I’m totally on board with this sentiment, minus the rioting and property damage. Obviously folks can do what they want with their own money and we should certainly do our best to preserve our history, but why is there suddenly so much private and public cash available when there’s never enough to build housing for those who need it or to ensure that no one ever has to worry about losing their homes and life savings because they have the nerve to get sick? The money is obviously there. It’s the will that isn’t, and that’s awful. ‘Nothing for the needy’: Notre-Dame not France’s only problem, say protesters
Some in the yellow vest movement felt outraged when, in just a few hours, billionaires pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to help restore the damaged cathedral, while their demands remain unsatisfied in their longstanding fight with the French government.
“You’re there, looking at all these millions accumulating, after spending five months in the streets fighting social and fiscal injustice. It’s breaking my heart,” said Ingrid Levavasseur, a founding leader of the movement.
“It took [Macron] less than 24 hours to speak about the fire, while he made us wait for three weeks before addressing our issues,” she said.
France’s richest businessman, Bernard Arnault, and his luxury goods LVMH group pledged 200 million euros ($302 million Cdn) for the reconstruction. Billionaire François Pinault and his son, François-Henri Pinault, said they were giving 100 million euros ($151 million) from Artemis, the holding company that owns the Christie’s auction house and the main shareholder of luxury fashion houses, including Gucci.
“If they can give dozens of millions to rebuild Notre Dame, they should stop telling us there is no money to respond to the social emergency,” CGT trade union leader Philippe Martinez said.
More than $1.2 billion has been pledged for the cathedral’s restoration, and many French citizens believe the money could be better spent elsewhere. Some have also criticized the billionaires’ donations because their pledges make them eligible for huge tax deductions.
The Pinault family has said, however, they will not ask for a tax deduction for their donation to Notre-Dame, and Arnault said his family holding company was not eligible for tax breaks because it has already reached the limit for deductions.