A Big Mac, French Fries And A Coke. Anything Else, Minister?


It is sad really, when ministers who run out of ideas are being persecuted for something else by the country they are trying to govern. It is as if we all have suddenly had an attack of divine morality concerning the fact that they are otherwise engaged. The latest victim of the democratic inquisition into the lavish lifestyle of the ruling class is François de Rugy, the now former French environment minister of all people, who instead of crying over the fact Greenland is emitting more greenhouse gases than I do after having eaten a take-away curry, stuffs himself with lobsters and wine, extremely large and very expensive, respectively. If he reimburses the tax payer, I can forgive him for using public money to pay for his nosh – but eating lobsters?

I never had a penchant for lobsters and would much prefer that people leave them alone in the sea to mind their own business, if they have a business that is worth minding. Lobsters, together with artichokes, are one of the rare delicacies that when eaten, leave you with more on your plate than in your stomach. Besides that, I have never managed to cook lobsters because they don’t fit in the only saucepan I have, specifically designed for boiling my eggs.

I ask myself the question – and it is a serious one – of whether we can expect our ministers and presidents to eat at the local fast food restaurant (yes, they are called restaurants) or phone Domino’s Pizza to order a medium size Chicken Supreme. 

François de Rugy can no doubt quote Napoleon who reportedly stated that, “an army marches on its stomach.” What is true for an army certainly applies to government. He could also remind us that in 17th century Massachusetts, lobsters were actually considered to be a sign of poverty and the colonists fed the poor beasts to their servants. Even in the 1940s, a can of baked beans cost five times as much as canned lobsters.

A minister’s resignation for anything other than a lack of ideas does nothing for democracy and will not solve climate change. The former French environment minister may not eat lobsters on the back of French tax payers anymore but others will take his place at the dinner table. We cannot ask or expect our elites to eat junk food, of course, unless the hamburger is the future of democracy. Their misdemeanours must be sanctioned and the culprits must pay back the public money they misused. But let’s not get all moral about this because many of us, in our own way, do similar things. How many of us have taken a pen from work and used it at home? How many of us have claimed expenses that should not have been claimed?

These were not dinners between friends. These were informal working dinners with people who have relations with a political authority. – François de Rugy

My work experience is that most of the time I have 15 minutes to eat a rapidly prepared salad. But that’s besides the point.

The point is that it is not the affairs of the heart (another word for “sex”) and the table that count in politics, it is ideas. In our present age of scorching summers and melting ice caps, does it matter what a minister eats or who a minister sleeps with and why? Just reimburse the tax payer and leave the married men or women alone. All is forgiven as long as you come out with ideas to save the world from oblivion.

The politicians’ lavish dinner money reimbursed to the state could be used to plant trees. Now there’s an idea to save our planet, if ever there was one. It would not only be one big step for mankind but something less to worry about for the lobster who has enough on his own plate as it is, without having nightmares about being served up on a plate that belongs to the Élysée Palace.