Economy & Budget

French Socialism Risks War With Coca-Cola

An American icon—the Coca-Cola brand—almost went to war to free common sense, which was being held hostage by the French government and knee-jerk socialism, but appears to have unfortunately retreated.
You’re going to have to bear with me for a second here.  I realize this column is about something happening way over in France, but by now it shouldn’t be difficult to see how it might be yet another preview of what’s to come if America continues its current socialist slide.
Like America and virtually every other Western country, France is deep in debt, and instead of its government trimming the fat—starting right at its own navel, with all of it filling the seats at various useless levels of government—Prime Minister Francois Fillon has somehow concluded, among all the possibilities and ideas available to him, that one of the most effective ways to replenish the trough would be to tax sugared sodas by one cent per can.
Now Fillon can’t possibly think that a tax of a single cent will dissuade someone from a soda purchase, particularly when juices are still considerably more expensive, right?  Wrong.  Judging by his own words and press releases, Fillon believes very strongly in two fairy tales:  The first is that he can put at least 100 million extra euros in the social security account each year with this one-cent tax starting in 2012.  Fillon’s other goal is to use a fiscal stick—a twig really, in this case—to whack the Coke cans out of the fat fingers of those who exemplify the beefing up of the average French person by 6.8 pounds between 1997 and 2009.
The two goals seem mutually exclusive and contradictory:  To fill the coffers one cent at a time, he’ll need an awful lot of soda guzzling.  Your country is counting on you, obese soda junkies, to be the new French Resistance against economic uncertainty—while the prime minister calls you fat, burdensome and problematic.
The French Coca-Cola affiliate stepped in to blow the whistle on this blatant socialist cash grab’s massive logic gap, and did so in the best way that capitalists get their point across—by threatening to withhold money.  French Coke said that it was going to have to rethink a new 17 million euro production-line investment in light of this nonsense and stigmatization of its product. 
Mistaking corporate expenditures for some kind of entitlement, French politicians and union representatives promptly freaked out.  Two elected officials who represent a Coke manufacturing plant’s region called Coke’s reaction “blackmail,” apparently forgetting that the presence and actions of a private company isn’t a public right.  And one of them didn’t stop there.  She proceeded to tell the iconic carbonated beverage maker how it could run its business, suggesting that it could just “make efforts on non-sugar beverages.”
The representative of French Coke union employees said that the workers were scared, and worried for the future of their plant.  It was a sober realization that no matter how strong unions may feel they are in their solidarity, they’re still dead in the absence of a host company.
The company’s European office has since softened the original stance, and promised that all planned investments will move ahead.  Still, this incident should serve as a reminder of socialism’s consequences.  When a government decides to tax or pester a business, it might mean that one day the company will begone to a more hassle-free setting.  And all this for what?  One cent per can, in this case.  Even at that price, we’ve just seen how expensive socialism risks being.

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  • Joao

    There’s also a discussion in Portugal right now about applying a special tax to all junk food.

  • Alexander Milne

    Rachel -

    I realise that your job, at Human Events, involves dissing France and its stubborn leftwing ways, as a handy cut-out-and-keep guide, for credulous HE readers without passports, of what could happen to the USA if things get “out of control”.

    As for the USA becoming more like France……

    You should be so lucky!

    France has a higher standard of living for a greater proportion of its people than the USA.  Their economy is strong, e.g. Aaa-rated by Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch (unlike some other countries we could mention).  They have lots of social benefits that that the “free” people of America can only dream about.  The population is better-educated and more involved in the political process, e.g. turnout in elections if usually around 80%, plus of course they were far-sighted enough to support the American Revolution.  They also had the good sense not to get involved in the Iraq war.

    However, they also have a large private sector, including quite a lot of rapacious corporations and banks operating globally, and riot squads that are like something out of “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.  You’d think that these American-like characteristics ought to make you happy :-)  

    But no.  I cannot recall you saying a single positive thing about France.  You must be very uncomfortable living there!

    The bottom line is: US Republicans are supposed to favour freedom and choice.  So why do they get so annoyed that France doesn’t want to copy the USA, lock-stock-and-barrel?

  • aposematic

    It doesn’t matter what Country one is in since today’s socialist, leaning socialist, and/or want to be socialist Countries just want to steal more of their peoples’ monies in the fantasy that its for the peoples’ own good as they are too stupid to know that their Governments are smarter than their little moron subjects and infinitely more powerful. Just ask/read/watch any “journalist” in the LSM; they will be more than happy to tell you how stupid you little morons are while singing the praises of the socialists wrecking the Governments.

  • BazzaMcKenzie

    “Junk food” is an appellation applied by the arrogant to food of which they disapprove. In reality the term is a self-condemnation by those who use it rather than one of substance about its subject.

  • Metalmaniac

    You do realize that most of the soda’s out there are made with CORN SYRUP, NOT sugar.
    I thought we as a nation did not trade with Cuba, since JFK(?).
    You also know? Corporations don’t pay taxes, they just pass the cost on to us(the consumer).
    My final Question is. Where do you get your information?

  • Midlandr

    “The representative of French Coke union employees said that the workers were scared, and worried for the future of their plant.  It was a sober realization that no matter how strong unions may feel they are in their solidarity, they’re still dead in the absence of a host company.”  Love that “host company”, a great comparison with a tapeworm!  Love the article, I didn’t think the Frogs liked Coca-Cola anyway, that nasty American soft-drink!

  • jwebsmall

    You make my point precisely regarding Putin.  The sunset of U.S. super power force projection is near precisely for the reasons you mention regarding finance (i.e. entitlements driving business off shore and debt financed consumerism enabled by western governments endless ongoing inflation polices and the flood of capital from equity stocks into the real estate markets in the 1990′s thereby giving the consumer the opportunity to use their homes equity as an ATM machine).  Putin’s espionage in the Baltic states is at an all time high and increasing.  It is doubtful that the Chinese are going to lend us enough money to militarily resist Putin when the time comes.  And as the American mind becomes a dull as the European mind regarding the need for defense we’ll be calling for the retrenchment of our super power posture. Nature abhors a vacuum and that realignment will soon be painfully obvious in Europe. Even informed liberals in Scandinavia are alarmed at Putin’s espionage activities in the Baltic states.. As the Euro collapses for reasons similar to the 1930′s  Germany will emerge as the strong man of western Europe once again.  The great depression in America dragged down the Europeans then and when combined with the socialism and elitism of the western European mindset spelled the end of democracy in western Europe by the 1940′s..  Russia is awash in resources and Germany is in far better shape financially then under Hitler.   In other words Russia has the lever of energy blackmail to use against Europe now unlike the 1930′s.  Europeans are so use to their socialism they don’t realize it has been artificially sustained since the 1940′s.  They still believe it is self sustainable even though their society is not. Furthermore they have an 800 pound gorrilla of Islam sitting in their living rooms that they hope to humor by talking sweetly.   Consequently since very few if any Europeans who witnessed the 1930′s today are still alive and if they are they are most likely living on entitlements and thus paid not to see the truth about entitlements and elitism,  Europeans are babes in the woods when it comes to the stark reality that they are indeed living on borrowed time.  The smugly shake their heads and wag their fingers at America not realizing our implosion will sound the death knoll of democracy in Europe.  The energy black mail situation is even worse when you factor in the possibility of a nuclear Iran emerging as the hegemonic power of the middle east further tightening the energy blackmail of Europe when and if aligned with Putin’s tender care.  If Europeans are in a twist over Libya and suddenly find that the right war just wait until they feel the energy squeeze and demands of a hegemonic Iran.

    Almost 25 years in the private sector?  While I’ve been working over 40 years and still work 50 hour weeks in the private sector in my own business competing with labor from India in the software area.  I don’t wear eye glasses and don’t have even my first cavity.  My sibblings are either dead and dying and subscribe to the western medicine mind set so it isn’t genetics but rather life style. Most people I knew in my field are dead now.  Trusting in western medicine and particular entitlements they never took responsibility for their own health.  I run hill sprints, bike perhaps 50 miles per week, practice tai chi, yoga and longevity exercises from Tibet and northern india.  The western diet and life style is the problem and coupled with the false sense of security in entitlements to take care of them and their elitist western mindset in general keeps them fat, dumb, happy and dying.  Do I want the government to force my life style on others perhaps like Bloomberg?  No.  I tell people when I meet them but I respect them enough to make their own decisions since I believe in liberty and not government tyranny.  BTW I find it extremely difficult to avoid taking government money in business through trickle down spending through government contractors and regulation but I manage.   I earn about half of my younger contemporaries who secure their funding in one way or another from the government money machine.  My contemporaries who are like me are in fact living off shore somewhere in Singapore, India and else where.  I never sold out to western socialism. So I’m not paid to be an elitist and I can seen that we are entering into the end game of this charade of the European cafe elite.

    If you are so superior to everybody here in this forum why do you post.  To enlighten us with your brilliance?  Or perhaps you have contempt for Human Events because it threatens or offends you sensitivities and your elitist way of life?  After all the American revolution was founded on the principle us morons were capability of government ourselves and making our own decisions regarding things like health care, providing for our financial security etc.   You are not part of the solution – you and your socialist elitism is the problem. The nanny state pays people to be fat, dumb, happy and dying. If they didn’t have this false sense of security and safety net they would grow up. Europeans are infantile.

  • Alexander Milne

    jwebsmail -

    Your analysis of Western European history is apocalyptic but, thankfully, highly selective, as is, I suspect, your definition of “socialism”.  Countries like Germany have a huge private sector – Germany, for example, was only recently overtaken by China as the world’s largest export economy.  So much for the “socialism stifles enterprise” argument.

    As for the idea that Russia is somehow set to dominate Western Europe…….!  Of course Russia is flexing its muscles again.  That’s hardly surprising considering how the country was humiliated and looted in the 1990s by that corrupt clown Yeltsin and his cronies.  Russia has major demographic issues and struggles to control its own minorities and Islamic fundamentalists, not to mention the extreme left and right.  But to suggest that they’re planning to take over is, I’m afraid, another exaggerated fear.  Meanwhile, back in reality, US bases ARE surrounding Russia.  So who’s the bigger threat – the Russian Bear or the wounded USA?  

    Talking of which, few people in Europe expect the USA to “implode”, as you put it.  Why do conservatives constantly exaggerate?!  Check out the HE threads from 2 years ago – the conservative nut-jobs were saying that the USA would have sunk into civil war by now.  Rubbish!  America has problems but they’re soluble, particularly if you adopt European-style attitudes towards wealth distribution and allow the middle-classes and blue-collar workers to prosper again (instead of the top 1% siphoning off most of the productivity gains from the. as you put it, 50-hour weeks).  

    Egalitarian societies like Sweden (with strong mixed economies) really are better places to live for the majority :-)

    Most people around the world think that multi-polar politics (no longer dominated by a single superpower) is a positive development.  In short: it’s no longer the 1990s.

    BTW Stereotyping all claimants as fat, lazy, workshy etc is hugely unfair.  I take it from your CV that you’ve never actually had to survive on benefits?  Well, congratulations, but most folks on the dole actually WANT to work, and our economy (even during the boom times) no longer generates enough jobs for everyone.  Even China has a labour surplus problem.

    Meanwhile, sleep easy: as long as America’s politics are a duopoly of two parties in hock to corporations and the super-rich, the media remains corporate-controlled and public education is sub-standard, nothing vaguely “Marxist” is going to happen.  Apart from the death of the American Dream, of course.

    Why do I post on Human Events?  Because I enjoy it.  Occasionally one comes across a sensible US conservative, one who (for example) doesn’t assume that all liberals are welfare claimants (hint-hint) and is capable of having a decent discussion without name-calling.  Also, the rightwing mentality is fascinating to me – the victimhood / the backs-to-the-wall / They’re-all-out-to-get-me / Obama-is-a-Marxist / faux Christianity strangeness gives me plenty of conversational ammunition and food for thought.

    Meanwhile, do I feel superior to HE conservatives who think that Sarah Palin is more intellectual than Barack Obama, the Earth was created 6,000 years ago, Europe is a “socialist”monolith, the UK has been taken over by Muslim fundamentalists and the USA won WWII single-handed?  


  • jwebsmall

    In decades past Germany’s job creation was paltry.  Germany’s turned rightward and resisted socialist Keynesian inflation/stimulus and its economy has come roaring back. No surprise there.  If they turn leftward again they will start looking more like Greece.  No surprise there either.  Germany’s economy is relatively good now in spite of socialism not in because of it.

    Russia doesn’t have to militarily dominate anyone now. All they have to do is rise the prices of energy it supplies to Europe negotiate with their governments for concessions to lower prices.

    Our unfunded liabilities are unsustainable.  Even Putin called the US the leech on the global economy.  We will default – it’s only a question of when.  How we default is another question.  Ideally the government would like to inflate its way out (which is a de facto default).  Either way when the dollar looses its status as the world reserve currency the effect will be an order of magnitude greater negative impact than a mere down grading of our credit rating. The only reason China isn’t making good on its threat to dump the dollar is the sad shape other currencies are in.  What’s China going to do – convert to Euro’s?   And is socialism is so great why is it that the other countries deeper in socialism than Germany are having to be bailed out by Germany if it so wonder?  Even Castro in Cuba said you have to keep at least some capitalists around – otherwise you run out of other people’s money.

    Sweden is also starting to reverse directions turning away from socialism. It worked somewhat okay for Sweden when it was an ethnically homogeneous society with small communities where peer pressure could bring to bear a work ethic of sorts.  But with the influx of free loaders and now that the subversive threats from Russia are growing so they don’t trust in their neutrality so much Sweden has started to awake and slowly move to the right.

    There are plenty of jobs for foreign workers and if people weren’t  on the dole they would be forced to work.

    A multi-polar world would grand. It will allow nature to step in and clean out the dead wood societies that deserved to pass into history in the mid 20th century.  It’s time for the world to move on.

    One last point:  so am I understanding you correctly that morally and/or mentally inferior people amuse you? Furthermore no one could possibly find you amusing in the same fashion and thus not worthy of considering. And lastly you are not even remotely elitist? I’m not saying this to be insulting. I think you are highly intelligent and gentlemanly in your apparently secular humanistic frame of reference.

    My guess would be you hold British citizenship.

    BTW I haven’t had sleep since the night before last so I’m kind of blurry eyed but I have to get to work now. Not my usual routine. Also yesterday I had some wild rice and a cucumber with vinegar and olive oil. I’ll eat more today but I generally eat about 1/3 the food the average person eats. It takes me 45 years to pass through as much material as the average person eats in 15 years. The cells of your alimentary canel are the fastest growing (i.e. take the greatest wear and tear) so by lowering your metabolism and eating less immediately your longevity goes up and your health. Most people would prefer to increase their metabolism so they can eat more. There is nothing wrong with pleasure as a by product of natural functions. But most people treat their automobiles better than they do themselves all in the quest for pleasure. There are many pleasures they are perhaps unaware of that there are missing. But that’s their decision to make and I don’t think they are inferior for making these choices. I do find it irritating that they expect me to subsidize their life styles however – I don’t ask or expect them to subsidize my life style. Also I consider seeking pleasure for pleasures sake in this regard is a kind of idolatry, i.e. what people live for something they place in high value in the final analysis. It doesn’t seem all that different than a dog gulpping down its food and then some or a cat killing birds for pleasure solely. Primitives who worship idols reduce their dignity to that of animals in other words. My point is there is a lot more “religious like” idolatry in secular society than one might think. And if this neo paganism is responsibility for perhaps 80% of the medical ills (i.e. degenerative diseases) that equates to my having to subsidizes one’s world view or paganism. It’s funny how society wants us to subsidize their world view while knocking ours when we ask nothing of them. Many of the people I’ve worked with who would be my age are dead now. They believed in western medicine. Some openly mocked me at work only to call me later from a hospital asking what to do. The most pathetic are the doctors. Again western medicine’s treatment of trauma and some forms of chiropractic are outstanding. The rest of western medicine is dismal IMO.

  • Alexander Milne

    jwebsmail -

    So let me get this straight.  Europe is “socialist”…… apart from Germany?

    But Germany did well over the last 50+ years, not just when in the last year or two since the credit crunch when it (supposedly) became rightwing in the US conservative mould.  All this strong trade unions, generous welfare state, hundreds of thousands of new jobs created by state sponsorship of “green” jobs in the private sector etc.

    And it’s only “socialist” countries that are struggling?  Hardly.  Do you really think that the USA can be categorised as a “socialist” country, when the majority of wealth is in private hands?  Do you imagine, for a second, that the conservative centre-right government of Sweden is intent on implementing a US-style economic model?  

    Again, we come back to your (apparently flawed) definition of “socialism”.  

    Re: Greece – don’t you think that tax evasion by the rich might also have something to do with their budgetary distress?  Was the US financial sector privately-owned or state-directed?  Did US leftwing saboteurs and anti-capitalists dream up financial derivatives and lobby your rotten politicians to water down capital adequacy ratios and other “red tape”?

    Re: Russia using its energy resources to wield global power.  Hardly surprising.  Don’t all energy-rich countries throw their weight around?  (They still need to trade and import though – it’s not a one-way street).  Doesn’t the USA project its military power into 150+ countries and have a huge sway over the IMF, World Bank etc?  How do you think China (biggest external market by population = Europe) would react if Russia decided (for some strange reason) to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by throttling European consumers and governments?

    Conclusion: you are cherrypicking examples to suit your prejudices (e.g. that all immigrants to Sweden are “freeloaders”), you are far too quick to blame the public sector and you worry too much.  Just as well you have a good personal exercise regime to manage the stress levels.

    BTW I do hold British citizenship.  We haven’t spoken on HE threads before now but I never made any secret of the fact.  Many’s the time I’ve been lectured about how the Muslims (and / or Marxists) have taken over the Houses of Parliament.  

    Guess what – we’re not all socialists in the UK!  Except perhaps by your wide-ranging, moveable, all-purpose definition.

    In answer to your last question, I definitely do feel superior to anyone who clings to untenable and risible views such as the list of rightwing myths in my last post.  The use of the word “elite” is fine by me if it means brainpower, education and experience as opposed to prejudice, dogma and selective facts.

  • jwebsmall

    In 2008 Germany faced the same crisis as the rest of us.  They took the opposite approach of the U.S. and rejected stimulus and they came roaring back relatively speaking.  So their reaction to the crisis was not the typical socialist reaction of make work jobs.

    The U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.  Japan used to hold that distinction and languished for the “lost decade” that was more like 2 decades.   They are finally turning away and lowered the corporate tax yet and they are starting to recover.  Please don’t confuse capital gain tax rates with corporate income tax rates. Corporate income tax rates in the U.S. are higher than Europe.

    Since income represents the generation of new wealth in this regard the U.S. redistributes newly generated wealthy at a rate greater than anyone in the world now.

    The public worker unions and entitlements are bankrupting Greek and the Germans are paying for it by staying in the Euro.  How long they will stay is anyone’s guess.  The Germans don’t even know how long they are willing to tolerate the wealth redistribution from Germany to Greek, from a stronger work ethic country to a lesser work ethic country.  On the other hand German may have reason to stay in the euro since they are becoming the strong man of European Union and perhaps hope to dominate this structure.  So Germany is on the horns of a dilemma now in this regard (do we stay or do we quit the Euro).  They have a lot of Euro paper tied up in bonds so it isn’t an easy decision.

    It doesn’t take everyone being a socialist in the U.K. to make U.K. a socialist welfare state. Only 51% of those who vote I suppose.   U.K. was the sick man of Euro until Thatcher turned around some socialist policies.

    As far as my stress levels I suppose I’m doing something right.   Went on a cross country run with some active duty marines (in their late 20′s)  last year and they started falling behind after 3 miles.  Probably their poor government nutrition regime.  Or perhaps their belief in western medicine.  I think it is the socialists who are getting up tight about the end of an era and anyone that doesn’t worship at the altar of their entitlements or believe in their salvation of retirement, etc. etc..  I’m not stressed but rather patiently waiting for nature to step in and reset this cycle of history and bring about the end of what should have happened back by 1945. It was Obama that sent back the bust of Churchill to the British embassy and dissed British royalty not little old conservative me.

    No the US didn’t win WWII single handedly but without lend/lease and our involvement democracy in Europe would be pretty scarce me thinks.

    Defecting German scientists helped build our nuclear weapons and space programs. I don’t think Americans are smarter than other people. In fact I believe we are perhaps maybe even dumber than other people. What we did have is a written social contract – something novel in the history of the world that allowed ordinary people through extraordinary liberty to reach more of their potential. I think that exceptionalism has just about expired now that we think more socialistic like Europeans (and others) and the world will return to mediocrity awaiting the next cycle of civilization to begin again perhaps by the later part of the 21st century if we’re lucky.

    I’m late for work and all those who are counting on me, those who are enlightened and willing to let me work so they don’t have to.

  • jwebsmall

    LOL  So the commies are wonderful?  I guess NATO was a waste of time and money?  And U.S. forces in Germany were there to guard against the Nazis? 

    And if understood that NAZIS were actually national socialists we could have avoided the war altogether I presume. After all they were just trying to redistribute resources and living space – no?

    I agree Russia played a major role in killing Germans.   But again we were shipping them their war supplies to keep them from collapsing.

    Thank you for paying the war debt.  Take U.S. out of the equation in WWII and would would the outcome be?

    I don’t see how the banking sector is the reason behind the German export miracle.  Do you mean they forrmulated the capital for these industries and these in turn were subsidized by the German government?  Was the government picking winners and loosers?  Please explain.

    What jobs were gone in the UK?  In the public or private sectors?  After Thatcher the U.K. was no longer referred to as the sick man of Europe.  What do you attribute that to?

  • Alexander Milne

    QUOTE LOL  So the commies are wonderful?  I guess NATO was a waste of time and money?  And U.S. forces in Germany were there to guard against Nazis?
    I agree Russia played a major role in killing Germans.   But again we were shipping them their war supplies to keep them from collapsing. 


    Commies wonderful?  In the sense that they defeated Hitler, yes.  Stalin was appalling but they would have beaten the Nazis eventually via sheer weight of numbers, determination and logistics – the size of the country / hinterland as well as a heavily-industrialised economy.  Remember the Five-Year Plans?QUOTEThank you for paying the war debt.  Take U.S. out of the equation in WWII and would would the outcome be?


    Soviet victory, followed by Stalinism in Western Europe (except perhaps the UK), doomed by its own contradictions to collapse after 50 years as it did in real life. 

    Take the UK out of the picture and Germany would have rolled across the Atlantic, via the British Isles!  The point is: victory in WWII was an ALLIED effort.  

    Re: German banking sector.  Supportive of export industry, commercially-oriented (making its own lending decisions), supported by government guarantees.  A judicious mixture of private and public sectors, as in all civilised lands.  

    Re: UK jobs lost under Thatcher. Across the board but mainly private sector.  UK no longer referred to as the Sick Man of Europe (mainly by lazy media) because there were no longer as many strikes.  But our strikes track record was never as bad as Thatcher alleged.  We were mid-ranking.  What has changed?  We now have an even bigger trade deficit and an even more unequal society where the basics of life (e.g. accommodation) are ridiculously expensive!

  • Alexander Milne

    BTW Any comment on the Japanese “recovery”, the US corporate “tax hike” and the “non-existent” German stimulus programme?!