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On Gerard Depardieu getting Russian citizenship to avoid paying taxes in France
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Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourself for a treat. Pascal, me, the guy who does not usually pledge allegiance to any country and is overall allergic to patriotism, is going to show (this is a rare event), that actually deep inside him, he cares about his country (of origin), or more exactly that he cares about doing the right thing when it's time to do the right thing...


So, you must have heard that Gerard Depardieu [wikipedia], a French actor who needs no introduction, was thinking leaving France over the (new) French president proposal to increase high earners taxes to insanely high levels, and that Russian president Putin just offered him Russian citizenship, that Depardieu accepted.

The following came up during a private email exchange with my brother in arms :-) The text comes totally unedited, so forgive the contextual reference breaks. My answer should be totally understandable anyway...


F: My moral issue with Depardieu is deeper than the question of the tax subsidies which made his movies directly possible. More fundamentally, you can only sell a product if all the Maslow pyramid layers under it are secured. French people spend money on movies because they don't fear about food, shelter, education etc., all things secured through taxes.

Pascal: I understand your (underlying) point, and I like to believe that I agree with it. I also like to believe that had I been rich (enough) in France right now, the proposed taxes would not have been a reason for me to want to leave, despite how painful this may feel (to the bank account), but I also know that one feeling (as I do) more like a world citizen than real French (if there is such thing as "real French"), that pragmaticity or just plain built-in greed (which I do not exclude myself being subject to), might make me think otherwise and flee.

This said, it is also obvious to me, and this is where I feel that Torreton should have hit way, way, harder, that I had been Depardieu himself (not merely rich), that I would feel (and be bounded by) an overwhelming duty to stay in France and pay those taxes. Depardieu's departure, is not merely the expression of one's self determination and one's right to do whatever they want. It's a betray. Because Depardieu is (whether he likes it or not) a part of France, in addition, adding insult to the injury, of having got his fortune not through some personal technological insight resulting in a commercial product, but instead (as pointed out) exploiting the facilities generously offered to him by the country. The fact that he seems to ignore that (or at least decided to behave as such), is insulting to me way more than a mere tax accounting problem.

Of course, my feelings assume that somehow the proposed taxes are the right thing to do for the country. If it turns out that the problems that are supposed to be addressed by those tax increases should be addressed differently, and that the French president is just having a laugh just for the sake of it, I will be the first one to bring the guillotine along and provide justice, on behalf of Capitalism.

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