An organization whose broad mission is to fight poverty and injustice…
The organization, whose broad mission is to fight poverty and injustice, has a hard line against the richest, believing that every billionaire “represents a failure of public policy. “For the first time in twenty-five years, extreme wealth and extreme poverty have risen dramatically at the same time,” said Oxfam, which argues that the solution to improving the everyday lives of billions lies in the wallets of our core assets. planet. The idea is simple: we should tax the rich more and redistribute massively in favor of the most modest.
Oxfam cites an anthology of figures, each more telling than the other, to support its reasoning. Thus, as of 2020, “two-thirds of global wealth” would be “captured by the richest 1%, nearly twice as much as the rest of the world’s population.” At the same time, “more than 70 million additional people fell into extreme poverty, an increase of 11%.” Focusing on France alone, “the wealth of billionaires has increased by more than €200 billion since 2020,” Oxfam notes. The goal for the NGO will be to halve the number of billionaires without taxing them by 2030, and in the longer term to “eliminate” them altogether.
So only the rich are responsible for the injustices that plague our societies? To find out, we interviewed two economists with different political sensibilities: Nicolas Buzu, director of the consulting firm Asterès and a proponent of a liberal and open economy, and Mathieu Plane, deputy director of the OFCE (Observatory of French Economic Conditions). social and solidarity economy. No one denies that successive crises in recent years have benefited the “ultra-rich”. But none of them consider it correct to attribute all the ills of our societies to the supposed selfishness of the richest.
“It’s quite normal to have people who are successful and become billionaires in a market economy,” says Nicolas Buzu. A completely egalitarian society does not exist. According to Mathieu Plane, what is “shocking” is the observation of a “two-tiered economy”: “We see a real economy suffering from many crises, resulting in social difficulties for a certain number of people. On the other hand, it is governed by record stock prices in technology, luxury, energy, etc. financial economy. It has created levels of wealth that are sometimes stratospheric.”
The envied and condemned rich do not yet live on the fringes of society, and their wealth contributes to the country’s economic dynamism. But not all of them, according to Mathieu Plane: “There are people who get rich by creating companies that are productive, innovate, create jobs and pay high taxes relative to high incomes, which generate tax revenue that helps fund the education system. health etc. And there is an heir, the annuitant, who is even more annoying because he does not participate in the overall growth of the economy. »
“We need global coordination on capital taxation”
However, Nicolas Bouzu points out that whether the ultra-rich like it or not, they are key players in national solidarity “given the level of taxes they pay”: “In France, we are solidarity players depending on its income. The more money you make, the more taxes you pay. In addition, there is a lot of investment in foundations or in the field of culture. So the rich have a positive contribution to the economy. “Mathew Plane’s downside observation,” tax optimization “sometimes leads to undertaxation of wealth.”
A liberal economist thinks the “real debate” is knowing what the rich “can do best”? We are a bit behind Anglo-Saxon capitalism. For example, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates leave very little to their children and invest almost all of their wealth in major social causes. It’s different in France, it’s more culturally oriented. »
“Everyone is useful”
Should the question of more massive taxation of the billionaires set up by Oxfam as the main solution to economic inequalities emerge? Nicolas Bouzou is not a supporter and reminds that “France is the country where the level of compulsory duties is the highest among all the countries of the developed world”.
“Me, the presence of billionaires is not a problem for me. What worries me is the presence of the poor.”
Mathieu Plane, who is more enthusiastic, warns that the conditions are not met at the moment: “The limit of taxing more is that we cannot do it alone. France is already one of the most taxed countries and there is tax competition between countries to attract wealth. Thus, there should be global coordination on the taxation of capital, as with the OECD-led corporate tax rate, a minimum of 15%. »