How Much Would You be Willing to Spend on a Party for Seniors?

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Recently, a town on France’s southern coast called Le Barcarès came under fire for spending tens of thousands of euros to throw a party for pensioners. We all know France likes to indulge in lavish parties and dinners, but this report seems extravagant to everyone. Everyone, that is, except the French.

The Cost of the Party

A total of 33,700€ was spent on the one-night—er, afternoon—party in December 2010, which would be about $46,500 in American dollars. Although auditors loudly criticized the amount that was spent, it appears not much has been done on the topic. And if you’re curious as to what exactly 33,700€ can buy for just one party, here’s a list of what the seniors ate and drank:

  • 1,100 half rock lobsters; $9.54 each; $10,500 total
  • 77 kilos of hand-sliced salmon; $42.86 a kilo; $3,300 total
  • 150 magnums of Perrier-Jouët champagne; $62.67 each; $9,400 total
  • 1,248 bottles of wine; $10.18 each; $12,700 total
  • 1,040 jars of duck confit; $7.31 each; $7,600 total
  • 904 jars of foie gras; $12.39 each; $11,200 total
  • $85,000 on Christmas gift hampers, which included foie gras, duck confit and chocolate

The cost of the topless carnival girls, male pole dancers and balloon sculptures is unknown.

Was it Worth It?

The town of Le Barcarès, because it’s on the coast, is a tourist destination. It sits right on the Mediterranean Sea, is only 29 miles from the Spanish border, and has a pleasantly-sized population of about 4,000.

But Le Barcarès also has a huge senior population, with about 40 percent of its total citizens aged at least 60. It’s almost understandable that the mayor would want to throw such a lavish party, as seniors singlehandedly represent the biggest demographic in Le Barcarès. It’s the job of most politicians to see to the needs of their citizens, and it’s an easier job to tackle caring for the biggest demographic; it just simplifies the job, to put it crudely.

However, it’s one thing to spend thousands of euros on a party that’ll directly impact a city’s present and future wellbeing, and quite another to expect taxpayers to foot the bill for a pensioner’s end-of-the-year party.

Ways in Which the Money Could Have Been Better Spent

France is notorious for being extremely hard on burgeoning entrepreneurs, with many of them fleeing the country in search of opportunities elsewhere. The country’s tax laws expect an incredible amount from its citizens, and labor regulations stifle creativity and growth. Worker productivity and business profits have been slowly declining for years, and France shows no signs of turning things around.

This isn’t to say that the seniors of Le Barcarès shouldn’t have had their party, but maybe the scale could have been greatly lessened so some of the public debt could have been paid off, or factories could have avoided closing. And while focusing on tourism is a good idea, improving the 11 percent unemployment rate (26 percent for youth) would have been a better one.