Just a side-note on my passing comment that while French (and European taxes generally) are tall, deep, and wide, they are not terribly progressive, what with a 20 percent VAT and a tax on every move you make, every breath you take.
In fact, I’ve just learned that the French government is so desperate for taxes they’re prohibiting apartment owners in Paris from renting their places out to visitors, ending a wonderful way to make Paris affordable. Every tourist’s room is now part of a hotel or B&B, licensed and seriously taxed, or it’s illegal. (My favorite French attorney, Jean Tacquet, covers that outrage here.)
For all the pity-the-poor talk in the EU, taxes on those with low incomes are ubiquitous, especially compared to the U.S., which has a more progressive tax scheme than practically anyone on the far side of the Atlantic. That’s just one of the entertaining factoids found in Peter Baldwin’s The Narcissism of Minor Differences: How America and Europe are Alike.
I review Baldwin’s book in the current Claremont Review. Subscription recommended.