PM John Howard on Channel Ten News last night, up in North Queensland to inspect the damage from Cyclone Larry, and to announce an aid package, was asked about criticism regarding aid.
Specifically, why we give billions of dollars overseas in aid (i.e, the Asian Tsunami), when we should be donating it here? The PM was quick to recognise the erroneous reasoning for what it is - a False Dilemma. His response was something like, "We can afford to do both." Exactly right. One choice does not exclude the other.
And, yes, Larry was bad, but some perspective please. Larry's death toll is essentially zero (though it goes without saying one death is horrible). The Boxing Day Tsunami's death toll was over 200,000.
Here are some moronic comments from readers of the Courier Mail, today and yesterday which essentially use False Dilemmas. [Sic] for them all:
From: Brian Sutton. Comment: Well done PM Howard the battered and bruised people of North Queensland welcome your offer of assistance in their time of need, However your Government was much more generous with taxpayers money to the people of Indonesia when disaster struck there. Open the bulging purse strings Mr Howard, The wellbeing of Australians must over rule all previous committments to offshore grants,We must take care of our own!
From: Mary Cullinane. Comment: Where's the billion dollar donation for the victims John Howard. Shame on you.
From: J. Smith. Comment: Tonight on the news I saw the people of Innisfail at the end of their tether. Families were standing on the street waiting for handouts which were a long time coming. Funnily, I remember the tsunami victims in Indonesia getting a quicker response from our aid agencies and government then our own countrymen…
And my personal favourite:
From: Annie Goodsell. Comment: Regarding the slow response times to provide aid to North Qld.On the news, the Weather Bureau was saying how they knew a couple of days in advance that Cyclone Larry would hit the affected areas mentioned.If the Weather Bureau knew in advance, why couldn't governments have sent up these emergency supplies in advance as well They had a minimum of two days' notice - better to have the gear up there and ready to go at a moment's notice, than to have these devastated people standing in the rain begging for assistance.
Umm… let me think Annie. Perhaps if equipment had been up there before the Cyclone, it might not have been there after it?