Friday, June 19, 2015

The Leak Metaphor

Nicolas Sarkozy has drawn heavy flak for comparing the influx of refugees to Europe to the flow from a burst pipe:
« Dans une maison (…), il y a une canalisation qui explose, elle se déverse dans la cuisine, a poursuivi M. Sarkozy. Le réparateur arrive et dit j’ai une solution : on va garder la moitié pour la cuisine, mettre un quart dans le salon, un quart dans la chambre des parents et si ça ne suffit pas il reste la chambre des enfants. »
With his characteristic grace and elegance, evidently much appreciated by the UMP--er, Republican--militants who laughed and applauded his remarks, Sarkozy is here denouncing the EU's quota plan, under which each member state would be required to receive a certain number of refugees, based on its capacities.

With his analogy, Sarkozy mocks this solution. The appropriate thing to do, he says, is to cut off the flow. Of course, that would leave the residents of the metaphorical house dying of thirst, deprived of water. The proper response is to repair the pipe.

Branko Milanovic, eschewing such homely analogies, offers a series of thoughtful reflections on the refugee crisis and, more generally, the issue of economic migration from south to north:
It is I think obvious that EU has absolutely no solution to this latest migration crisis. It is simply lost: with no strategy, no policy and no ideas. Not that the problem is easy. But the only approach that might begin to produce something that resembles a solution would be multilateral, not solely amongst EU members (as in the current, strongly contested, idea of allocating migrants among EU member-countries), but in including also the emitting countries from Africa. A general system of both emitting and receiving country quotas seems the only way to impose some order and stability. The quota system may not be able to deal with random events like the Syrian civil war, but it should be able to deal with economic migration.