French Atlas Shrugs: Louis Vuitton Boss Flees Socialism

The Liberation newspaper yesterday ran a front-page headline that said “Get lost, rich bastard,” and Hollande in a televised interview said it’s patriotic to pay taxes

The decision by France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, to seek Belgian citizenship has created a media frenzy over tax exiles, giving the increasingly unpopular Socialist President Francois Hollande a chance to grandstand.

It's mildly impressive that Hollande has managed to become unpopular shortly after being elected. Arnault has been a critic of Hollande's supertax scheme and is voting with his feet.

Arnault, the chief executive officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC), the world’s biggest luxury-goods company, said his “personal action” is not aimed at sending a political message or escaping Hollande’s 75 percent tax on earnings of more than 1 million euros ($1.28 million). Still, the Liberation newspaper yesterday ran a front-page headline that said “Get lost, rich bastard,” and Hollande in a televised interview on Sept. 9 said it’s patriotic to pay taxes.

And it's even more patriotic to pander to Muslims in your campaign and bleeding productive French citizens to fund the polygamous lifestyles of the Islamist ghettos.

“He should have reflected on what it means to ask for another nationality because we are proud to be French,” Hollande said in the 30-minute interview.

Clearly. Like the members of Hollande's cabinet who hold dual citizenship in Muslim countries. Nothing says French pride like not even bothering to commit to France.

Arnault helped extend the debate further yesterday by announcing that he’s suing Liberation for its “vulgarity” and “violence” and noting the jobs he’s created in France since the 1980s, when he took control of LVMH.

But I'm sure all the taxes he won't be paying will help Hollande create even more jobs. Patriotic gang rape jobs in the Banlieues.

Opposition politicians said Arnault’s case may just be the beginning of a brain-drain and departure of wealth from the country.

“Behind the Bernard Arnault affair there is a mountain of departures,” former Prime Minister Francois Fillon said yesterday on Europe 1 radio, adding “Who is more patriotic, someone who has created thousands of jobs and pays” millions of euros in tax or “the editorial writers?”

The editorial writers... obviously.

Besides who needs Louis Vuitton, Hennessy and Moet anyway. It's not like those products make money. Belgium can have the jobs and France can have social workers teaching Muslims not to murder their sisters unless they really have to.

The president needs to rethink his approach. He may have something to learn about growth and job creation from Arnault, who over the past 25 years has built his luxury-goods company into one of France’s largest and most profitable enterprises. It now accounts for more than 5 percent of the Paris stock market and employs close to 100,000 people in France and around the world. It shouldn’t be held against him that along the way he has acquired a net worth of $25.7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, making him the 15th-richest person on the planet.

France will lose billions and gain.... millions.

Hollande has recognized that the 75 percent rate on earnings of more than 1 million euros is largely symbolic: It will affect only 2,000 to 3,000 people and won’t raise much revenue. That lends credence to accusations by Arnault and others that the levy is designed to pump up the president’s falling approval ratings by stoking class resentment.

But the left isn't really interested in wealth, so much as in destroying it. Driving out the 75 percenters accomplishes the goal of purging France of some of its upper class dissenters. Hollande wanted Arnault to leave and got his wish.

"Mr Arnault came to see me at the end of last year, wanting to be domiciled here, to live here," Mayor Armand de Decker told the newspaper La Libre Belgique. "He has a feeling about the policies of his country, which he considers unfriendly to business."

Was Arnault paving the way to Monte Carlo, the French press wondered. The route to Monaco via Belgium is a well-trodden one: once he had dual nationality, the businessman could theoretically renounce his French citizenship and move to the Riviera principality where Belgian nationals – but not French citizens – can live tax-free.

Au Revoir.