Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Golden Quotebook (4): Tuchman on Taxes

There will be presidential elections in France next April, and the various candidates are fine-tuning their positions so as to rake in as many votes as possible. Sitting president Sarkozy has just announced that there will be no French referendum on the European Austerity Plan; this is so popular with the citizenry that he prefers them to express their approval by returning him to office. Meanwhile, under the time-honoured slogan From Where’s The Beef?, Ms Marine Le Pen has initiated a campaign against halal meat being sold unlabelled in Paris supermarkets; indeed a somewhat dubious practice, but one wonders if France has no greater problems to address at present. Finally, François Hollande, the Socialist candidate, has dipped his hand into the dusty carton of Mitterrand heirlooms, and announced that as soon as he’s in office, the tax rate on the rich will go up to 75 %. The population of Monaco has doubled over the weekend. Since M. Hollande is set to win, I thought it would be nice to give him a tip how next to proceed in his quest to tax France into prosperity, with this hilarious quote from chapter 14 of ‘Stillwell and the American Experience in China’, by the inimitable Barbara Tuchman:

Lung Yun's resources for raising money were infinite. In one case he ordered that all two-wheeled carts, the common vehicle of the area, must be equipped with rubber tires. He then opened his warehouses to sell the tires he had confiscated during the days of traffic on the Burma Road. After that, he passed a new law taxing all carts with rubber tires.

Oh, and incidentally Ireland IS to hold a referendum on the subject. Reportedly, the question put to the voters will run: ‘If we grant you another 10 billion Euros next month, do you then approve of the EU Austerity Plan?’ And the answers from which to chose are: ‘Yes’ and ‘I wish to vote again in December’.

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