Having burnished their reputations with extravagant promises, the billionaires who pledged €600m. to rebuild Notre Dame are missing in action

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/07/19/altar-by-loreal.html



The good press from the pledge is worth more than the bad press from not making good on the pledges.


The billionaires will get exclusive access to the “vision” for the reconstruction of a national landmark and they can veto those plans, because if they don’t like them they can withhold their cash.

The obvious rejoinder is, what if the plans that people come up with are universally reviled? Should they be obliged to fund plans that nobody likes? Sure, cleaning up 300 tonnes of lead is probably a useful thing to fund, but is there already agreement on the most effective means for such cleaning and what it is expected to cost?


Well if it doesn’t get rebuilt I’m sure the real estate alone is worth the false promises!


Deceive, delay, deny then deflect.

I await their statements about not meaning they would actually donate that much followed by pointing at each other all at once as having not kept their promises.


Viewing them as funding the plans inherently considers them to be purchasing rather than donating, with the implied control that comes with a purchase.

The point is that isn’t actual philanthropy, as altruism has nothing to do with it. Whether I donate to the reconstruction or how much I donate should give me no more say in its planning. Otherwise its a purchase not a donation. The “donations” here are purely self serving efforts to get tax breaks and curry public favor. i.e. the opposite of trying to help others


The billionaires get 65% tax relief on their donations AND they just got a massive tax break from the state. Moreover, these are hereditary fortunes – Lilliane Betancourt, who has never worked a day in her life, is the richest woman on earth thanks to her L’Oreal inheritance.

So yeah, you’re right, they shouldn’t be obliged to give their legitimate fortunes to support projects they dislike. Instead, they should have nearly everything they own taken by the state in a massive, one-time tax that strips them of their unearned capital reserves. Then the democratically elected government can direct those funds to Notre Dame.


“I pledge one hundred million dollars.” says the neatly dressed person.
“Where’s your checkbook? I’ve got a pen.” says the one in rags, as they sharpen the guillotine blade.


Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the songs of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?


It’s true that the pharmaceutical companies and the people in charge of them did awful, illegal things to sell more opioids. It’s a pretty big leap to say that this is the sole cause the opioid crisis. The crisis is a complex combination of factors.

Every time someone trots out this trope, it reinforces the political backlash that’s harming the health and quality of life of people who need these medicines for legitimate reasons, who get them legally prescribed, and who are properly monitored by specialists. The backlash is also not helping those who are hurt by the crisis. Pointing the finger at a single bad actor and trying to use them as a scapegoat for this complex issue compounds the problem. Please stop it.

The CDC Guideline was a largely political move, based on inflated addiction rates, and pushed for by a lobbyist for the drug addiction treatment industry. The CDC Guideline is being used to justify bad laws, bad insurance policies, bad pharmacy practices to deny legitimate chronic pain patients their last effective treatment. Even the CDC has admitted that this wasn’t the intent of the guideline and that those kinds of policies are not going to be effective in turning the tide of the opioid crisis.

The rules inspired by the Guideline actually cause more problems. Patients cut off from the only effective treatment for their pain are more likely to commit suicide and are more likely to go looking for illegal substitutes. Illegal street drugs like heroine, especially those cut with fentanyl, are what’s killing people. The CDC Guideline was not intended to cut people off. It was intended to reduce the risk of people getting addicted to the prescription forms by reminding doctors to try other treatments first, to do a proper risk assessment before starting opioids, and to monitor patients to ensure they’re sticking to the plan and not supplementing (or re-selling) their prescriptions. For the most part, the guideline is actually pretty good.

But too many parties are throwing out all the nuance of the guideline and focusing on the 90 MMEs threshold (which is a caution line while titrating up new patients). Insurance companies are secretly calling doctors and telling them their licenses are at risk if they continue to prescribe more then 90 MMEs to patients who’ve been on much, much higher doses for years with excellent results. (Even to patients who are explicitly excluded from the Guideline, like those with cancer or sickle-cell anemia.)

As a result, doctors are undertreating (and even withholding treatment from) chronic pain patients more than ever before. Long-term undertreatment of chronic pain causes worsening physical health, causes degeneration of brain function, leads to social isolation, and pushes many patients to suicide.

And now vendors of spinal stimulators and embedded pain med pumps are cleaning up. Their products are seen as new last hope for all these folks who’ve been forced out of their safe and effective pain med treatments. It’s great to have more options, but these new-ish products don’t actually have very good effectiveness rates for many types of chronic pain patients. Good luck getting them back on their opioids after the embedded devices fail to help them manage their pain.


There have been some widely-reviled things done in the name of “restoration” in the past. If some committee or another devises some absolute eyesore, will the critics not say “The people who agreed to pay for this are terrible!” instead of “We can’t blame the people who footed the bill; they were just philanthropists” ?

(Whether or not they are actually terrible purely in light of their accrued wealth is another matter. And one they probably wouldn’t want to call attention to.)

“Vows made in storms are forgotten in calm waters.”


And if the plans that the people come up with are “universally reviled” then the public outcry will be more likely to alter the government’s plans than those of the “donors”.


Of my concerns for the restoration of a French national treasure and a world recognized landmark, whether screwing it up might negatively impact the reputations of hereditary billionaires that gave money for the restoration doesn’t make the list.

I don’t know whether anyone would blame them if the restoration is botched, nor do I care.


I saw some people complaining after all the donations were announced that people have money to fix cathedrals but no money for X. I guess we don’t have money for cathedrals either…


Maybe the Catholic Church could help pay the workers and mitigate the lead. The Vatican seems to have a great deal of wealth.


“farcically wealthy.” Nice descriptor.

Isn’t this de rigueur for the average billionare? Maybe always has been, for these has beens?

Wasn’t it Donald Trump who perfected the technique of making generous promises to charities and then never forking over the money?


Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
les aristocrates à la lanterne!
Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
les aristocrates on les pendra!


With all the churches that have been burned in France recently perhaps Monsieur would like to look at something more, uh, affordable?