In 2023, will Emmanuel Macron once again fall into the wrong era by illustrating himself as president of the rich? Unfortunately, this is what is in store with the pension reform. During his first term, he had already chosen to focus on the « first in line » and the abolition of the wealth tax. The result was a powerful feeling of injustice that led to the “gilets jaunes (or yellow waistcoats) » movement, fed up with the new taxes on fuel that they were ordered to pay while the richest received cheques. In just a few months, the government has thus succeeded in permanently undermining the very idea of a carbon tax in France, which, to be accepted, would have to exempt the most modest and require proportionally much greater efforts from the most affluent. In general, solving the climate
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In 2023, will Emmanuel Macron once again fall into the wrong era by illustrating himself as president of the rich? Unfortunately, this is what is in store with the pension reform. During his first term, he had already chosen to focus on the « first in line » and the abolition of the wealth tax. The result was a powerful feeling of injustice that led to the “gilets jaunes (or yellow waistcoats) » movement, fed up with the new taxes on fuel that they were ordered to pay while the richest received cheques. In just a few months, the government has thus succeeded in permanently undermining the very idea of a carbon tax in France, which, to be accepted, would have to exempt the most modest and require proportionally much greater efforts from the most affluent.
In general, solving the climate challenge requires the construction of new collective standards of social and fiscal justice. The rise in energy prices, the exclusion of polluting vehicles, the switch to all-electricity, the accelerated renovation of housing, etc., will put increasing pressure on the working and middle classes. Not to mention that resources will also have to be found to invest more in health and training, which is the key to a productive and sustainable economy. In order to preserve social cohesion, it will be essential to tax the richest, and this will have to be done on the basis of objective and visible indicators such as income and wealth.
More than ever, we live in a world that needs justice and transparency. You only have to turn on the internet or open a magazine to know that millionaires and executives are doing wonderfully well. In France, the 500 largest fortunes have risen in ten years from 200 billion to 1000 billion euros. Taxing this exceptional increase in wealth at 50% would be enough to bring in 400 billion. The size of the available tax pool would be even larger if we widened the focus to the richest 500,000 taxpayers (1% of the population) or the richest 10% or 20%. All these groups will have to be taxed in a graduated way, according to principles of justice that will have to be debated in the open, starting from the top. Everyone knows these realities and injustices today, at least as well as at the time of the Revolution and the privileges of the nobility. It makes no sense to pretend that there is nothing substantial to expect from this side. Repeating over and over again that the wealth tax (ISF) brought in less than 5 billion euros is tantamount to taking citizens for fools: this low yield reflects the choice of successive governments to exempt billionaires and to rely on bogus self-declarations, and it is precisely this choice that must be called into question. It is by tackling the issue of justice that we will get out of the current crisis.
However, with the pension reform, the government is preparing to do just the opposite. The stated objective is to make 20 billion savings per year by 2030, in order to finance the government’s other priorities. The problem is that these 20 billion will fall entirely on the shoulders of the most modest. Currently, to receive a full pension, you need two conditions: the legal age of 62 and the required length of contributions, which is 42 years for those born in 1961-1962 (and will gradually increase to 43 by the 1973 generation). Let’s take a person born in 1961 who will therefore be 62 in 2023. If he or she has studied to the level of a master’s degree and started working at 23, then he or she will already have to wait until 65 to reach 42 years of pensionable service. In other words, the reform consisting in pushing back the statutory age to 64 or 65 will by definition have no impact on these people. Of the 20 billion, the most highly educated will contribute exactly zero cents. By construction, these 20 billions will be taken entirely from the rest of the population, notably from workers and employees, who are also those with the lowest life expectancy and who already suffer from a profoundly unfair system, since it is their contributions that finance the pensions of executives with high life expectancy.
The government can try to disguise things: the reality is that it has invented a regressive tax that will be imposed exclusively on the least qualified. When Elizabeth Borne announces that no one will have to contribute 47 or 48 years of pensionable service, she is only admitting that some will contribute at 45 or 46 years, namely those who started working at 19 or 20 years of age and often work in difficult jobs. By definition, all the mitigation measures can only be financed by the less educated themselves. This reality is so obvious that the reform has united against it not only the left but also most of the right: the RN (Rassemblement National) of course, but also a growing part of the LR (Les Républicains)
As for the argument that we have no choice but to follow our neighbours, it is particularly weak. Firstly, because foreign systems actually combine multiple parameters and are more complex than is claimed. Secondly, the fact that no country has properly taken into account the abysmal social inequalities in retirement does not justify persisting in this way. Is the fact that gendered wage inequalities exist everywhere a justification for doing nothing about them? It is time for the pension system to focus on small and medium-sized pensions, with a public dependency service that allows everyone to finish their lives with dignity. The means exist for this. Let’s hope that the MPs and the social movement will be able to convince the government of this.