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NewsletterNovember 2003


No sooner do I write an article stating that the French are generally pro-tax, than the present government proposes a tax cut. I thought the French see taxes as a way to fund valuable public services, like education and healthcare and not as throwing money into a bottomless pit of government waste. I was about to take my article down when I saw the news that local taxes are about to increase, anywhere from 2% to 20%, depending on the city. The main reason stated was the fact that cities and towns now have to supply services that the national government no longer does. For example the new decentralization law transfers responsibility for the elderly to local government.
All this confirms my theory that when a tax in France is cut another one is raised to make up the difference.

Urban Sprawl

Coming from Los Angeles one thing I've always liked about France is its lack of urban sprawl. Even in the suburbs of Paris there are cornfields and other open spaces. Cities in France just end and then the countryside begins, there is no transition from urban to countryside. The French idea of urban sprawl is two villages close enough that both can see each other.
Maybe it's globalization or some entrepreneur coming to the realization that shopping centers generate more revenue more per square meter than cornfields do, but now I've seen urban sprawl in France. Of course its nothing like LA urban sprawl. Here in Burgundy vineyards can be seen not far off in the distance. The sprawl is in Dijon.

Fixing Tickets

France has one of the highest driving death rates in Europe. So much so that lowering it is one of the present government's main concerns. A central part of the government's plan is a zero tolerance policy for traffic violations. The problem is that the French make terrible policemen. In France, when stopped, drivers don't expect to receive tickets for a traffic violation. The thinking is a driver can talk their way out of ticket. Is this true? I don't know.
Even on those occasions when a ticket is issued there is a 25% chance that it will never make it into the system. Why? Tickets are 'fixed' by "friends." Supposedly as long as you know a friend of a friend who is a member of the police your ticket can be taken care of.


The end of October means the Toussaint (All Saints Day) school vacation. In France there are four vacation periods, Toussaint, Noël (Christmas), Hiver (Winter) and Pâques (Easter). The Toussaint vacation lasts from October 23rd to November 2nd.
Toussaint is November 1st. Tradition is that families will lay flowers on the graves of their dead ones. You will often see in France just before Toussaint Day cemeteries being cleaned and gravestones washed.

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