These days, many countries are calling for citizens to make sacrifices to help governments balance their sinking budgets. Although France's austerity measures could not be considered good news... unlike America's policies, at least the weathiest Frenchies are pitching in a bit. It strikes me that if France's plan were passed today in the U.S. we might be celebrating it as a progressive move towards fairness. > Noa
France: a new era of austerity
The French government has this week unveiled a range of tax rises and spending cuts aimed at cutting the country's soaring budget deficit and reassuring the stock markets.
For consumers, the impact includes a rise in cigarette and alcohol prices, a new tax on fizzy drinks, increased VAT on theme park tickets, and higher rates for health insurance packages. For companies, there will be fewer tax breaks, and for France's wealthiest individuals there is a new "exceptional" levy of 3% on earnings over €500,000 until the budget deficit is back under control.
Prime minister François Fillon says the new measures will target well-off individuals and big businesses above all - but they have angered opposition leaders and unions, who say ordinary workers will be hit as well. Unions will meet on September 1 to discuss their response. More on this story...