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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mélenchon and the "Impôt universel"

For those of you who didn't get the memo the United States has a  little special something for its compatriots living outside the US:  citizenship-based taxation.  This mean that US citizens and Green Card holders abroad owe a pile of paperwork (tax and foreign account declarations) to the IRS every year even if they have never lived or worked in the US and have no assets or income there.

Awareness of this is growing among the US migrant/expatriate communities around the world because of FATCA, a program that requires foreign financial institutions to send a list of their American and almost American account holders to the US.  Many countries have signed agreements to hand over this information to the American government.  (See my post on the France/US IGA  and this review for the Flophouse on the Japan/US agreement by Inaka Nezumi.)

Read them and weep. And then grow a spine and (wo)man up. We are in this mess for the most part because of our government but also because we weren't paying attention and most of us refused to be part of any "American" organization abroad lest we be accused of living in an English-speaking ghetto.  There are organizations and individuals out there fighting this:  Isaac Brock Society, AARO, ACA.  These are the soldiers doing the heavy lifting and taking the risks in what I call the American Diaspora Tax War.  Find a way to show your support.

And to those of you who live outside your home countries and are not American citizens or Green Card holders, pay attention because some governments are looking at their deficits and eyeing the income and assets of their "rich" expats and thinking, "Maybe the Americans are on to something..."

Exhibit A this month is the French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.  He went on a French news program a few weeks ago and extolled the virtues of an "Impôt universel."  This is code for "citizenship-based taxation."  Something he admitted to and he even described how it would work:  a French living in another country would pay local taxes and then send his/her declaration to the French "fisc" with a little something for "la France."

Mélenchon has been rising in the polls and he stands a real chance of winning.  His proposal for taxing the French diaspora is getting a lot of attention.  He uses the old argument (one that Americans abroad know all too well) that this is necessary in order to combat tax evasion by the rich and it's only fair that French citizens contribute something to the home country in addition to what they pay in the host country.  

«Vous êtes français ? Très bien : vous payez vos impôts où que vous soyez sur la planète
"You are French?  Fine.  You pay your [French] taxes wherever you are on this planet."

We (Americans abroad) have heard that one before and it's a message Americans at home like a lot. It is an equally appealing argument for the French in France.  It invokes solidarity, fairness, and a chance to get back at those who walked away from La République.  The time to push back on this is now, mes amis.  Don't let this one go unchallenged, especially at a time when populism seems to be on the rise in the home country.  Email your French representatives and let them know exactly what you think of this.  

Take it from me, fighting a fait accompli is much harder than killing an idea before it gets traction and votes.

(Discussion about the "universal tax" starts at 31:00)


Tim said...

Melenchon along with his "youth" supporters can go fuck themselves. Anyways I will be in Washington, DC for a hearing on FATCA next week and will do my best to try to inform everyone of the situation with Melenchon. Anyways whatever happens with FATCA in the medium term I will personally see to it with some success I think that Melenchon will NOT be able to impose a CBT on French citizens living in the US or impose a French FATCA on US banks no matter how "enthusiastic" his youth supporters are.

In fact I have told his supporters on Art Goldhammer's and Arun Kapil blogs this to their face R Rated language included although I think his supporters seem to have little idea what I am talking about.

Anthony Rey said...

Hi Victoria,

I just read what you wrote and I did not get how you arrived at your conclusion. I am not going to talk about the US, because I do not want to talk about that topic; however, in France, we have social policies (which is hard to understand when you were not born in France, I get that). We have a free education system, a free high quality health care system, welfare benefits, etc. How is it fair to live somewhere else, not paying taxes, and then come back anytime you want and take advantage of such a wonderful system? I have a friend who works in Switzerland but goes to the dentist (or other doctors) in France. Better, he has a seasonal job, so he works during winter and then go to France and get some help. Do you believe your fellow citizens should pay for you? Before you send any hateful comments (like the one I just read) or use any inappropriate words (like populism), I want you to know that I live in Canada. I just want to debate seriously on this topic, because you are cutting corners (which is against Democracy).
Best regards,

Inaka Nezumi said...

The anti-migrant winds are blowing from both the left and the right in this election. Can the center hold? The global trend does not seem encouraging.

Anthony Rey said...

Hi Inaka Nezumi,

Why are you saying that? I do not understand:

Ellen said...

Thank you.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Antony, Thank you very much for your comment. I welcome debate on any topic I write about. The rules are (and I should post them again) that people remain polite and I will never delete a comment unless someone is trying to sell something or if they are so off-topic or nasty to others. Agressive forceful debate however is entirely within the rules. And this topic for Americans abroad is one that elicits strong opinions.

Yes, the argument that you are proposing is one that I hear a lot. I even have empathy for those who think it's a good idea. I have lived in France for over 20 years and I'm not thrilled by your friend living in Switzerland because MY taxes are paying for this fellow. My response is based on experience because we (Americans and Green Card holders) are living with a citizenship-based taxation system and we know the flaws. Here are a few things I would ask you in response to that argument:

1. The "tax the expats" argument is based on two ideas - one is that the French abroad are rich and have money. The second is that they are abusing the system. Two perfectly valid hypothesis but where is the proof of that? Articles and anecdotes are not sufficient to prove either of thse propositions. I have anecdotes too - French living in the US or Japan who are not rich and struggle to pay the rent. Are they to be taxed as well or should they be forced to return because they can't pay? You need data to prove those arguments. What do the French abroad make? (and not just in Silicon Valley but everywhere.) How much tax money are we looking at once the French abroad have paid their local taxes? How many return and how many stay abroad permanently? Melenchin needs this data because...

2. A citizenship-based taxation system requires a lot of spending on the part of the French government. There will be many tax returns coming from abroad that will have to be reviewed by people who understand each host country's taxation system and determine what was paid is in fact valid and then come up with the difference based on French tax law. You will also need people in France capable of performing audits to determine whether or not the French abroad has accurately reported what he/she paid so....

3. A cost/benefit anlysis is absolutely essential here. If the cost of implementation and enforcement is greater than the taxes received then France will be worse off.

4. There is another way that France may be worse off. The flip-side of taxation is benefits. If the French abroad are being taxed wherever they live then they ought to be able to benefit from the social programs they are paying for wherever they live. Allocations familiales, for example, or subsidies for their children going to French schools abroad.

Those are just a few thoughts. But my point is that while it sounds like a super idea, the implementation is something else. The American system might seem to be "fair" but it's the lower and middle class migrants that are hit hardest and the US gets almost nothing from its citizenship-based tax system. This is the "invisible middle" I was talking about in an earlier post. No one writes articles about the French teacher in Japan or the young French IT worker in London or the full-time French parent in Mexico yet they do exist and I strongly suspect they are the majority. (We need more data to know.) So I understand your argument but I would strongly advise the French abroad to make these arguments and force the government to come up with the data that supports (or doesn't) the assumptions behind this "great" idea.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Ellen, You're very welcome. You won't believe what Le Pen has to say about this. I will post on it very soon.

Nezumi-san, Allison Christians just sent me a note via twitter. Apparently the OECD information exchange deal has citizenship as part of the reporting. So, yes, things are getting worse. On the other hand, I am also meeting people and learning their strategies for getting around all this. When they go abroad most folks don't think about these things and they are usually not making much money. When they do become aware they can complain, comply or find a way around it. I didn't put this in my response to Anthony but the likelihood that the French government will be able to do this is pretty small. The French abroad will put their assets under someone else's name or they will under-report what they made abroad or inflate the taxes they paid or they just won't report or they will do what Americans do - renounce. France Diplomatie says there are about 1.6 million French abroad. I bet that number is way too low. A lot of French don't register with the French govb abroad. A significant number would be French citizens who have never applied for a French passport but who could do so if they wished. Finding the French abroad is going to be tough - finding their assets will be even tougher.

Inaka Nezumi said...

Hi Anthony Rey,

"Why are you saying that? I do not understand:"

Well, on the right you have Le Pen, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric is well-known, even over here. As for the left, Mélenchon's "Impôt universel" proposal, if enacted similarly to US citizenship-based taxation (and note that Mélenchon specifically held up the American example in that video), will punish migrants with bureaucratic complexity. Hence, anti-migrant winds blowing from both directions.

By the way, in your third link above, I don't read Spanish, but from what I think I glean by faking it, there seem to be comparisons to Bernie Sanders -- who stated, incidentally, that he was in favor of abolishing citizenship-based taxation and replacing it with residence-based taxation (such as France practices now). So that is actually a point of disagreement between Sanders and Mélenchon.

Maria said...

I have become a pessimistic realist concerning government, laws, and money. My opinion is that, no matter how hard we may protest, no matter how many valid facts against such stupid laws we may present, if a government sees this as a way of making a fast buck, they'll pass the law. To me, government has become a greed factory - make taxpayers pay the most money possible for just about everything under the sun, and give out the benefits of our tax money like Christmas candy during the Great Depression, one candy stick per person per year. Where does the rest of the money go? To private Swiss bank accounts and other financial paradises where our politicians bank.

Yes, I sound very cynical, but living in Spain with all the corruption scandals has led me to this belief. My idealism has been worn to a nub.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Maria, Can I recommend a book? Two Cheers for Anarchism by the esteemed political scientist James Scott. Wonderful book. Gives me hope. Plus he's a pleasure to read. I reviewed it here:

DL NELSON said...

Implementing it means that banks will have to report French accounts to France as a check like in FATCA, something they never will do.

Monitoring this would be a nightmare at best.

Tim said...

On another note what is Macron's position on all this. He is the leading candidate AND has specifically said he wants more Americans to immigrate to France. Does he have a position on FATCA and CBT?

Anthony Rey said...

Hi Victoria,
Thank you your response. I am not going to tell you how to manage your website and I believe you have the right to keep "Melenchon along with his "youth" supporters can go fuck themselves". However, from my point of view, this is a hateful comment. I do not like when people affirm things instead of reasoning. Anyway,

1. Based on what Mélenchon and his team said, no it is not. You will only pay if there is a difference, so you could be a poor abroad (it will not change anything for you). For your second argument. It is not valid either. Nobody says that people are abusing. You have rights (and therefore duties). When you pay for an insurance, nobody says you are abusing it, but people will tell you that if you do not pay, you cannot be insured. It is basic reasoning. You did not answer my question. Do you believe your fellow citizens should pay for you? If you think that some people you should have access to everything without paying, well, I cannot debate about that. I am not going to look for statistics. You cannot ask to prove something if you cannot prove the oposite yourself, where is the proof of the opposite basically? I did not affirm that my anecdote was sufficient to prove anything. I was just giving you an example. My point, from the beginning, is that it is not fair that people have rights and duties while others have only rights. If you believe the opposite, we cannot debate because how we see the world is completely different. I am sorry about your anecdotes. I do not want to enter into something where I will tell you that everybody I met abroad were rich - which is true - because it does not prove anything. It does not prove anything to say that you are or were poor abroad. My point is if you are poor abroad, you will not pay taxes in France. As I said, I do not want to talk about the US, but you cannot assume the system will not work, because it does not for you guys. It is a fallacious argument. It could be better it could be worse. You cannot know. I wish I had more time now to talk about another topic - multiple citizenship. You are talking about being forced to return because you cannot pay. It feels like you do not want to go back. One more things before going to the next question. I do not know how poor you were, but I truly encourage you to watch "Merci patron" or some statistics about how many people commit suicide in France every year because of poverty. At some point, we need to stop thinking about ourselves only.

2 - Two things here. First, the main point of this citizenship-based taxation is to avoid rich selfish people fleeing the country to save money (it goes without saying that not all rich people are selfish). We do not know yet exactly how it will work, so I cannot tell much - we will vote for that (I want to avoid some arguments on "it will be a disaster"). Let us assume it requires some time on the part of the French government. In the system Mélenchon and his team are offering, it will only be a good thing since it will create jobs, other taxes, etc.

3 - They already made this cost/benefit analysis and it is worth it. It is obviously a ball park estimate, but we are not going to implement something that is not worth it. As I said in 2, the main goal is to avoid rich people fleeing the country. I could send you some names. Rich people living in Belgium and working in France to avoid paying taxes. They estimate (not Mélenchon and his team, but other organizations as well as the government) that we are losing billions because of this. I am sure we could pay some people to look for some billions. It seems worth it.

Anthony Rey said...

4 - Multiple citizenship. I do not have time, but why do people live abroad? As I said in 1, it is the insurance story. You pay because you can have access to some stuff anytime you want. We do not have to give anything to you abroad, but you will always have access to them when you come back. Please do not tell me something about racism, because we are talking about fellow citizens. The only difference is that one made the choice to go somewhere else. In some countries, there is no choice. However, it is not the case here.

5 - What is the ultimate goal of such a measure? Develop all the countries so that we could go anywhere we want (by choice) and get the same life (more or less). At the beginning, we want to achieve this in Europe, but it will be great to achieve such a thing worldwide. You must look at the entire program instead of condemning one proposition (out of its context).

I am happy to see that you thought a bit about it. I wish you had put that in your article. Thanks for admitting that it is a super idea. The implementation must be done carefully, but we need to look at this proposition with the entire program. I am not commenting the fact that the American system is "fair". However, you are not giving me any proof that the lower and middle class migrants are hit harder. Plus, the term middle class does not mean the same depending on the country you are in. See, I do not know how much make a French teacher in Japan, but I can tell you that people commit suicide every day (and I can give you figures from the government if you want) in France. Being a teacher abroad does not seem too bad compared to their situations (you should watch Merci patron). They are also majority. If you believe that you should not share a little bit more to help your fellow citizens who cannot go to Japan or Mexico (because they have NOTHING), I cannot argue with you. Anyway, thank you for being honest here. At least you admit that you do not have any data to support your theory. I am not saying we can support the other theory with data. You should also check how many French people are abroad compared to how many poor people live in France. People should have a bit of empathy at some point.

Anthony Rey said...

Hi Inaka Nezumi,

Thanks for your answer. You are right with Le Pen. For Mélenchon, you are cutting corners. Yes, I know about this proposal and it is anything but racist. It will "punish" people leaving France - I am cutting some myself here for the sake of simplicity. How is it racist? French people blaming other French people for leaving... Let us picture it from another point of view. Tomorrow, everybody proposes this citizenship-based taxation. When you decide to go to another country, your only motive is because you like it. It will avoid some countries ripping off others. The main goal of Mélenchon is to create a fairer world -- at our scale, we start with Europe. We currently use cheap labor (not to say slaves) from the poorest countries in Europe to make money. He is against that. A part of his plan includes this citizenship-based taxation to avoid people doing so. I just wanted to be clear on that, because it is unfair to say that the left party is racist. We have never stopped fighting Le Pen's ideas. Racism is increasing because people are getting poorer and poorer and cannot think clearly - thanks to current politics, etc. Trump, Brexit, and so on. We have the opportunity to change that before getting somebody like Le Pen. It was just to show you that people from all over the world are supporting him. It is not anti-migrant or anti-immigrant. Please, do not cut corners.

Inaka Nezumi said...

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the back-and-forth. I also suspect we are talking at cross purposes. I never accused Mélenchon of racism, only of proposing anti-migrant policies, which indeed puts him on the same side as Le Pen (who probably does reach that destination via racism).

"We currently use cheap labor (not to say slaves) from the poorest countries in Europe to make money. He is against that. A part of his plan includes this citizenship-based taxation to avoid people doing so."
--You do realize the the US uses cheap labor from poorer countries in exactly the same manner, so citizenship-based taxation is no defense against such practices.

I know you said you do not want to discuss what the US does, but if you are prepared to vote for importing their policies, you owe it to yourself to study what exactly they are, and what effects they have. You may be surprised at how such noble-sounding ideas turn out to work in practice.

Anthony Rey said...

Hi Inaka,

I do appreciate it too. You seem sincere. That's what I said, but I also said "The main goal of Mélenchon is to create a fairer world -- at our scale, we start with Europe". I do realize that the US uses cheap labor from poorer countries. Citizenship-based taxation is one measure of Mélenchon's program. We cannot take it out and compare with the US. That's why I said, I do not want to talk about it. Some people have this tendency to compare countries on one specific thing without looking at the whole system - which creates an erroneous reasoning. It is like saying he eats a lot of junk food but does not put some fat, so eating junk food has nothing to do with putting some fat - without looking at the fact that this person works out a lot. Mélenchon and his team want to fight against this problem in Europe. Some people use a fallacious argument: if we tax rich people, they will leave France. Today, you have rich people living in Switzerland, Belgium, etc. but having their businesses in France to avoid paying taxes. We want a country where you still have rich people (this is not a problem) but you do not have poor people. One way to achieve that is to share more. The problem is, some people do not want to share. That's why we are talking about the citizenship-based taxation. I know I owe it to myself and I have been talking about this topic a lot. I even attack it when I am with people in favor of this measure to see if it has any flaws. Mélenchon's program, as a whole, is coherent. Companies are moving from one country to another (inside Europe) to make more and more profits. People are suffering a lot (not only in France). If you speak French, you should watch "Merci patron". You cannot be insensitive to this movie. We have two choices so far: (1) we keep doing what we have been doing for the past decades, which makes more and more people committing suicide while others are richer and richer or (2) we can try something different (which is coherent). It goes without saying that there are some uncertainties about the outcomes (of Mélenchon's program). The only thing sure is that the current system is not working and is not getting any better. Some people will tell that it is a utopia or whatever you want to call it, but this is not an argument. The French revolution, the abolition of slavery, paid vacation, and so on were all utopias.

Tim said...

@Anthony Rey

On Wednesday of next week I will be in Washington DC lobbying the House Ways and Means committee on this very issue. I suspect YOU will NOT be. France has a tax treaty with the United States that specifically prohibits France from imposing taxation on its citizens living in the United States(But NOT the US on it's citizens in France). France also has similar tax treaties with Canada, Belgium, Switzerland etc. Even if Melenchon is elected and tries to re-negotiate France's Treaty with the United States to allow for CBT I have contacts in the United States Senate who will block ratification of such a move(People whom Victoria knows also). In the public justifications of such a move in DC YOU and Melenchon will be subject to the most vile "red" baiting in the US media made possible by yours truly. Your and Melenchon's only option will be to renounce the tax treaty between France and the United States at this point there would be NO cooperation between the IRS and the French tax authorities. Even wealthy RESIDENTs of France will have open season to hide all of their assets in US banks in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere all the while YOU and your pal Melenchon can go pound sand.

Anonymous said...

I was at a lecture last night about digitalization and how it will continue to affect work, the economy etc. Taxation and potential changes that will need to be made to tax codes were discussed. FATCA was not mentioned as it was not the topic, but it was mentioned that countries will need to find ways to make up for lost revenues especially for social insurances. Companies like Uber and AirBnB don't pay into the social insurance system. This is left up to the freelancers that provide their services. Will there be enough revenue paid into the system by these freelancers or will there be a deficit? It was mentioned that company structures are expected to change and yes, there will be a shift in employment with more people being self-employed. What does this have to do with FATCA? Governments will have to adapt tax systems to accommodate digital economies and generate funds for social services. FATCA type laws might be a solution in the eyes of some - although the cost benefit ratio mentioned would have to be considered. I do wonder how tax systems will adapt as Technology continues to redefine how we work and earn a living. (I live in Switzerland and am an ex-US citizen)

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Anthony, Thank you for your very thoughtful response. This is a topic I have been thinking about since 2012. If you go to the page on my blog Diaspora Tax War (see the sidebar on the right). I am enjoying the debate. I am an aspiring academic (just finished my MA) so, yes, I am always going to ask for data. (I understand that this can irritate people who aren't.) Please direct me to the cost/benefit analysis that has been done because I very much want to read it.

"Do you believe your fellow citizens should pay for you?" The answer to this is "no". And the reason is that my fellow citizens (the vast majority of them) live in the United States. I do not live in the United States, I live in France. I do believe that I should pay for my fellow residents in France (citizens and migrants) and they should pay for me. We are all in this together, we live in the same country, we send our children to the same schools, drive on the same roads and so on. Furthermore, my mother-in-law and sister-in law are French, my spouse is French and my children are French. My pension will be a French pension (not a US one) and that would be true even if I returned to the US. This is why I pay taxes in France and I am very VERY happy to do so. Solidarity, in my view, is not about citizenship, it is about being part of a community. I am committed to the community in which I call home. That would be France.

I hope that answers your question.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Tim, Good luck in Washington!

Anonymous, Thank you for the comment. That is a very good question - how technology will change tax systems. I will look into it. There is a field called the sociology of taxation. Perhaps these folks have considered it. The big issue here I think is demographics. It's who leaves. In the case of France, it's mostly the young and educated - 43.&% are between 26 and 40 according to a 2013 French government survey

Combine that with a low birth rate and an ageing population that needs care and, oh yeah, there is a problem. And France isn't alone. Look at Japan, Germany and so on.

And for the young the BIG issue in France is unemployment. My daughters are abroad and my nephew is leaving France too because he is sick of internships and no permanent employment. If there had been jobs in France they would have stayed or returned after going to school abroad. My sense is that a far better way of dealing with this would be to 1. do something about youth unemployment in France and 2. give the French abroad some hope that if they return they will actually be able to find work or start a business. My .02.

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Anthony and all, To introduce some data into this debate, have a look at the 2013 survey of the French abroad my the French government. The report is here:

Anthony, While I have you, I have a question for you about your friends (or acquaintances) who are, in your view, abusing the French system. How are these people accessing French healthcare? When I left my last job in France my Carte Vitale was cut off since I wasn't working (I was in fact being treated for cancer at the time and they still cut me off). It was only reactivated when I declared myself as a dependent on my husband's account. My understanding is that you are only on the system if you have a job, are retired or on unemployment. That's what the secu told me. So how is your friend getting away with this? In fact, how can any expat who returns do this? If the person is retired I understand because any person gets full medical if they have contributed to the system at some point in their working life. But if you aren't retired or on unemployment your Carte Vitale will be inactive. So I am a bit confused here.... Could you clarify?

Victoria FERAUGE said...

And here is the link to the survey that I forgot to include in my last comment

Anthony Rey said...

Thank you for your answers. This will be my last message and the last time I will be on this blog. First, I really want to thank Inaka. It was pleasant to talk to you. Second, Tim is everything I am fighting for. People with no reasoning affirming stuff and insulting others to generate chaos and take advantage of weak and poorer people. Hopefully, this attitude will stop someday. Finally, even though you were debating to some extent, you are using dishonest ways of dealing with the issues I pointed out in your reasoning. For example, you started with “This is a topic I have been thinking about since 2012” meaning I have thought about it more than you, so you are wrong. Then, “I am an aspiring academic (just finished my MA) so, yes, I am always going to ask for data”. I am almost an academic, so I know better. And it keeps going like this: “I understand that this can irritate people who aren't”, which means that I am irritated because I cannot face you fact since I am not an academic. You know what, I am finishing my PhD – bad luck, right? If you do not believe it, you can check on Google. I did not use this as an argument, because it is not. I am sorry to tell you that, but using authority to say what is good or bad tells a lot about what kind of scientist you will be. I truly encourage you to read Richard Feyman’s books. It will maybe teach you something about how to think properly. Here is the cost/benefit analysis from Mélenchon (which is worth what it is worth): As an academic, you probably know how much faith you can put in data (especially in Statistics) – with uncertainty, etc. Happy to hear that you do not want your fellow citizens to pay for you. Do not worry, Mélenchon never said the opposite. You will pay your local taxes and then send your declaration to the French government. If you paid enough, you will not pay more in France. As I said to Inaka, it is one measure in a program (for a specific reason). You cannot compare it with the US. Sure, you can be happy to pay taxes in France, we have a wonderful system which will not last long with people who do not want to share. When I saw this blog calling people “Don’t let this one go unchallenged, especially at a time when populism seems to be on the rise in the home country”, again using a dishonest of way conveying your idea “populism”. It shows how much you think you are superior to people (with your MA). To be clear, I never said solidarity was about citizenship. Mélenchon and his team are sending such a message, but you probably did not listen. You are right, the BIG issue in France is unemployment due to the politic measures that have been taken so far. Mélenchon offers something new which he has thought (with other people, obviously) for years. Solidarity first (non-government organizations talking, but you will tell me that you know better):

Anthony Rey said...

You are saying that “do something about youth unemployment in France”, but you are discrediting the only hope we have today. About your data, first, they are from 2013… Not very recent! Let us assume we can trust them. If you read it before sending it, you would have known that French people abroad are more from the upper class (“le panel des Français expatriés ayant répondu à l’enquête indique un niveau de revenu salarial relativement élevé” 28% more than 60,000€) than the middle and lower classes – which you try to sell “lower and middle class migrants that are hit hardest”. I am sorry if you were not happy as a French teacher in Japan, but I can tell you that you have no idea what poverty is. I have worked since I was 14. I worked with people in a tire factory for some weeks as a temporary job. When you end your day with lumbar and wrist pain and your clothes that smell ammonia, you cannot be insensitive to people who will do that forever – except if you are heartless. You should definitely watch “Merci patron”. It is outrageous to hear people complaining about being a teacher abroad when some people (your fellow citizens) cannot afford to pay gas. It is not my view, it is his own words. Well, do not ask me how to take advantage of the system. You can do your own research. I am sorry to hear about your cancer, I hope you kicked the ass of this shit. I am sorry if I was harsh, but I cannot believe that people who are comfortable financially refuse to help others. It drives me crazy to hear the same people telling you that they love solidarity and stuff, but they are not doing anything for other people. It was a pleasure to meet you. Good luck with your endeavors!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

And the best of luck to you, Anthony, it's been a pleasure debating with you. I hope you do very well with your PhD. (You are in school in Canada? Both my daughters went there and perhaps they went to your school.) All the best, Victoria

Victoria FERAUGE said...

And for those who are interested, this French blogger from Asia offers up his opinion of the "impot universel". Good read. Good debate.