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How Europe Will Pay For The Refugee Crisis: Higher Taxes For The Rich

Europe's handling of its refugee crisis has led to much criticism and left even more to be desired, but until now Europe's general population was largely on the side of the misplaced migrants who are trying to reestablish their lives away from the daily horrors of the middle east, all in the name of a Qatari gas pipeline.

Just today, the Globe and Mail reported that French public opinion has swung dramatically to majority support for an intake of more migrants from war zones like Syria, a new poll showed as the country welcomed further busloads of asylum seekers on Thursday.

The Elabe polling agency said support had risen to 53 per cent from 44 per cent only a week ago when it ran the same poll, suggesting that people changed tune after seeing harrowing images of drowned toddler Aylan Kurdi and the warm welcome that Germany has extended to droves of asylum-seekers arriving there.

 

President Francois Hollande, plagued by other polls showing he would be knocked out of the next election by anti-immigrant National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, has promised France will welcome 24,000 migrants as part of a broader plan to take 160,000 into the 28-country European Union.

 

“The pictures of Aylan Kurdi triggered a new awareness by giving this horrific situation a face, that of a small child,” Elabe head Bernard Sananes said.

 

“There’s also the guilty consicence. The images coming from Germany have undoubtedly surprised and shaken up French mindsets.”

Well, all that may soon change as Europe realizes the influx of tens of thousands of refugees will result in a dramatic surge in public costs, costs which have to be footed by someone. That someone will be the general population (with the wealthy targeted at first) courtesy of even higher taxes. And since it is usually the wealthy who can afford various tax shelters and tax-avoidance mechanisms, ultimately the cost will be borne by the general population.

According to Reuters, Finland's government on Thursday proposed increasing capital gains tax and income tax on high earners to help pay for a 10-fold increase in refugees expected to arrive this year, its finance minister said.

According to Reuters, the refugee crisis is putting a political strain on Finland, whose foreign minister, Timo Soini, heads the Eurosceptic party, The Finns, which campaigned for tighter controls on immigration and which is now facing a "political as well as a financial challenge."

Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said the highest bracket of capital gains tax would be raised by 1 percentage point while people earning more than 72,300 euros ($81,000) would be required to pay a so-called solidarity tax for two years, lowering the threshold from 90,000 euros.

Solidarity tax... where have we heard this recently? Oh yes, Greece, ground zero of Europe's real humanitarian crisis, with or without refugees, which however will take any distraction to be swept deep under if the rug, if only for a few more months.

So back to the upcoming tax hikes: "These will help to cover higher immigration costs which we estimate to be about 114 million euros this year," Stubb told a news conference.

 

The centre-right coalition, which took office in May, is struggling to cut government spending quickly in a shrinking economy where unemployment is on the rise.

 

Finland last week doubled its estimate for the number of asylum seekers expected this year to up to 30,000, compared with just 3,600 last year.

Finland's rich first, soon everywhere else; and since the rich control the media, we expect a broad popular assault seeking to demonize the (mostly) Syrian refugees in coming months. We can only hope it does not lead to another massive wave of scapegoating xenophobia, one which may have tragic results. After all, it's not like this would be the first time Europe has had a comparable experience...