On Gérard Depardieu’s change of citizenship…

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Poor François Hollande. He should only be glad that Depardieu didn't choose to begin a run for President. Our political heroes (and leaders) are largely voted in on the strength of their apparent personalities and popularity (notice I said "apparent"). For all we know, Hollande may be a completely decent, boring fellow, who has a problem with women, but is otherwise harmless and well-intentioned–not correct necessarily; economists who are very much smarter than we are about, well, economics can't agree on what's the right thing to do.

Depardieu has cast himself as a rogue, but a lovable one. A Shrek in the flesh. His life story is far more compelling than Hollande's, especially for the majority of people who live a life closer to the seeming original desultory destiny of the movie star (and let's not forget, he's a movie star, a very rich one) than to Hollande's. Yet Hollande, who has become rich enough, does not hold a candle to the multi-millionaires and billionaires who are threatening to decamp with all their gelt. And yet, even further yet… most people are destined to live their lives of quiet desperation, never to rise even close to the level of a Hollande, never mind a Depardieu. But millions of people live eternally in hope, the only palliative to unrelenting desperation and struggle and a sense of one's own mediocrity measured in material terms. That's how lotteries become popular (and put tons of money–a painless tax, it seems–into public coffers). They'll smoke a cheap narcotic, tobacco, and ruin their health, accepting the confiscatory taxes on it and expecting the state will take care of treating their pulmonary and cardiac disease when they get them, and will do it at no cost.

In short, everyone's values are totally screwed up.

The people will buy trickle-down economics and tax shelters for the rich, as long as they love the guy selling them. Another movie star, Ronald Reagan, was an incredible salesman (in the 50s, 30 years before he became President, he sold cigarettes for Chesterfield, part of the pitch was it's a "healthy" product… Google T-zone if you don't know what I'm talking about). If people love you for whatever reason cooked up up by your publicists and handlers, they'll buy what you're selling.

Hollande is very lucky Depardieu is leaving, and not running for the Assembly… People will still watch his movies. He'll stay superfluously rich (how much do you think his estate will be worth, when he's fought his last Visigoth?), and people will forget he welched on a 75% marginal tax rate for the few years it will be imposed. We all seem already to have forgotten the concept of the 1% and the 99%…

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