Monday, May 24, 2010

Solidarity with the aged scam

Marc explains the news from France. The story HERE.

A French economically wasteful, socially destructive, punitive tax turns out to be a scam? Who'd have thunk it?

Created during the guilt trip the UMP laid on the French after public authorities failed to react during the 2003 heatwave that took the lives of 15,000 elderly people, the Day of Solidarity was supposed to fund a "fifth branch" of welfare, specifically for the dependent, mainly the aged.

The principle was a bit odd. The French were made to feel guilty for having paid public holidays (not all do, in fact... there's only one day that legally must be a paid day off each year, ie Labor Day on May 1) and told they were lazy and needed to work more. So Pentecost Monday was eliminated as a public holiday, and workers were made to work that day for free. In exchange for this free labor, employers were taxed the value of that labor. So basically, to pay for care for the elderly, the government imposed a special payroll tax... just the thing to boost employment figures.

Eliminating the holiday was unpopular and unworkable. As an example of the mess it created, schools were open, but food service workers employed by outside firms might still have the day off. Local festivals, like the Feria in Nimes, we badly damaged by losing the traditional long weekend. Eventually many firms found a way around the measure, for example by telling workers that they were officially working a few minutes more each day. Many big firms simply paid the tax and kept the day as a holiday. Other firms took advantage of the allotment of paid days off negotiated in the context of the "35-hour" week to keep Pentecost Monday as a paid holiday for their staff.

As if this BS weren't bad enough, it turns out that the money raised by the tax has not all been going to the elderly. Just as was the case of an earlier tax for the elderly, the annual car license fee, which soon became just another source of tax revenue, the billions of euros raised by the Day of Solidarity tax are too tempting to resist using to plug a deficit here and there.

Yes, French people, you once again got screwed. And of course, you'll do nothing about it.

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