Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

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If it does come down to a tradeoff, which is more important?

Helping the poor
2
20%
Fixing the cathedral
5
50%
Can't decide or neither of the above
3
30%
 
Total votes: 10

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Gary Childress
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Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:41 am

So apparently protestors were out in the streets of Paris today setting fire to things because they feel slighted that wealthy donors were able to fork over billions to repair the Notre Dame Cathedral but couldn't do the same to help the nation's poor. It sort of brings up an interesting dilemma. If it in fact does come down to a tradeoff and you have a billion dollars to spend, do you put it toward fixing a building that is considered a national treasure or do you spend it on helping the poor and let the national treasure lay in waste?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:00 am

Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:41 am
So apparently protestors were out in the streets of Paris today setting fire to things because they feel slighted that wealthy donors were able to fork over billions to repair the Notre Dame Cathedral but couldn't do the same to help the nation's poor. It sort of brings up an interesting dilemma. If it in fact does come down to a tradeoff and you have a billion dollars to spend, do you put it toward fixing a building that is considered a national treasure or do you spend it on helping the poor and let the national treasure lay in waste?
Define "helping the poor." I'm usually for it, but only if it's carefully considered and appropriately done.

That's important to any decision there, because a lot of the "help" we've historically "given the poor" has actually been wasteful and counterproductive, inducing dependence and corruption. So it would be good if we had a definite plan, because while shoring up a cathedral is fairly straightforward as a task, "helping the poor" is certainly not so easy to define.

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Gary Childress
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:10 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:00 am
Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:41 am
So apparently protestors were out in the streets of Paris today setting fire to things because they feel slighted that wealthy donors were able to fork over billions to repair the Notre Dame Cathedral but couldn't do the same to help the nation's poor. It sort of brings up an interesting dilemma. If it in fact does come down to a tradeoff and you have a billion dollars to spend, do you put it toward fixing a building that is considered a national treasure or do you spend it on helping the poor and let the national treasure lay in waste?
Define "helping the poor." I'm usually for it, but only if it's carefully considered and appropriately done.

That's important to any decision there, because a lot of the "help" we've historically "given the poor" has actually been wasteful and counterproductive, inducing dependence and corruption. So it would be good if we had a definite plan, because while shoring up a cathedral is fairly straightforward as a task, "helping the poor" is certainly not so easy to define.
For the purposes of the poll, assume that "helping the poor" means helping them in whatever method is the best, most effective way we know how. Obviously there are no magic bullets and there will probably always be some people relatively worse off than others. Furthermore, assume by "the poor" that we mean the current situation in France. I don't know anything about how poor the poor of France currently are to which the protestors are protesting. Are they literally starving to death a la Les Miserables or are they safely subsisting but protesting for greater economic parity or security. I don't know. I just thought it was an interesting dilemma.

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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:23 am

Idiotic question. Notre Dame is a miracle of HUMAN achievement. Are you suggesting that people will starve if it's restored?

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:29 am

Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:10 am
For the purposes of the poll, assume that "helping the poor" means helping them in whatever method is the best, most effective way we know how. Obviously there are no magic bullets and there will probably always be some people relatively worse off than others. Furthermore, assume by "the poor" that we mean the current situation in France. I don't know anything about how poor the poor of France currently are to which the protestors are protesting. Are they literally starving to death a la Les Miserables or are they safely subsisting but protesting for greater economic parity or security. I don't know. I just thought it was an interesting dilemma.
Well, okay...but we don't want to get weighing up a concrete plan with definite benefits against one that cannot be defined as to its real benefits. That's apples and oranges: a person maximally devoted to "helping" might balk at a vague plan to do 'something' to the poor, and opt instead for the cathedral merely because it can be seen to have at least some "help" benefits for sure, such as restored national pride, tourism dollars and aesthetic pleasure.

These benefits might not be as "helpful," but at least they're certain.

So the certainty factor affects the decision. Are we certain we know how to "help the poor"? By comparison, repairing the cathedral looks easy.

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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:32 am

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:23 am
Idiotic question. Notre Dame is a miracle of HUMAN achievement. Are you suggesting that people will starve if it's restored?
No. I am not suggesting people will starve if it's restored. However, if you spend a billion on restoring the Cathedral, then that same billion would not be available to spend on whatever programs for the poor therefore its one billion that could have gone to the poor but didn't (if its spent on the cathedral).

Apparently people were out protesting today over the idea that a billion was donated by the wealthy to rebuild the cathedral instead of they could have been donating to help the poor.

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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:39 am

Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:32 am
vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:23 am
Idiotic question. Notre Dame is a miracle of HUMAN achievement. Are you suggesting that people will starve if it's restored?
No. I am not suggesting people will starve if it's restored. However, if you spend a billion on restoring the Cathedral, then that same billion would not be available to spend on whatever programs for the poor therefore its one billion that could have gone to the poor but didn't (if its spent on the cathedral).

Apparently people were out protesting today over the idea that a billion was donated by the wealthy to rebuild the cathedral instead of they could have been donating to help the poor.
Immanual Can's replies were very good, and said it all really.

A better question would have been 'should the trillions the US spends on its military budget be better spent on raising the general standard of living?'
Last edited by vegetariantaxidermy on Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Gary Childress
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:40 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:29 am
Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:10 am
For the purposes of the poll, assume that "helping the poor" means helping them in whatever method is the best, most effective way we know how. Obviously there are no magic bullets and there will probably always be some people relatively worse off than others. Furthermore, assume by "the poor" that we mean the current situation in France. I don't know anything about how poor the poor of France currently are to which the protestors are protesting. Are they literally starving to death a la Les Miserables or are they safely subsisting but protesting for greater economic parity or security. I don't know. I just thought it was an interesting dilemma.
Well, okay...but we don't want to get weighing up a concrete plan with definite benefits against one that cannot be defined as to its real benefits. That's apples and oranges: a person maximally devoted to "helping" might balk at a vague plan to do 'something' to the poor, and opt instead for the cathedral merely because it can be seen to have at least some "help" benefits for sure, such as restored national pride, tourism dollars and aesthetic pleasure.

These benefits might not be as "helpful," but at least they're certain.

So the certainty factor affects the decision. Are we certain we know how to "help the poor"? By comparison, repairing the cathedral looks easy.
OK. So you seem to be saying that restoring the cathedral might be the best plan and that it would help the poor in the long run also. Fair enough. Instead of the current wording for the poll, maybe I should have used:

"Spend the money on the Cathedral."
"Give the money to the poor."

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Gary Childress
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:42 am

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:39 am
Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:32 am
vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:23 am
Idiotic question. Notre Dame is a miracle of HUMAN achievement. Are you suggesting that people will starve if it's restored?
No. I am not suggesting people will starve if it's restored. However, if you spend a billion on restoring the Cathedral, then that same billion would not be available to spend on whatever programs for the poor therefore its one billion that could have gone to the poor but didn't (if its spent on the cathedral).

Apparently people were out protesting today over the idea that a billion was donated by the wealthy to rebuild the cathedral instead of they could have been donating to help the poor.
Immanual Can's replies were very good, and said it all really.
I agree. I responded to both of them.

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Gary Childress
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:45 am

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:39 am
A better question would have been 'should the trillions the US spends on its military budget be better spent on raising the general standard of living?'
That's another interesting question but Notre Dame has been in the news lately and so that's what prompted my post.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:53 am

Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:40 am
OK. So you seem to be saying that restoring the cathedral might be the best plan and that it would help the poor in the long run also.
Not necessarily. I'm just saying it's hard to say which is best when the alternative is not clear.
"Spend the money on the Cathedral."
"Give the money to the poor."
See, now this would look like possibly a very bad idea.

"Give money to the poor" could read like, "Give the alcoholic a fresh bottle," if the poverty in question is the result of unnecessary dependency, bad character (like incentivizing voluntary single-parenting), fiscal mismanagement, addictions, gambling, credit abuse, laziness, or some other such social pathology that is not summed up in something so simple as "merely not having enough money at the moment." And if it involves a corrupt "aid" plan that actually channels money to the wrong places, it could be totally wasteful as well. So it doesn't clear up much.

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Gary Childress
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:32 am

Immanuel Can wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:53 am
Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:40 am
OK. So you seem to be saying that restoring the cathedral might be the best plan and that it would help the poor in the long run also.
Not necessarily. I'm just saying it's hard to say which is best when the alternative is not clear.
"Spend the money on the Cathedral."
"Give the money to the poor."
See, now this would look like possibly a very bad idea.

"Give money to the poor" could read like, "Give the alcoholic a fresh bottle," if the poverty in question is the result of unnecessary dependency, bad character (like incentivizing voluntary single-parenting), fiscal mismanagement, addictions, gambling, credit abuse, laziness, or some other such social pathology that is not summed up in something so simple as "merely not having enough money at the moment." And if it involves a corrupt "aid" plan that actually channels money to the wrong places, it could be totally wasteful as well. So it doesn't clear up much.
Well you make a valid point. If you spend money on fixing the Cathedral then you generally know that the cathedral is going to be fixed and you will see results in a manner more or less of what you had wanted to see when you gave that money. Spending it on welfare programs is generally much less precise. Sometimes you can end up with unforeseen results (more single parent households) or you could be flushing the money into alcohol distilleries. Who knows? I ask myself similar questions every time I donate to a charity. But sometimes it actually does help people in good ways too. I don't think you can rule the positive completely out.

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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Logik » Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:37 am

Notre Dame brings close to 2 billion Euro to the French economy EVERY YEAR because of tourism.

It has done so for a long time. "The Rich" didn't donate 1billion Euro to fix a church. They donated 1 billion Euro to ensure that 2 billion Euro continues flowing into French coffers every year.

Donating 1 billion to "the poor" will help them for how long exactly?

On economics alone this decision makes sense. The fact that they are restoring a piece of art for its aesthetic benefit is the cherry on top.

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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Age » Sun Apr 21, 2019 11:44 am

vegetariantaxidermy wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:23 am
Idiotic question. Notre Dame is a miracle of HUMAN achievement. Are you suggesting that people will starve if it's restored?
People were starving to death before, will starve to death during that just another clay and mortar building is restored, and people will continue to starve after it is restored.

Some people are starving to death every day while other people go about obtaining and wasting money every day. What happens either way with one burnt out building is not really going to change the situation of children being allowed to die every day.

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Immanuel Can
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Re: Rebuilding Notre Dame vs. Helping the Poor

Post by Immanuel Can » Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:09 pm

Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:32 am
But sometimes it actually does help people in good ways too. I don't think you can rule the positive completely out.
I wouldn't, of course. And I'd prefer to do the charity, if such were more definitely specified. I would "help the poor" through an organization that had strong accountability measures in place, to show that the money they give is dispersed in ways that are long-term effective. But I wouldn't dump it into some general welfare fund, or hand it over on some foreign-aid-to-government ponzi scheme. And I sure wouldn't just give it to the people of Paris to be dispersed in any old way.

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