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By Rachel Marsden
It would seem that we're now at the stage of global economic lunacy where the worldwide socialist slide is so far gone that the president of Russia is lecturing the world, and particularly Europe, about the risks of socialism.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Vladivostok, Russia, Vladimir Putin promoted the merits of free-market economics. He said that by pulling the former Soviet satellite states into its sphere after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Europe chose to take responsibility for subsidizing their economic well-being. And now the eurozone model is on the verge of collapse itself, seemingly destined to follow in the footsteps of the old Soviet Union.
Putin's solution is to create and build influence -- and restore the lost power of the Soviet era -- through trade, without taking on the responsibility for other countries' debts or internal problems. Russia's Gazprom, for example, supplies an estimated 36 percent of Europe's gas, with that figure skyrocketing to over 80 percent in former Soviet states like Poland.
"It seems now that someone in the
Yes, let's keep this free-market show moving along unimpeded, says the president of the part of the world previously synonymous with communism.
Putin didn't stop there, either. Continuing his transformation into some kind of Russian Ronald Reagan, he lectured the world on the perils of protectionism. Admitting he wasn't blameless in sometimes taking measures to protect the sectors most vulnerable to global economic turbulence, he confessed that "addiction to the medicine of protectionism may temporarily relieve the pain, the acute symptoms, but it slows down the recovery of the global economy, hampers trade and investments."
Only time will tell to what degree Putin's actions come to match his words, but those words already stand in stark contrast to the rhetoric emanating from much of Europe and the rest of the world.
In France, socialist President Francois Hollande had an opportunity to back down from a campaign promise to slap a 75 percent income tax on any personal income over 1 million euros. Unfortunately, Hollande has reiterated that he's the kind of socialist who keeps his promises. What France desperately needs right now is a socialist who reneges on everything that comes out of his mouth and spends most of his term on vacation, but apparently Hollande is determined not to be that kind of guy.
France's richest man, Bernard Arnault, the multibillionaire CEO of LVMH (the parent company for brands such as
But really, why should Arnault be condemned to give away 75 percent of his personal income to a government that does nothing but fritter it away on free health care and entitlements for illegal immigrants, on various whiners who refuse to leave the block on which they grew up in an effort to procure gainful employment, on unproductive bureaucratic leeches, and on a trough full of political fat cats? Apparently some people feel better about their lot in life when socialist policies are perceived as forcing people such as Arnault to share in their misery.
That's not a country -- it's an economic gulag. I have a feeling that Putin would be only too happy these days to lecture you on the difference. Incidentally, how much would Arnault, or anyone else, pay in income tax in Putin's Russia?
Answer: Russia has a 13 percent flat tax for all personal income, and a 20 percent rate for corporate taxes. It used to be much higher, but apparently Putin was pretty sure that cutting taxes would stimulate economic growth. Go figure.
(Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and former
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