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jonno

French road blockades

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The ordinary man/woman the world over is feeling the establishment has let them down and have gone for any anti-establishment vote when given the chance.

Brexit, the establishment said stay in, so the response vote out.

Trump, Clinton was portrayed as the establishment, so vote for Trump.

Macron, he was seen as not part of the establishment but not extreme like Le Pen.

Even Angela Merkel has more and more voting against her.

Until the establishment wakes up and looks after the ordinary man this could go even further.

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Does it seem to be more regional in industrial areas? Or is it affecting the whole of France ? It seems to be the usual case of a few thugs using the protest to pick a fight with “the establishment” whether they believe in the cause or not.

 

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To partly answer that question, Neil, there are regions where the movement is more pronounced than others, with the big cities standing out. But some small towns have also seen outbreaks of violence and looting. But I don't think it's confined to purely industrial areas. 

At the same time there are various other protests springing up around the country. Fireman and private ambulance drivers seem to be on strike. At least 100 high-schools are closed due to protests over education (and access to higher-education) reforms. 

And, if that weren't enough, a rival group to the 'Yellow Jackets' has sprung up calling themselves the 'Red Scarves' (I suppose we can be thankful it isn't the 'Blue Boxers') with the aim of unblocking the shopping centres and refineries and allowing normal people to get on with their daily lives. Ed. 

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The gilets jaunes were in Saint Malo on Saturday. They were blockading the ferry terminal from early morning to late evening. The commitment of the protesters, considering the persistent rain, was remarkable.

Outside of Saint Malo the incoming dual carriage way was blocked with a resulting large tail back of vehicles.

The Police had closed some of the roads near intra muros.

Access to and from the ferry terminal was reasonable for car travellers but it appeared that a substantial number of lorries were in the terminal, presumably not wishing to cross the protester's lines.

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Neil asked above whether this was widespread throughout France.

It certainly is, though the 'intensity' does I think vary from place to place.  For example, our local large-ish town has a bit of activity on Saturdays (and is easily avoided), but is quiet for the rest of the week.  Fuel availability is a bit patchy, but at any one time, there's fuel available at half of the local stations.  Unlike Brittany from the sounds of it, which sounds grim.

I really can't make up my mind as to whether the suspension of the fuel tax increase will cause all this to fizzle out.  The simple fact of the matter is that fuel prices have dropped anyway by around 10c / litre (related to the 30% drop in the price of crude), but I just have a sneaking feeling that the protests will continue.  Quite possibly on a very patchy basis.

The emphasis of the protesters has definitely swung towards a "Lower taxes" clarion call. However in France, if your income is modest, the likelihood is that you'll be paying little or no income or local taxation anyway!  Even for middle income earners, the income tax liability is likely to be less than it would be in (say) the UK.  Its a bit difficult to pay less than nothing or not much!

Having lived here for 14 years, there's a prevailing attitude amongst the French (not by any means amongst all, but many) that the State should always provide.  Where on earth they think that the State is going to get the funding for schools, hospitals and other infrastructure projects, without taxation, is beyond me.

 

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23 minutes ago, Gardian said:

Neil asked above whether this was widespread 

23 minutes ago, Gardian said:

Having lived here for 14 years, there's a prevailing attitude amongst the French (not by any means amongst all, but many) that the State should always provide.  Where on earth they think that the State is going to get the funding for schools, hospitals and other infrastructure projects, without taxation, is beyond me.

 

Well that’s hit the nail very firmly on the head Gardian!

I’ve been working here since 1992 and seen these aggressive protests on a very regular basis - maybe not to the extent of the anarchy we were all watching live on TV last Saturday, but during the 8 years I’ve been in Roscoff the farmers are more than capable of reversing their muck spreaders through supermarket fronts and splaying the contents everywhere. The local Morlaix tax office was burned down a couple of years ago during the last flare up.

PM Édouard Philippe is announcing government intentions any minute now about how they intend to tackle the crisis so watch this space

Chris

 

 

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1 hour ago, Fine Whine said:

 

I don't really think that the measures just announced (a six-month pause before the tax increase is introduced) will do anything to calm the public anger. Nor would an increase in the minimum wage as many of the protesters are higher earners anyway. 

One idea might be to actually increase the top rate of VAT from 20% to 25% (sorry Chris, your wine has suddenly become more expensive) while at the same time reducing the social contributions for employers which means people's take-home pay would immediately rise. They can then decide individually what to spend that money on, essentials like food and fuel (which are not subject to that VAT rate) or luxury goods (which are). Introducing a basic 1€ contribution for every medical prescription (as I believe is the practice in the UK - that shows how long ago it is since I last saw a British GP) would be another way to both swell the coffers and get the French to kick their hypochondriac habit. Ed. 

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@Cabin-boy English prescriptions are £8 something I think , living in Scotland they are free, and I could never support anything that would make wine more expensive it’s  bad enough that I have to go to Berwick to avoid the minimum alcohol unit pricing in Scotland as it is 😉

Edited by neilcvx
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51 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

@Cabin-boy English prescriptions are £8 something I think , living in Scotland they are free, and I could never support anything that would make wine more expensive it’s  bad enough that I have to go to Berwick to avoid the minimum alcohol unit pricing in Scotland as it is 😉

£8.80 to be exact, Neil - nearly 9 flippin quid...

I am elegible for free ones myself under my disability exemption, but recently some things are going to change regarding several medications that are at present come together under one prescription.  In future things will all be separate prescriptions for each medication - therefore a charge for each.  Also there is a debate as to whether silk clothing for those with allergies should be considered available on the NHS, but with regard to that I might not have got that entirely right.

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OK, well the French would baulk at such prices but a euro or two would probably be acceptable if they were getting extra money from their salaries. Plus they already pay 3 or 4 euros (I forget the exact amount) for each GP appointment so it could simply be linked in with that payment if a prescription is issued.

It's either that (because the government can't keep on giving and expect nothing in exchange) or cancel the 2024 Paris Olympics and save themselves 10€bn in one feel swoop. And to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure the IOC are going to look favourably on the recent protests. They make Rio de Janeiro look like the safest city in the world. 

Ed. 

Edited by Cabin-boy

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Quote - One idea might be to actually increase the top rate of VAT from 20% to 25% (sorry Chris, your wine has suddenly become more expensive)

Thanks Ed, you're full of bright ideas today!

The only problem with that scenario is it would put the cost of fuel up by almost 0.06cts per litre as well, I'm not sure that would go down too well...:ph34r:

Chris

Edited by Fine Whine

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29 minutes ago, Fine Whine said:

Quote - One idea might be to actually increase the top rate of VAT from 20% to 25% (sorry Chris, your wine has suddenly become more expensive)

Thanks Ed, you're full of bright ideas today!

The only problem with that scenario is it would put the cost of fuel up by almost 0.06cts per litre as well, I'm not sure that would go down too well...:ph34r:

Chris

Sorry! The idea is that only those who actually buy those products pay the tax while everyone's salary goes up regardless. This way President Macron can save face and get his increases accepted but push the rest of the tax burdon onto other products that the higher earners buy more of. That also avoids reinstating the wealth tax. 

Do you have an alternative suggestion, Chris, because I can't see today's initiatives being enough to calm people down. Ed

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1 minute ago, TerryDorset said:

...and the next thing they'll have to demonstrate about will be the introduction of PAYE in January...

Yes, I mentioned that a couple of days ago. But they won't actually notice until the end of the month and then all hell will break loose. Ed, 

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Notwithstanding the fact that this has been ‘flagged up’ to the general public (newspaper ads, etc) for more than a year.

Just in case any non - France residents don’t know what we’re talking about, income tax has traditionally been payable quite late, i.e. declaration of earnings in the Spring following the previous calendar year, assessment around August - time, tax payable by end -Oct. Accordingly, the French Exchequer didn’t see a bean from most people until as long as 22 months after if it was earned !

This has gradually been changing and rightly so, because the old process was bonkers.  Along with many others, I have been paying monthly direct debits for several years, but it will become the case for everybody from 2019.

For France, it will mean a one-off boost to the Exchequer - can’t begin to estimate how much, but it has to be in the €bn’s.  It makes absolute sense - can’t imagine ‘Fine Whine’ being too happy about being paid for a delivery some 18 mths later !

Unless I’m very much mistaken, this isn’t a Macron initiative - its been brewing for years, but he’ll get the blame.

 

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Does this mean paying 2 lots of tax until you catch up with the tax owed on the previous scheme, I can see people not being happy with that.

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30 minutes ago, Solo said:

Does this mean paying 2 lots of tax until you catch up with the tax owed on the previous scheme, I can see people not being happy with that.

No, it doesn't. I don't totally agree with a couple of things in Gardian's interpretation of the situation (but please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) 

First he said :Along with many others, I have been paying monthly direct debits for several years, but it will become the case for everybody from 2019.

In fact he is still paying in arrears (December 2018 for 1/12th of his 2017 taxable income) just on a monthly basis and not quarterly or yearly as some chose to do. In the future it won't be a direct debit but simply a transfer from your employer of a certain percentage to the tax authorities. As he says, it's nonsense. 

Second, he said: For France, it will mean a one-off boost to the Exchequer - can’t begin to estimate how much, but it has to be in the €bn’s.

In fact my understanding is that the 2018 tax year will effectively be written off and the tax to pay in January 2019 will be calculated on the overall tax rate valid for 2017, which will then be adjusted during the year as and when your circumstances change. They won't get any more money than would otherwise be the case but will simply get some of it earlier than usual (100% of tax payers coughing up each month rather than just those on a direct monthly debit scheme). 

The government produced a very good, short video to explain our all but hardly anyone I know has actually bothered to watch it. Here's the link for those interested. 

https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://m.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D6M7ufcWs3WE&ved=2ahUKEwiH1I-t_YbfAhWSyoUKHWQ0CgIQtwIwAHoECAoQAQ&usg=AOvVaw3cORJ_bff_xjMJvczcsHvQ

Ed. 

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PAYE is of course  designed to prevent the taxpayer making any arrangements to minimise their liability. It was introduced in the UK after the war to maximise tax revenues - no more.  It has also been routinely misused by employers in financial difficulty who are now helped in their nefarious activities by the fact that HMRC are not a preferential creditor any more. It is a grossly unfair system, putting employees in a demonstrably worse situation than the self-employed,  and any French people who loathe the idea have my sympathy.

Edited by Millsy
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Indeed..people's protest is fine and healthy but when it starts to maybe head towards insurrection and anarchy then it's dangerous. Macrons ability to make any further changes to how France works surely has gone..interesting times, as they say..

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51 minutes ago, Paully said:

Indeed..people's protest is fine and healthy but when it starts to maybe head towards insurrection and anarchy then it's dangerous. Macrons ability to make any further changes to how France works surely has gone..interesting times, as they say..

There are rumours of other factions trying to stir up the protests in order to cause chaos. It's very hard to build a stable society and so easy to wreck it. Sadly we are all emotive creatures.

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12 hours ago, neilcvx said:

Surely the power should always reside with the population. The problem is they're often prone to making lunatic judgements. Not quite sure how you get round that one.😉  

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