Public debate misses point on FASA closure

The commentariat’s reaction to the closure of FASA (like Public Achievement and others before it) was the usual one. There are people struggling with addictions yet apparently we cannot afford to keep open an organisation which tackles addictions. Politicians, quite naturally, jump on the bandwagon. Yet it completely misses the key question.

This is the usual logical fallacy.

All cats have four legs. My dog has four legs. Therefore my dog is a cat.

There is a problem with addictions. This organisation says it tackles addictions. Therefore this organisation is essential to tackling addictions.

No one thinks to ask the obvious questions about how that follows.

Was FASA actually any good at helping people with addictions (what were its outcomes)?

Was FASA efficent (or can another, better run organisation do it better)?

Did FASA’s structural and funding model, given the range of issues which need to be looked at in tackling addiction, make any sense?

The assumption that a particular organisation is absolutely inexpendable to tackling a particular issue, just because it says it is, is a very peculiar one.

Maybe FASA was a fantastic organisation, brilliantly run, properly networked, delivering concrete results. If so, its closure is a scandal.

But then maybe it wasn’t. And if it wasn’t, then taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money should not be spent on it, quite obviously.

Yet again, we have a public debate (complete with the usual moral outrage) focused purely on funding, but not on value.

And we know what Oscar Wilde said about that!

 

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6 thoughts on “Public debate misses point on FASA closure

  1. I think FASA did do fantastic work, certainly there was very little alternative to them and they were a supply side of health provision to a heavy demand side of need.

    Now, there may or not be question marks over efficiency and structural issues, but perhaps a bigger hubris we need to face up to is that our society and we need to take collective responsibility didn’t value it enough to put the money towards it.

    I doubt it was driven to the ground by a better competitive more efficient charity, and no doubt there are fixed costs that no charity can avoid.

    I have no doubt it was valuable to many, but I think it was more of a victim of our own human selfishness and desire to have the addicted become someone else’s problem than in all fairness the economic mechanics of stores like say Austins, which is probably a victim of apathy too.

  2. Ian,

    Of course I don’t know how much you know about how FASA has approached its work. I know a little, and in particular about the approach it took in Ballywalter, where FASA operated a furniture restoration workshop, a small garden centre, a second hand bookshop and an excellent cafe.

    I also know nothing about any governance issues there may be.

    I do know something about the vulnerability of many of the folk they have helped, and how important the engagement they had with FASA was to them.

    Closure without notice will be traumatic for some, if not many, local folk.

    Regardless of the institution running it I do hope that proper consideration can be given to the continuation of the work. That needs time, and therefore money, to at least allow proper evaluation to be made.

    Maurice

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Ian,

    Of course I don’t know how much you know about how FASA has approached its work. I know a little, and in particular about the approach it took in Ballywalter, where FASA operated a furniture restoration workshop, a small garden centre, a second hand bookshop and an excellent cafe.

    I also know nothing about any governance issues there may be.

    I do know something about the vulnerability of many of the folk they have helped, and how important the engagement they had with FASA was to them.

    Closure without notice will be traumatic for some, if not many, local folk.

    Regardless of the institution running it I do hope that proper consideration can be given to the continuation of the work. That needs time, and therefore money, to at least allow proper evaluation to be made.

    Maurice

    • For a variety of reasons, I knew the organisation a few years ago. I don’t know what has happened since.

      Clearly the work to tackle addiction must be continued and indeed improved.

      But whether that requires FASA – which frankly wouldn’t be closing if it were properly managed – is another question.

      • I think it perhaps a failure on all our politicians to point out that groups like FASA were the real Direct Action Against Drugs not the idiots who put teenagers on a morphine drip by a punishment shooting.

  4. Indeed there is a real question if some of the Social Investment fund money couldn’t be put towards this charity.

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