Contrepoints: Freedom as a solution to the cost of living crisis

This article was published in French on Contrepoints. Below is an English translation of the piece.

Against the increase in the cost of living, the French must rediscover a taste for freedom.

President Macron’s eyes are fixed firmly on this year’s election. Every decision he makes is aimed at keeping his place in the Elysée Palace. But he forgets that if he is successful in winning a second term, he will have to deal with the consequences of the choices he makes now.

In the cost-of-living crisis, he is kicking the can down the road. On the face of it, France seems to be doing much better than many other European countries thanks to Macron’s price caps. According to Insée, inflation will be slowed by around 1 per cent. Consumer prices will still rise, but the blow will be cushioned. The situation over the next few months will be less dire for many households than it would have been without Macron’s state intervention.

But before long, the government – and therefore the French taxpayer – will have to foot the bill. And it is a substantial bill. A whopping 15.5 billion euros has been set aside to limit the impact of inflation, mainly aimed at rising gas prices. Electricité de France SA, which is state-controlled, has been compelled to sell more power at a discount.

Unless President Macron has discovered the mythical ‘magic money tree’ which British prime minister Theresa May talked about, he is only making the situation for the French economy even worse. Many countries around the world are suffering with an inflation and cost-of-living crisis at the moment, but difficulties in France will continue for much, much longer than elsewhere, because France will remain under the cloud of debt, deficit and state interference for much longer than other countries.

Most disappointingly of all, this is entirely avoidable – it is blatant electioneering from President Macron. He is using the full weight of the state apparatus to maximise his chances of winning the election in a few months’ time and it is the French people who will suffer.

Today it is gas prices and electricity bills, but tomorrow it could be anything else. If we continue allowing precedents to be set wherein the government can intervene at will to make citizens’ lives more expensive and further under the control of centralised policy, it will only become harder and harder to undo those changes, roll back the frontiers of the state and reclaim our most basic freedoms.

The only substance taxed more harshly than petrol and diesel in France is tobacco, which is the perfect archetypal example of the way the state looks down on ordinary people and insists on nannying them. France has some of the highest tobacco taxes in the world because it is at the beck and call of the World Health Organisation, a shameless echo chamber of global nanny statists issuing diktats to governments around the world about new ways to tax and regulate their populations into submission.

How long will France continue putting up with this? If French people want to quit smoking, they are capable of doing so on the free market through solutions like vaping. When it comes to the cost-of-living crisis, the French people need a government which stands up for their interests on the international stage and implements a properly thought-out energy programme, including nuclear energy, in order to keep costs down and save the environment at the same time.

Most fundamentally of all, French people know much better how to spend their money than their government does. The last thing struggling French households need is more and more of their euros going to the state through taxes to pay for the latest expensive government initiative. France does not need a nanny state – it needs its politicians to entrust its citizens with personal responsibility and allow them to live their lives and spend their money as they see fit.

That’s why we are setting up our new project in France, Les Jeunes Voix. Young Voices, an international non-profit organisation for liberty, has seen huge success in the US and UK in recent years in promoting ideas of liberty in the media and popular discourse. Now, we want to provide new voices for liberty in France too.

There is a crying need for fresh ideas in the French public square, and we want to help provide that by lifting up French voices and empowering people in France who believe in values of liberty. Our freedoms can slip away quickly if we don’t fight for them, and there has never been a more important time to fight than now! If you believe in liberty, join our fight.

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