2003 at 06:37 AM

After they let us down in 1940 the French have been completely useless to themselves or anyone else.

Posted by: Toryhere at September 30, 2003 at 09:08 AM

According to:

The French contribute an average of $4,015.66 per person to the national budget. In the US it is $6,069.96 per person, in Australia $4,302.49 per person, in the UK $9,033.42 per person.

This seems to contradict the assertion that the French are more heavily taxed. Maybe there's a good explanation for it, hidden taxes in France or something.

Posted by: Tim Shell at September 30, 2003 at 10:22 AM

As de Tocquville observed in his survey of post-revolution France, the only thing which change was a name, from Monarchy to Republic, King to President.But then the Revolution was not spontaeous uprising of cake eating starving masses. It was fomented and led by French `middle classes', guilds ( the fore-runners of trade unions but including `protected' businesses) and `financiers' as in lenders to government and not backers of capital and entrepeneurs -no such thing as an entrepeneur then or now in France,`lawyers' and officials whose interests were bound up with local governments, `in reaction to perceptions central government was doing things which undermined their privileges. Perhaps yes, but not to the betterment of France through economic liberty.

France and Germany are about to enter , one predicts, one of the worst depressions in history.They just cannot manage to spit out the dummy of socialism.And, in one's view, the mess is the motivation behind the supra-national socialist republic of Europe. A belief that, a monster pan European government will eliminate the woes the reasons for which national governments have no inclination to rectify.All that will happen is, not only current woes be tranferred to a central pan-Euro government, but that government will compound them and, in two main ways.
It will increase the adminstrative controls already exercised over their citizens, thus too business and so commerce. Firstly, by increasing the apparatus of bureaucracy, if it is just to reduplicate the same level of detailed control excercised over the lives and actions of people as national governments currently do. To ensure compliance of people to the array of capricious rules and tax exactions, increase in coercive power is more than just likely.The current blasphemy laws are, to suggest, just the tip of a huge iceberg which will , eventually in any case, breach and sink the Titanic Super-Euerope.

Secondly, since super-Europe is simply a pan national socialist regimes, committed to extensive coercive control , high government consumption and taxation,the underlying reasons for the onsetting depression remain intact. If anything, the new government will worsen the depression because, of the even higher costs of the new government, and the even more extensive economic controls which will be in place to effect, in reality, economic autarchy. This is where Europe is headed.And the French government and its blowhard psuedo-intellectuall army of mendicants( `public servants', teachers,`farmers', protected industries and unions, and so forth) wonder why, enterprising French are not simply shifting their capital, what's left of it after the government has grabbed most of it, but their families and moving to more hospitable countries.Ditto Sweden and, Sweden, amusingly, is contemplating what would be effectively emigration laws to prevent young people leaving Sweden for the same reasons.

Then their is the wannabe P.M.Kim Beazely , captain of the Kockum Cockup submarine - he only did that pack of impecunious felons the Swedish Government a favour, certainly not OZ tax payer and the RAN.His recent speech outlining a no less totalitarian vision for OZ. Yet he has summarised the underlying longstanding aims of the ALP which have been stated often enough and much put in place bbby them when in government.Not the Libs-Nats stand out in this way, a) they are socialist parties too, and b) have never shown any inclination to repeal legislation which has increased coercive power of government nor unwind the fat slobbering beasts of governemnt, including Medicare, which cause much damge to Australians .Europe should be an object lesson, a lesson read with derisive guffaws.

Posted by: d at September 30, 2003 at 10:41 AM

Kick them while their down. Lets impose a "french tax" in all countries that have french people, products or words.

Every time a frenchman buys something they pay a levy for being french, this could be given back to schools to educate children on the evils of frenchness. Every time a french product is sold whack on a tax on to be paid to the local supplier of the equivalent product. Every time some trendy type uses a french word where an english word is suitable - a bashing - no, a tax! This one could be hard to collect but lets focus on the positives.

The french loves taxes, that's pretty clear, so why not make the most off of it. Anyone french who disagrees - immediate deportation back to Switzerland, let the french whingers hitchhike the last few miles to Surrenderville.

We get rich or they leave, it's a win-win.

Posted by: Jake D at September 30, 2003 at 10:56 AM

Everybody in France cheats on their income tax so the effective income tax rate is much lower.

Posted by: Jake at September 30, 2003 at 10:58 AM


I always thought the "one for you ninteen for me" line was a joke but at the time Taxman was written the UK did actually have a top marginal tax rate of 92%! The top rate in the US at that time was 70%.

Posted by: Alex Hidell at September 30, 2003 at 11:02 AM

I purchased a new atlas recently and when browsing through it I noticed a section on Colonies.

From memory France has about 8 colonies. There are about 40 colonies in the rest of the world. I noticed that the colonies of Australia, New Zealand, The U.K., the U.S.A., the Danes and the Dutch were nearly all little islands with tiny populations that couldn't effectively govern themselves. For the most part this is because the colonies have been given back to the indigenous populations.

On the other hand France's colonies are nearly all substantial economies that could function individually but have not been given the chance. The total population of France's colonies is far more than the total of all other colonies combined.

Are these the people who lecture us about our supposedly poor treatment of indigenous peoples?
Filthy hypocrites.

Posted by: Michael Gill at September 30, 2003 at 12:20 PM

Paris is a beautiful city but there's very little worth seeing that was built within the last century. That should tell you something.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 30, 2003 at 12:35 PM

The real point to compare is France to California.
Both have a GDP of comparable size. France is the fifth largerst economy in the world an if California were an independent nation she tie France for fifth place. France has a population of 60 million, California has a population of 35 million. THIS is the reason France is doomed unless she undertakes massive economic reforms. A further insult to France, California is arguably the WORSE fiscally managed of the major US states.

Tim,thanks for pointing out the site. But you inverted the numbers:


4,015.66 budget expenditures per capita
$3,513.7 budget revenues per capita
debt external $1,773.58 per capita
gross national incom per capita $23,090.05

Posted by: cubanbob at September 30, 2003 at 02:15 PM