Italy as tax haven (living under fascism for 100,000 euro per year)

I was chatting with a Dutch friend on WhatsApp on Thanksgiving Day, reminding him that we were celebrating our theft of an entire continent from the benevolent peace-loving Earth-preserving Native Americans. I shared a photo from the morning golden retriever walk:

For his part, he shared the European perspective: “There are two ways to live life. Short and violent or long and miserable.”

What else did I learn? “The left-wing parties control Dutch cities and say that they want immigrants to Holland, but don’t want the immigrants congregating in the cities that they rule. So they’ve been trying to force immigrants to settle in the conservative country towns. That hasn’t worked because the provincial towns have refused to provide free housing for migrants. So the Hague just passed a law forcing the country towns to take these immigrants.”

What are the Dutch with money doing? “Moving to Italy,” he responded. “The Italians let foreigners who move there pay 100,000 euro per year in tax. After that you can have 100 million euro in capital gains, dividends, etc. and they won’t even ask about it. It’s actually better than moving to a Caribbean tax haven because you get rebates on all of the withholding taxes on dividends because Italy has a tax treaty with the Netherlands.” (fact check: the scheme seems to have started in 2017) He said “You have to make sure that you don’t stay more than 182 days per year in the Netherlands or have kids in school here. Like New York State chasing after people who move to Florida, the Dutch government will try to find any excuse it can to continue collecting taxes. But it is really not a hardship to live in a Tuscan villa.”

Separately, the newspapers that warned us of the fascist takeover of Italy have gone silent regarding Giorgia Meloni’s dictatorship. Based on this Reuters article, it looks like the main program of fascism is stoking inflation via bigger government:

Italy’s new right-wing government signed off on its first budget in the early hours of Tuesday, a package focusing on curbing sky-high energy bills and cutting taxes…

Next year’s budget deficit is targeted to fall to 4.5% of gross domestic product from 5.6% this year. The package is still expansionary because under an unchanged policy scenario the deficit ratio was headed for 3.4%.

The budget contains almost 35 billion euros ($35.95 billion) of increased spending or tax cuts. Some 60% to be financed through increased borrowing.

Over 21 billion euros to help firms and households pay electricity and gas bills, mainly through subsidies for energy-intensive firms and low income families.

Next year Italians will be able to draw a pension from the age of 62 provided they have paid in at least 41 years of contributions.

That compares with the current rule, put in place for just this year by the previous government, allowing people to retire at 64 provided they have worked for 38 years.

The budget also extends to 2023, with adjustments, an early retirement scheme for women. Beneficiaries will be able to draw a pension at 58 if they have at least two children, at 59 with just one child, and otherwise at 60.

So, just like Americans under transferism, the Italians under fascism are going to work less and spend more!


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The Brits don’t love the world’s best health care system

From a bookstore in Kensington:

A Guardian review says it is all about the death panels:

Side Effects forces us to face up to – rather than ignore or deny – the realities of balancing the vast sums that can be spent on a single, seriously ill patient against the “distressing conditions in which many frail and elderly people live out their final years, often as a result of lack of adequate funding”. It is all too tempting, Haslam recognises, to dismiss as abhorrent the act of attaching a price tag to a person – as though their worth can be measured in pounds and pence. A human life, surely, is priceless? No amount of mere money or stuff comes close? But anyone who is actually involved in the real, messy world of healthcare knows full well this is nothing but rhetorical posturing.

Later that afternoon I was talking to a guy who is married to an emergency medicine doc in London. With the cost of living adjustment, she can expect to earn 80,000 pounds per year (i.e., $80,000!) after 15 years of slavery for the NHS (age 40). “A train driver will earn more,” he noted, “because their union is actually effective.”

Who is smarter than the Brits for running a universal health care system that doesn’t bankrupt everyone? Africans! “Middle class Nigerians who need any kind of advanced medical treatment will come here on a tourist visa,” my friend explained, and go straight from Heathrow to an NHS hospital. Once they’re in the system they get treated just like anyone else. After consuming what might be hundreds of thousands of pounds in services and recovering, they go back to Nigeria.”

What else did they have in the bookstore? It’s “smart thinking” to fight structural racism:

An American hero who inspires Biden voters can also inspire the British:

Although the age of consent in the UK is 16 (e.g., a 16-year-old could consent to have sex with a rich guy after a Gulfstream flight to somewhere luxurious) and prostitution is a legal career for an 18-year-old, the British are apparently shocked about what Jeffrey Epstein was allegedly up to:

Anyone who isn’t a cisgender heterosexual white male is in trouble:

England was saved from German invasion by women of color who were willing to risk their lives in combat while white men relaxed in the safety of their country homes:

Despite the fact that some heroines exist, the entire Earth is, literally, toast because of those who Deny the Science (i.e., unlike World War II, this is not a war that can be won by women alone):

An entire section of the front of the bookstore was devoted to a personage who by right should have been King of England and was denied this position purely on account of her gender ID:

Circling back to the British health care system… if we aren’t willing to use death panels or at least a quality-adjusted life year calculation the way that the Brits do, how are we going to keep health care from growing to consume 25 percent of American GDP (a shrinking quantity in the aggregate and, since the population continues to grow via immigration, an even more dramatically shrinking quantity on a per-capita basis)?

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The only defense against mass tourism is to become a mass tourist?

In observance of Veterans Day, let’s look at the territory that the Greatest Generation fought for in the 1940s…

In the old days there was a tradeoff between being an independent tourist and joining an organized tour. As an independent tourist perhaps you wouldn’t see as many things per day, but you could wander around a city and enter museums and other attractions as the whim struck you. Today, however, due to mass tourism combined with a touch of coronapanic, the headline tourist sites of Europe require booking advance reservations and organizing transportation to arrive on time for those reservations. In other words, the independent tourist now needs to do all of the stuff that a tour company ordinarily does. Three weeks in advance, for example, we tried booking a ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Everything was sold out (we eventually got onto a guided tour for 3X the price, but let’s not call it scalping!). The Louvre was sold out a week in advance. Some of this can be navigated around via memberships (Amis du Louvre) or a Paris Museum Pass. But I’m wondering if the best defense against mass tourism is to become a mass tourist (if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em). An organized tour of Paris could hit all of the major sites in a three days and the participants wouldn’t have to spend evenings pre-booking on the Web and then fretting about how to get from one reservation to another. If desired, spend a couple of extra days as independent tourists seeing the second- and third-tier sites.

Here’s our Eiffel Tower experience. Because we had to book it weeks in advance, it fell on the only rainy day of our trip:

I guess we shouldn’t complain about the lines. If not for the combat veterans of World War II and the desk veterans who kept them supplied, we might have needed to learn German to visit the Eiffel Tower.


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Taking kids to the Louvre

I’m leaving this here as a reminder to my future self.

One month before any trip to the Louvre: join Amis du Louvre (Adhérent) to get a membership for however many adults are in your household (kids are free). The cards will be mailed out and then you can skip the lines at the Pyramid and other places. You might be able to talk your way in from the Passage Richelieu or Carrousel (underground mall) entrance if you say that you’re going to buy a membership. With the membership, you don’t need to get a timed ticket and then wait in line for 30 minutes to use that time slot.

Once in the Pyramid, skip the Nintendo-based audioguides, which are complex and confusing (and the commentary is limited to a handful of works and isn’t very interesting).

Enter via Richelieu and the French sculptures, especially the Barye animal fights.

Upstairs to Napoleon III’s lavish crib.

Upstairs again to the two Vermeers (one was in Abu Dhabi; one here). Here’s how much demand there was at 1 pm on a weekday to see a painting not called “Mona Lisa”:

Then the huge Rubens salon and walk through French painting to see if the battle scenes catch their eye.

Finally to the Mona Lisa room, which should be revisited on a Friday night around 9 pm if anyone actually wants to see the painting. Note the surgical mask as protection against aerosol viruses in the most crowded room of the world’s most visited art museum (at least 15,000 visitors per day). Fortunately, the ventilation system was upgraded in the 50s… the 1850s.

A mostly-European crowd in which we see reliance on masks, typically mere surgical or cloth ones:

In other kid news, ours enjoyed this stinky cheese from the supermarket:

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Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton museum

A heroic reader suggested that we visit the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne and was kind enough to pick us up and drive us there. Frank Gehry designed the building in 2006 when he was 77 years old. In other words, he did a few sketches and let a platoon of nameless architects and engineers figure out how to make it happen. Some of the sketches are shown in the museum and they look like a 3-year-old’s art.

The museum is a triumph of form over function. There’s a building and then a bunch of decorative glass is attached to the exterior, supported by a frame. The galleries inside are chopped up so that a recent show was spread over 10 separate galleries for no reason other than each gallery is fairly small. A prefab aircraft hangar would actually work better for the required function of designing an art exhibit.

The exterior is striking and includes a staircase waterfall.

The museum lacks a permanent collection so it is all-special-exhibitions-all-the-time. We visited during a visit comparing Claude Monet, whom most people have heard of, and Joan Mitchell, who never met Monet and whose name is unfamiliar even to art nerds.

From the signage I learned that Monet cranked out 400 paintings from 1900 through 1926 and 300 of them were of water lilies at Giverny. Here’s a triptych that had been scattered to three different museums in the U.S., reassembled on a long wall:

What does Joan Mitchell’s work look like?

Tickets are timed, but the museum was jammed.

Note that a fair number of folks had elected to stay safe from an aerosol virus by voluntarily entering a crowded indoor public environment while wearing surgical and cloth masks. There aren’t enough books and movies featuring Monet’s art so it was impossible to stay home and #StopTheSpread?

My favorite part of the building, though unlikely to be of much use in typical Paris weather, was the series of outdoor terraces.

(Note the Heroes of Faucism, wearing their masks while outdoors.)

When you leave the museum, whose restaurant gets terrible reviews on Google Maps, you’re in the Jardin d’acclimatation:

From 1877 until 1912, the Jardin Zoologique d’Acclimatation was converted to l’Acclimatation Anthropologique. In mid-colonialism, the curiosity of Parisians was attracted to the customs and lifestyles of foreign peoples. Nubians, Bushmen, Zulus, and many other African peoples were “exhibited” in a human zoo. The exhibitions were a huge success. The number of visitors to the Jardin doubled, reaching the million mark.

The Fondation LV is not part of the Paris Museum Pass system and the trip out to the park might not be cheap or simple. I give this place a thumbs-up on a beautiful day and a thumbs-down if the weather is less than perfect.

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How much more successful would Rishi Sunak have been if he had been born white?

The UK has a new prime minister. Because they could not find anyone 78-86, which Science proves is the age range in which a human exhibits optimum decision-making skills, they’ve chosen 42-year-old Rishi Sunak.

“Rishi Sunak to become first British PM of colour and also first Hindu at No 10” (Guardian):

Rishi Sunak is about to become the UK’s first prime minister of colour and the first Hindu prime minister, both milestones in Britain’s evolution as a multicultural and multi-faith society. … the UK has never had a black or brown prime minister before.

Neema Begum, assistant professor in British politics at the University of Nottingham, said Sunak’s appointment “shows how far ethnic minority representation has come in politics”. “Sunak as prime minister is not necessarily a cause for celebration for all ethnic minorities. It shouldn’t be used to refute the ongoing existence of racism or obscure the fact that there are well-documented systemic racial and ethnic inequalities in housing, health and education.”

“New British PM Rishi Sunak is richer than King Charles III. How wealthy is he and where did it come from?” (Forbes):

Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, have a combined net worth of around £730 million ($826 million), … That’s around twice the estimated wealth of King Charles III.

So… this guy overcame racism and, as a “brown” person navigated a society in which white privilege is a huge advantage. This leads to the question How much more successful would Rishi Sunak have been if he had been born white? Instead of having to wait to age 42, at what age would he have become prime minister? Instead of being worth $826 million, how much would he be worth if he’d enjoyed white privilege?

Here’s a recent sunny Saturday near the Palace of Westminster. Almost impossible to walk on the bridge because nobody can decide whether to walk on the left or on the right.

And a young Heroine of Faucism who is wearing a non-N95 mask as defense against an aerosol virus while on a 30-minute nearby London Eye ride in close proximity to the unmasked:

Just for fun, a photo at the top:

On the subject of systemic racism, a newspaper that I picked up on my way into a multi-million-dollar electric vehicle:

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The religion of Diversity and the failure of the recent UK government

“Liz Truss has appointed the most diverse cabinet ever.” (Guardian, 9/7/2022):

None of the four most senior jobs in the British government will be held by a white man.

We are informed that Diversity leads to superior results and that this has been proven as a Scientific fact. “There is a wealth of research that says diverse teams perform better because each team member brings a different perspective to the table.” (NYT 2018). “Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter” (Harvard Business Review, 2019):

In recent years a body of research has revealed another, more nuanced benefit of workplace diversity: nonhomogenous teams are simply smarter.

So the Liz Truss government was more diverse and more intelligent than any previous British government. Science would have predicted high performance for this group. Yet the same folks who tell us that diverse teams are better says that the Liz Truss team was incompetent:

Prime Minister Liz Truss announced on Thursday that she would resign, just days after her new finance minister reversed virtually all of her planned tax cuts, sweeping away a free-market fiscal agenda that promised a radical policy shift for Britain but instead plunged the country into weeks of economic and political turmoil.

Ms. Truss’s political viability had become tenuous after her proposals for broad unfunded tax cuts roiled markets and sent the pound’s value plunging. She suffered a grave blow on Monday, when her newly appointed chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, said that the government was undoing the last vestiges of Ms. Truss’s tax proposals.

That announcement constituted one of the most dramatic reversals in modern British political history, and a humiliating repudiation of Ms. Truss’s leadership. In recent weeks, support for her Conservative Party had collapsed in opinion polls and unrest among its lawmakers intensified, undermining her ability to remain in office.

How do we maintain our faith in the religion of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion after this spectacular failure? Do we point out that not enough people on the Liz Truss team were members of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community? (and do they have the “2S” over there?)

Speaking of diversity and “2S”, the Elizabeth Warren section of the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground:

Going forward, Britain will feature high tax rates and rule by white men? Here’s the new money guy:

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Who can explain financial markets’ hatred for the new UK government?

There has been a lot of drama in the currency and bond markets regarding the new UK government’s economic policy, which sounds like it is along the lines of what the U.S. did in the 1980s. President Ronald Reagan proposed shrinking government with spending cuts so that tax cuts could be implemented; Congress agreed to the tax cuts, but refused to cut spending and the result was massive deficits, which eventually faded due to economic growth.

The UK government is already somewhat leaner than what we have in the U.S. Heritage says that the UK government consumes 42 percent of GDP, which is a touch higher than the US government (39 percent), but the UK figure includes nearly all health care spending. If we add government-mandated-and-regulated “private” health care to the US number, we get closer to 50 percent of GDP.

The business folks and investors with whom I spoke in the UK were generally positive regarding Prime Minister Truss‘s plan, which they felt would deliver a substantial amount of growth. They attributed much of the hatred and hysteria to an anti-Conservative press. On the other hand, hatred and hysteria in currency and bond markets isn’t usually driven by whatever the Guardian has to say.

One part of Truss’s plan seemed insane to me, i.e., preventing consumers from seeing that prices for energy have gone up. But the French are also doing it. Wholesale electricity prices are up 5X and consumers are paying… 1X. Party On with printed money.

“Liz Truss’s economic plan caused a furor. But it’s actually sound” (Washington Post, October 9):

Britain is the only Group of Seven country with a smaller economy today than in the fourth quarter of 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic. In the 40 quarters preceding the pandemic, its economy grew at an annual rate of less than 2 percent more than half the time.

Maybe a country where all of the young people get stumbling drunk every night at the pub isn’t ideally situated for growth?

The government’s tax plan would cancel a scheduled increase in the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 19 percent and would make permanent a temporary increase in the annual investment allowance, letting businesses deduct the full cost of qualifying plants and machinery up to 1 million pounds in the first year.

This sounds reasonable to me! With a 25 percent rate, a company would have to be crazy to refrain from pushing all of the profits into Ireland (12.5 percent rate and full membership in the EU if frictionless trade with Europe is required). The depreciation simplification should front-load investment and activity and shouldn’t change the tax owed in the long run (spending one million pounds will yield one million pounds of deductions against revenue).

The most questionable parts of the plan are the income tax cuts. Reducing the basic rate of income tax by one percentage point, to 19 percent, will fuel consumption at a time when the Bank of England is attempting to curb inflation.

The prime minister’s proposal to eliminate the 45 percent tax bracket on incomes above 150,000 pounds per year — the top 1.1 percent — was also unwise in the current fiscal and economic environment, …

I’m not sure that a 45 percent rate is revenue-maximizing. At that rate, a Brit would get a great return on pushing activities offshore or structuring activities to get the 10 percent entrepreneur’s rate. The U.S. government is greedy for money and the top personal income tax rate is 37 percent (which works out to 37 percent in Florida or 50.3 percent in California).

It looks like the markets are locking Britain into the same policies that put it on the slow bus to economic mediocrity. Given some reasonable value placed on leisure and drunkenness, the decision to forgo the second job or language study and spend the evening in the pub with friends will be a rational one. For those who are ambitious, the decision to emigrate will likely be a rational one (one of our neighbors in Florida recently arrived from the UK, having accepted a transfer within a multinational industrial products company (held up for more than a year due to coronapanic restrictions on non-walk-across-the-border-and-claim-asylum immigration); he will do the same thing that he did in the UK, but for a much larger market).

What am I missing? My default assumption is that markets are right, but I can’t figure out what is so terrible wrong with the latest British government’s plans. Is part of the explanation that the pound isn’t the world’s reserve currency and therefore the consequences of deficit spending are more severe than they are for the U.S.?

Separately, how can a country full of midgets and randoms fail to thrive?

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The flowers for Queen Elizabeth II are mostly swept up

One of the poignant aspects of last week’s trip to London (today was the Chunnel move to Paris) was that flowers and letters left in memory of Queen Elizabeth II had faded and were being cleaned up.

Here are some scenes from Green Park, next to Buckingham Palace:

At the intersection of aviation and English royalty, remembrances left in the Bomber Command Memorial, dedicated by QEII in 2012:

The death of a 96-year-old shouldn’t be a tragedy, but there is a sadness nonetheless. The guys doing the cleanup handled the bundles with care, despite the destination being a landfill.

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Giorgia Meloni is more dangerous than Vladimir Putin (CNN and New York Times)

“The Future Is Italy, and It’s Bleak” (NYT, July 22, 2022):

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party … could open the way for the Brothers of Italy to become the first far-right party to lead a major eurozone economy. For Europe and the country, it would be a truly seismic event.

Like other far-right parties across Europe, it is descended from a fascist or collaborationist original

Perhaps we will not all burn together in the fire. But if the far right takes over the government, in Italy or elsewhere, some of us surely will.

“Italy’s Hard-Right Lurch Raises New Concerns in Washington” (NYT, yesterday):

Italy’s election of a far-right governing coalition, … despite concern about their party’s fascist roots. … members of the Trump wing of the Republican Party embraced the rise of a nationalist whose party has roots in Mussolini-era fascism.

“Giorgia Meloni claims victory to become Italy’s most far-right prime minister since Mussolini” (CNN, yesterday):

the most far-right government since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini. … She has also called abortion a “tragedy,” raising fears for the future of women’s rights in the country.

“How Giorgia Meloni and her far-right party became a driving force in Italian politics” (CNN, Sept 25, 2022):

The National Alliance, formerly the Italian Social Movement, was unapologetically neo-fascist, formed by supporters of Benito Mussolini. … Now, the 45-year-old ultra-conservative … never wavering from a conservative agenda that puts in question LGBT rights, abortion rights and immigration policies.

A full-scale war had to unfold in Ukraine before the New York Times was prepared to call Vladimir Putin names, but Giorgia Meloni earned these monikers before taking a single official action. Maybe this means she will win the Nobel Peace Prize soon! (Barack Obama was nominated after 12 days of being in office.)

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