This New York Times story on the possible mass flight of the rich from France is an eye opener.
A chill is wafting over France's business class as Mr. Hollande, the country's first Socialist president since François Mitterrand in the 1980s, presses a manifesto of patriotism to "pay extra tax to get the country back on its feet again." The 75 percent tax proposal, which Parliament plans to take up in September, is ostensibly aimed at bolstering French finances as Europe's long-running debt crisis intensifies.
But because there are relatively few people in France whose income would incur such a tax -- an estimated 7,000 to 30,000 in a country of 65 million -- the gains might contribute but a small fraction of the 33 billion euros in new revenue the government wants to raise next year to help balance the budget.
The French finance ministry did not respond to requests for an estimate of the revenue the tax might raise. Though the amount would be low, some analysts note that a tax hit on the rich would provide political cover for painful cuts Mr. Hollande may need to make next year in social and welfare programs that are likely to be far less popular with the rank and file.
In that regard, the tax could have enormous symbolic value as a blow for egalité, coming from a new president who has proclaimed, "I don't like the rich."
"French people have an uncomfortable relationship with money," Mr. Grandil said. "Here, someone who is a self-made man, creating jobs and ending up as a millionaire, is viewed with suspicion. This is big cultural difference between France and the United States."
Heh. It's obvious Mr. Grandil doesn't know much about Obama's America. Indeed, there are plenty of people in America who hate the rich, hate the successful, despise individual achievement. And the president is their greatest cheerleader.
Note also the similarity in arguments between Hollande and Obama. Obama's tax on the rich would bring in a pitifully small amount of money compared to the mountainous deficit he runs yearly. This is not about closing the budget gap. The tax increase is, as it will be in France, political cover so that Obama can swallow the entitlement cuts that absolutely must be made if we are to get our fiscal house in order.
We've already heard some Democrats suggest that such a "millionaires tax" would be needed in America. If given a second term, Obama is liable to do anything -- including impose such a tax on our most successful citizens.