Uncle France Is Rich

photo: resto, il duca

An Italian bistro, without the usual red, white and green -
on Montmartre.

New Decade Buzzword

Paris:- Sunday, 20. August 2000:- After nearly a decade of economic stagnation, France decided to turn itself on again. Some of the stagnation was due to severe budgetary belt-tightening to meet the fiscal standards required for France's entry into the Euro-zone.

The French paid dearly for it in the form of increased taxes coupled with more efficient tax-collection, and France made its point.

But this has produced a continuing snow-ball effect, and the tax revenues keep merrily rolling in - with the added plus that the economy has picked up and unemployment has dropped - adding yet more taxpayers.

Some numbers have just come out for the first six months of this year. Compared to the same period in 1999, income collections have increased by 9.6 percent; which is a plus of about 16 billion francs.

Even with a minor reduction in the top rate of value-added tax - the TVA - this tax on consumption hasphoto: art squat, rue rivoli brought in another extra 16 billion; partly due to a three percent increase in consumer spending.

Motorists are currently bleeding money to pay for gas; due to a combination of a miserable dollar-euro equation and record prices for crude. The tax on gas has collected an extra two billion in the first six months of this year.

Rue de Rivoli 'art squat' passes unnoticed up close. Is it an improvement?

But the most spectacular of all is the increase of receipts of taxes on businesses. These have jumped a whopping 21 billion francs. Exports alone have increased by nine percent over 1999.

Le Parisien says businesses pay only about a quarter of the amount paid by a combination of income-tax, sales tax and tax on petroleum products - so, if the government starts looking around for new sources of moola, they know whose door to knock on - not mine.

New Decade Buzzword

Consumer Warning: Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers and don't believe hardly anything you read here - regardless of its source.

Technically I can't say 'I'm not making this up,' because Dave Barry has patented the phrase; just as he has his 'alert readers.' But practically, I don't know what else to write - except the following info isn't from 'alert readers,' it is from Le Parisien.

The word from the fashion central of Bastille apparently says - all of this is 'apparently' because this is the first time I've read that Bastille has or is a 'fashion central' - the word is - hold your breath - is 'bobo.'

Yes folks, 'bobo' is the new hype word. 'Bobo' replaces the '60's 'hippie' and the '80's 'yuppie.' The first carried over into the '70's, without conviction; and the second is still with us - I think; although I call them 'Minitel-millionaires' sometimes.

'Bobo' people are forward-looking personalities such as Madonna, Yannick Noah, Bill Gates and Philippe Starck. 'Bobo' is supposed to stand for 'bourgeois bohème.'

It doesn't stand for what happens to kids' knees when they fall down in schoolyards' asphalted playgrounds or have a roller upset without suitable protection - like my Petit Larousse entry says: "bobo [bobo] n. m. Petit mal (langage enfantin)."

From the short list of 'forward-looking' names above, I'm sure you are confused as I am. Bill Gates is a 'bobo?' Yannick Noah is a great guy, but could he be a mere 'bobo?' If Madonna isn't retired, I hardly think she's a 'bobo.' Philippe Starck is a successful and well-known designer; but 'bobo' is really stretching it.

'Bobos' wear informal clothes - but chic! - incroyablement chic! - and have laid-back but crucial accessories, 'like portable Wap.' This is like saying they carry around kiddies' toy-telephones without any batteries in them.

'Bobos' also have plenty of money - Bill Gates, really? - but do not show their designerphoto: rue pilon, montmartre labels. If true, I'm glad this lowball trend is over. But I thought uncle Bill was a pure-suit guy anyway - if he wasn't otherwise outfitted by Walmart.

For food, 'bobos' love carrot soup. This is their ecological side. They think this is better if they dribble some into their computer keyboards.

For 'quiet days on Montmartre,' check the Rue Pilon.

Otherwise, 'bobos' are over-diplomaed human beings, who sell their services to the Web, communications or the cable-TV, for 'fair prices.' The Internet itself is almost a synonym for 'bobo.'

'Bobos' also work like demons - for a minimum of time - the 35-hour work week! - and a maxi of cash and options, because they want 'to see their kids grow up.'

As far as I'm concerned, none of this hype flies. 'Bourgeois bohème' doesn't sound too bad, if you are describing young commercial insurance guys who get out to do some salsa on weekends, but the rest of it should be labelled 'dodo' and tipped into the nearest trashcan, as soon as possible.

If you don't agree with me, just ask Madonna.

Today's Traffic Report

Once upon a time all the French went on holidays on the same day and returned from them together on the same day. Then some bright spark invented the 35-hour work week.

Actually, the 35-hour work week is used to explain everything in France that doesn't operate like 'once upon a time.' Everything different is caused by this recent xplosion of increased idleness.


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