As I hinted at in entry numero uno, my own personal traumas — I’m just too close to it — as well as the fact that my day job is writing have are the main reasons it’s taken me seven years to get to a place where I *think* I’m able to record my observations in a readable result. However, certain vignettes from that time have stuck with me; this is one.
There’s another perspective on France’s social welfare system: The high tax rate that pays for it. Business owners can pay 60 percent of their income in impots. My lighting guy says it’s cheaper for him to go on vacation than to work. My news/magazine boutique guy, the one who closed his shop, blamed the functionaires to whom much of his taxes go. In the last presidential election, the Socialist candidate, with her vigorous defense of the functionaires, didn’t get this; the right-wing candidate got it enough to present illusory solutions. But only François Bayrou — whose approach of simply taking the best ideas regardless of ideology was misunderstood by the cleavage-accustomed French as ‘flou’ or mushy — got it enough to propose some practical solutions, including a Small Business Administration on the American model.
But back to the donuts: So last year around this time my friend the barista at Le Valmy, my cafe d’habitude on the Canal, pulled out some notebooks and pens she’d gotten for cheap at a magazine store on the other side of the Canal which was going out of business. I dashed over there, scoring some notebooks and a DVD of the first Star Trek episodes. The proprietor was telling a commiserating client that she was closing because she was paying most of her income in taxes and just couldn’t make a living. So she was moving to the United States, where a friend had offered her a job making donuts…in Texas… Lubbock, Texas.