Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Problem with Problems*

Global warming, environmental destruction, polluted water, depleted fish stocks, an endangered food supply, an energy crisis, a shortage of affordable housing, poverty, education funding shortfalls, rising healthcare costs, declining numbers (relative to the population) of living-wage jobs, war . . .. These are among the most egregious, most vexing, most persistent problems that plague society today. What are we going to do about them?

The conventional mindset is that if society's problem solvers throw enough money at a problem, or do something equally stupid, the problem will just go away. Sorry! Reality doesn't work that way. In reality, one must attack the source of a problem if one has a serious desire to solve the problem.

Everyone has their own ideas about how to remedy society's most pressing problems, but that, in itself, creates another problem. Most remedies postulated by concerned citizens and well meaning (or not) politicians concentrate on treating the symptoms, not the disease. These are nothing more than feel-good solutions that dull the pain of failed policy while ignoring the underlying cause. They give the illusion of making progress, but deliver nothing of substance.

Feel-good solutions are band-aid solutions; they're stopgap measures at best. The sore that is the crux of the problem continues to fester under the band-aid until the band-aid falls off, at which point the original problem becomes a little more difficult to deal with.

Virtually all of the problems mentioned in the first paragraph of this short essay stem from one source—overpopulation. Until all members of society, from the movers and shakers to the moved and shaken, can recognize, understand and accept this simple truth, and will themselves to act in concert to end our collective nightmare, the nightmare will continue, unabated, to its ultimate, frightful, painful conclusion.

We can take decisive, positive steps to limit population growth by placing sanctions and controls on the front end; we can implement harsh, brutal, extreme measures on the back end; or, we can do nothing, thus letting the status quo prevail. We can do it the sane way, we can do it the insane way, or we can let Mother Nature do it her way. That, too, is a choice. The only certainty is that we, as a species, will either live or die by the choice we make.

*This brief article originally appeared in Petey's Pipeline E-zine, Issue #17, October 17, 2005.