We were present
during the election of the Mitterand socialist government and also during
the first two currency devaluations which followed. I am sure the people
voted socialist without much conviction. They voted mainly for change
but also to punish the rich. Generations of French have been taught
by their socialist and communist teachers that the rich dont do
anything for the country. The socialists enacted statutes to nationalize
the banks and other companies thus dispossessing the rich owners. And
they also placed a tax on gross fortunes. What a marvelous
idea! That would really punish the rich aristocrats. It was a replay
of the French Revolution of 1789the rhetoric was even similar.
Many French will never understand that their concept of the rich is
really distorted. The owners of the châteaux are not typically
rich. They often depend on tourists and on a little agricultural production
to maintain their châteaux. The other French rich
would be the bankers and industry owners who typically do not use much
of their money for their personal consumption, but have investments
in industry and other job-producing functions.
What the socialists did was to discourage investments, increase unemployment
for the long term, and reduce the French standard of living relative
to other countries.