French press review 4 October 2012
Who can afford Orange's luxury mobile subscription? Who can't afford top-rate tax rises? Is Germany a better place to do business than France? And how is the wealth shared there?
In the wake of this week's great black-out of fake mobile phones in Kenya, news of a premium service here in France.
If you would like to have had the latest Apple iPhone delivered to your door by a chap wearing a suit and white gloves, attend something called a "cocktails masterclass" and join your peers in a private box at Roland-Garros (presumably while there's a spot of tennis being played), then what you need is the forfait Parnasse, offered by Orange for the knock-down price of 1,000 euros a month. For that, you get to read your emails on a high-speed link while on the outskirts of Ulan Bator or even Mullingar.
The company already has 1,000 clients, most of them described as "business leaders, lawyers, architects and travellers".
When Orange had fairly major technical problems last July, ordinary subscribers got three minutes of free text messages. Subscribers to Parnasse had a box of seven Pierre Hermé macaroons delivered, presumably by the same guy in the suit and glooves who later brought the new iPhones.
If 1,000 euros strikes you as a bit steep for a phone connection, you can always subscribe to Free for less than 25 euros per month.
Le Figaro is in fighting form, with a headline reading "Fiscal anger grows". The story quotes several business directors and start-uppers (the sort of people who might, indeed, be subscribers to the Parnasse phone and macaroons) as saying that Socialist government plans to change the way businesses are taxed are bad news for French businesses.
Le Figaro can calm down, because Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, will this very afternoon meet the bosses' representatives to sort out a compromise between government need and corporate greed. We wish all parties well.
According to the bosses' union, selling a business could cost a French entrepreneur as much as 62 per cent of his hoped-for profit, as against a mere 26 per cent in Germany. And the cost of labour has increased by 15 per cent in France since 2005, twice the rate of increase in Germany.
But Le Monde's Berlin correspondent points out that Germany pays a huge social price for its competitive edge.
There is no legal minimum wage in Germany, he reports, so, although very few Gemans are technically unemployed, a huge number of them earn very little and have absolutely no job security.
Ten per cent of Germans currently own about 50 per cent of the country's wealth. But at the other end of the spectrum, half of the population has to share just one per cent of German wealth.
Perhaps inspired by the French Socialists, a German left-wing coalition is now campagining for tougher taxes on the rich and a return of the wealth tax abolished in the balmy economic climate of 1997.