French Government Deploys Devilishly Clever Plan To Piss Off Everybody in the Country

François HollandeFrance’s economy has completely
stalled—actually, it’s
—as a result of the country’s burdensome taxes and
regulations. The French people are furious and
high taxes
, prompting bureaucrats to issue panicked predictions
of imminent revolt. And with a population scrambling to make a
living or seek a little pleasure in which to temporarily forget
their woes, lawmakers propose to criminalize prostitution and drive
the trade underground. It’s devilishly clever scheme, if only
because it’s hard to see any sane endgame to the political
leadership’s moves. Well…Maybe there isn’t one.

Deutsche Welle

France has repeatedly failed to meet EU deficit rules under
which fresh borrowing must not exceed three percent of GDP. This
year, it’s expected to log a four percent deficit – despite tax
hikes. As of 2015, public spending is to be cut in order to meet
the three percent deficit target. S&P, however, has severe
doubts about France being able to live up to its promise.

Growth, too, is sluggish, hampered by many companies’ weak
competitiveness, Uterwedde says. “Firms quite often produce rather
low-key products – a Renault Twingo, for example, instead of a
luxury car. With products like these, the cost pressures on markets
are enormous.” …

Unemployment in France stands at a record: just below 11
percent. Standard & Poor’s believes it will stay above 10
percent until 2016. “Youth joblessness is twice as high,” Frederic
Schaeffer said. “And that’s why most political measures are focused
on that.

Not surprisingly, Standard & Poor’s
downgraded France’s credit ratig a notch
, on fears that the
country is losing the ability to pay its bills.

As usual, the French government responds to its troubles
balancing the books by trying to milk the population just a little
bit more—a move against which
even the European Union warned
. The French, as a result, are
feeling a little…drained. And angry.

, “Hollande’s Socialist administration faces protests
over taxes and burdensome regulation not just from business
leaders, as you might expect, but also from farmers, shopkeepers,
teachers, truck drivers and soccer players.”

And they’re not small or localized protests. A
supposedly secret Ministry of the Interior report made its way to
La Figaro newspaper. The Irish Times
rounds it up for us English-speakers

The monthly reports are usually couched in careful, and
sanitised language, which makes the blatant warning to the interior
minister and president all the more alarming. “The legitimacy of
tax” is now widely questioned, it notes. “This mix of latent
discontent and resignation erupts through sudden bouts of anger,
almost spontaneous, and not within structured social

The publication of excerpts of the report yesterday coincides
with the rise of at least a dozen protest movements, many with
animal names including chicks, turkeys, bees, sheep, dodos and
storks. There are also red, green and orange bonnets, and “the
sacrificed”, who oppose a scheduled VAT increase next January

“Taxation has become the principal engine of opposition to the
government,” the report says. It speaks of the “painful” climate in
France, of “a feeling of deep despondency that prevents people
hoping for a better future”. This is fertile ground for “a possible
social explosion,” the prefects warn, quoting the slogan of an
artisans and building workers union: “Watch out; it’s going to

And this is the moment that the French government
proposes to impose penalties on johns, prompting anger from
prostitutes, organized through their union, STRASS, customers, and
celebrities who worry that the country’s famed sexual tolerance is
under assault.

Foreign Policy‘s Hanna Kozlowska
rounds up the breadth of anger
as ministers set out to
effectively blue-ball an entire nation.

The prostitutes have found many allies in their fight against
the legislation, which currently only has the support of 20 percent
of the country. The French entertainment industry has never shied
away from l’amour physique — after all, what is a French
film without some nudity? — and now they’ve come to the aid of sex
workers. On Saturday, 70 French celebrities, including the actress
Catherine Deneuve, who portrayed a prostitute in classic film
“Belle de Jour,” published a petition in which they argued the law
would only force the industry underground.

“Without supporting or promoting prostitution, we reject the
penalization of those who prostitute themselves and those who seek
their services,” the crème de la crème of the French entertainment
industry argued in the petition, whose signatories also included
the singers Charles Aznavour and Antoine and the director Claude

The French stars distanced themselves, however, from an earlier
petition that protested the same law and which sparked
outrage.  In a controversial October statement, “343
bastards,” who “regarding prostitution, (are) believers,
practitioners or agnostics” wrote that “everyone has the right to
freely sell their charms — and even to like doing so,” and that
they “do not want lawmakers to adopt rules governing our desires
and pleasures.”

Hollande and company’s machinations are brilliant, if by
“brilliant,” you mean welding down the regulator on a pressure
cooker and turning up the heat, just to see what happens.

from Hit & Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.