Depardieu: Never mind Russia, it's France that's "almost Bolshevik"

Remember the saga of Gerard Depardieu, the wealthy and much-maligned French actor who had the nerve to seek residence (and, presumably, a lower tax burden) elsewhere? French Socialist politicians flipped their lids when the well-known actor headed for the exits, and even though he hasn’t completely renounced his French citizenship, the actor was pretty clear in a recent interview that nobody has succeeded in guilt-tripping him into backing down. Via The Independent:

In his first lengthy press interview since he announced six months ago that he was “sending back” his French passport, Mr Depardieu said he now saw himself as a “citizen of the world”. …

Last December the actor engaged in a public slanging match with the Socialist government in France after announcing that he intended to live in Belgium to avoid high French taxes. In his interview yesterday with the Journal du Dimanche, he denied that he was a “tax exile”. He said that he still paid 30 per cent of his income in French taxes – but not the 87 per cent that he claimed he would have to pay if he lived full-time in his native country. …

France, he said, was “almost a Bolshevik country”, in view of the “hidden scandals” such as that of the former Budget minister Jerome Cahuzac, who avoided taxes by having an illegal bank account abroad.

Well, I don’t know about this guy specifically — getting all buddy-buddy with Vladimir Putin does feel pretty sketchy — but the point is, more central-planning does tend to lead to more corruption and plutocracy, and that the Socialist French government is delusional if they think that wealthy individuals and businesses are going to wait around patiently for the government to serve them with still more decrees about how it’s their duty to pay a still larger majority of their income to sputtering, stalled-out mess that is the inefficient and extravagant bureaucracy. Neither economic pragmatism nor some misbegotten sense of patriotism are going to stop people from making choices in their own rational self-interest, no matter how much outrageous outrage Socialist politicians care to muster.

And speaking of merely that latest of Socialist French President Francois Hollande’s litany of political problems, the WSJ has the scoop:

The French government kicked off a fresh round of talks on Friday to overhaul the country’s state-backed pension fund, the fourth attempt in a decade to fix a generous but underfinanced system.

The effort will test the ability of the Socialist President François Hollande to push through painful measures. Although his predecessor, the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, increased the standard pension age to 62 from 60 in 2010, the government says it is imperative to consider new changes.

Without revision, the retirement of waves of baby boomers, combined with the increase in life expectancy, will leave the pension fund with a €20 billion ($27 billion) deficit in 2020—about 1% of the country’s gross domestic product.