The Valuation of Everything

The verb “to modernize” is very ambiguous. Sometimes it means “to do things better”, other times it means “to remove those things and get rid of them altogether”, other times it just means “to make those things sellable and see if you can get some money out of them”. In this last case, “to modernize” often equates “to valuate”.

French public administrations are partaking, in a quite imaginative way, of the modernizing impetus that characterizes contemporary advanced liberal democracies. Here is an outstanding example:

“Just as any other economic actor, the state possesses immaterial assets: licenses, patents, electromagnetic frequencies, databases and know-how. With a state agency for immaterial heritage, the state can valuate such assets.” (from “Le patrimoine immatériel de l’Etat, des richesses méconnues à valoriser”, Portail de la modernisation de l’Etat, April 16 2009)

The initiative includes, for instance, the implementation of fees to shoot movies in monuments, castles and other state-owned premises (between 3000 and 6000 euros a day for shooting in military terrains).

But, since the notion of “immaterial asset” is fortunately very large, this initiative should remain open to further suggestions such as, for instance, a fee for posing next to the head of the state.

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