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France Suspends Its New Muppet Tax

Politics / France Oct 29, 2013 - 01:50 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Reuters reported, October 29, that French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is suspending the application of a planned environmental tax, called the “ecological” tax on vehicles above 3.5 tons weight after mounting protests in the western Britanny region, dealing another setback for President Hollande's Parti Socialiste government tax policies.

In a classic buy-time move Ayrault called for a “national dialogue", also calling it a regional dialog because the biggest resistance is coming from the Brittany region. And the reason is deadly simple – the region's basic and traditional food and agriculture industries are closing down, one after another.

Adding the new “ecotax” on goods vehicles, food produced in Brittany would be even less competitive – even more uneconomic. Even more industries would shut down. The region's unemployment, officially claimed to be “only 12 percent but unfortunately rising”, would rise even further.

The “ecotax” is due to start operating January 1st, and has been delayed and pushed back several times already. Hollande's PS government thought it was good to jumpstart the process by going out and equipping hundreds of major routes with entry-and-exit surveillance gantries, typically costing 200 000 euros each, to electronically “flash” and tax goods vehicles passing in and out. Apart from the cash invested, however, the political investment was high – the ecotax was a poster child for the tiny but loud group of Green party coalition muppets in Hollande's PS government. With them on board, getting instant majority votes in parliament for the PS government's crusade to raise taxes, and further ruin the economy, was all that easier.


France's five state-owned TV channels, its state-owned radios, and of course the government-friendly “independent” media have saturated daytime and nighttime programs and press reports with often-crude propaganda in favour of the ecotax. The people are supposed to believe that taxing French trucks, but not foreign-registered trucks, will “save the climate”. The same propaganda outlets – called “independent media” - have endlessly bleated that the latest IPCC report “proves that global warming is a menace”. The intensity of mindwarp on this subject is so extreme that not one major media outlet, either government-owned or corporate crony-owned, either press, radio or TV, reported that true-warmist NASA itself has been forced – by facts – to report that both Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets are growing. The Arctic ice sheet by 34 percent in 12 months. French media “didn't know that”.

Green party members of Hollande's muppet government have gone that extra mile down the road of lying about global warming. They have said the latest IPCC report “proves the crisis is worse than we previously thought”. As they say in French “Apres nous le deluge”, after us the Global Warming Flood. The flood of lies continues.

"Suspension does not mean abolition," Ayrault added when forced to suspend its application date, noting that the ecotax was first proposed by itself, then adopted by itself, by the previous Sarkozy government. And they got voted out of power.

Possibly for “free marketeer” Sarkozy, and certainly for back country mayor and party bureaucrat Hollande, the total uselessness of the ecotax was and is no problem. It was and is a way to drag in more taxes and pay down a little more national debt, God willing. If it destroys more and bigger chunks of French industry, starting with Brittany's agriculture and food industries, all well and good. If this economic sabotage destroys so many jobs, so many livelihoods that it ends up reducing the government tax grab, too bad.


President Francois Hollande's government is at a record low in opinion polls, a few months before municipal and European elections, and the poll scores are likely to fall further, due to his government's crusade to raise existing taxes and invent new ones. The newest one that has hurt the most is not the ecotax but the 15.5 percent tax on a very wide range of savings accounts, starting real low. Corporate taxes, already close to the highest in Europe, will be raised. The ecotax on goods vehicles was “offered to public opinion” as a choice between taxing trucks, or further taxing car fuel, where prices already run at around $8.50 a US gallon. The nearly state-owned EDF power producer, a near-monopoly supplier of 92 percent of all electricity used in France will be raising its prices by 10 percent a year every year to 2016.

Certainly for “free marketeer” Sarkozy, and probably for Hollande the real effects of the ecotax on French road haulage enterprises – as well as on Brittany's food industries – were known and accepted, to be sure never in public. The national road haulage industry, in less than 5 years, has imploded on itself. Today already, about 45 percent of trucks operating in France are foreign-registered with non-French drivers, even if the trucks are really French-owned, and the drivers are employed by French firms.

The drivers are from East Europe and their French-owned trucks are registered in East Europe. This way, the drivers can be paid 550 euros a month, sleep in their cabs with a camper's gas ring to heat their food, and trick their tachygraph recorders to drive 15 – 18 hours a day. To be sure they have spectacular accidents when they fall asleep at the wheel, flip their 44-ton truck at 65 miles an hour, and kill a few other road users doing it! But this is the all-new all-Europe squeaky clean neoliberal economy. To be sure there is no alternative. Mrs Thatcher said so!

The cult of No Alternative, spectacularly in France also comes with no alternative to more and higher taxes, as well as police state prying into everything and anything. The outright farce of pretending that a new tax on goods vehicles – only if they are French – will save us all from global warming disaster would be funny, if it didn't do so much damage not only to the economy – but also to human rights.

The French ecotax was first described by its promoters as the first stage in mapping the origins and destinations of all vehicles running on French roads. The counter-argument that simple and straight fuel taxes are able to levy a charge on the basis of how far anybody drives their vehicles, was rejected as “old-fashioned”. The new police state needs to know exactly where you went and who you saw.

It also needs to ruin the economy and steal your savings. When or if street protest – already mounting in Brittany – morphs into popular revolt the muppet parties will only have themselves to blame.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2013 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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