A time to be wealthy

The Irish site JOE.ie, on the aftermath of Notre Dame:

Within hours of the spire coming down, two of France’s wealthiest families — led by François-Henri Pinault and Bernard Arnault — had pledged no less than €300million in funding for the restoration effort. The city of Paris was also able to mobilise €10million.

Arnault is the CEO of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury-goods company. He is the richest person in Europe and the fourth-richest person in the world according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $91.3 billion, as of this month. Perhaps the best-known brand overseen by Arnault is Louis Vuitton. Handbags, suitcases, you know the ones.

By comparison, Pinault is worth a paltry €30billion. He’s more of a Gucci man, and he also owns Stade Rennais FC.

Between them, they have significantly more money than several European states — such as Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia or Slovenia. If you had €3,000 in your bank account right now and you donated a tenner to the restoration effort, you’d be giving proportionally the same amount as these two.

Remind me to kick in ten euros to the restoration effort.

But if the rich are more than happy to help on big, important matters, smaller matters deemed less important never show up on their radar:

If two men in a world of more than 7 billion people can provide €300million to restore Notre Dame, within six hours, then there is enough money in the world to feed every mouth, shelter every family and educate every child. The failure to do so is a matter of will, and a matter of system.

Brick and mortar and stained glass might burn, but they do not bleed, and they do not starve, and they do not suffer. Humans suffer. Everywhere in the world, from Paris to Persepolis, people are suffering. But their suffering is every day. It does not light up a front page, and it does not inspire immediate donations from the world’s wealthiest men.

Assuming there is enough money to go around, how do we get it to the people who need it without several layers of government grifters sticking their hands in the cookie jar? Solve that, and you’ve eliminated the problem. But neither you nor I will live to see it.

(Via Antonin Tuynman.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    18 April 2019 · 7:24 am

    The “but why don’t they use that money for” take is one of the more tiring takes currently out there. (How do we know they don’t also donate for poverty relief?) I will say I tend to trust faith-based or similar grassroots efforts more than I trust the .gov types to actually DISTRIBUTE the aid. And even that’s not a guarantee.

    The poor we will always have with us, but apparently also those who would tell every one of us how to use what resources we have.

  2. Roger Green »

    18 April 2019 · 8:41 am

    I’m pleased about the Louisiana churches that were burned down by arson getting some love. as well: https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/16/us/notre-dame-rebuild-louisiana-churches-trnd/index.html

  3. hollyh »

    18 April 2019 · 9:11 am

    Thanks to Roger for sharing that good news. But…I can’t help but think that all of this is futile, until big-spenders kick in a lot more towards saving the planet. What good will some old restored buildings do, over the long term, if everything is under water?

    Before the huge catastrophe, they had a lot of trouble raising money for Notre Dame’s renovation project. I suppose a similar catastrophe is going to have to happen, in a highly-visible way, before folks will realize that their planet is in crisis. But of course, then it will be too late.

  4. Francis W. Porretto »

    18 April 2019 · 11:24 am

    At the most recent audit, approximately 69% of the funds nominally budgeted to welfare and compassionate services in the federal budget went to salaries, operating expenses, and other overheads. Most private-sector charities do better, though the largest ones don’t do a lot better. For efficiency, look to the most local of the local: parish outreach efforts, Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish. Town and county governments’ welfare and relief bureaus aren’t nearly as bad as the state and federal ones, but I’d avoid those too unless there are absolutely no trustworthy private-sector alternatives.

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