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The Trouble with Causes... is that they're rarely causes

Lily Allen cries on screen and apologises for 'her country's' refusal to take in enough migrants. As if emptying the Jungle would solve the reason why impoverished desperate people fight their way to be there.

I've no problem with highlighting the suffering of individuals or communities. Indeed it's important we don't ignore suffering. I've also no problem with people and states doing something to relieve that suffering. Of course we should. What I do have a problem with is the naivety that assumes solving the symptom sorts out the cause. Causes are rarely the causes of the problem, they're symptoms. It's an odd misnomer.

Voting for Brexit (sorry) is another example of the dangers of focussing on symptoms without understanding underlying causes of issues - or, in the case of Brexit, of not understanding the consequences of curing symptoms. Intriguingly by making the UK less attractive for immigrants by devaluing our currency, frightening off multinationals from building offices and factories here, making imports more expensive and ultimately hurting the jobs market - the Xenophobic British public will have helped to resolve their immigration issue. At a stroke they've made the country a less attractive opportunity to build a different life. No need to 'take control of our borders'. You've scared them off.

Clearly we should be supporting causes even if they are only curing symptoms of deeper problems (climate change, poverty, lack of education, water etc). But complacency about the root causes of these symptoms - or worse, refusal to accept expert judgements about why these symptoms exist - only leads to an escalation in the problem not a resolution, as Brexit (and Trump) voters will discover to their considerable cost in due course.


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