French press review 26 June 2012
Money, or the lack of it, are the dominant themes on this morning's front pages . . .
At the 'got it by the bucketful' end of the spectrum, the popular tabloid Aujourd'hui en France claims that it has documents proving that the state lost three billion euros because of the infamous 50% tax shield installed by Nicolas Sarkozy in an effort to encourage the stinky rich to keep their fortunes in France.
The law obliged the struggling French treasury to send out cheques to 13,000 very well-heeled clients last year, at an average of fifty-six thousand euros per cheque.
Worse, although the law was dragged into a legal side street and hacked to death last year as the soon-to-be-ex-president dumped his rich friends in an effort to collect more popular votes, the new government will have to continue shelling out until the end of next year.
The dividend to be paid in 2013 to the already very wealthy is conservatively estimated by Aujourd'hui en France at 800 million euros.
And so to the 'struggling to get by' end of the spectrum. Later today, the new Socialist government will announce its plans for an increase in the minimum wage. As things stand at present, every legally employed full-time worker in France has to be paid at least 1,100 euros per month.
There are rumours, notably in yesterday's edition of the communist daily, L'Humanité, that the increase will be a less-than-princely 2.4%.
L'Huma has done the sums and reckons that, when you hack off about a percent for inflation, those at the bottom of the pay scale will come out better off by an extra 11 euros per month.
The chaps at L'Humanité think that's not enough. Their front page says the minimum wage should be 1,700 euros per month, and they go on to explain why it is necessary and how it is possible.
First the why: the communist paper talks to an employee from the north of France who simply cannot get past the fifth of the month without running into debt on his 1,180 euros income. The company for which he works turned over more than one billion euros last year, paying a 23 million euros bonus to the managing director.
And that leads to L'Humanité's vision of the how: you can increase the lowest salaries by reducing those paid at the top of the tree, as well as by cutting back on share dividends, stock options and the other little bits and pieces that help the stinky rich get to the end of the month in better financial shape than the rest of us.
Catholic La Croix is less optimistic, with a headline describing the problem as "insoluble", and small print noting that even a modest increase, which won't change much for those who benefit from it, will cost the already wheezing national economy a significant additional effort.
Says La Croix, people are going to complain no matter how much of an increase is announced.
The unions have warned that a mere 2.4% will be the first serious error of the new government. The bosses association say that any increase will have a negative effect on employment.
And to put all this in perspective, the new measures will affect the daily lives and incomes of one French employee in every ten.