When tragedy strikes the world, millionaires and billionaires have a single strategy; fight it with an open wallet. Unfortunately, that same approach hasn’t translated to long-term world problems. Take the tragic fire of the Notre Dame. An iconic building with history spanning centuries burns down and once again, the heads of corporations are tripping over themselves, trying to lay down cheques to pay for repairs.
Of course, it’s upsetting to see a French icon burnt at the stake, but does that really warrant millions if not billions of dollars in donations?
Let’s take a moment to talk about the Catholic Church. While the Notre-Dame is owned by France itself, the Catholic Church are the designated beneficiary, giving them administrative authority and control over the building. In short, they effectively own the building, they just don’t have the piece of paper to show for it.
While exact figures on the Catholic Church’s worth are purely speculation, in Australia alone, the religious giants have managed to amass 30 billion dollars in tax-free wealth. The Vatican Catholic Church owns hundreds of ancient art pieces and historical buildings, plus they seem all too able to settle sexual abuse cases. It’s safe to say that they have enough money to repair the Notre-Dame on their own.
Perhaps that’s why many are getting upset over the millions of euros in donations to repair the building. Bernard Arnault, one of the world’s richest men; announced his 200 million euro donation on Twitter. While some of the responses were grateful, still others questioned use of money, suggesting that perhaps rich men like Arnault could solve world hunger before donating to a building construction.
However, it’s not just the rich and famous donating to the cause, the general public have already raised 15 million euros to rebuild the French icon. That’s a lot of money for a presumably insured building that’s nothing more than that, a building with a rich history.
Getting back to world hunger, how much would it cost to end poverty? $175 billion per year for 20 years, according to American economist Jeffery Sachs. While that is a lot more than the 700 million euros that was pledged for the Notre-Dame, it begs the question; does a building matter more than human lives? According to the bank records of several wealthy businessmen and many regular people across the globe, the answer is yes.