02 July 2016

Compassionate woman, compassionate policy, cruel outcome

Compassionate woman, compassionate policy, cruel outcome:
IOM [International Organization for Migration] reports an estimated 222,291 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 26 June, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Deaths in the Mediterranean so far this year are 2,888, compared with 1,838 through the first six months of 2015. Source
Nobody, least of all, Chancellor Merkel, wanted this. Compassion works in everyday life, with people whom we know, or with people whose need is desperate and urgent. As a policy, though, it fails. I think we should do better to target outcomes, rather than the supposed means of achieving them. If our goal is to reduce drownings in the Mediterranean, then reward people for achieving that outcome. If our goal is to improve the quality of life for ordinary Africans, then we should reward people for achieving that outcome. And if our goal is to reduce or eliminate conflict in the Middle East, then why not put in place a system of incentives that motivates people to achieve that?

Social Policy Bonds allow us to set these long-term objectives and to reward the people who achieve them. They don't sound compassionate relying, as they do, on monetary incentives, and many on the left disdain or despise the idea (and their originator!) for that reason. But monetary incentives - often known as salaries or wages as well as prizes or bonuses or profits - are the very basis of whatever prosperity there is on this planet. The wish to acquire more cash can be directed into social and environmental causes, as well as frivolous or destructive ones. The world would be better served if we all got over our hang-ups about money and with our wish to appear compassionate, and actually worked towards more compassionate outcomes. Or, as a line from the 1981 movie, Southern Comfort has it: "Comes a time when you have to abandon principles and do what's right."

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