By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Tue Feb 19, 2013, 04:04 PM EST
French actor Gerard Depardieu has learned how to go from a beloved symbol of a nation to enemy of the state in one easy step. All it takes is wanting to keep some meaningful portion of his income.
Depardieu is a quintessentially French figure. Appearing in more than 150 films, he has played Cyrano and Obelix. He is a Chevalier du Legion d'honneur. He eats and drinks - a lot. He rides a scooter. It would take a diagram to follow his romantic entanglements with models and actresses. It's all very French, except for the fact that he has earned too much money.
At least he has according to the accounting of the Gradgrind socialists who govern France. Elected earlier this year, President Francois Hollande has imposed a 75 percent marginal income tax on top earners. To this prospect, Depardieu said, "Non, merci." He announced his intention to move to a little village over the border in Belgium where the government imposes plenty of taxes but doesn't aim to impose a punishing tax rate on the wealthy as a matter of justice.
For his offense, Depardieu has been denounced from the commanding heights of the French state. The prime minister called him "pathetic." The budget minister sniffed that his move would be a boom to Belgian cinema. Hollande urged "ethical behavior" on the part of French taxpayers. They all agree that it's wrong of Depardieu not to stand still so that the government can drastically lighten his wallet.
The "temporary supertax" applies to incomes of more than 1 million euros (roughly $1.3 million). It is said to be no big deal since it hits only about 1,500 people and is set to last for only two years. But it comes on top of an already onerous tax burden and is shocking in its own right.
American actor Will Smith had a common-sensical reaction when he was in France to promote a movie and asked by an interviewer if he would be willing to pay higher taxes. Of course, he said. Then he was told of the top French rate.
"Seventy-five?" he gulped. "Yeah, that's different, that's different. Yeah, 75. Well, you know, God bless America."
The tax is less fiscal policy than confiscatory policy motivated by unabashed disdain for the wealthy. Hollande is on the record saying, "I don't like the rich."
One wonders what they have ever done to him. Hollande believes that the wealthy owe the state. He is like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren on steroids, in a political culture with a much higher tolerance for leftist class politics. For a perpetual creature of the state like the career-politician Hollande, the natural order of things is that he gets to live off the government and Depardieu gets to fund it. That's the definition of "fairness."
Depardieu's critics bash his patriotism. But why is it patriotic to accept financial chastisement by a government headed by someone who is avowedly driven by animus toward you as a member of a targeted class?
It's not as though Depardieu is a scofflaw. He claims that he has paid 145 million euros in taxes during the course of his career and paid an 85 percent rate in 2012. Maybe Hollande should go all the way in the tradition of his hero President Francois Mitterrand - the old school socialist who brought the French economy to its knees in the 1980s - and nationalize Gerard Depardieu.
The French constitutional court ruled against the supertax the other day on technical grounds. The government promises to make adjustments and forge ahead. It can shame Depardieu all it likes, but that won't stop the flow of other, less-famous tax exiles. Hollande doesn't like rich people, and he will duly rule a country with fewer of them. Gerard Depardieu wrote the prime minister to say he's leaving "because you believe that success, creation, talent - difference, in fact - must be punished."
He's right. May he - dare we say it? - prosper in his new home.
(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate
I am writing this letter to thank and to acknowledge the great and swift job that the Wayne Township Fire Department did, as well as the ambulance, in responding to a medical emergency in our household on May 15.
May 23, 2013
It is worth mentioning that more Americans were killed by the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11, than were killed by the recent terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.
I hate dog movies. In dog movies, the good, loyal, lovable dog always dies at the end and I end up sitting there in the dark with big tears streaming down my cheeks.
May 21, 2013
Mr. President, the buck stops with you.
President Truman set that standard, with these very words posted on a sign on his Oval Office desk.
But now, with over a thousand days left in this second Obama administration, we find a Nixonian stench emerging from the “W. House.”
Rarely has the White House briefing room so resembled the main ballroom at a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
I’ve not kept it a secret that I find people who dress their dogs in clothes to be, to put it nicely, somewhat more than just eccentric. And many friendly, helpful readers out there have not kept it a secret that they really wish I would not express my views about dogs dressed as humans.
May 17, 2013
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
The federal government recently announced new regulations for buying fast food.
It sounds like the plot from a dystopian libertarian novel. The word “patriot” and the phrase “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” triggered heightened scrutiny from the most intrusive agency in the federal government.
The action at the bird feeder has been spectacular lately: Cardinals, finches, songbirds in impressive variety crowding around all day long in search of sustenance. It is truly gratifying …
For my neighbor.
That’s what it’s like at his feeder.
May 14, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
Twitter is adding a new security tool to its website, making it harder for outsiders to gain access to accounts, a month after a false posting triggered a stock-market decline.
May 23, 2013
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