Some ultimately unimportant but greatly amusing news from Europe today: The French government apparently pays the man responsible for cutting President Francois Hollande’s hair a salary of 9,895 euros per month, or about $10,958 (which works out to more than $131,000 per year). This delicious tidbit was discovered by the weekly satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchainé, and confirmed by a government spokesman, who gave this spectacularly blasé explanation: “Everyone needs their hair done, no? I can understand people’s questions, I can understand their judgments. He’s not just anybody, that’s all.” The hair dresser’s lawyer gave a slightly more compelling explanation. Via France 24:
But the job requires full commitment, the lawyer said in the article published on Wednesday, meaning the hairdresser needs to be “available for the president 24/7”, and is sworn to secrecy regarding any information he may learn while on the job.
“He missed the birth of his children,” the lawyer said, adding he had to sell off his own salon at a discounted price because of his busy schedule.
So, what should we make of this incipient scandal? Well, on the one hand, you could chalk it up as a fussy French example of wasteful government spending, which also happens to clash with Hollande’s attempts to present himself as a man of the people. As Bloomberg notes, the president’s own salary is only about one-third higher than his stylist’s. That said, the Hollande is also nominally a socialist, and what signals solidarity with the working classes better than paying your staff generously?
Really, I think the issue comes down to Hollande’s hair itself. The man, sadly, is in possession of a whispy, receding coiffure that is, at best, forgettable, and at worst, a bit disheveled. That actually may make his daily trim all the more essential—for balding men, neatness counts. (The stylist reportedly cuts Hollande’s hair every morning and before speeches.) But it also makes the idea of paying someone six figures to tend to that fallow plot of follicles feel a little silly. Now, if he were rocking this magnificent do, it might be a different story.