Saturday, February 1, 2014

Identifying Issue Number One

If a pollster called and asked what you consider the most important political issue in the country today, how would you respond? Would you say it’s the economy? The war on terrorism? What about health care?

No matter which issue you choose, your answer would probably be correct. Not merely because it’s your opinion, which is what the pollster expects to hear, but because each of these areas and many more represent extremely difficult problems which must be solved if we are to have a well-functioning society. The problem is, these are merely symptoms. What we really need to do is focus on those steps that would lead us to truly effective solutions to the entire range of our economic and social problems.
Now, what would you say if the pollster asked you which problems are so important they must be addressed first? Which are the issues that, if we could turn them around in a short time, would begin to have positive effects on most of the rest of our social and economic calamities?
I’d say there are two areas: education and employment. Notice, I didn’t say unemployment. I’m talking positive here. Unemployment is the problem; employment is the solution.
In fact, I would venture to say that these issues are so vital that if we could address both areas simultaneously, everything else would fall into place. Not without a whole lot of effort on the part of every citizen, of course, but just imagine:
  • What if every single person were educated to the limits of his or her abilities and interests?
  • What if everyone made learning a lifetime habit?
  • And what if every person were able to work at a job that was both interesting and fulfilling?
  • Most importantly, what would happen if every single person on the planet who is at all capable of doing some measure of work earned at least twice as much as it costs to purchase all the necessary goods and services required to enjoy a dignified existence--so that even the lowest-paid person has at least some extra money to spend beyond their basic needs?


The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace is a collection of essays discussing how providing universal job training, education, and employment would provide the tools necessary to solve most of the other economic and social problems in our society.

If we could resolve the issues of education and employment at the same time, then society would have enough resources available so that solutions to almost every other problem would be within reach. All that would be needed would be to apply common sense and the combined effort of every member of society. It’s as simple as that!

For instance, a lot of people say the economy is the biggest problem we face these days. They cite the housing crisis, lack of access to health care, and other gaps in the delivery of basic goods and services to millions of people in this country and billions around the world.
But imagine what our society would be like if everyone earned at least a little more than it takes to pay for their basic needs, including health care (as opposed to the insurance system that enriches for-profit businesses while denying care to many people who actually need it), housing, food, basic transportation, and especially job training and education.
In that case, everyone would be able to participate in a universal saving program in which everyone invested a small percentage of their salary for a preset length of time. Such a plan would not only ensure that everyone could build personal wealth but would provide a static economic base to strengthen businesses, in this country and around the world. Costs would stabilize, thus putting a brake on the scourge of inflation.
If everyone received a good basic financial education and were assured of continuous employment as long as they’re able to work, few people, if any, would spend themselves into the deep holes in which so many people find themselves today. There would be few, if any, foreclosures. Business could rely on a strong and steady market for goods and services, depending more on the quality of their products and services rather than the vagaries of shifting economic sands.
The elimination of the conditions that perpetuate poverty--inadequate job training, education, underemployment, and unemployment--would also lead to a marked reduction in crime, which would lower costs for everyone and eliminate much of the stress we now experience in our everyday lives. And the natural reduction of stress that results from a thriving economy would reduce health problems for most people, which would be a big step toward reducing currently out-of-control costs of medical care.
Of course, I could list many other areas in which the resolution of these basic issues would affect a host of problems that many people rarely think about but are a sad fact of life in our system. In fact, I’ve done exactly that in the columns collected in my book, The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace, and I'll continue to do so in future columns and articles.
I’ve often had the pleasure of discussing these issues in radio interviews, and I hope to have more chances to discuss these issues whenever public forums are available. Perhaps something I say will help people to focus on finding and applying more win-win-win solutions to the root causes of our problems, instead of just "picking at the scabs."

The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace and my historical mystery novel, Lion’s Pride, are available through your local bookstore. They are featured at, Barnes & Noble, and most online bookstores around the world. Both are available for Kindle readers.

No comments:

Post a Comment