America faces many problems today, but the way that it addresses these problems is the greatest concern of all. There’s not one bill that can be passed, one targeted drone strike, or one change of leadership that can solve these diverse problems.
Look at the problem of income inequality, for example. One solution that has recently gained momentum is raising the minimum wage and that is, in essence, a wage market manipulation to shorten the gap. Even if it will work to close the wound of inequality, it will just be ripped back open by the many things that caused the gap in the first place, like globalization and financialization. Income inequality is really a side effect of much larger flaws in the workings of America’s economic system and is only a tip of the iceberg of economic issues that should be getting attention.
Look at gun violence. America was focused on the guns rather than the violence. There was far less debate over the things that cause people to turn to violence, such as mental health, which was a common thread in the mass shootings stirring the debate. Look at our response to terrorism. Our policy consists of increased defense (a positive thing), and drone-striking every terrorist leader we can locate. As if a religiously-based cause, where many of its followers think of suicide bombing as the ultimate religious sacrifice, needed more martyrs to inspire future action. History has shown these destroyed leaders or groups are just replaced by others after a short period of time. Terrorism is a form of ideological warfare, and you cannot bomb an idea out of existence.
The system which allows America to continue to avoid the roots of major issues is spread throughout society. The media has to maintain short news cycles in order to keep the public’s attention, so political opportunists need to create a solution before that short cycle ends. They focus on solutions that can be passed and implemented quickly and avoid general controversy, rather than ones that are actually effective. Most people have already lost interest on the issue the minute it’s out of the headlines and there’s no accountability for failing policies until some major problem occurs, bringing it back into the news.
Essentially our system is putting a Band-Aid on an illness that requires open-heart surgery, but could have been prevented with a healthier lifestyle choice. Issues like terrorism, gun violence, and income inequality cannot be solved as quickly as the system currently demands and rushed attempts at doing so are most likely only leading to further problems. This cycle is also partially a result of the public’s tendency to rely on government for problems they cannot or should not fix.
All of the previously mentioned issues are perfect examples of problems government could never completely solve by itself. The only way terrorism ends is if the peaceful portion of the Islamic community speaks out against the violent portion. Radical Islamic terrorists are best combated within their own community.
Government can never solve all the root causes of violence, because those causes may never be eradicated, but simply removing one of the many tools of violence is in no way a solution. Government can do more to make mental health treatment more available, but ultimately the responsibility will always fall on the shoulders of the family members to stop these people from having the opportunity to implement these mass killings.
As for the economy, there’s far too much to talk about to fit in a short column, but whatever the solution, it’s going to take cooperation between government and the private sector to make sure the system works better for the individual and the nation.
These are not entirely political issues. While it’s much easier to solve these problems with legislation, continuing this reliance on government to solve large societal issues eventually leads to a complete disintegration of the roles defined in the Constitution. America’s political process needs work, most people would probably agree with that, but our social and economic processes are just as corrupted and inadequate and should receive the equal attention of political problems. Until the people of America gain the patience, diligence, and cooperation necessary, we will lack the capacity for any real change. The government and the economy are almost always a reflection of society, so the flaws many of us see in the outside world have to be applied to our own lives. Ghandi said it the best when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That conventional wisdom could never be more applicable.
Troy Warne is a student at Carson High School and part of the Jumpstart program. This column is part of his senior project.