a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Tax rate for Italians one of world’s highest

Posted on the August 2nd, 2011

One of the key events on which the United States is founded is the historical act of citizens refusing to pay their taxes —  celebrated by patriots as the Boston Tea Party.  So it puzzles me a bit when I hear some of the descendants of these same brave revolutionaries routinely jeer at Italy as a place where people don’t pay their taxes.

One, the blanket condemnation isn’t true. Many Italians do pay their taxes. But for those who don’t, a chart published in the Globe and Mail last Friday offers some justification for the tax-dodging. It shows Italians being taxed at the third highest rate in the developed world (“Tax revenue as a percentage of GDP in the developed world” July 29, 2011).

Tax rates in the US, in contrast, are among the lowest, according to the chart, with the country ranking third from the bottom.

See chart here. (Saw link to this article on Informed Comment here).

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America’s dismal future? China’s rise?

Posted on the September 16th, 2010

One of the most interesting and puzzling findings, for me, of the New Transaltantic Trends survey just released are the widely divergent transatlantic views of Americans and Europeans on the rise of Asia:

EU and U.S. respondents were divided about the role Asia would play in global affairs. Seven-in-ten respondents (71%) in America found it very likely that China will exert strong leadership in the future, while only a third of Europeans (34%) thought the same scenario is very likely.

That’s a gigantic perception gap between the two groups. Why? Haven’t a clue.

Still puzzling over this divide, I came across a video of a panel discussion yesterday at the World Economic Forum meeting now underway in Tianjin, China. Hosted by Steve Clemons, the panel discussion was titled “America in the Asian Century.”  The panel members included public figure heavyweights:

Cui Liru, President, Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations; Thomas L. Friedman, Columnist, The New York Times; Taro Kono, Acting Secretary-General, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Japan; Moon Chung-In, Professor of Political Science, Yonsei University, Korea; Charles E. Morrison, President, East-West Centre, USA; and Kurt Tong, Senior Official to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, US Department of State.

Highly recommended watching!  Unless you’re already an expert on the subject, the discussion is illuminating and thought-provoking.

Just a couple of quotes (many to choose from), this first one from Professor Moon Chung-In, of Korea:

We are trapped in a kind of cognitive dissonance between old inertia and new reality. We all know American power is declining, okay, yet we try and recognize America as a continuing power, shaping everything in this part of the world…

And from host Steve Clemons:

One of the challenges for the United States is that to much of the rest of the world, it looks like the General Motors of nations. It’s big, it has a ton of assets, you always hear America has all these bases, this power, this capacity.

But when it comes to where it’s anticipated to be 20 years from now, it looks like GM. China has looked like the Google of countries. In other words, power is based on future expectation, much like the stock market…

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