Being Libertarian Perspectives will serve as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis piece by members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, will answer a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Assistant Editor Dillon Eliassen will moderate and facilitate the discussion.
Dillon Eliassen: Please read this article and answer the question, “Who benefits from Doctors Without Borders’ decision to not accept EU funding?”
If you are interested, to bolster your argument, here’s DWB’s financial information.
Dillon: I don’t quite understand this inclination, to refuse a donation from a bad person, whether it’s from Pol Pot, John Gotti, or Justin Timberlake, when that money would be used for a good cause. Do people and enterprises refuse money because it’s unclean, or because they are trying to influence policy? If the former, I think that’s misguided, and if the latter, delusional.
Mike Avi: Actually, their decision to not accept EU funding makes perfect sense to me. Non-profit organizations like DWB often suffer intense scrutiny because of the controversial nature of the conflicts they put themselves in between. Essentially, because of this scrutiny, their funding security depends on a form of social capital – reputation currency, if you will. As long as they remain consistent in principles and don’t appear to be corrupted by politically questionable donor bases, their primary donor base (which makes up 92%) should remain relatively stable. If they risk bad media over the decision to accept “dirty money,” they could lose individual donors at a greater rate than cutting losses at 8%. In fact, their move to turn down EU funding might actually strike an emotive note with the public and temporarily increase donations, off-setting the need to rely on organizational crisis savings.
Beyond that, as an organization that focuses on ameliorative effects, their efforts may benefit more than themselves, pressuring the EU to make political compromises and accept refugees on a wider set of conditions. The juxtapositive beneficial weight of that compared to the effects those immigrants have once they get there is the most speculative question yet. To that, I have no response.
Dillon: In an admittedly perverse way, the EU’s decision to deny entry to refugees makes economic sense. A much wiser man than myself, Milton Friedman, said, “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” As our very own Baland Rabayah has pointed out, the Scandinavian welfare states are heading towards collapse, and other European countries are cash strapped enough where they fear they cannot absorb the costs of mass immigration due to their prior public funding commitments. European countries need to right their ships, and remember that scarcity applies not only to commodities, but to tax revenue as well.
I don’t quite buy the argument that Doctors Without Borders is doing this as a way to mollify its other donors. It released a statement saying “The EU-Turkey deal sets a dangerous precedent for other countries hosting refugees, sending a message that caring for people forced from their homes is optional and that they can buy their way out of providing asylum.” It isn’t that the EU was sending dirty money to DWB, it’s that DWB is trying to guilt trip the EU into absorbing the costs of the migration, but that absorption may not be fiscally possible.
John Engle: DWB are being pathetically ideological. The EU has done more for the codification and protection of human rights, and has given more to aid the developing world than virtually any other actor or group in history. I think it’s a way to political grand stand that does nothing to change the reality. The EU does not want to allow an endless flood of migrants through its borders. I’m fine with that. But then they are also paying a hefty price to help another country do it. Surely that’s as good as one could hope for.
Bric Butler: Most refugees, due to economic and linguistic impediments, naturally flow into large ghetto suburbs in Europe like those that surround Paris and Brussels and once there they are barely better off, if at all, than they would be if they were on a Greek island or Turkish holding camp. Yet, also beneficially, there would be less violence and tension from the clashing cultures of poor Islamic refugees in the suburbs and the traditional working and middle class Europeans in the cities. Which is a more humanitarian outcome for both parties involved. So, DWB should be happy with the deal not pussies about it.
The new deal sucks because it allows Turkey to take Europe hostage because they now have the ability to basically hold back or release migrants into Europe whenever they choose. They will almost certainly use this new found power to finally leverage their way into becoming a full member of the European Union, which is horrible. One day the clusterfuck that is the EU will be described as such. Voltaire once said the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. The “reformed” European Union is becoming neither reformed, nor European, nor a functioning Union.
Dillon: I almost admire the absurdity/irony of DWB eroding their own operating budget due to the EU refusing to inflate their already bloated welfare states.
Martin van Staden: Medical doctors are characterized by an oath they take which commits them to treating the sick and weak, whoever they are and from wherever they may come. The oath does not say that migrants who traversed a political boundary are not entitled to care and help. I would keep accepting EU donations if I managed DWB. Dillon is right in that even if a bad person gives you something you want or need, you should be rational and take it. But as a matter of principle I understand where DWB is coming from, especially in light of this quote from the article:
“The EU-Turkey deal sets a dangerous precedent for other countries hosting refugees, sending a message that caring for people forced from their homes is optional and that they can buy their way out of providing asylum.”
The libertarian take is a bit different. Governments shouldn’t presume they have the right to infringe upon a person’s freedom of movement, especially not if their own welfare policies are used as scapegoats. If immigrants milking the welfare system dry is a problem, then abolish the welfare system. But for goodness sake, these people are fleeing from a war zone. It’s morally reprehensible to not allow a person to flee from danger, and it strikes at the very heart of the non-aggression principle.
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