Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Defense of Le Quotient familial


Annals of Absurdity: Jacques Lacan Special Number

Jacques Lacan's daughter has just won a slander judgment against his biographer, Elisabeth Roudinesco, who wrote that Lacan would have preferred a Catholic funeral to the "plain, intimates-only" ceremony he actually had. The court held that Roudinesco had no sufficient grounds for believing this, even if she wrote in good faith. She was sentenced to pay the aggrieved daughter 1 euro plus court costs of 6,000 euros.

Vive la France! Vive la République!

An Incredible Story

Le Monde today breaks an incredible story of a renegade investigation by the IGS, the "internal affairs" office of the National Police, which seems to have been targeted at current and former officials with left-wing sympathies. IGS agents allegedly fabricated documents in their zeal to discredit political enemies of the government. Caution is in order, however, since these allegations remain to be proven.

Trisha Craig on La Gauche Outre-Manche

In the UK, Labour leader Ed Miliband made an important speech intended to put his leadership of the opposition back on track. Trisha Craig describes the situation.

BVA Poll

The latest BVA poll has some surprises. Bayrou is up to 11%. Hollande's advantage over Sarkozy in round 1 has shrunk to 28-24. Villepin is taking 4% from Sarkozy, while Mélenchon is taking 8% from Hollande. Marine Le Pen stands at 17%--a considerable number but well short of vindicating the more alarmist readings of her strength (including, I confess, mine). Has she really attracted new adherents to the PS, or has she merely reconstructed the hard core of FN support that Sarkozy decimated in 2007? And has her repositioning of the FN really mattered, or is the party's resurgence simply a matter of disappointment with Sarkozy?

Once again, the Bayrou factor could be significant. And again, the question is, Is this a vote of adherence, or a "ni-ni" option?

And one non-factor: the NPA seems to have disappeared with Philippe Poutou as its candidate. Olivier Besancenot had put the party on the map, but Mélenchon's dynamism, combined with Poutou's media-shyness, seems to have erased it as an electoral force.

Social VAT vs Family Tax Credit

Bernard Girard contrasts the competing tax reform proposals of the left and right. The right proposes a social VAT, which, by reducing payroll taxes and shifting the burden of financing social programs to consumers, is supposed to make French industry more competitive, a claim that Bernard disposes of by referring to the arguments of economist Olivier Bouba-Olga. Meanwhile, the Socialists want to revise le quotient familial, more or less equivalent to the dependency deduction in the US, and add a tax credit that would award a larger break to those earning up to 3 times the SMIC while increasing the overall tax bill for earners above that line. 3*SMIC is a pretty healthy middle-class income, so if the PS program turns out to be workable when more details are released, it will give the lie to the charge made most prominently by Laurent Wauquiez that the left has abandoned "the middle class" by assisting only the poor and excluded. Hollande's reform seems intended to bolster the middle class while putting more money in the hands of those likely to spend it rather than save it--an effective stimulus measure and a break in the ranks of the "all austerity all the time" consensus that threatens to sink Europe as it is sinking Greece.