In dire situations, the wealthy can help, but choose not to

In dire situations, the wealthy can help, but choose not to

In dire situations, the wealthy can help, but choose not to
April 24
18:31 2019

When news of a fire within the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris broke last week, dismal, smoky photos of the church circulated on social media and emotions ran high. Firefighters were able to stop the flames before the church was totally incinerated — only the roof and main spire incurred damage.

Before long, various wealthy entities across Europe and the U.S. pledged to help repair the cathedral — contributors like Disney, the CEO of a French oil company, billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and more raised more than $1 billion together.

Let it sink in that in a matter of hours, a handful of wealthy people found a billion extra dollars lying around gathering dust and put it toward something society deems significant. And it was repairing a building.

How many other billions of dollars are hoarded away in foreign accounts, never to see the light of day? How quickly could some of the world’s most pervasive problems be solved if only we could convince the top 1% to care enough?

We’re not the first to ask this question. Money magazine found that the 2,043 billionaires in the world made $762 billion in 2017 alone — enough money to literally end extreme global poverty 7 times over. Not just once, but seven times.

There is no question that the Notre Dame is a beautiful church. It has been a meaningful representation of faith for the French for 850 years, and it is a stunning architectural marvel to behold. The recent fire the church suffered was a loss for sure, but when all is said and done, it is a building that can be replaced.

Those that claim the fundraising was religiously motivated because the holy structure needed to be resanctified must’ve forgotten that Jesus advocated for loving your fellow man, not your fellow building. If we could confer with Jesus, he would surely suggest that we address the many issues causing human suffering on a large scale and forgo the immediate restoration of one church.

The incident did not result in any loss of life or serious injury. The same cannot be said for many of the extensive issues in the U.S. that have gone largely ignored.

Human rights violations, neglect and excessive use of force by U.S. immigration enforcement has resulted in injury and loss of life of immigrants. Where are all the philanthropic donations to combat this widespread issue?

Flint, Michigan has been without clean water since 2014 and the community has been fighting tooth and nail to secure any sort of government aid to fix it. At least 12 have died after contracting Legionnaire’s Disease from the lead in the water, according to International Business Times. Where are the altruistic billionaires that care for these people?

Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, resulting in nearly 3,000 lost lives, according to NPR. Residents are trying to recover and the island’s electricity grid is still weak. NBC News reports that although the government has allotted $40 billion to help the state, Puerto Rico has not seen a dime of it yet. Why isn’t the reconstruction squad as eager about rebuilding in this situation?

Although their ungraspable wealth makes it completely feasible, you do not see the billionaires of the world jumping to solve world hunger or end homelessness simply because these problems will never affect them or those they care about.

Americans have to beg officials and those with power to step in and allocate funds for serious issues while people suffer due to their inaction. This is a slap in the face to every American — we can no longer afford to be complacent.

The Notre Dame fire just goes to thoroughly demonstrate that the wealthy are more willing to throw money at an inanimate object they can feel pride in than they are willing to invest in saving human lives.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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2 Comments

  1. Mike
    Mike May 02, 12:57

    You have to business judging how anyone spends THEIR money. Using your flawed logic, money donated to animal shelters, for example, is wasted and should be used for humans. Further, what have YOU donated recently?

    You may say, “well, I’m just a poor college student” but how about that $6 Starbucks coffee you had this morning? Or your Netflix subscription? How about the Avengers movie you saw last weekend? All of those could have been donated.

    There are MILLIONS of people around the world that look at the US minimum wage and are envious. You can make more in an HOUR, even at an entry level job, than they can make in a WEEK. Why not live in a tent and donate your $700 per month you pay in rent to less fortunate?

    See, it’s easy to criticize others when it’s not your money. Instead of criticizing them for donating, how about you thank them for their donation even if you don’t agree with the fund they are supporting?

    To be clear, I too agree that a billion would be better spent on humans vs. rebuilding a church, however I would NEVER think that I have the right to tell someone where they should spend their money. They earned it, they can use it how they want!

    Until you’re in the tent living at the absolute minimal level and donating all other income, your pathetic complaints about not being able to steal people’s money and allocate it how YOU want to will not be taken seriously.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Francophile
    Francophile June 17, 11:55

    You’ve misunderstood the situation, all of the money donated is able to be written off against taxes. The Notre Dame cathedral is, obviously, in France–which is famous for its incredibly high tax rates. Therefore, when a disaster strikes the wealthy can put the money that would usually go straight to the government as tax towards a donation. They don’t really spend a penny, and this is arguably a benefit of higher taxation. This is where your comparisons fall apart, if the USA had the same tax scheme as France, and a disaster, for example, the scale of hurricane Katrina happened again, then many more of the wealthy would donate more money to write-off tax. Instead, in the USA, the wealthy pay little tax and contribute little to their neighbours.

    Reply to this comment

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