America from a French Point of View
As I thanked her for a lovely evening, Mary gently took my hands, then reached over and kissed me on both cheeks. When I stiffened up and she smiled. “If you’re going to be a Parisian you must learn the customs!”
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Many of my friends know about my trip to Paris and have, very generously, shared books, tips, even recommendations for places to visit while I’m there for the month of September.
This past Monday night my friend, Shirley, invited me to a wine and cheese at her friend’s, house. Her friend’s sister, who lives in Paris, is in town for a week. “Oh! You must meet Mary. She does wine tours and food tours in Paris. She’s a great resource.”
When I received the invitation several weeks ago it sounded delightful. But late Monday afternoon, as I peeled my face off my keyboard, dead tired from a 40-hour work weekend, I sifted through excuses I could use to forgo the evening. After all, I can’t afford some fancy personal tour of the French wine country. I’m barely scraping by to get there.
But in Lisa-fashion, I followed through because I had committed. It ended up being a totally delightful evening – so glad I didn’t miss it!
Because of her multi-national parents, Mary is a dual citizen of both the US and France. She was born in France, but she’s lived everywhere from Seattle to India, Thailand and Paris. Oh, a girl after my own heart!!
I was curious why she left one of our greatest cities, Seattle, for Paris, why she chose France over the United States.
“I loved America’s wide open spaces like the Grand Canyon and Colorado. But I so missed walking downstairs and getting my groceries from the little man at the corner market.” She continued by saying, “the health care is too expensive here in America. Colleges are free in France. Mothers can take up to a year off when they have a baby and their job is held for them. Plus the lifestyle in Paris is so much more relaxed.”
I thought back to my time in New York last summer. I LOVED being able to dash down the street, on foot, for my groceries. I loved walking everywhere, with no car for an entire month.
But being a self-employed person, one who cringes every time I write ‘that check’, I was immediately curious about the taxes they pay. According to Wikipedia, “…France continues to be among the OECD countries whose tax rate is the highest.” It appears that in 2009, the top tax rate was 41%, applicable to those making over $85,000 and 30% if you made $32,000-85,000. Additionally there are gift and inheritance taxes, social, land, corporate and other taxes that we also incur.
So there you have it – a quick perspective on America. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, you must agree. Being greeted by two kisses on the cheek is a lovely custom. I’ll need to get used to it, but I do love it.