Saturday, October 13, 2012

Treat the disease not just the symptoms

When we experience symptoms such as pain, dizziness or shortness of breath, we seek medical help. We want relief from our symptoms but we also expect the doctor to diagnose the underlying illness and treat it.

Our state and communities have lots of serious issues; high unemployment, crumbling roads and bridges, high taxes, unfunded pensions, population loss and political corruption to name a few. Are they diseases or are they symptoms of underlying illnesses?

Like the doctor whose waiting room is filled with patients needing attention, legislators scramble to put out a myriad of fires all at once. Despite their efforts, (in some cases, because of them) the underlying illnesses are often never fully diagnosed or treated.

~ ~ ~

PENSION REFORM's $2 billion unfunded liability. A symptom or disease? If we miraculously received $2 billion, the immediate problem would be relieved, but have we achieved a cure or just alleviated the symptom?

Governments and unions, when crafting pension contracts, MUST work together for the benefit of everyone instead of their own constituencies and narrow interests as they have often done in the past.

A start might be to publish the names of those people who craft all employee contracts so that the public always knows who was actually responsible for them.

Perhaps if people knew that their prior actions would not fade with time, they might think more carefully about their legacy and future reputation.

JOB  CREATION GOP director Patrick Sweeney said, “The ... issues I believe that are most pressing.... addressing the business climate in this state which means helping out small business to help create jobs”. I would respectfully disagree with this assessment. Businesses don't create jobs. They create services and/or products and if the public wants them and can afford them, businesses will hire more workers. In other words PEOPLE create jobs.

Any business that hires workers it doesn't really need because of a tax break will let them go when the tax break ceases or they'll soon be out of business. Yet another example of treating a symptom and not the disease.

EDUCATION: Rhode Island per pupil spending is higher than 45 other states but student performance is just in the middle of the nation. Symptom or disease?

“If we focused on waste, we could provide more resources to our children in the classroom” says one party spokesperson.

But we're already spending much more than most every other state but with only mediocre results.

“We need to stop treating corporate education like it is special and we need to stop giving corporate CEOs tax breaks. Reversing these two trends will be key to revitalizing Rhode Island” says an NEA director.

Nearly every conversation about education focuses on money and taxes. These are extremely important but  the crucial element in a child's academic success is the attitude of parents and family. Until and unless this is addressed, financial "solutions" alone will fail to achieve the desired results. When our children grow up in a home environment that values education, nothing will hold them back.

~ ~ ~

Changing our habit of treating symptoms instead of diseases isn't going to be easy and all sides need to listen to one another. We have to take the best ideas, regardless of whose they are, and working together, use them to do the right thing for all of the people.

These are only one person's ideas after hearing the same tune played over and over. I'm hoping we 
at least change the station. They did it in Tahrir Square. I hope we can do it here.

Continuing to take only aspirin for that chest pain symptom could be a killer.

Maybe it's just me.