All The More Reason

On Largesse
June 21, 2006, 3:53 am
Filed under: On...

(Any and all pieces by this author should not be considered opinions endorsed by anyone else with this site)

The cher ministre for foreign affairs in France, Monsieur Philippe Douste-Blazy, has a new plan. Starting July 1st, plane tickets purchased in France will have a toll of one to four euros added to their price. The gains will be used to purchase medicine for third world countries to fight tuberculosis, aids, and malaria. The program is called Unitaid.

I saw an interview with the ministre recently where he described in part, that his motivation had come from a wish to do something more with his position. However, he also emphasized the political consequences of this effort. Individuals were far less likely to try and come into France without papers to get treatment if they knew that they could be treated in their own country.

Watching this interview, I wondered why airlines had not instituted a policy on their own, out of their own goodwill. Someone working for the company could have even done a cost-benefit analysis to see if the positive publicity generated from doing this service would outweigh the extra charge to their customers. Perhaps managers of airlines also have wishes to do something more with their power. But more specifically, I wondered why the French people had not set up private institutions on their own initiative to generate funds to purchase this medicine. Charity.

The best argument I can give for Douste-Blazy is that it would cost too much money for individuals to create these organisations on their own. In other words, it would be more efficient for the government to handle these types of operations. I am not so sure. I would argue that this is the extension and the abuse of one's power for personal ego-gratification and the fortification of the ministre's office.

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the preceding sentence. Part of the reason why I cannot is that the interviewer did not ask him the question. Indeed, what interviewer would wish to be painted as the individual against Unitaid? “What, you were against helping people dying of Aids? For shame.” But someone should be asking these questions, and should be asking them repeatedly. Otherwise, this ministre, or the one after him might place a tax on condoms to help orphans. You are not against helping orphans, are you?

Jonathan Smith

Michael P adds…

I would not even be so charitable as to describe the French government's behaviour as 'largesse'. It is entirely selfish. The Unitaid initiative is a mere trifle in comparison to the enormous damage that France's unstinting support for the Common Agricultural Policy has done to the continent of Africa. Reforming that abomination would do far more good, but ,unsurprisingly, France continues to say 'tant pis!'.


2 Comments so far
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If you ever get a chance to explain in detail what would be some of the consequences of France abandoning the support of its Common Agricultural Policy, it would be interesting to read.

Comment by Jonathan Smith

Lovely. Made my day (which is saying something)

Comment by pocker

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