In France, Atlas is shrugging
Via The Telegraph, the predictable consequences of taxing the productively wealthy:
Asterix and Obelix have deserted Gaul. Or at least the two actors who played them in three blockbuster movies have. With Gérard “Obelix” Depardieu’s much-trumpeted exile to Belgium last week, following Christian “Asterix” Clavier’s move to London in October, France has lost her best-known fictional heroes, undefeated by Julius Caesar’s legions, but vanquished by François Hollande’s punitive new 75 per cent top marginal income tax rate, recently hiked capital gains tax, and reinforced wealth tax.
Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, the French people are supporting Depardieu:
When Jean-Marc Ayrault, France’s prime minister, contemptuously called him “a pathetic loser”, Depardieu shot back with an open letter published on Sunday. “I was born in 1948,” he wrote, “I started working aged 14, as a printer, as a warehouseman, then as an actor, and I’ve always paid my taxes.” Over 45 years, Depardieu said, he had paid 145 million euros in tax, and to this day employs 80 people. Last year he paid taxes amounting to 85 per cent of his income. “I am neither worthy of pity nor admirable, but I shall not be called ‘pathetic’,” he concluded, saying that he was sending back his French passport.
For a few hours, the government spin doctors thought the French, whose deep mistrust of money is rooted in a dual heritage of Catholicism and unreconstructed Marxism, would join in the public shaming. It did not happen. An online poll conducted by the popular Le Parisien tabloid showed almost 70 per cent supporting the country’s wayward son and poster boy for glorious political incorrectness.
This move by Depardieu is not limited to the extreme wealthy or the French. It’s happening in a number of American states, most prominently in California:
The Census Bureau reports that the most common state to state moves in 2011 were New York to Florida (59,288), California to Texas (58,992) and California to Arizona (49,635).
Notably, the Census Bureau data shows that job-related factors such as a new job or transfer were most commonly cited reason for moving among the top two income categories ($85,000 to $99,999 and $100,000 and above).
A comprehensive recent study of a two-decades long exodus from California conducted by the Manhattan Institute made the link between migration and the tax and jobs climate of California explicit, saying:
“The data … reveal the motives that drive individuals and businesses to leave California. One of these, of course, is work. States with low unemployment rates, such as Texas, are drawing people from California, whose rate is above the national average. Taxation also appears to be a factor, especially as it contributes to the business climate and, in turn, jobs. Most of the destination states favored by Californians have lower taxes. States that have gained the most at California’s expense are rated as having better business climates. The data suggest that many cost drivers–taxes, regulations, the high price of housing and commercial real estate, costly electricity, union power, and high labor costs–are prompting businesses to locate outside California, thus helping to drive the exodus.”
As Margaret Thatcher famously said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” This is especially true if the most productive citizens of a town, state, or nation take steps to reduce the amount of money you take from them.