While pondering over the fate of the “War on Poverty” in the United States – a conflict which has seen the ranks of our impoverished grow to 100 million people by some estimates since it began in the LBJ Administration – I had an Ah-Ha! moment. If you’ve read my previous post about Sacred Geometry you’ve already been familiarized with my suggestion that the “Sacred” side is the detail of asymmetry. The “Geometry” side is the structure of symmetry. Here’s a new suggestion: Solving social problems should also be concerned with structure and detail as separate components of solutions.
Take the “War on Poverty” for example. Clearly it has not been won in the United States. What are the aims of this and other programs like it? Give food to people who need it. Yet that seems to indicate that there is a food shortage in America. There isn’t. Even if there were, we can always grow more. The problem is not food. The problem is that so many people do not have the money to purchase their own food. The issue is financial savagery inflicting damage on an expanding portion of our population. While those concerned with resolving the problem have been busy for decades thinking up detailed ways to provide food they have overlooked the flawed structure of this solution.
Whenever a problem is tackled at an individual or societal level, if that problem seems to come back no matter what is done to remedy it’s a good idea to step back from the details of your solution and analyze the structure. Do those last 10 pounds keep coming back no matter what calorie-counting diet you are using? Perhaps it’s because there’s an issue with the gluten/protein ratio. Does your community seem have a growing problem with crime even though more police are being put out on patrol? Perhaps the issue is one of desperation and not lack of deterrence. Or perhaps a rise in force against crime is promoting resentment that could easily be stemmed by foot patrols that lend themselves to friendlier circumstances where police know the people in a neighborhood by their first name.
To often when we solve social problems in America we look first to the symptom as the issue. The underlying problem then goes unnoticed. I suggest that many of our greatest challenges are rooted in financial savagery. The new greatest issue of concern which our society has an obligation to save its citizens from before it gobbles them up. You may think that being poor is not something we can expect our society to save us from. You’re wrong.
Societies come together in the first place for one reason – to free the group from harm that individuals would otherwise succumb to. Societies also break up for one leading reason – new harms rise up and threaten increasing portions of the society and leaders do not recognize them fast enough or do not care to do anything when they are identified. With roughly a third of our country at or below the poverty line I suggest that it’s time we identify financial savagery as the latest harm to rise up in our society. Then we should act to remove it, just as all societies do with their harms. Doing so will reduce crime, increase patriotism, improve our financial outlook and much more. In fact, if we solve this problem with a structural perspective change to our currency we can even eliminate the resentment that often accompanies hand-outs from the government. Read my booklet “Improved Liberty” for more information.
Another thought on the “War on Poverty”: Why has there been no uproar about handing out food to hungry people? Isn’t eliminating choice a “socialist” way of solving problems? Wouldn’t the “capitalist” method be more akin to handing out the money to buy whatever food a needy person would like to choose for themselves? Small differences in structure with big implications for whether or not the problem will be solved or grow to effect over 100 million people after decades of food battles lost.