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 don’t 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 1789—the 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.


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