Opinion | When a Traffic Ticket Costs $13,000 – The New York Times

By Emily Reina Dindial and Ronald J. Lampard

Ms. Dindial is lawyer for the A.C.L.U. Mr. Lampard is a lawyer for the American Legislative Exchange Council.

A motorist waiting as a police officer writes a citation.CreditStan Lim/Digital First Media — The Press-Enterprise, via Getty Images

For most people living in America, transportation is central to daily life. About 83 percent of Americans report that they regularly drive a car multiple times a week. Yet millions of drivers across the country have had their licenses suspended — taking away their ability to drive to work, school, the grocery store or the doctor — essentially because they are poor.

In 2014, Leah Jackson was ticketed for obstructing traffic in Ostego, Minn., after turning left at a red light. That kind of thing happens to many people. But, as Ms. Jackson explained to state lawmakers in 2018 testimony, she had just started a new job and hadn’t yet received a paycheck, so she couldn’t pay the $135 fine right away.

A few months later, she was pulled over, told her driver’s license was suspended for an unpaid ticket and cited for driving with a suspended license — a new $200 ticket. Her job responsibilities as a retail store manager required her to make bank runs and other deliveries, so she kept driving in order to keep her job. In less than a month, she received two more tickets for driving with a suspended license. After accounting for the additional tickets and the resulting increase in her monthly insurance premiums, her debt from the initial infraction spiraled into more than $13,000 over four and a half years.

The criminal justice system too often produces a self-perpetuating cycle, particularly for the poorest people, who can’t pay fines or hire lawyers to make charges go away. In 39 states, you can lose your driving privileges if you’re unable to pay a court fine or fee, for things as minor as a traffic violation. But a bipartisan effort is growing to end the fundamentally unjust practice of wealth-based suspensions.

Opinion | Macron’s Moment of Truth – By Sylvie Kauffmann – The New York Times

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By Sylvie Kauffmann
Ms. Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde.

Dec. 6, 2018

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President Emmanuel Macron, center, inspecting the damage from protests over a planned fuel tax increase in Paris this month.CreditCreditEtienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock
“PARIS — He was the savior of Europe. A 39-year-old maverick who rescued France from the populist tide, the newcomer who crushed his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen in a TV debate on the eve of a presidential election. The leader who would make liberal democracy great again. The visionary who had a plan to jump start the European Union. A 21st-century John Kennedy. Some joked that he could walk on water.

That was 2017. Eighteen months into his presidential term, Emmanuel Macron, faced with an uprising by a leaderless army of working poor in yellow vests and by violence unseen since the student riots of May 1968, is struggling to take back control of his country. The charismatic young president was jeered by protesters who tried to chase his car this week when he visited a public building set afire by rioters in Le Puy-en-Velay, in south-central France. “Macron, démission” — “Macron, resign” — has become the rallying cry of these modern-day sans-culottes, whose anger is directed at him, personally.

In a rare show of humility, Mr. Macron admitted a month ago that he had “failed to reconcile the people with its leaders.” Little did he suspect that the anger would turn into hatred, of the kind thrown in the face of dictators by the Arab Spring. As a fourth Saturday of protests looms, in spite of an olive branch offered by the government, nobody can predict whether this revolt will eventually give way to dialogue or degenerate into an even more profound and dangerous crisis.

What went wrong? Two sets of factors have come into play. One is not specific to France: an insurrectional wave that is now a familiar feature of Western democracies shaken by the disruptions of globalization, the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis and the inability of our traditional political parties to adjust to these new challenges. Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, an emergence of the far right in Germany and a victory of anti-system parties in Italy — all, though less violent, are part of the same dynamics. Emmanuel Macron was initially seen as a bulwark against this trend. More determined than his predecessors, he would reform France with a progressive agenda that would do away with the injustices of the old world.”

via Opinion | Macron’s Moment of Truth – The New York Times

I love this piece by Silvie Kauffmann, but I found a comment which has a different view, which I also endorsed. It it difficult, to like two views that seem opposed to each other.

Guillaume
Times Pick

Emmanuel Macron has clearly miscalculated. He’s doing exactly what he said he would during the campaign. The carbon tax was also on most parties’ platform (especially on the left). However that was not enough for France to accept it. He may have thought he should cram as many reforms as he could early in his mandate. But he will have to change his plans.

For the past 20 years, all French governments have tried to reform but had to back down because of protests. The irony is that Ms. Kauffmann and her fellow French journalists bear a lot of responsibility.

Where in Le Monde columns can one read that France has not had a balanced budget since 1974? That government spending in France measured as the percentage of GDP is the highest in the western world? That public social spending is the highest in the OECD? That the income inequality is not that high and has been stable for 20 years? French people don’t understand the need for reforms and how urgent they are. The only things they hear from journalists is that Macron cares only about the rich and there is money in France and you just have to take it.

The truth is that the only way to maintain the generous French welfare state is to balance the budget and broaden the tax base by reducing unemployment and fostering economic growth. Ms. Kauffman should make that case.

Emmanuel Macron’s Unwanted New Title: ‘President of the Rich’ – By Adam Nossiter – NYT

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By Adam Nossiter
Nov. 1, 2017

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“PARIS — From the all-powerful president with the infallible touch, Emmanuel Macron has become the “president of the rich,” an elitist dispensing fiscal goodies to the wealthy. At least that is what parliamentarians, some economists, television interviewers and newspapers have been calling him in recent weeks.

Barely six months into his presidency, Mr. Macron has been brought down from the heights to places many French are deeply suspicious of: the corporate suite and the banker’s office. Over and over that unflattering label — “president of the rich” — has been affixed to the young leader.

“You are committing violence with your policy. It’s you that are going after the poor to give to the rich!” thundered François Ruffin, a firebrand of the leftist France Unbowed party.

Mr. Macron was guilty of a “heavy moral, economic, and historical sin,” the best-selling economist Thomas Piketty wrote in the newspaper Le Monde.”

via Emmanuel Macron’s Unwanted New Title: ‘President of the Rich’ – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Macron has really fucked up, to use an old French expression. I have also read and posted the hyperlink to the article on the asset tax he reduced on the wealthiest individuals, as one of his first acts as prime minister. He really blew the visuals on that one, and then, apparently, he has never heard of making a gas tax either revenue neutral, or only to raise money for public transportation. If he continues to rule like a deaf emperor, he will fail, which is horrible, since we need his leadership now for fighting climate change, containing Russia, and hearding the cats of the free world during the great vacuum of Trumpism.

Apple, Congress and the Missing Taxes – The New York Times

This is one of the best NY Times editorials I have read in several years.

“Apple and the United States are crying foul over the ruling in Europe that Apple received illegal tax breaks from Ireland and must hand over 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion), a record tax penalty in Europe.

But Apple and the United States have only themselves to blame for the situation.Apple has engaged in increasingly aggressive tax avoidance for at least a decade, including stashing some $100 billion in Ireland without paying taxes on much of it anywhere in the world, according to a Senate investigation in 2013. In a display of arrogance, the company seemed to believe that its arrangements in a known tax haven like Ireland would never be deemed illegal — even as European regulators cracked down in similar cases against such multinational corporations as Starbucks, Amazon, Fiat and the German chemical giant BASF.

Congress, for its part, has sat idly by as American corporations have indulged in increasingly intricate forms of tax avoidance made possible by the interplay of an outmoded corporate tax code and modern globalized finance. The biggest tax dodge in need of reform involves deferral, in which American companies can defer paying taxes on foreign-held profits until those sums are repatriated.”

Source: Apple, Congress and the Missing Taxes – The New York Times

The Panama Papers’ Sprawling Web of Corruption – The New York Times

“The first reaction to the leaked documents dubbed the Panama Papers is simply awe at the scope of the trove and the ingenuity of the anonymous source who provided the press with 11.5 million documents — 2.6 terabytes of data — revealing in extraordinary detail how offshore bank accounts and tax havens are used by the world’s rich and powerful to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes.Then comes the disgust. With more than 14,000 clients around the world and more than 214,000 offshore entities involved, Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm whose internal documents were exposed, piously insists it violated no laws or ethics. But the questions remain: How did all these politicians, dictators, criminals, billionaires and celebrities amass vast wealth and then benefit from elaborate webs of shell companies to disguise their identities and their assets? Would there have been no reckoning had the leak not occurred?”

Source: The Panama Papers’ Sprawling Web of Corruption – The New York Times