Saturday, April 23, 2011

Join the Cause

As a tax-payer, I take an interest in where my hard-earned contributions are spent, not that I thought I could do much about it as I can't vote despite being a member of the Happy Family of EU.

Recently, then, I was grateful to receive a letter from Alain Mathieu, President of Contribuables Associés. They are an organisation working tirelessly against fiscal oppression, and in favour of taxpayer lobbying. M Mathieu is no jumped up little union jobsworth with ideas above his station, either. He studied at the Ecole Polytechnique (one of the Grands Ecoles) and l´Institut d´études politiques de Paris and l´École nationale de la statistique. He's been in government offices of finance and at the head of large companies getting, for example, Conforama out of the doldrums.

His association aims to combat the obvious evidence that politicians don't listen to taxpayers. To make the voice of the taxpayer heard better, because there are none so deaf as those who don't wish to hear, the association was formed in 1990 to band together lots of taxpayers to make a BIG taxpayer group who could make LOTS of NOISE.

The letter I got was about the number of elected public servants. You'd be amazed at the number, too. There are 618,384 of them, that's one for every 104 inhabitants (legal), which is the world record. Well done France! We must be incredibly well looked after then, surely?

Did you know that there are 6 layers of administration - communes, community of communes or agglomerations, départements, regions, State, EU - and at every layer France has more members than anyone else. Before 2004 there were 321 senators, now there are 343 compared with US where there is only 100 for 50 states. How do they manage?!

Each member of parliament gets a gross salary of €7100/month - not bad - but that's not all because they get a packet of other advantages too. In addition, they receive a envelope of €6100 to do with as they please, no questions asked. For every euro they pay towards their pension, six are counted and fifteen years of payments is considered the equivalent of 30 years. Magic! They get other envelopes too and other paid expenses to the total of €2.5million EACH DAY.

How about that? And the French wonder why there is such a huge fiscal deficit. Not only has the budget of the Assemblée Nationale increased by 50% in 10 years, but much of its power has been transferred to the EU so it has less to do.

At a local level, anyone who lives in a small commune knows about the sort of dodgy stuff that goes on - back-scratching, cronyism, nepotism and so on. Very few élus make do with one mandate, either. One mandate equals one indemnity so some élus aim to accumulate indemnities and thus increase their remuneration. The Conseil General presidents are even able to vote their own remuneration, within certain limits which are, sans doute, stretched as far as they'll go...

The letter goes on, but by this time I'm feeling a bit queasy with it all, so I'll go directly to solving the problem. The association is making three demands:
1. reducing the number of elected officials starting with removing a third of deputies and senators.
2. suppressing the accumulation of remuneration when obtaining numerous mandates (that should cool some ardours).
3. making sanctions more severe when an élu abuses his position (abus des biens sociaux, corruption, etc.) and an ineligibility for life for further public life.

By such measures, the association reckons, would France save millions of euros. M Mathieu is asking for taxpayers to sign petitions and send letters to UMP and PS leaders. You can sign the petitions online if you'd like to support this worthy cause.

If you pay taxes in France, you can't fail to be horrified at the waste and abuse of YOUR money while at our level life gets more expensive and more difficult to manage. If you want to do something, either become an élu or join this organisation and fight en masse.

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