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!