BOSTON (CBS) – For the wealthy among us, the last couple of years have been a bit different than the past.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
We’ve always been a country that applauded financial success and gorged on the details of the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
But being rich hasn’t been so popular since greed-crazed speculators on Wall Street blew a big hole in the economy, with the little guy, as always, taking the worst of it.
All of a sudden, resourceful entrepreneurs who went from rags to riches went from being cultural icons to being, at best, slightly suspect, at worst, the reckless heavies of many an Occupy movement sidewalk skit.
And from Washington to Europe, jacking up taxes on the one-percent is the political slogan of the day, a guaranteed applause line everywhere in America – except the Republican Congressional caucus room.
That slogan was the essence of the campaign of Francoise Hollande, the newly-elected president of France.
Back in February he called for a 75-percent tax on millionaires, and in case anyone misses the point, has called the financial industry his “greatest enemy” and says flatly: “I do not like the rich.”
Can he get an amen?
But guess what has happened as a result of the new president’s class warfare?
According to the New York Times, there has been a growing exodus of both the already-wealthy and educated young people “attracted by better job prospects everywhere.”
Belgium, Britain, and Switzerland have drawn thousands of so-called “tax exiles” with New Hampshire-style sales pitches.
They’re leaving, as one young entrepreneur told Bloomberg News, “I don’t share the values that emerged during the election, the rejection of ambition and success…. I need to believe for me and my descendents that the sky is the limit.’’
Of course, they’re also leaving because they can.
We’ll see if the French find a reasonable balance between taxation and spending that salvages their economy.
In the meantime, what’s happening there is a caution to us that while reviling the rich may feel good and at times be deserved, it’s not a substitute for smart fiscal policymaking.
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