Twenty Year Problems LO14065
Tue, 24 Jun 1997 09:21:47 -0400

Replying to LO14036 --

Doc wrote:

>The solution is not a popular one--it is to stop solving social problems
>with political solutions. An alternative (or corollary) is not to mix
>social solutions with political ones. The last recommendation I'll make
>here is that we should avoid, at all costs, superimposing our culture and
>values on an autonomous world.

>I suspect that if we have used these three principles, we would have
>avoided the most costly of blunders in our foreign policy history.

I find your recommendations intriguing. I find myself wondering, however,
if politics is not intended to solve social problems, to what should the
political process attend? Society and politics seem inextricably linked.

I am, however, not unsympathetic, Doc. Viewing the news from a systems
perspective often leaves me with the perception that the biggest systemic
blunders take the form of poorly-conceived legislation or regulation.

What strikes me is that legislative or regulatory solutions that violate
systems principles often make the mistake of attempting to solve the
problem at the wrong logical level -- solutions that may be appropriate to
a specific problem are applied too broadly. "Three strikes you're out" is
as excellent an example of a fix that will fail as I've seen. I would be
more inclined toward a principle of favoring local political (and social)
solutions to local social problems.

Of course, local politics is not immune from systemic errors. I was
bemused, for instance, by a solution recently proposed here in Boston. The
MBTA (our mass transit authority) observed a high level of theft occurring
among transit workers who handle cash. The proposed solution was ordering
uniforms without pockets.

Trying to see the humor in it all...
Marilyn Darling


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