Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013



HAPPY NEW YEAR from your friends at the DUNER BLOG!  We're starting off 2013 with a great news item from Europe that you might have missed.  So let's get started!  One trend that will certainly continue in the New Year is anger towards the ultra-rich.  Often called the One Percent, the folks at the top of the financial pyramid are currently under a vicious attack.  Activists worldwide are demanding higher income taxes on their wealthiest citizens.  In socialist France, these taxes have become a reality.  On January First, the Super-Tax (now there's a scary term!) went into effect nationwide.  The tax calls for a 75% flat rate on every person's income that exceeds 1 million Euros. 

Naturally, the Super-Tax has enraged one of France's most famous (and richest) citizens, actor GERARD DEPARDIEU.  First of all, we here at the DUNER BLOG do believe movie stars are horribly overpaid.  For example, Ben Affleck gets $10 million a movie.  That's not right.  Sure, Depardieu is a gifted actor...but...does his body of work really justify his wealth at $200 million dollars?  While these are good questions indeed, we don't think The French Government should decide such matters. We also don't think any government should force a citizen to give more than half of his/her earnings to federal tax collectors.  To escape this injustice, Gerard Depardieu announced he was moving to Belgium where taxes are lower, around 55%.  He finally decided to leave Western Europe altogether and move to Russia, where taxes are very low...thus angering the entire nation of France.

And...as we all know...the Paris Papparzzi is really mean.  Last year...when Monsieur Depardieu's real estate agent put up his St. Germain de Pres mansion at a staggering $66 million dollars, tabloids called the actor a "Hollywood snob" and suggested he move to California.  Today, the press are having a field day covering Gerard's shenanigans.   The cartoonish actor appeared in Russia on Saturday, flanked by President Putin, proudly displaying his new Russian passport for reporters.  See, Russia has a flat 13% income tax rate for everyone.  But this isn't the reason for Depardieu's defection.  He claims it's his "admiration of Russian History and Artists."

You're asking yourself: Why does Putin care about a washed-up French actor? Well, Vladimir is horribly concerned about his image as a cool dude.  He hunts wild elk, has a black belt in judo and is often photographed without his shirt on.  When Putin heard about Depardieu's plight, he saw a great opportunity to show his cultural virality as well.  He dispatched aides to Paris and quickly arranged for the whole charade to unfold.  It culminated with the staged press conference on Sunday.  With the Caucaus Mountains in the background, the actor and the president exchanged handshakes and smiles.  As expected, it was the opening story on all state-run TV news channels across Russia.

While the story makes for witty blogs and great jokes, it isn't so funny back in Paris. In short, the French really hate the rich.  Everyone knows about their insane revolution when peasants rose up against Louis XVI and the rich.  Rather than imprision the wealthy, the Parisians devised grandoise execution machines.  Even today, extreme wealth is still frowned upon in France.  Current President FRANCOIS HOLLANDE declared; "I don't like the rich." on the campaign trail and got millions of votes.  To soothe nerves, most French are viewing the matter as another chapter in Depardieu's sad decline.  Recently, he was kicked off a flight in Ireland for peeing on an empty seat.  Last June, he was arrested for crashing a scooter in the Left Bank while drunk.  Sacre bleu!

Let's just hope Gerard spends the New Year making movies and staying out of the headlines!

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