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Parler Paris Politically Speaking

The numbers of people marching down rue Saint-Antoine on a Sunday afternoon in favor of gay marriage was surprising — the police estimated about 60,000 — considering this is the second to last weekend left for Christmas gift shopping. You’d think they’d have been in the stores instead, or spending time with their families trimming their Christmas trees! But no, they were wall-to-wall on the major thoroughfare and along side them was Paris’s gay mayor Bertrand Delanoë.

The crowd was not primarily nor overtly gay — but clearly an awful lot of folks believe that human beings should have a choice with whom they wish to devote their lives in a legal way (polls say 60% of the French agree). They also believe that gay or straight, one should have the right to adopt and raise a child (but less at 46%). “The Socialist government’s bill would legalize gay marriage and adoption, but not assisted procreation. Left-wing deputies plan to add that option to the law, a step President François Hollande did not initially support, but has now conceded.”

Thanks to France’s left leanings, it will become the 12th country to legalize same-sex marriage (already legalized in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden). Interestingly, France legalized “gender-neutral” civil unions in 1999 (PACS – Pacte civil de solidarité) and surprisingly, almost all are heterosexual couples, making it more like a “marriage light.”

17-12-12 pro gun control protest at white house  us shooting  2 3 4 N2Meanwhile gun control advocates are demonstrating in Washington. In the aftermath of Friday’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, petitioners took to the White House Web site that it was high time to talk about gun control. It’ surprising that Americans aren’t out in the many millions protesting for gun control.

President Barack Obama spoke his sorrow-filled words about the tragic mass killing in Connecticut, and the other senseless massacres in the past, saying “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” but what’s he doing about it? He didn’t mention gun control in his speech and according to the press, he’s actually made it easier to buy and carry weapons, In fact, he has “signed laws allowing people to carry guns in national parks and failed to use his existing powers to block the import of semi-automatic weapons and clips that hold large numbers of bullets.”

Is he afraid or protective of the powerful gun lobby? One of the reasons I have enjoyed living in France all these years is because I feel so safe. Sure, you can get your pocket picked, and yes, my iPhone was stolen off a table in a restaurant, and yes, you hear of some random acts of violence, but people are not carrying guns, or keeping them in their nightstands, or thinking that they must have a gun to protect themselves…because — protect themselves against whom? I walk or travel home alone late at night and never think a thing of it, while living Stateside, I was almost always paranoid when on my own.

17-12-12 rdv-depardieu-image-2-hpMediumPhoto courtesy of Agence France-Presse Living in France has been an eye-opening and enriching experience, peppered with some frustration. Today’s Socialist administration is causing such havoc among the rich that one can’t help but wonder if it’s time to ‘get out of Dodge,’ just like actor Gérard Depardieu, who is giving up his French citizenship in lieu of Belgium’s lower tax policies. He said it’s not just the taxation that upsets him, but that this government believes “success, creation, talent — difference, in fact — must be punished.”

Depardieu paid $190 million in taxes in the course of his life (not bad, right?), yet Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called his departure “unpatriotic and pathetic,” and the Labor Minister, Michel Sapin, noted it as a “form of personal degeneration.” And while he admits to his excesses, an appetite for the love of life, he claims he is a “free being” and refused to accept the word “pathetic.”

Depardieu is only one among many who are fleeing the French taxation scene, such as model Laetetia Casta, the restaurateur Alain Ducasse, singer Johnny Hallyday, chief executive Bernard Arnault, and others…gone, gone, gone.

What is puzzling is why this administration can’t do the math. Here’s a very simplistic view on the issue: Hollande needs to decrease the deficit. That means France needs to MAKE money. The way to make money is to MOVE money. When goods are bought and sold, money is made in the process. The more money is made, the more tax is earned and therefore the deficit is reduced.

Given the reforms he’s made so far to increase taxes (wealth and property), the exact opposite has happened. Property has been taken off the market, companies are going offshore and the wealthy are fleeing to where they will be taxed less. So in essence, he’s stopped the incoming flow of money, thereby reducing the tax base. So how’s he going to reduce the deficit if he’s trying to get 75% of nothing instead of, let’s say, 50% of something?

17-12-12 Fiscal-Cliff-Meets-Mayan-CalendarPhoto courtesty of politicalhumor.about.comThere’s another image makes me chuckle. Imagine you own a boutique and sell beautiful things, but your rent and employees cost you more than your sales earnings, so to offset your expenses, you increase your prices. What do you think happens then? Do you think you sell more and therefore earn more? Of course not! “Au contraire!’ This ridiculous scenario sums up Hollande’s thinking. Maybe he can do the math, but he has no sense of human nature!

And guess what? Since anyone who believes the Mayan calendar is right — that our world ends on Friday, December 21st, then none of this matters anyway.

A la prochaine…

adiran ny2011Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Later this week, I’m headed west to New York, Los Angeles and New Orleans for the holidays from where I will be writing Parler Paris and reporting on what it’s like to be back on the ‘other side of the pond.’ There will be no issue of French Property Insider this week while I’m ‘in the air’ — but stay tuned for adventures of “une Parisienne aux Etats Unis!”


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