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The Second French Revolution and what it means here
Ted Howze
Ted Howze is a candidate in the race to represent California's 10th Congressional District. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER/The Journal

Unapologetic Democratic socialists like Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez want us believe that big government, funded by extremely high taxes, can magically create fair and just societies with little if any poverty, widespread prosperity and happily content population like northern Europe enjoys. That’s what they believe.

I suggest that Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and their merry band of radical socialists take the next available flight to Charles de Gaulle International Airport and explain this to the French people currently burning down Paris.

While far-left politicians like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are trying to push the United States ever leftward and into being more like France, French citizens don’t seem to agree that their society is so wonderful and recent rioting seems to make the point.

Set in motion by a wildly unpopular fuel tax and domestic financial problems plaguing France, Paris recently saw some of the worst rioting since the French Revolution. The rioting continues growing by the day and 90,000 riot gear police officers were on duty with United Nations armored vehicles deployed in Paris as a precautionary measure. So bad is the situation that the Eiffel Tower, which serves as a magnet for tourists from around the world, had to be closed.

Rioting has forced unpopular French President Emmanuel Macron to go into hiding and cancel the devastating fuel tax increase that was supposed to help combat global warming by getting the French people to drive less. Clearly, government officials vastly underestimated the French people’s disgust with already strangulating high taxes. 

The personal income tax rate in France is 45 percent and is coupled with a national value-added tax of 20 percent. On top of that, there are a multitude of additional taxes on traditional items such as payroll and property. 

This is another reminder that insatiable governments can’t support themselves solely with the progressive income taxes that socialists favor. The rich aren’t rich enough to fund the modern welfare state’s ambitions, and wealth is too mobile in the modern age to pin down in high-tax jurisdictions. The real money is in the middle class whose labor income and goods consumption are far easier to tax, especially if the tax is disguised as a utopian necessity.

It’s no coincidence that Democrats in the U.S. similarly view “climate change” mandates as a way to force higher energy taxes on the American people. If they ever accomplish nationwide what’s happened in California – where environmental mandates on gasoline currently almost double the per gallon price compared to the national average – it will be greeted by screams of protest from the American public. Likely even rioting on this side of the big pond because fossil fuel energy is currently the modern currency of human civilization.

While rioters in France have been successful in getting the French fuel tax hike cancelled, the emboldened protesters have since expanded their efforts to demand a lot of other things including bigger tax cuts, a minimum pension, a lower retirement age and additional generous social benefits. In other words, French protesters seem to be saying the welfare state is fine. In fact, they want government to hand out even more costly benefits as long as they have lower taxes at the same time. Along the way somebody might want to mandate more basic math and maybe some economics classes in French schools!

Unfortunately, the French have no choice but to demand more and more government benefits. By the time they’re done paying their enormous tax burdens, they don’t have enough money left to take care of their current family expenses little own save for the future. It seems modern socialist government has become an “ideological monarchy” every bit as despised as the French kings that inspired the French Revolution with its concept of “Liberty from selfish nobility and churches.”

Big government is like any other monarchy in so much as it exists only to serve itself, acts to ensure its own continued existence and views citizens as a source of its spoils for elected officials to hand out from a throne of power. Using “climate change” as an excuse, the now-abandoned French fuel tax hike was designed to strengthen French government’s control over people’s daily lives by forcing force the French out of their cars and into public transportation.

The French people have always embodied the spirit of revolt so it’s not surprising that taking away more of their economic and personal freedoms were the final straw. I don’t usually hand out advice to Democrats, but in light of current world events it seems necessary. So to my leftist friends, running on a high-tax Democratic-socialist platform in 2020 may just bring out the revolutionary pride of another famously spirited and independent people who once sent their own king packing. America’s next revolution won’t begin with tea in Boston Harbor – it will start at the ballot box with a furious backlash never before seen in American politics.

Ted Howze is a Turlock veterinarian who ran for Congress earlier this year.