By John Pagani*
France has had a higher standard of living than us since about, oooo, the 70s or 80s. They have more holidays, work shorter hours, make more money, retire earlier, own much more of the world's intellectual property as a proportion of their GDP, their cheese tastes better, their lamb tastes better, and they have a better national anthem. Plus, they got rid of the monarchy 222 years ago.
So we've got some catching up to do.
Maybe one way they have created a pleasant country in which to live is their talented and fortunate people ask themselves what they can contribute instead of what they can grab for themselves.
People like the lady who owns L'Oreal, and the chaps who run Total, Societe-Generale and Air France are calling for more income tax and more capital gains taxes on the wealthy.
"We, presidents or company leaders, businessmen and women, bankers, professionals and wealthy citizens, would like an 'exceptional contribution' imposed on the most fortunate French taxpayers.
"We are aware that we have fully benefited from the French model and European environment to which we are attached and that we want to help preserve them. This contribution is not a solution in itself: it should be part of a more global effort of reforms affecting [public] spending as well as [tax] revenues.
"At a time when the public finances deficit and the prospect of a worsening state debt threaten the future of France and Europe, and when the government is asking everyone to show their solidarity, it seems necessary for us to contribute to this."
If any business leader said something like this in New Zealand they would be tarred and feathered, which is another reason, in the ever-lengthening list - why our country is poor.
Cast your mind back as far as yesterday - to the wailing and gnashing of teeth following the Supreme Court decision on tax avoidance, and compare.
* John Pagani is an independent political consultant and writer who has worked as an adviser to Labour Leader Phil Goff. He writes his own blog at Posterous.