Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Your Proud Feelings vs. Drowned Boat People

Ho hum, another six asylum seekers drowned while on the way to Australia.

I wrote about this at some length last year when another bunch of boat people drowned near Christmas Island.

Here's a summary of the main point from last year. :


I don't know what the updated graph looks like, but if anyone would like to wager over the direction of the line, do let me know.

That's what compassion will get you. Look how self-righteous the Labor Party and the Greens were! No more wicked off-shore detention of asylum-seekers. No more housing people in those cruel, cruel detention centres! How virtuous we feel, now that we've finally gotten rid of those evil and nasty laws that John Howard put in place.

In an inconvenient turn, hundreds of people are estimated to have drowned since Labor scrapped the previous laws, based on the inexorable logic that 'more people attempting the crossing = more people dying in the attempt'. But who cares about such a trifle as that!

The phrase 'tough love' is one of those expressions that lefties hate, as it's one of those cliches that gets thrown around a lot in support of many policies, some of which really are tough love, and others of which are just tough.

But doubt not this: people respond to incentives. When people tried to point out to Julia Gillard that her policy was indirectly leading to hundreds of deaths by drowning, she responded that this was a “vile slur”, and among the most “dangerous”, “irresponsible” and “despicable” she’d heard in politics.

So here's a question. Let's put our 'correlation!=causation' caps on, and say that the straightforward incentives and persuasive time-series evidence is not conclusive. I'll take that. But even then, what the hell is Julia Gillard's alternative explanation for this trend? So you saying you're not killing people, huh? Then what exactly is the contention? Is it that more people aren't actually drowning, or that the increase in people coming and drowning has nothing to do with the fact that they are more likely to be processed in Australia and given asylum? Is it driven by the supply and demand of leaky vessels? Is it driven by these asylum seekers expecting to hop off the boat and get a job in Australia's booming mining industry? What?

In fairness to the Labor Government, since last year they've been trying to get offshore processing going again. Whether this attempt can be construed as a tacit admission that the previous policy was in fact killing lots of people is a different question, and one which I would love a reporter to ask her. But the policy hasn't been passed, mainly because they continue to operate under the ridiculous self-imposed constraint that  they won't use the single most logical place for it, namely Nauru.

Because then they'd have to admit that Howard was right. And nothing is more important that that. Certainly not a couple more drowned asylum seekers.

Andrew Bolt is right in skewering the worst delusional culprit - Bob Brown, leader of the Greens. But then again Bob Brown has never, in his entire political life, given even the vaguest indication that he grasps how incentives work. This imbecile is a walking monument to the Dunning-Kruger effect - the more he screws up policy, the more sure he is of his idiotic beliefs. You'd have more luck trying to get your dog to understand Fermat's Last Theorem.

Ostentatious moral vanity is unpleasant enough to watch at the best of times. Ostentatious moral vanity that is simultaneously leading to hundreds of preventable deaths, on the other hand, is sickening.

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