How is it the rich can afford to bailout Notre Dame while so many are struggling? Just two days – two days! – after a catastrophic fire gutted one of France’s most famous landmarks, almost one billion euros had been donated to the rebuilding effort. The majority of the money was pledged by some of the wealthiest families in France, and questions are already being asked about what sort of tax breaks or other perks they might expect to receive in return (though some donors have already publicly renounced their tax breaks).
French officials say they have no idea how much rebuilding will actually cost. It could easily be three times the amount raised. However, early estimates suggested something in the region of €600 million to repair the damage. Could the money donated be better spent on something else, such as alleviating poverty or tackling climate change?
There are certainly no end of worthy causes competing for attention. Mozambique, for example, has appealed for a mere $281 million to help in the wake of the tropical cyclone that killed over 1,000 people in March 2019. More than a month after the cyclone hit, they were still only 23% funded towards that goal (despite a cholera epidemic being reported in the country).
Some argue we don’t need to choose between helping the poor and donating to Notre Dame. However, it does feel like a choice has been made. If nothing else, the episode highlights the deep inequalities in Europe today (not to mention globally).
What cause would you donate 1 billion euros to? Would the money donated to help rebuild Notre Dame be better spent on tackling poverty in France? Or providing disaster relief abroad? Or addressing climate change globally? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!