They didn't quite storm the Bastille but the riots that hammered Paris over the Macron government's proposal to hike carbon taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel may have been a wake up call for the French president. Macron seems to have realized that, if you can't squeeze more out of the plebs, there's always the rich.
The French government will consider reintroducing taxes on the most wealthy in what is seen as a further measure to appease the gilets jaunesprotesters threatening to destabilise Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.
Lifting part of the impôt de solidarité sur la fortune (ISF, solidarity tax on wealth) was a pillar of Macron’s election campaign and one of the first fiscal measures he implemented on taking power in May 2017, leading to his nickname “president of the rich”.
On Wednesday, as gilets jaunes (yellow vests) vowed to continue protests that have seen parts of Paris in flames and violent clashes with police, the government’s spokesman Benjamin Griveaux admitted ISF could be reimposed.
“If the measure we have taken doesn’t work, we’re not idiots, we’ll change it. But first we will have to evaluate it,” Griveaux told RTL radio, adding that the evaluation would happen next year.
Reintroducing the wealth tax has been one of the demands of parts of the gilets jaunes movement that grew out of anger at rising taxes on petrol and diesel.
...Easing the ISF for the wealthy was described by one political commentator as Macron’s “original sin” and has been regarded as being socially divisive at a time when French workers have felt increasingly squeezed financially.Catering to the whims and threats of the affluent has been a longstanding game in the developed world in this era of "everyday low taxes." It has resulted in corrosive inequality and austerity governance. It has severely undermined social cohesion.
Back in 2011, the OECD (rich countries' club) reported inequality among its member states had reached a 30-year high. It's gotten worse since then. The damage inequality inflicts on a nation and its people was graphically chronicled by two British epidemiologists, Picket and Wilson, in their 2009 book, "The Spirit Level." Neoliberal governments have been so focused on expanding investment capital to relentlessly grow their economies that they ignored the cost it was exacting on their human capital. It has facilitated the deep divisions that current afflict our societies.