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Problems and Solutions

There are problems. That implies solutions. Whether or not you can find a solution to any specific problem cannot be granted. It cannot be also be granted that you know the solution or are even capable of finding a solution. The solution may exist but you aren’t given the capacity or the means to solve it. Then it is not a problem that you should concern yourself with. Live with it.

Quite often a situation is defined as a problem. It may not be. It may be that that’s just the way things are. Being able to distinguish between situations that you can do something about or not is important. It’s not a problem if no one can do anything about it. Get used to it.

Many so called problems are actually cut out of whole cloth. Why manufacture problems? Because then they can sell you a solution. If you can manufacture a problem, then you can create a demand for a solution. Usually the solution leads to handsome rewards for those who manufactured the problem. Their incentive to create “problems” is that they profit from selling the “solution.”

Even if there is a real problem, you can never be guaranteed that those who are selling the solution actually have a solution. They may be snake oil salesmen.

Snake oil salesmen are quite common. They have an incentive to persuade you that there is a problem because they just happen to have the solution to your problem.

Politicians are the most consummate snake oil salesmen. They have to manufacture problems so that they can sell you a solution. Priests, especially of the monotheistic persuasion, routinely use this technique.

The Zeroth Law of Problem is that problems can be manufactured. That is what I call the “Existence law.”

The 1st Law of Problems is that “People will have a solution to the problem they’ve manufactured.”

The 2nd Law of Problems is that “If you buy the solution, then your problem will be solved.”

The 3rd (and final) Law of Problems is that “If you don’t buy the solution, you will face an even bigger problem.”

Let me illustrate this. People are who they are. But if you could persuade them that they are born in “sin”, then you have sold them the problem. After having defined the problem, you then claim that you have the solution — salvation that is mediated through you. It’s then an easy next step to sell them the solution, which usually involved payments to you.

If you don’t buy their solution, you will roast in hell — the even bigger problem.

Socialists have learned that technique mastered by the Catholic Church. They sell you the problem and can depend on a great number of people to buy their solution. The problem that socialist sell is that somehow evil-minded people are exploiting the poor. Morally righteous people in control of the economy would solve this problem. So the solution is that you have to follow the orders of those in command of a command-and-control system.

Aside from manufactured problems, there are real problems. That does not mean that we know the solution. It could be beyond anyone’s capacity to solve them. The best we can do is to recognize that that’s the way it’s going to be. Perpetual motion machines would be great to have but it’s futile to keep trying to invent one. The laws of thermodynamics preclude that.

There’s the problem of climate change. The climate is changing is not news. It has always changed and it will continue to change, regardless of anything humans do or don’t. Can we do something about it? Sure. Will it be worth doing? That’s a question the answer to which is definitely not “Let’s all stop whatever we are doing because otherwise we’re all going to die.”

For some problems, there are known solutions. Not known to you perhaps but nevertheless known to someone. It’s smart to search and find solutions that have been already discovered.

It’s stupid to believe that you know all there’s to know about the world. Only the ignorant make that assumption. And they suffer the consequences. It’s all karma, neh?

Atanu Dey on India's Development

Atanu Dey
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Problems and Solutions
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