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The Real Significance of the French Tax Revolt

The Real Significance of the French Tax Revolt

The gilets jaunes (Yellow Jacket) anti-tax riots in France escalated over the past weekend, again citing the impact of higher taxes on fossil fuels –and high levels of taxation in general – on everyday life. French citizens, already subject to the highest taxes in the OECD, are being crushed by both new and systematically increasing taxes, and have taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands in a “citizen’s revolution”. Recommendations to declare a state of emergency have for the time being been tabled.

With no sense of irony whatsoever, in a press conference on Saturday French President Emmanuel Macron stated: “I will never accept violence.”

Yet violence is the core component of his chosen vocation as a statesman.

Taxation poses as an equitable transaction – goods and services provided by a government in return for a fee (more galling and Orwellian, a “contribution”) from the taxpayer – but the nature of the interaction is obvious to all but the indifferent or determinedly thoughtless. It is not voluntary and does not follow from reason; neither will even the most indefatigable defenders of state appropriation, given the choice (and confidentiality), miss an opportunity to skirt the taxman and retain their property.

The force of violent compulsion is the quintessence of taxation and tax policy, thinly ensconced behind a thin veil of platitudes regarding social goods and general welfare. In Paris, an oft-repeated phrase among the protesters is that they’re “fed up.” Ambulance drivers have joined the protests, as have both teachers and students in at least 100 schools across France.

Levying taxes on individuals to combat climate change – or for the accomplishment of any social betterment project – is unfailingly undertaken in the name of the sanctity of life.

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