“Anita Manfredi got nine massages and 18 mud baths at a luxury spa in November,” Bloomberg news reported. Anita is French… so the French government paid most of the luxury spa’s bill.
Outrageous? It gets crazier…
Consider the case of French taxi driver Jonathan Guersoni…
Right now, “95 percent of his business comes from shuttling patients to and from the doctor in his Mercedes-Benz. He carries one customer three times a week for dialysis at a hospital 31 miles away.”[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]Who pays for him driving people around for “health” services?
The French government, of course.
Welcome to France’s government-run health care system…
But who is really paying for this crazy system?
Is it the French government?
Or French taxpayers?
France’s leaders are calling actor Gerard Depardieu “unpatriotic” and “pathetic” for considering leaving France, as I wrote last week. France wants to raise its highest income tax rate to 75% on the wealthy. Depardieu claims he already paid 85% in taxes last year.
This week, Depardieu actually followed through… He renounced his French citizenship, and he became a Russian citizen. Russia has a flat tax – a 13% income tax rate for all.
I don’t think it’s “pathetic” to leave an 85% income tax rate… The pathetic part to me is being escorted in a Mercedes to luxury spa treatments – and expecting your fellow working citizens to pay for it.
The major problem in France – and in the United States – is “entitlements” spending… It’s government spending on health care and pensions (Social Security).
The future promises are simply too big. Trimming the promises for the future is the fix. Raising income tax rates to 75% (as the French government wants to do) is not the fix. Changing the promises is.
You might think that this couldn’t happen in the U.S. – that we will never end up like France.
But it’s happening already…
The latest cover of The Economist magazine – one of the most respected magazines in our industry – has a picture of President Obama in a French beret holding a baguette. (It also has John Boehner in lederhosen.)
The headline is “America turns European.”
It is a story of how America thinks it could never turn out like Europe… but meanwhile, the U.S. is following Europe’s path to a tee.
The article notes that U.S. politicians share Europe’s “inability to get beyond patching up.” It continues…
The euro crisis deepened because Europe’s politicians serially failed to solve the single currency’s structural weaknesses, resorting instead to a succession of temporary fixes, usually negotiated well after midnight.
[The U.S.] needs to deal with the huge long-term gap between tax revenue and spending promises, particularly on health care, while not squeezing the economy too much in the short term.
But its politicians now show themselves similarly addicted to kicking the can down the road at the last minute.
Change is needed. The promises of government entitlements for future generations need to be scaled back. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road. Otherwise, we become France…
I don’t want to see that happen. What about you?