Monaco is a very small country, located in Europe near the Vatican, that has a mixed reputation for a few reasons. Its residents are wealthy and do not have to pay income taxes. It also manages to avoid banking regulations that the United States must abide by. It is known for hosting the marriage of famous actress Grace Kelly, where she became the Princess of Monaco in the 1950’s and her son, Prince Albert, oversees the entire country. The news program, 60 Minutes, featured a segment on Monaco this past March, where correspondent Anderson Cooper traveled there and conducted interviews with a resident of Monaco named Steven Saltzman, another resident named Yann-Anthony Noghes, as well as Prince Albert.
Saltzman is the son of the director of the early James Bond films, and his description of Monaco shed a lot of light on its culture and government. Saltzman stated to Cooper that he views Monaco as an “utopia," which means the country is perfect the way it is. According to Anderson Cooper in the 60 Minutes segment, the country hugs the coast of France and has many yachts docked there, seemingly more than can reasonably fit there.
Cooper also observes that Monaco hosts fundraisers over the summer, which are the major social events that happen there and people are able to show off their prized possessions without being judged for it. As for law enforcement, there is no official police department; however, there are officers around to monitor for illegal behavior and activity. There are also security cameras positioned in certain areas to help the officers out. According to Saltzman, those officers see everything, which makes him feel more secure and safe.
As for the government, Cooper states that unless a resident is American, the people who live in Monaco do not have to pay income taxes. The Internal Revenue Service will charge Americans income tax no matter where they live, but the people originally from Monaco are exempt from that rule. Saltman elaborates that the residents of Monaco do pay other taxes, such as sales tax and property tax.
Cooper then transitions to interviewing Monegasque (the name for citizens of Monaco), Yann-Anthony Noghes. Cooper notes that becoming a citizen there is very hard and that out of 38,000 people, less than a quarter of that population are citizens. Noghes comments that most of the Monegasques are not rich and would be unable to support themselves financially without governmental assistance.
Noghes goes on to note that the wealth in Monaco comes from the foreigners and Cooper notes that Monaco hosts a function called the Grand Prix. Cooper states that this event was founded 90 years ago by Noghes’ grandfather, and is held every spring. It features race-car drivers speeding through the streets to make the country money, and is very thrilling for fans of the sport.
As for Prince Albert, his interview with Cooper involved a walk through the palace he once lived in, where Prince Albert recalls actors such as Gregory Peck and Kirk Douglas and singer Frank Sinatra visiting his home for parties. Prince Albert’s official title is His Serene Highness and he oversees all of Monaco’s operations.
He has held this distinction for over a decade now, and he is doing his best to change some perceptions of Monaco as a country that enabled law-breaking and cheating on taxes. In Prince Albert’s own words, “Monaco is certainly not a place like that now." The Prince appears to be heading in a positive direction with his initiatives. According to Cooper, he is trying to align Monaco’s banking rules with the other countries’ rules and is focusing on the environment and climate change, which has brought about the nickname “Green Prince."
Monaco has many appealing aspects and some unappealing aspects. It appears to be a fun place to live for the financially well-off, and as for the poor, it seems as if they are taken care of. The Grand Prix sounds like fun for racing fans, and as far as the exemption from income tax, that is very convenient for its citizens. It may be a small country, but it earns its reputation as a unique and wealthy country.
Michael Westwood is a 25 year old college graduate from Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Independent of being a contributor to Step Up, he is looking to pursue a career in professional writing of some type. His hobbies include watching professional wrestling (e.g. WWE and other promotions) and watching select TV sitcoms from today's television (e.g. Big Bang Theory, The Goldbergs) and classic programs as well (e.g. Seinfeld, Frasier, Everybody Loves Raymond). He also has an ongoing online forum designed to inform people about the autism spectrum called "Ask Mike," which is part of an autism awareness group called All 4 Autism, which is based in Florence, South Carolina.