We keep reading about our new aristocracy, the plutocrats with their grand houses and luxury. Our political caste, including our prime minister, hob nob with them. The less elegant Scheer merely awaits his chance to lick their boots.
Maybe there's a teaching moment in what's happening in St. Tropez, France.
The French Riviera town’s old lifeboat is out of action awaiting repairs while its volunteer crew accuse rich yacht captains of being too mean to stump up a few euros to pay for a replacement.
Resort Lifeboat officials said their ageing vessel, the Bailli de Suffren II, in service for more than 30 years, needed a spare part from Italy, and that it would not be putting to sea in the next two weeks.
The Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (National Sea Rescue Society, SNSM) at Saint-Tropez has ordered a new €1.4m lifeboat, which is now under construction in Britanny with a delivery date for next spring. But it needed another €200,000 to pay for it to be properly equipped with high-tech electronic devices and for its delivery, the society said.
The SNSM wrote this year to wealthy individuals and companies owning luxury yachts moored at Saint-Tropez, asking them to put their hands in their pockets. The town is a playground of the global super rich.
Pierre-Yves Barasc, president of the Saint-Tropez lifeboat station, said the appeal sank almost without trace. The owner of one modest boat sent a €10,000 donation but the tycoons and oligarchs failed to come up with a centime.
Barasc told the local edition of the news outlet Var-Martin: “They said it wasn’t their problem. That’s not true. On the bigger boats last year we saved an eight-month-old baby. We also saved three youngsters caught on rocks – not a word of thanks, even from their father. Nothing! It’s almost as if it’s their right. It’s great to shower the young ladies with a bottle of €50,000 Cristal champagne, but they could be a little more restrained and help us a little more.
“We asked all the owners of important boats. No reply, except one promise never kept. A lone boat, far from being the biggest, gave €10,000. If 30 people had done the same we could have had our new lifeboat quicker.”