Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Greenfield: The Solution is the Problem
Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog ^ | Sunday, January 26, 2014 | Daniel Greenfield

Posted on 01/26/2014 3:38:54 AM PST by Louis Foxwell

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Solution is the Problem

Posted by Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog

The problem with our problems is usually their solution. If we were to take a closer look at many of our problems, it would turn out that many of them are actually solutions that were meant to solve those very problems. Our War on Poverty has spread poverty. Our attempts at fighting racism have perpetuated it. Our campaigns for energy efficiency invariably waste more energy than they save.

We tried promoting populism to solve terrorism in the Middle East and got even more terrorism for our troubles. The more resources we put into education, the more the educational system runs backward. Every attempt at creating jobs seems to vaporize more jobs than it creates.

Solving problems isn't a bad thing, but the place to start is at the problem, not the solution.

Listen to enough celebrities at fundraisers, politicians thumping podiums with manicured fingernails and thought leaders spinning their little grey wheels and you notice that they assume that the solution is obvious, self-evident and will work. And that's where problems come from.

The more problems we have, the more addicted to solutions we become. But progressives forget what the pre-moderns knew, that many problems have no solutions. Other problems can be ameliorated, but not solved. Life is still tragic. Bad things will happen to good people. Sometimes we can wipe a disease off the map, but more often our solutions trade simple problems for more complex ones.

Human nature, unlike a virus, has no solution. It's hard enough to keep up with a mutating cellular organism, but trying to outpace shifting human motivations is a totalitarian loser's game. It's why social problems have the fewest solutions except distributing more time, more wealth and more resources wholesale through a general step forward and waiting for people to make use of them.

Social solutions are all about social engineering masses of people on the assumption that they will behave in a predictable way over extended periods of time even when they are aware of what is being done to them and even when the conditions of the experiment come apart as your $600 million website not only doesn't lure in the cool kids to sign up, but works about as well as a plugging your toaster into hope and change and waiting for it to magically do something.

None of these gimmicks work really well which is why most aspiring progressive social engineers settle down to a humbler rackets of six-figure salaries at a non-profit that's there to solve a problem that won't be solved or a consulting gig manipulating billionaires who want to solve a social problem like gun violence or obesity before they die and think that it can be done by manipulating the masses.

For sincere problem solvers, the place to start is by examining the problem. That means setting aside the claims that science has already proven X, Y and Z. Science actually proves surprisingly few things outside of an episode of CSI. What science does is tie together working assumptions into a productive workflow. This is much more useful when it comes to producing a smartphone using science, than using a bunch of unduplicated studies with more statistical gimmickry than a political consultant's poll to tackle overeating, drug abuse or risky behavior by teenagers.

Bacteria is a lot less self-aware and less complex than teenagers. It isn't going to change its worldview tomorrow because of a new trend sweeping the nation. It also isn't going to be primed to give the answers that get you the grant by your research assistant who never learned to spell ethics.

Some problems are unsolvable. Others shouldn't be solved. Think about that bookcase you want to move to the other side of the room. What are the odds that the thin pasteboard is finally going to give way and spill all those medical journals all over your rug if you try to do it? A lot of problems are like that. Tackling them sounds good at a fundraiser, but then it breaks your furniture.

Tackling the social problems of low income families broke up those families and made them much more dependent on the social tacklers. A few generations later, the broken family and dependency had made all the original problems even worse and much more unsolvable. It shouldn't have been that surprising an outcome. Taking animals out of the wild and breaking their chain of life strategy transmission leaves them unable to survive. It works that way with people too.

Solving problems generates new problems. People are complex and their complexity generates problems. Even actual solutions create new problems. What makes these solutions actual is that the new problems are several degrees of severity less than the original problem. Plentiful food means childhood obesity. Cures for diseases lead to increased longevity and strain on the social system.

Thinking ahead can head off solution problems. The problem is that solutioneers rarely like to think of problems. They like to skip ahead to practicing their Nobel Prize acceptance speeches.

The progressive mindset treats solutions as a matter of faith. If you assume that society is always on an upward track like a roller coaster that never stops climbing into the sky, then you don't worry that your solutions will general future problems. Thinking that way is blasphemy against progress. And if you aren't a 1920s progressive with shiny hair and a great deal of confidence in a future where radio pills are an entire meal and a vast government bureaucracy will end poverty for good, but a 1970s progressive with a necklace of Made in China tribal beads and a misplaced confidence that the only reason that problems don't get solved is that people don't care enough to solve them, then you can't even process the idea that hugging a problem to death might not be the solution that is needed.

The 1920s progressive was the product of a rational culture. His modern descendants confuse being rational with being obtuse, snarky, outraged and any of the other phases of the progressive moon. That leaves them completely unable to solve anything and utterly unaware of their own inability to do anything more complex than edit a Republican politician's Wikipedia entry to reflect a gaffe distributed by a Think Progress' mailing list and call it a day for the progressive movement.

Instead of solving anything, they declare social problems solved. Then when the social problems have gotten so bad that the voters turn to a Republican to solve them, the progressives begin churning out articles, books and documentaries about how the Republican deregulation of whatever messy system they set up to solve old problems by creating more of them wrecked everything.

Crime was solved, until the Republicans came in and began fighting it. Poverty was solved, until Reagan got in. Race relations were great, until Nixon. Every disease was cured until Bush failed to increase NHS funding in line with the growth curve of the economy. This comforting hateful nonsense frees progressives from ever questioning the progress that they have made.

Progressives are forever fixing things and conservatives are forever breaking them because they hate progress. The only way to make progress is by eliminating all opposition. It worked in the USSR where the authorities spent three generations blaming every one of their failures on a vast army of saboteurs working for Great Britain, Leon Trotsky and the remnants of the Czarist regime.

Ask a modern progressive to name what his politicians did wrong and the usual answer is that they weren't radical enough. ObamaCare was bad because it wasn't Single Payer. If it had been Single Payer, it would have been bad because of medical tourism. If a giant barbed wire fence had been set up and all the doctors rounded up into it, the complaint would be that the fence wasn't electrified.

Like the guy trying to fix a television set with a hammer and twelve beers, the progressive review board's conclusion is always that he didn't hit the broken pieces of the television hard enough.

This same solutionist mindset doomed the USSR to wallowing in its own economic filth because it could rarely work its way backward from its latest mess. Instead it found a few scapegoats to shoot and went on marching forward over a cliff until everyone got tired of the whole thing and decided to go back to an oligarchy with fewer rules and better movies.

Those who believe in the solution can never accept that they are the problem. That they aren't smart enough to outsmart the rest of the population and that they should stop trying before they make their problematic solutions unsolvable. The solution is more than just something they do, it's an act of faith in a rational future. But there is nothing rational about problem solving as a progressive act of faith.

Solutions and problems aren't polar opposites like heaven and hell or Beethoven and the sound a broken fax machine makes when you try to call it; they're entangled bits of each other like a Rubik's Cube. The solution is present in a problem and the problem in a solution. That is all the truer when the problem is people, rather than the alignment of colored squares.

Solving a human problem isn't a transformation, but a realignment, and there is rarely more than a thin line between the problem state and the solution state. We are never far from the problems of the last century or the last millennium. Like yesterday's hunger pangs, we may have forgotten the raw experience of living that way, but there is very little objectively that separates the solutions we live from the problems that they solved. It is best to remember that the problems of human nature today were the problems of human nature yesterday and will be the problems of human nature tomorrow.


TOPICS: Government; History; Politics; Religion
KEYWORDS: greenfield; sultanknish

Sultan Knish/Daniel Greenfield Ping List notification of new articles.

FReepmail or drop me a comment to get on or off the Sultan Knish ping list. I highly recommend an occasional look at the Sultan Knish blog. It is a rich source of materials, links and more from one of the preeminent writers of our age.

1 posted on 01/26/2014 3:38:55 AM PST by Louis Foxwell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: daisy mae for the usa; AdvisorB; wizardoz; free-in-nyc; Vendome; Georgia Girl 2; blaveda; ...

Just a friendly reminder from Daniel. You can't fix what is broken when what is broken is the fix.

2 posted on 01/26/2014 3:41:36 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

> The progressive mindset treats solutions as a matter of faith. If you assume that society is always on an upward track like a roller coaster that never stops climbing into the sky, then you don’t worry that your solutions will general future problems.


Like the guy trying to fix a television set with a hammer and twelve beers, the progressive review board’s conclusion is always that he didn’t hit the broken pieces of the television hard enough.

Damn you are good, Daniel...lol


3 posted on 01/26/2014 3:47:48 AM PST by jsanders2001
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

It’s one of those twelve lessons in life that a kid ought to learn by age eighteen. Fixing something...sometimes isn’t a big enough deal to waste on a solution.


4 posted on 01/26/2014 3:57:46 AM PST by pepsionice
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

BTTT


5 posted on 01/26/2014 4:00:54 AM PST by varon (Para bellum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

Results matter in real life. Results are not relevant in Washington and most state capitals. After all, it’s not real money, it’s government money being spent. Most of the money comes from Obama’s stash.


6 posted on 01/26/2014 4:04:13 AM PST by Senator_Blutarski
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

Yep.


7 posted on 01/26/2014 4:04:43 AM PST by EternalVigilance (With God all things are possible.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

Bookmark


8 posted on 01/26/2014 4:33:50 AM PST by aquila48
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

One of his best!


9 posted on 01/26/2014 4:37:43 AM PST by basil (2ASisters.org)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

How does he keep coming up with this stuff..Dani s Amazing!


10 posted on 01/26/2014 4:38:59 AM PST by left that other site
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

“Ask a modern progressive to name what his politicians did wrong and the usual answer is that they weren’t radical enough. ObamaCare was bad because it wasn’t Single Payer. If it had been Single Payer, it would have been bad because of medical tourism. If a giant barbed wire fence had been set up and all the doctors rounded up into it, the complaint would be that the fence wasn’t electrified.

“Like the guy trying to fix a television set with a hammer and twelve beers, the progressive review board’s conclusion is always that he didn’t hit the broken pieces of the television hard enough.”

Great stuff!


11 posted on 01/26/2014 5:15:59 AM PST by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
The urge to do good i.e. help their fellow man is irresistible to many people. Nothing wrong with it, it's just that there are limits to how much you can help some people. I certainly believe in giving everyone a fair opportunity for success or a chance to improve their lives. But despite being given all the best opportunities, many people fail anyway. Nothing can be done for them except to try to keep them from harming themselves or other people.

Once core fault of libs is that they think humans are perfectable. They are not. There has to be rules and regulations to try and keep things under control knowing full well that nothing is 100% attainable.

I still remember what a friend of my father told me many years ago when I too was under the impression that every problem could be fixed, and government could do a lot to fix those problems. He simply said that often times every "solution" simply creates another problem. I argued with him that I thought society could fix everything. He just smiled at me with the wisdom of years. Of course, he was right, and I was wrong. Moral of story: try to fix things knowing that many things can't be fixed. Many things can be controlled somewhat, but fixing, making them perform the way we would like them to perform, is often not possible.

12 posted on 01/26/2014 5:16:04 AM PST by driftless2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: pepsionice

Another way of saying it is: the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.


13 posted on 01/26/2014 5:17:03 AM PST by driftless2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]


FR is funded solely by the freedom loving folks who love and use it.
Please Consider Donating Monthly, if you possibly can!

We need your help to keep the lights on.
FR is funded solely by contributions made by
liberty loving people who enjoy and use it.


Free Republic 1st Quarter Fundraising Target: $85,000 Receipts & Pledges to-date: $23,737
27%  
Woo hoo!! And the first 27% is in!! Thank you all very much!!
Two percent a day keeps the 404 away.

14 posted on 01/26/2014 5:38:25 AM PST by RedMDer (Happy with this, America? Make your voices heard. 2014 is just around the corner. ~ Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
The problem with our problems is usually their solution.

I've read whole books by liberals that didn't contain as much wisdom as the above sentence...

15 posted on 01/26/2014 5:49:15 AM PST by GOPJ (Liberals never let something as petty as being 100% wrong stop them - Blood of Tyrants)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

You get more of what you focus on. We, as a nation, have increasingly focused on “poverty” and hardship to the point of obsession and have pored trillions of dollars after that obsession. The nmore money you soend fighty “pverty” the more you will get. Guaranteed. What you resist persists.


16 posted on 01/26/2014 6:35:21 AM PST by all the best (`~!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

Good thoughts.


17 posted on 01/26/2014 6:43:35 AM PST by charlie72
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

Wow. Just.....wow. I guess I’ve become a Greenfield Groupie.


18 posted on 01/26/2014 6:45:13 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
It is best to remember that the problems of human nature today were the problems of human nature yesterday and will be the problems of human nature tomorrow.

Crimianls/socialists/totalitarians are the problem. It has been solved many times throughout history on many levels all the way down to the individual level. Millions of innocents have been slaughtered throughout history because of the problem.

It's inhuman nature to be a problem.

19 posted on 01/26/2014 7:17:25 AM PST by PGalt
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
The solution is more than just something they do, it's an act of faith in a rational future. But there is nothing rational about problem solving as a progressive act of faith.

It seems that life works just fine without the intervention of progressives.
And they just can't accept that.

If you start with the premise that there is no God, that the universe and all things are just random occurrences, then you would have an impulse to tinker with the laws of the universe or of human nature. Try to put everything in a random universe in some sort of rational order.

20 posted on 01/26/2014 9:11:49 AM PST by oldbrowser (Obamacare is Obama's Great Leap Forward)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
Some problems are unsolvable. Others shouldn't be solved. Think about that bookcase you want to move to the other side of the room. What are the odds that the thin pasteboard is finally going to give way and spill all those medical journals all over your rug if you try to do it? A lot of problems are like that. Tackling them sounds good at a fundraiser, but then it breaks your furniture.

LOLL!! Writing from experience? IKEA specials?

This man is surpassing brilliant.

21 posted on 01/26/2014 9:30:24 AM PST by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
Almost every line of this essay is eminently quotable. I love this one, so seemingly at odds with Daniel's persona, which is more akin to an Orthodox rabbi than the guy in this image:

"Ask a modern progressive to name what his politicians did wrong and the usual answer is that they weren't radical enough. ObamaCare was bad because it wasn't Single Payer. If it had been Single Payer, it would have been bad because of medical tourism....Like the guy trying to fix a television set with a hammer and twelve beers, the progressive review board's conclusion is always that he didn't hit the broken pieces of the television hard enough."

22 posted on 01/26/2014 9:38:48 AM PST by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
Solutions and problems aren't polar opposites like heaven and hell or Beethoven and the sound a broken fax machine makes when you try to call it...

This is so true. In every broadcast by an MSM commentator or debate with a progg, they always seek to make moral equivalence between "left" and "right", as if they are two equal wings of the fusilage of state; when in fact, the "right" is the large trunk of a tree and its root system, and the "left" are a lot of the branches and twigs, some dead, that often need to be pruned back.

23 posted on 01/26/2014 9:43:04 AM PST by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: driftless2
...try to fix things knowing that many things can't be fixed. Many things can be controlled somewhat, but fixing, making them perform the way we would like them to perform, is often not possible.

Ask anyone who has ever gone into marriage with the idea of "changing" their partner.

24 posted on 01/26/2014 9:48:03 AM PST by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: all the best
You get more of what you focus on. We, as a nation, have increasingly focused on “poverty” and hardship to the point of obsession and have pored trillions of dollars after that obsession. The nmore money you soend fighty “pverty” the more you will get. Guaranteed. What you resist persists.

The same can certainly be said for public education. We have huge per pupil spending, but the results, often in the biggest-spending areas, have been a devolution into PC indoctrination and a morass of anti-intellectual, anti-creative, anti-freedom and anti-individual dogmas more conformist and oppressive than the Christian social theocracy against which Marxist do-gooders routinely rebel.

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. --Friedrich Nietzsche

25 posted on 01/26/2014 9:54:15 AM PST by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

Daniel is a really good writer


26 posted on 01/26/2014 10:08:27 AM PST by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

Times change. People dont.


27 posted on 01/26/2014 10:57:45 AM PST by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Albion Wilde
...the "right" is the large trunk of a tree and its root system, and the "left" are a lot of the branches and twigs, some dead, that often need to be pruned back.

WOOPS! You have stumbled into a major maxim. Root and branch. That's the ticket. Conservative is the root, the source of nutrition, stability and growth. Progressive are the branches, leaves and flowers. Pretty to look at but requiring constant pruning and cleaning up.

28 posted on 01/26/2014 11:22:01 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
You have stumbled into a major maxim. Root and branch.

No stumbling. Informed conclusion after 1) going to liberal arts college where I learned to envision; and 2) intense grad school study of the negative effects of post-60s Constitutional law on society, including grad thesis.

That's one reason I so fear for our youth, who not only have not had the chance to study history as older citizens have; but were denied basic civics and have been deliberately misled in the classrooms. Someday someone will discover a dusty volume in someone's attic and learn about our "experiment" in freedom that lasted a little over 200 years. It will seem as unreal to them as John Lennon's "Imagine" seems to our generation.

29 posted on 01/26/2014 12:20:34 PM PST by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; cardinal4; ColdOne; ...
Our War on Poverty has spread poverty. Our attempts at fighting racism have perpetuated it. Our campaigns for energy efficiency invariably waste more energy than they save... The more resources we put into education, the more the educational system runs backward. Every attempt at creating jobs seems to vaporize more jobs than it creates.
The reason? That was the intent of the Demwits who overwhelmingly brainstormed the policies and pile-drivered them into law. Thanks Louis Foxwell.
30 posted on 01/26/2014 2:31:31 PM PST by SunkenCiv (;http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Albion Wilde

Shades of Dark Crystal.


31 posted on 01/26/2014 4:59:47 PM PST by Louis Foxwell (This is a wake up call. Join the Sultan Knish ping list.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson