Our rights do not originate with government, but they are to be "secured" by government.
Formerly: Libertarian Party of Citrus county

Monday, February 21, 2011

Problem Solving 101

I taught high school chemistry for a few years, virtually every high school science book has a section, sometimes a whole chapter on problem solving and the scientific method. Having come from the industrial world, not the teaching world, and realizing that very little of the Chemistry I thought would be remembered past graduation, I stressed one thing over and over, problem solving and critical thinking. I believe that these skills would be far more valuable for my students than remembering the atomic weight of carbon. If you google “4 steps to problem solving,” you will find a veritable tsunami of information. The basic 4 steps are Analyze, Plan, Execute, and Evaluate. These four steps may have different terms to describe them but in essence they are the basis of logical rational problem solving. Kids ask a lot of hard questions, often not about the subject you are teaching. As a teacher I often responded with “You are smart enough to figure that one out. Use your problem solving skills and think for yourself, what was tried before, what worked, what didn’t.”

The first step to solving any is always analyzing the problem. This involves correctly defining the problem. This should include what you know in as much detail as possible, historical information of similar or identical problems, previous solutions that worked and those that didn’t work, and what the expected or desired results to any actions you will plan for solving the problem. Most problems that keep getting worse not better are caused by two things; 1) incorrectly identifying the problem, and 2) failure to correctly evaluate the results of the plan executed to solve the problem.

Consider our economy and unemployment. We were told that the Obama’s plan to solve this problem was to raise the statutory national debt limit from $12.4 trillion to $14.3 trillion and for the government to spend the borrowed money, that the execution of this plan would keep unemployment at or below 8%, and would stimulate a recovery. Thirteen months ago this plan was put into place. No rational or reasonable evaluation of the execution of that plan can recognize any benefit, the only results seems to be more debt for every man, woman, and child in the nation, less jobs, and inflation. There is no evidence that the increase in the statutory national debt limit was of any benefit.

Obama’s plan is not in error, nor is his execution of that plan. Like most solutions that fail the problem was not correctly identified and the evaluations of past solutions to similar or identical problems were not considered. We have an out-of-control federal budget. This is a symptom not the problem. We have a cultural problem, which has manifested itself in a selfish desire to have what we want, when we want, even if we can’t afford it, and if we can’t afford it we want our guardian to pay for it. In an adolescent we call this a lack of maturity. If your friend consistently asks to borrow money, is always broke, but spends his money on beer and the horse track, you don’t assume he has a budget problem, but a problem of priorities and character. Would you continue to lend him money? When he tells you he has a sure thing on a horse named Clementine and wants you to give him more money what do you tell him? Do you tell him to quit spending on the beer and lend him more for the ponies? What would your other friends say if you continued to give him money?

In reality, unlike what some in the news and major political parties would tell us, raising our statutory national debt limit will not cause us to default on the national debt. To make this understandable, consider what you think would work if you had too much credit card debt. If you have a credit card and are barely able to make the monthly interest payments on it, will raising your credit limit and charging more purchases to the card make it more likely or less likely that you will eventually be forced to default on your credit-card debt? No reasoned analysis of the execution of past plans which increased our national debt and spending can conclude that those plans are effective in solving our economic problems.

We must pressure all of our leaders in Washington and hold them accountable. 70% of all Americans agree, we should not increase the federal debt. Reasoned evaluations of past plans implemented clearly demonstrate that the Democrats in Washington will not reduce federal spending as they have promised. The only bargaining chip the GOP has is to not compromise and not vote to expand the federal government. The Republicans have the ability to stop increased federal spending, just vote no on raising the statutory national debt limit. Reasoned evaluations of past actions clearly demonstrate that the Republicans in Washington will capitulate to the Democrats. We as citizens must pressure them to change their past actions, as they have repeatedly proven not to work.

Any high school student who received decent grades in their science classes, could analyze the problem, look at the history, and evaluate the execution of past plans, and conclude that doing the same thing that failed in the past will not result in any different outcome. Logic, reasoning, and problem solving skills are not strong points of liberals in Washington. Liberals rely on emotion and feelings not reality; the reality is we cannot afford to permit an increase in the statutory national debt limit while at the same time spending more on multiple military occupations, being worldwide policeman, aid to foreign governments, bailing out bankrupt financial institutions and massive income transfers from wage earners and entrepreneurs to the elderly, poor and other unproductive classes.

The problem is not the budget; the problem is our elected officials will say and do anything to keep their power; the economic health of the nation is not a problem they will address if it does not increase their power or chances of re-election. Protecting the liberty and interests of the people is not a goal of the Democrats or Republicans, thus their plans and how they are executed are designed to make the politician more electable and garner more power, not to solve America’s problems. Taken in this context, their plans have been successful, the proof is that they, the politicians, continue to gain power and get re-elected, while depriving we the people of liberty and putting us further into debt.

We the people are applying basic problem solving skills to the economy. We have analyzed the problem, and created some plans which we started to execute last November, when we kicked out a lot of incumbents of both parties. We have clearly indicated that part of our plan to get out of the financial trouble we are in is to first stop spending borrowed money; indicated by 70% of us who don’t want the debt ceiling raised. If we expect the government to do our bidding so we must keep up the pressure and let Washington know that, we will not accept the execution of same failed policies, like borrowing and spending to solve a debt problem. Let everybody in congress and the senate know that your plan is to vote out anyone who votes to raise the statutory national debt limit.

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