Reducing options

The whole asylum seeker deterrence argument rears its head again and it goes like this:

“By treating a few asylum seekers badly, we are saving hundreds and possibly thousands from risking their lives and possibly drowning.”

This (as in many other justifications presented by the right) are examples of the false dilemma technique in which only two often extremely simplistic outcomes are presented as possible.

The only way to argue against this is to step above the conditions and present an optimum solution:

“By treating all asylum seekers well, we will save hundreds and possibly thousands from risking their lives and possibly drowning.”

Actually, it should and has to be expanded:

“By treating all asylum seekers well and ensuring no country has to take more asylum seekers than they can host, we will save tens of thousands of people from torture, oppression, murder and violence (and break people smuggler business models).”

The problem is that the solution (aka a regional framework) which will achieve this outcome is complex, difficult to implement and will take a fair amount of time. What’s worse, components of the evil solution that the government has put in place actually prevents the implementation of an optimal solution by effectively destroying the fabric of trust that needs to be established with our neighbours – a pre-requisite for any regional framework.

A Labour government would still have put in place the evil deterrence solution, but I would like to think that they would have also worked to implement the optimal one, recognising that the only thing worse than an evil solution is an evil solution that doesn’t pave the way to something better.

The Coalition not only has no such vision, it does not provide any indication that it is even capable of recognising there can be one.  Which leaves me with this question: are they actually evil or merely stupidly so?


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