Thursday, December 6, 2018

Branko Milanovic — First reflections on the French ““événements de décembre”

This raises a more general issue which I discussed in my polemic with Jason Hickel and Kate Raworth. Proponents of degrowth and those who argue that we need to do something dramatic regarding climate change are singularly coy and shy when it comes to pointing out who is going to bear the costs of these changes. As I mentioned in this discussion with Jason and Kate, if they were serious they should go out and tell Western audiences that their real incomes should be cut in half and also explain them how that should be accomplished. Degrowers obviously know that such a plan is a political suicide, so they prefer to keep things vague and to cover up the issues under a “false communitarian” discourse that we are all affected and that somehow the economy will thrive if we all just took full conscience of the problem--without ever telling us what specific taxes they would like to raise or how they plan to reduce people’s incomes.

Now the French revolt brings this issue into the open. Many western middle classes, buffeted already by the winds of globalization, seem unwilling to pay a climate change tax. The degrowers should, I hope, now come up with concrete plans....
Global Inequality
First reflections on the French ““événements de décembre”
Branko Milanovic | Visiting Presidential Professor at City University of New York Graduate Center and senior scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS), and formerly lead economist in the World Bank's research department and senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Konrad said...

“Now the French revolt brings this issue into the open. Many western middle classes, buffeted already by the winds of globalization, seem unwilling to pay a climate change tax.”

Branko Milanovic, stop believing Macron’s lies. Macron’s ever-rising fuel taxes are NOT “CLIMATE TAXES,” since the tax revenue is not used for anything connected with climate.

Here’s the deal, Branko…

Since France has a trade deficit, and since the French government cannot create euros out of thin air, the only euros coming into France are euros lent by bankers. This causes ever-increasing debt and austerity.

Until now, France has not seemed as bad as Greece, because the GDP of France is almost 13 times larger than the GDP of Greece. Now the misery of French workers is finally catching up to the misery of Greek workers.

Macron is determined to keep the euro, because Macron is determined to keep France subservient to the Troika. This means that Macron is determined to keep paying the bankers who lend euros to France. To keep paying the bankers, Macron must keep increasing taxes on French workers. Since French workers are already struggling, Macron cannot get away with imposing ever-higher income taxes on workers. (Macron does, however, continually cut pensions, and cut public spending on schools, hospitals, infrastructure, etc). Therefore, in order to keep paying the bankers, Macron keeps raising taxes on fuel, while camouflaging this as a “climate change tax.”

Since the fuel tax has nothing to do with climate change, the fuel tax is not about promoting “degrowth.” It is about paying the banker-creditors forever.

On a different note, the cure for climate change is not “degrowth,” but altered growth. We need green economies based on renewables, and on limitless sources of energy like the sun.

“Macron rose on an essentially anti-mainstream platform, his heterogenous party having been created barely before the elections.”

No. Macron was a four-foot-tall neoliberal investment banker who the oligarchs and the corporate media outlets chose to install as midget-President. In the run-up to the elections, the media outlets constantly attacked Macron’s populist competitor on the left (Jean-Luc Mélenchon) as a raving Communist, and attacked his populist competitor on the right (Marine Le Pen) as a raving Nazi.

These nonstop media attacks, plus some standard election-rigging, allowed the oligarchs to install their evil midget, Macron.

It’s very simple, Branko, if you stop believing neoliberal lies.

Konrad said...

In order to support the euro currency, the French government has increased the tax burden on ordinary French people by 25 billion euros each and every year between 2002 and 2017.

The tax revenues are forwarded to the bankers who lend to France.

French workers are now so incredibly taxed that the only way Macron could suck more blood out of them was to start imposing more and more fuel taxes on them.

When workers complain, Macron says their pain is necessary for a "greener world." But none of his neoliberal attacks have anything to do with climate change or "green policies." France already has the lowest level of carbon dioxide emissions per capita in Europe, because France relies on hydro plants and 58 nuclear reactors for 90% of its electricity.

French workers have been forced out of cities by runaway housing prices, and forced out of rural areas by ever-increasing fuel taxes. All to support the euro, the Troika, and the bankers.

And still Macron defends his attacks as "green policies." This is why the protests continue.

Konrad said...

In order to keep the euro, the French government must keep paying the bankers.

In order to keep paying the bankers, the French government must keep imposing more and more taxes and austerity on the French masses.

This means a drastic reduction of federal support for rural towns. Money that used to help rural people now goes to the greedy bankers.

Rural people are so starved and anguished that they are venting their hostility on local mayors. Whenever there is any problem, the answer is “Call the mayor.” No water or electricity? Call the mayor. But the mayor is helpless.

As a result, 200 French mayors quit their posts in 2017, and nearly 300 have quit in 2018. This has never happened before.

The corporate media outlets condemn French workers as whiners. They say that French workers are throwing tantrums because workers want to keep a lifestyle that is no longer sustainable.

The truth is that the euro obliges France to keep throwing money at the bankers.

Corporate media outlets are also echoing Macron’s lie that the ever-worsening taxes and austerity are all about “climate change.”