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As Long as We Remember...

December 3, 2018

Paris Is Burning

Jason Miller

Last Saturday an angry mob of protesters from the countryside invaded the urban centers of France to protest fuel tax increases. Those taxes have hurt the rural areas of France on a large scale.


The fuel tax increase was adopted as part of an effort to thwart climate change in France. Since the increase tax was adopted, the anger and vitriol against it has reached heated levels. On Saturday protests reached critical mass.


French politicians were taken completely off guard by the mass hysteria on display in Paris. The rural French protestors reacted with violence when police attempted to disperse them. The French far right and the French far left have united in the cause of toppling the current French government under President Emmanuel Macron.


The reason for the French government's surprise at the protests stems from the fact that many political figures who approved of such environmental measures live in French cities where public transportation is readily available and that caused for little consideration in the ultimate inconvenience that face automobile-dependent French citizens.


In the rural lands of France, people still need cars to get around. The costs of food, and almost everything else, went up in these rural areas as the fuel tax was passed onto French consumers by the distributors, grocery stores and other local stores.


This targeted price increase made many rural French citizens see red as they donned yellow vests and facemasks bent on being recognized as equals in French society. The yellow clad resisters named themselves the "great unwashed" as they headed to the cities to air their grievances with the elites, who cared more about climate change than the plight of their rural countrymen.


French taxes make up 60% of the total price of fuel in the country. The fuel tax was initiated as part of a French effort to fund greener technology through state funded projects. French environmentalists have been championing such efforts since the late 1990's. In addition to the fuel tax increase. the French government instituted an increase in its carbon tax. The greens thought they had won a major French victory in the tax increases.


The French government expects it to bring in around €7.8 billion (Euros) ($8.7 billion U.S.) in 2019 from the fuel tax alone. The French carbon tax is not exclusive for green projects and goes directly into the general fund. Sound familiar?


The French later government explained that it was only increasing the carbon tax so the country could keep its commitments toward fighting climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The tax must be maintained according to the French president, who spoke from Argentina while attending the G20 economic summit.


France's position is still the same in spite of the protests. “Economic theory shows that if we increase the carbon tax, then CO2 levels will go down.”


That’s when the violence started and when one yellow vest clad protestor declared that another French Revolution was about to start. After the hard line stand on the tax, smoke filled the picturesque skyline as Paris began to burn.


The French government is mulling over a state of emergency as more protesters arrive and Macron's government hovers at a 20% approval rating.


Perhaps they're hearing the songs of angry citizens who have finally had enough.


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