FRANCE: Doomsday Book

The tax-hungry government of President Charles de Gaulle last week slipped in a sly decree among its last-minute emergency measures. From now on, every town hall in France will have a "Doomsday Book," available to the public, that states precisely the amount each taxpayer contributes to the treasury. As a Finance Ministry official put it: "A citizen may notice that one of his neighbors has a rather high standard of living," then, on leafing through the Doomsday Book, he may "express some astonishment at the discrepancy between his outward signs of wealth and the amount of revenue declared." Of...

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