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Adieu, Suckers

From–if you’ll forgive the expression–the Huffington Post:

PARIS — Gerard Depardieu, one of France’s best-known actors, has chastised his country’s Socialist prime minister for insulting remarks over his decision to move to tax-friendly Belgium and said in an open letter published Sunday that he’s turning in his passport….

Depardieu, who turns 64 this month, said he has worked since the age of 14, first as a printer, and that in last 45 years he has paid (EURO)145 million ($190 million) in taxes.

“I hand over my passport to you and my social security card, which I have never used,” the letter said, referring to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Last week, Ayrault called Depardieu “pathetic” and “unpatriotic” for the actor’s decision to move to Nechin, a Belgian village barely a mile (1.6 kilometers) across the border from Lille in northern France. Nechin has drawn other high-earning French residents.

The letter drew quick reaction but little sympathy.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti said she was “scandalized” by Depardieu’s decision to turn in his passport. “French citizenship, it’s an honor,” she said on BFM-TV. “It is rights and duties, too, among them to be able to pay taxes.”

President Francois Hollande plans to levy a 75 percent tax on revenue over (EURO)1 million to reduce France’s budget deficit and debt, and Filippetti said, “Gerard Depardieu is deserting the battle in the war against the crisis.”

For all his adult life, Depardieu has been forking over a huge share of his earnings to sustain the French welfare state–an amount that now totals almost two hundred million dollars.  What have Hollande, Ayrault, and Filipetti paid in taxes?  Is anyone in France even asking that question?  Is there a single French newspaper or television channel that has raised the point?  Is there no French version of Fox News or the New York Post?

Well, if French politicians wish to engage in an effusion of ingratitude, let me offer a couple of counterbalancing words of gratitude:  

As American governments in locations from Washington to Sacramento to Springfield to Albany grow ever more openly and crassly rapacious, I am grateful to France–yes, grateful.  Le beau pays has now proven that tax rates matter–and that even the very rich can finally have had enough.

I am also grateful to the likes of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post.  Even now, they provide something that as far as I can tell has vanished from French journalism altogether:  the willingness to talk back.

As for M. Depardieu, the next time a reporter asks why he left France for Belgium, he might simply quote Noel Coward’s remark when the great playwright and actor left the United Kingdom for Switzerland:

“My boy, I’ve grown devoted to chocolates.”

  1. Douglas
    Give Me Liberty

    Peter Robinson

    As for M. Depardieu, the next time a reporter asks why he left France for Belgium, he might simply quote Noel Coward’s remark when the great playwright and actor left the United Kingdom for Switzerland:

    “My boy, I’ve grown devoted to chocolates.” · · 1 hour ago

    Or he could paraphrase Reagan about his leaving the Democrat party — I did not leave France, she left me. · 8 hours ago

    Except that socialist envy IS France.

  2. Douglas
    Simon Roberts: As a kid I thought that George Harrison was exaggerating when he wrote:

    Let me tell you how it will be There’s one for you, nineteen for me Should five per cent appear too small Be thankful I don’t take it all

    ( Beatles “Taxman”)

    I was shocked when I found out that the UK at that time had a 95% tax rate for high earners. · 8 hours ago

    One thing that always burned me is the Brit rock stars that lectured Americans for not being liberal enough, but then ran away to other countries because British taxes were too high.

  3. Edward Smith

    And we can expect the same.

  4. Adrastus

    A philosophical question, based on an assumption that may be incorrect.

    The assumption: many conservatives who think Depardieu has every right to leave France over high tax rates would be scandalized by someone leaving his country to avoid being drafted in time of war.

    The question: What’s the difference?  Why is it wrong to renounce one’s citizenship to save one’s life but not to save one’s money?

  5. raycon and lindacon

    Ingratitude is a French characteristic.  But not a characteristic of every Frenchman.  Depardieu is merely one more individual Frenchman who is the recipient of French ingratitude.

    Americans know the feeling.

  6. Rob in N.CA

    Jinkies, 200 million in taxes? why didn’t he leave sooner would be my question to him..  (of course I wish I had that problem to deal with…. sigh)

  7. Give Me Liberty
    Peter Robinson

    As for M. Depardieu, the next time a reporter asks why he left France for Belgium, he might simply quote Noel Coward’s remark when the great playwright and actor left the United Kingdom for Switzerland:

    “My boy, I’ve grown devoted to chocolates.” · · 1 hour ago

    Or he could paraphrase Reagan about his leaving the Democrat party — I did not leave France, she left me.

  8. Indaba

    The questions journalists ask and the questions that they shoukd ask…

  9. Limestone Cowboy

     

    Peter Robinson

    Last week, Ayrault called Depardieu “pathetic” and “unpatriotic” for the actor’s decision to move to Nechin, a Belgian village barely a mile (1.6 kilometers) across the border from Lille in northern France. Nechin has drawn other high-earning French residents.

    Nechin? Is  that French for Galt’s Gulch?

  10. Simon Roberts

    As a kid I thought that George Harrison was exaggerating when he wrote:

    Let me tell you how it will be There’s one for you, nineteen for me Should five per cent appear too small Be thankful I don’t take it all

    ( Beatles “Taxman”)

    I was shocked when I found out that the UK at that time had a 95% tax rate for high earners.

  11. Scott R

    Isn’t Ricochet sort of a French word? See if this guy wants to invest.

  12. Peter Robinson
    C
    Scott Reusser: Isn’t Ricochet sort of a French word? See if this guy wants to invest. · 17 minutes ago

    Quelle bonne idée!

  13. Sisyphus
    Scott Reusser: Isn’t Ricochet sort of a French word? See if this guy wants to invest. · 10 minutes ago

    Then we could launch a French language variant to bring liberty Ricochet style to the French speaking world!

  14. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    $200 million is a lot to pay for the honor of being a Frenchman.

  15. Layla

    Hmmm:

    Liberté, Ricochet, fraternité!

    Yep–much better than the original. ;)

  16. Jamie Irons

    Peter,

    I think you intended “le beau pays”…

    By the way, in my view Depardieu, together with Pierre Richard (if I remember correctly), acted in one of the funniest comedies ever, playing a tough newspaper reporter in “Les Comperes”…

    JamieIrons

    Jamie Irons

  17. Peter Robinson
    C
    Jamie Irons: Peter,

    I think you intended “le beau pays”…Jamie Irons · 18 minutes ago

    Just made the correction.  Milles mercis.

  18. Jim Chase

    Gerard aside, I do wish this post wasn’t juxtapositioned quite so closely to the pinned End of Ricochet? post.  Subliminal messages and all. ;-)

  19. Johnny Dubya

    “French citizenship, it’s an honor… It is rights and duties, too, among them to be able to pay taxes.”

    “Gerard Depardieu is deserting the battle in the war against the crisis.”

    The cluelessness of these statements is, in a word, breathtaking.

    Insensitive men used to say about rape victims that they shouldn’t fight back, they should just “lie back and enjoy it”.  Depardieu clearly wasn’t enjoying it.

  20. Sisyphus
    Adrastus: A philosophical question, based on an assumption that may be incorrect.

    The assumption: many conservatives who think Depardieu has every right to leave France over high tax rates would be scandalized by someone leaving his country to avoid being drafted in time of war.

    The question: What’s the difference?  Why is it wrong to renounce one’s citizenship to save one’s life but not to save one’s money? · 4 hours ago

    Sorry, most conservatives I know oppose the draft. Heinlein’s comments deprecating slave armies being representative.

    For my part, in the Vietnam period and after, I was glad they were gone and disappointed when they were invited back. I found no Canadians with a nice word to say about them, either, so the invitation back was pretty unavoidable. The draft dodgers I knew were no credit to either nation.