Billionaires To French Government: More Taxes, Please!

Following a similar proposal last week by American billionaire Warren Buffett, 16 of France’s wealthiest people sign a joint public statement calling on higher taxes for the super-rich to respond the the economic crisis.

Maurice Lévy, CEO of Publicis
Maurice Lévy, CEO of Publicis


PARIS - In a joint communiqué published Tuesday, 16 of France's wealthiest people – among them L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt and Publicis communication group chief Maurice Lévy – declare themselves ready to pay more taxes to help the country in this time of crisis.

"We, company presidents or CEOs, businessmen or businesswomen, professional financiers or very wealthy citizens, welcome the creation of an ‘exceptional financial contribution" that would be paid by the wealthiest French taxpayers. This contribution would be of a reasonable amount of money, so as to avoid unwanted economic effects such as capital flight or an increase in tax evasion," the statement reads on the website of Le Nouvel Observateur weekly.

"We are well aware that we fully benefited from a French tax system and a European environment we feel attached to, and one we want to preserve," the signees go on to say. "This financial contribution is not a solution in itself: it has to be a part of a more general reform effort focused on both spending and tax revenue."

The joint statement was the brainchild of the magazine itself, Le Nouvel Observateur's editor, Laurent Joffrin, explains in an accompanying article. The eventual signers of the communiqué were approached individually to see if they would be willing to pay extra taxes. Joffrin was inspired by a recent opinion piece Lévy, who is also president of the Afep (the French Association of private companies), wrote for the French daily Le Monde. In his article, Lévy said wealthy people like himself should contribute to help the country financially.

"After what Maurice Lévy said, it was tempting to ask other CEOs and very wealthy French people if they would want to pay a new tax, temporary or not," Joffrin explains in his editorial.

Last week, U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett made a similar "offer" when he called on Congress to require higher income taxes for people whose annual income exceeds $1 million. He wrote in The New York Times that "while the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks."

This week's French equivalent strikes as similar chord. "We feel it's our duty to bring a financial contribution to our country at a time when the public spending deficit and the prospect of seeing the country's debt increase even more threaten the future of France and Europe," the statement reads. "The government is asking everyone to show solidarity and want to do just that."

Read the original story in French

Photo - World Economic Forum

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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