I remember distinctly being surprised as a child upon learning that the homeowner could be legally punished for trespassers sustaining injury on their property. To a child’s mind this was puzzling. Shouldn’t the trespasser be responsible for their own safety, especially if they’re trespassing? Specifically, this included people drowning in back yard swimming pools, injuring themselves on trampolines, or people climbing up cliffs to enter backyards to take shortcuts. As I grew older I learned that this concept was called “attractive hazard”. The legal principle goes something along the lines of small children and other mentally impaired persons couldn’t be expected to think through the potential consequences of their actions. It thus became the homeowner’s responsibility to have fencing around the pool, blocking it off and similar physical barriers impeding use and access to other attractive hazards.
The other day I realized that the current European Migrant Crisis is similar to this concept. To a poor person from Africa or the Middle East European welfare states are in practice attractive hazards. The governments of migrant/refugee friendly European states are responsible for creating the conditions that lead to millions making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Ocean. Drownings in the ocean are thus comparable to drownings in back yard pools. The politicians responsible could easily rectify this condition. By refusing entry to boat refugees this dangerous avenue would be closed, with the added benefit of defunding people smugglers/human traffickers.
The other approach is to completely revamp the welfare state policies that attract the migrants in the first place. We know that those policies in particular are the reason for many to put themselves in harm’s way, due to the fact that migrants don’t settle in the first safe free from war country they get to. The vast majority continue onward to the most generous welfare states in Europe. I find it hard to blame the individual migrants for their migratory actions. If I had the choice between living in some dirt-poor country with a fundamentalist religious leadership clamping down on all aspects of society or taking a small risk and likely ending up in a more advanced and more prosperous society, I know what I would choose as my course of action.
It thus becomes the responsibility of Europeans to remove the temptations for the migrants. Don’t aid and abet criminal elements in their trafficking operations. Don’t tempt men, women and children to expose themselves to drowning. Actually, enforce the laws that state that refugees must stay in the first safe country they enter. If we are going to hold homeowners accountable for the actions of their neighbour’s kids, then surely we can expect our politicians to act in a responsible manner (insert laughter here).