A significant chunk of the famous Notre Dame cathedral burned down earlier this week, and now France’s government is mulling whether to accept cryptocurrency to rebuild it—but please, for the love of Satoshi, keep your Bitcoin.
The world anxiously watched fire rip through Notre Dame’s twelfth century framework on Monday afternoon. French minister for digital affairs Cedric O later said he’s open to discussing ways to accept digital money donations, Bloomberg reports.
Cryptocurrency companies also felt obliged to weasel into public discourse. Digital asset exchange Binance launched a “charity” drive for Notre Dame, and promised any cryptocurrency sent would be given to France and the Archdiocese of Paris on their behalf (an obvious marketing stunt).
This virtue signalling came despite confirmation that wealthy individuals and companies had already flooded official channels with more than 800 million euros ($900 million), almost three times the annual budget reserved for national monument restoration.
Notre Dame has been ignored for years
The uncomfortable truth is that Notre Dame has been literally crumbling for years. Art professor and Gothic architecture expert Andrew Tallon warned its structural integrity could be at risk without urgent work in 2017.
“The flying buttresses, if they are not in place, the choir could come down,” Tallon told TIME. “The more you wait, the more you need to take down and replace.”
Back then, the Church said it had not been aware of how decayed Notre Dame had become. It reportedly only noticed after the government standarized keys for accessing its upper levels, where much of the damage had festered.
France even allocated an extra 6 million euros ($6.75 million) to fix Notre Dame‘s spire, as water damage had already threatened its wooden roof. Work reportedly began almost two years ago.
Bureaucracy is to blame (so you should keep your Bitcoin)
At the time, a French official warned Notre Dame shouldn’t rely on regular funding for repairs (albeit while unauthorized to speak with media).
They also said fixing Notre Dame wasn’t of utmost importance as France has thousands of monuments, and promised it wouldn’t fall down.
Science reporter Maggie Koerth-Baker highlighted an article from last year that detailed how beaurocratic inefficiencies of the French government and the Archdiocese of Paris had led Notre Dame to dangerous deterioration, and the US was to intervene with a foundation for raising $185 million to restore it.
Donating to rebuild one of history’s most iconic buildings might seem like an appropriate use of your digital currency. Just don’t.
Remember: Bitcoin exists in response to big government bailing out banks in 2008. There’s very little reason for Bitcoin to bail out world governments and associated churches. Let them clean up their own mess, as big (and sad) as it may be.