France Putting Up Barriers to Beer Bars?
And against beer generally! Or so reports Aurélien Breeden for the New York Times in "Beer Lovers Fear an Unequal Tax Bite in Wine Country" (November 26, 2012):
Simon Thillou likes to think of La Cave à Bulles, his shop here devoted only to beer, as a place where beer lovers can gather to taste new brews and, of course, discuss the state of the world. But this was one controversy he never saw coming, and wishes he never had: a proposed 160 percent increase in the tax on beer.The intent isn't actually against beer, but rather to help the French government cover its growing deficit, a problem that many European countries need to solve as social welfare spending puts a strain on state budgets. But maybe the tax won't happen:
"The increase is brutal; 160 percent is a lot," said Mr. Thillou, 36, who prides himself on promoting French microbreweries. On a barrel near the entrance, a pile of fliers that say "+160% taxes on beer: Who is going to pay the price?" shows what he thinks of the government's latest plan for raising revenue.
Complaints about the tax increase are coming not just from customers, but from brewers, the food industry generally and politicians, who know that some voters, at least, like French ales. They say the government's public health arguments are an excuse to single out beer, instead of spreading the pain across all alcoholic drinks.I agree, and this politician has my vote -- or would if I could vote in France. I'll just have to raise a glass of brew to his success in thwarting this evil proposition, even if I have to fill the glass with some overpriced, highly taxed, poor Korean beer . . .
"If we want to keep industries and economic sectors, we can't do any old thing," said Bernard Gérard, a center-right politician in the National Assembly, Parliament's lower house. "Increasing excise duties by 160 percent seems completely unreasonable to me."