STUMP » Articles » Taxing Tuesday: The French People are Revolting (UPDATED) » 4 December 2018, 05:42

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Taxing Tuesday: The French People are Revolting (UPDATED)  


4 December 2018, 05:42

Thanks, Mel Brooks

That said, it sounds fairly serious.


Let’s just look at the headline and main bullets in this Daily Mail piece from December 1:

‘This is the start of a revolution’: Paris rioters steal police assault rifle, torch dozens of cars and vow to ‘stay in the streets until Christmas’ as fuel protests continue into the night and spread across France – and even to Holland

  • ‘Yellow Vest’ supporters staged fresh protests on the Champs-Elysees which leads to the Arc de Triomphe
  • They vowed to continue rioting until Christmas after riot police used tear gas and water cannon to fight back
  • Dozens of cars were torched, the Arc de Triomphe was graffitied and shops and houses were ransacked
  • French President Emmanuel Macron promised that protesters would be ‘held responsible for their acts’
  • It comes a week after rioters brought chaos to Paris in a movement against fuel prices and high living costs

As I remarked elsewhere, many outright revolutions start as tax revolts.

One can argue that the original French Revolution was spurred by an extremely unjust tax regime — the most powerful (clergy and aristocrats) paid no taxes, and some extremely-pressed people had reached their limits.

Not every French revolt has involved taxes, of course.

Oddly, for all the French revolts, none of them seem to have achieved lasting change. They keep having to try again.



The webmaster of No Pasarán almost felt he was being deliberately targeted as the tear gas canisters started raining down on the yellow vest protesters around him on the Avenue de Friedland, one of the roads leading up to the Place Charles de Gaulle l’Étoile, already covered not in fog but in tear gas.

Whether it was related or simply a coincidence, the crowds had started chanting “Macron ! Démission| (Macron resign!) when the bombardment started.


As I wrote last week, in How Fake News Has Misrepresented the Yellow Vest Revolt in France:

There is nary a single media report about the Yellow Vest demonstrations in Paris and France that I’ve read or watched that has not been slanted by Fake News.

It has (usually) not been deliberate, I gather, and nobody has said anything factually wrong; what is the problem is the fact that (very) important stuff has been omitted.

It is not wrong to say that the demonstrations were caused by the government’s decision to raise gas prices. What is missing is that this is just one of several draconian measures dating back half a year, i.e., ‘tis the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

That’s how tax revolts often are – it’s not the only thing going on.

All of which brings us to 2018. This year, as mentioned, Emmanuel Macron’s government has doubled down on the repressive measures.

On July 1, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe did what no other country in Europe or in the West (or, as far as I know, on the planet) has done: go against the march of progress and lower the slowness limit (sorry, the speed limit) on secondary (country) roads by 10 km/h, decreasing the limit from 90 km/h (56 mph) to 80 km/h (50 mph).
At about the same time came the contracts that the government decided to write with private corporations, handing the business of the state’s (plainclothes) gendarmes over to their company employees, to take over the business of the mobile radars in their shiny new fleets of vehicles. (Meanwhile, other private companies have been getting similar contracts from city governments, meaning wage earners doing mostly nothing but driving up and down the city streets, while a license plate reader decides which cars’ owners will be getting automatically-generated fines.)

This is actually the point at which the first protests started. During the summer, the country saw a huge increase in instances of destruction (or incapacitation) of radars on the roadside. Many were defaced with paint, others were set on fire, while still others were simply covered with something like a garbage bag (one man arrested while covering a radar was let free by a judge who decided that since the garbage bag hadn’t actually brought any physical harm to the machine in any way, the defendant could not be accused of destroying it).

So no, it’s not just about taxes. It’s about a powerful group that does not recognize limits to its powers.



Third, the dispute here can be viewed as between Paris and “La France profonde.” The high tax on gasoline imposed by Macron’s government, the reason for the protests, has comparatively little impact on most Parisians and those who live near Paris. Many of them have shops and stores within walking distance, and public transportation serves their needs well.

For those who live in the “provinces,” it’s a very different story. They tend to rely heavily on cars and often must drive fairly long distances (bus service is no good substitute in our experience), all the more so since small French towns are losing population and thus shops and stores.

In effect, Macron is placing the burden of addressing climate change (however fitfully) on the backs of France’s rural population. French elites do not share the burden.

Ah, tax those “other folks”. That sounds familiar.

More coverage on the protests:

Let’s grab some pictures from that last one:

For what it’s worth, many of the “yellow jacket protests” have been just that: protest marches/demonstrations, not riots. One of the pics above is from a soccer match where people unfurled that banner – and that wasn’t in Paris. It may be some others are taking advantage of the situation to riot (after all, burning cars in Paris seems to be an annual thing to begin with.)

Here’s some video:


So, I wrote the above ahead of time, and wouldn’t you know, actual breaking news:

France delays fuel tax hike after violent riots: report

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced a suspension of fuel tax and utility hikes in an effort to appease a protest movement that plunged Paris into chaos last weekend.

Philippe said the planned increase, which has provoked violent riots and was set to be introduced in January, will be suspended for six months.

Philippe said “no tax is worth putting the nation’s unity in danger.”

More than 100 people were injured in the French capital and 412 arrested over the weekend during France’s worst urban riot in years, with dozens of cars torched.

Hmmmm. Well, we’ll see what happens next.



Tax revolts are rarely “just” about taxes.

Given that it’s under financial strain right now, I can think of why they’re not paying corporate taxes (though they obviously pay payroll taxes, property taxes, etc.)

Life insurance companies will thank them! (life insurance proceeds are exempt from the federal estate tax)

Huh. Today I learned something.

AAAAH, that’s why it’s the word of the day.

See y’all next week!

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