How often are we solving for symptoms of a problem rather than the root cause?
Now that I’ve developed the language and habit of mind to analyze how people solve problems, I’m shocked by how many times we’re blatantly addressing symptoms.
For example, in the “War on drugs” what problem are we trying to solve? I guess the problem is that there are too many drugs on the streets. Or perhaps that it’s too easy to profit selling drugs? But criminalizing drug use, increasing border security and combatting large scale criminal operations hasn’t solved the problem.
It’s led to some flashy operations and intuitive talking points, but overall It’s a whack-a-mole approach that pushes one piece down while another pops up.
Even if the theory worked perfectly and there were no longer easy access to drugs, what would happen? The addicts would still be addicted and now they’re just paying more for their high. Demand stays the same and supply goes down, thus price goes up. In such a situation, maybe a cheaper, even stronger drug would hit the market (fentanyl).
Looking at root causes like mental health, trauma and negative future prospects would lead to a vastly different set of solutions. But what if we re-thought school, added more support for student well-being, and helped all people see potential in their future? It certainly doesn’t sound as American as a “War” to combat the known evil of drugs. But, it actually addresses root causes of the problems, rather than a set of symptoms.
This type of thinking is everywhere. The more you look, the more you will see.