The Economist has a great piece on France’s current socialist government and the scandal of wealth that has recently erupted there. From the report:
Now the Socialist president’s new disclosure rules reveal that seven of his ministers, including his prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, are millionaires.
The French are discreet about money and flinch at ostentatious displays of wealth. So the new rules have prompted much discomfort, with ministers given only a week to declare their wealth. On April 15th Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, who comes from a family of art dealers, duly declared over €6m ($7.9m) of assets, including a flat in Paris worth €2.7m and two country houses. Michèle Delaunay, minister for the elderly, reported €5.2m of assets, including two properties in Bordeaux and two houses in different south-west resorts. Michel Sapin, the labour minister, declared three country houses, some large tracts of farmland and a flat in Paris, for a total of over €2m. Even Mr Ayrault, a former schoolteacher, is a millionaire, with two properties to his name.
Other details raised eyebrows. Cécile Duflot, the Green housing minister who makes much of taking public transport, owns two cars, neither of them electric. Mr Fabius, despite his millions, has a €30,000 overdraft. Arnaud Montebourg, the left-wing industry minister, owns three properties and a Charles Eames armchair worth €4,300. French Socialist ministers turn out to be keen property investors; almost none holds shares.
Mr Hollande hastily devised the new rules after his former budget minister, Jérôme Cahuzac, had confessed to lying about a secret foreign bank account. Until now, only the president had to publish his wealth. Mr Hollande’s 2012 declaration included two flats in Cannes and a villa nearby, valued in all at nearly €1.2m, just under the threshold at which France’s annual wealth tax kicks in.
Now the president wants to extend the disclosure rules to all of France’s deputies. This will be tough. Even Claude Bartolone, the Socialist parliamentary speaker, denounced the exercise as “voyeurism” and expressed fears of the advent of “paparazzi democracy”. And Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a fiery hard-left European deputy not bound by the rules, mocked them by revealing on his blog his height and weight, and stating that he owned no paintings, cars, yachts or horses—and did not dye his hair.
Be sure to check out the graphic, too. The reality of the world today is that socialism is truly dead and done. Something else – equally reactionary – will arise in its place to challenge the liberal order’s peace and prosperity, but for the next few decades the world will know nothing but relative calm as it enjoys the benefits brought about by individualism and world trade.
When a new collectivism arrives to challenge liberalism, you can be sure that it will look very much like the collectivisms of old. Do you know what collectivism looks like?