Societal Problems; An Abstract Analysis
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Politics and Activism

Societal Problems; An Abstract Analysis

Different problems require different solutions.

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Societal Problems; An Abstract Analysis

One might be able to say that the existence of political careers is built on the prospect of solving problems on a large scale. By nature, this field is is intellectual. Many different philosophers offer differing perspectives on how to solve societal problems, with varying degrees of expenditure and intervention. Most of the time, these efforts do not reach the full capacity of their promised results. Coming particularly from one camp on the political field, these solutions are always proactive. However, they do not bear the desired results.

I would attribute this to being unable to understand the fundamental differences between certain problems that arise in society. All problems that a nation faces are compiled into a singular category that necessitates proactive policy. This does not appear to be the reality. I would argue that there are, effectively, four different types of problems that come about in a society. These different categories are public policy issues, cultural issues, disaster issues, and geographic issues. These different types of problems need to be addressed differently, and some cannot be necessarily solved. The most often confused are the issues of public policy and culture.

The first type of issue to be addressed is that of disaster issues. This includes many catastrophic events that result in terrible changes. This includes natural disasters. Most of the time, horrible occurrences such as these destroy wealth in a given community. Many see such an result in the aftermath of hurricanes. Gigantic events, such as hurricane Katrina, can leave lasting damages to a community. These events destroy wealth. Sadly, there is not much that can be done to remedy this issue. Many advocate for increased spending in the hopes of recuperating the community, and making up for the loss of life, goods, and services. This, however, cannot completely rejuvenate an area that has been hit by a crisis such as this. Currency is not the same as wealth. Conceptually, it could jumpstart the creation of wealth in such an area, but it cannot fully replace the wealth that has been lost. In the end, there is not much that can be done to completely repair after such an event.

The second category is geographic issues. Geographic issues are problems that arise due to the geographic location of a society. This plays a gigantic role in economics and social circumstances. Much is made of the wealth disparity between nations, but the belief in an entirely equal global economy is foolish. There is never any real hope that the USA, which boasts large amounts of farming land, rivers that are perfect for transportation, and an abundance of natural resources, would end up being as equal as Russia, which has large open areas susceptible to attack, many pieces of land unsuitable for living or farming, and not many natural resources to speak of (with the notable exception of oil). Even discounting the tumultuous nature of Russia’s political climate over the last several hundred years, there is not a reasonable expectation of wealth equality. So, naturally, nations face problems with regards to their geographic climate and location. The only realistic solution to this problem is an increase of trade between countries that are more geographically lucky. In order to facilitate this, a nation’s government must eliminate barriers that stand in the way of that trade. Free trade can be a great equalizing force.

The third category is issues of public policy. This deals with policy decisions that are actively detrimental to the equity, well-being, and advancement of a society. For instance, the USA experienced such a time during the early stages of the constitution. The landmark case of Marbury vs. Madison established that the Supreme Court could label acts as unconstitutional. This solves the problem of the legislative and executive branches not being accountable for actions that go directly against the rule of law in the United States. This was a public policy issue, and it was solved through a change in public policy. This must be separated from the other categories as it relates to, and it caused by, the actions and organization of government.

The fourth category is that of cultural issues. This is the most abstract out of the categories, as it can be hard to read the cultural climate of a society at any given time. However, it is separate from the other categories. For instance, single parent households are now commonplace in some segments of American society. While the concept of two people living separately while having a child is not inherently wrong, it does have a detrimental effect. It is a leading indicator for poverty. Single parents, particularly the most common occurrence of single mothers, have a difficult time balancing employment and childcare. It is a difficult exercise. This is not necessarily the fault of government policy, natural events, or geographic influence, but in abundance it can show a cultural trend. The solution here is one of the most difficult. This can only really be changed by an alteration of the culture. This is one of the reasons that civil debate and responsibility are so important. While economic conditions can influence a culture, it also works the other way around. Thus, while it is difficult, the solution is a change in culture.

Now, there is an important lesson in understanding the difference between issues of public policy and cultural environment. They are mutually exclusive. A cultural issue cannot be solved as if it were a public policy issue, and vice versa. For instance, the Jim Crow segregation laws were solved through a change in public policy that ensured that public institutions could not discriminate based on race. That was a public policy issue being solved by public policy. In contrast, the famous sit-in protests at lunch counters solved private business discrimination when the businesses lost money and subsequently integrated. That was a cultural issue being solved through cultural change, and no policy change was necessary. However, in the cases of policies such as affirmative action, since its conception is the 1960’s, there hasn’t been much of a increase in the median family income of minorities, such as Hispanics and African-Americans, in relation to the other races in the United States. That was a public policy that, foolishly, attempted to solve a cultural issue.

The important thing to take away is that the world is full of complex problems that cannot be rectified in the same manner. For different problems, there are different solutions. This is difficult to accept, as most people believe proactive policy is the solution to all the world’s complications, but it is the case.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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