Memo To Congress: French Riots Show Why U.S. Carbon Tax Should Be A Non-Starter

  • Date: 04/12/18
  • Editorial, Investors Business Daily

The U.S. shouldn’t travel down France’s road. Americans aren’t stupid. They won’t accept a massive new tax to prevent a threat they don’t really believe in.

They call themselves the “Gilets Jaunes,” or yellow vests, in French. They’re mostly young, male and extremely angry, and they’ve been marching in the streets and rioting in Paris and elsewhere, protesting yet another bunch of taxes on gasoline in the government’s never-ending battle against global warming. Who says no one cares about climate change?

If you think of the French as people who will suffer any indignity in the name of more government, think again. Many young French, watching their standards of living decline under a president’s high taxes, are fed up. This latest round of taxes on already outrageous fuel prices was the proverbial straw breaking a dromedary’s back.

“A protest against rising taxes and the high cost of living turned into a riot in the French capital, as activists wearing yellow jackets torched cars, smashed windows, looted stores and tagged the Arc de Triomphe with multi-colored graffiti,” the AP reported of Saturday’s riots.

Some 263 people were injured, including dozens of police, and the government made hundreds of arrests, after an estimated 36,000 people took to the streets on Saturday. Even unions are upset, seeing possible damage to the economy from the demonstrations.

With a growing awareness it was losing the battle for public opinion, the French government on Tuesday folded, announcing it would “temporarily” suspend its carbon-tax plan, set to go into effect in January.

“No tax is worth putting in danger the unity of the nations,” said French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, announcing the suspension.

French Riots: A Tax Revolt

That’s quite a u-turn for the prideful French socialist government. But then, the whole experience of President Emannuel Macron finding out that not everything he believes is shared by average citizens has been humbling.

Macron no doubt was surprised when he was booed when he showed up at the demonstrations. His spokesman issued a thinly veiled threat that “all options” are on the table to stop the French riots. Turns out, “all options” included giving in to the demonstrators’ main demand.

French Prime Minister Philippe even canceled his trip to a global warming conference in Poland. That’s something, given that France’s leaders constantly claim global warming is humankind’s most serious threat. Apparently, French riots rank higher.

No, we’re not happy people rioted. But governments must learn they can’t just jam things down people’s throats, and expect them to like it. No one asked Macron to raise energy taxes. Macron and his government did it because, to them, globalism is more important than satisfying the demands of their own citizens. It’s that simple.

Today, among all OECD nations, France has the second-highest rates of taxation. Only Denmark ranks higher. So people are fed up.

Nor is it just a “French thing.” Macron is among a growing number of European leftist leaders who want to foist the anti-climate change agenda on their citizens as part of this new globalism. But this isn’t kumbaya, feel-good globalism; it’s one that will feature few if any individual rights, lots of taxes, shrinking standards of living, no real freedom, and little joy. […]

Climate Change, Climate Yawn

Our just-released IBD/TIPP Poll shows what Americans think about all this. Just 17% ranked climate change as No. 1 or No. 2 on their list of priorities for the new Congress. Even so, some in Congress seek literally trillions of dollars in new taxes that will distort energy markets and hand rebates to those who don’t even pay the taxes.

If no one likes the idea, why would Congress push it so hard? It’s called “redistribution,” and it’s yet another socialist idea that will make people miserable. Ask France.

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