Viable Solutions for seemingly Intractable Problems

When problems arise, they can be solved by resorting to first principles. Surely the world cannot be oblivious to its past successes. It is folly to keep repeating past errors. Twenty-five years ago Yugoslavia suffered from run-away inflation and a top World Bank economist was consulted for a solution. He had a certain solution and was made head of Yugoslav Central Bank. He implemented it and brought down hyperinflation to single digits in ten days. His method was to activate the local economy. Greece can multiply its wealth by even fifty times if it wants. The local people are right to demand that the austerity measures be scrapped. The USSR was dismantled from the inside. A sincere appreciation of the situation led to her demise. A long history of clever diplomacy has led to her public life becoming hypocritical and something of a sham. Similarly, science is fostering its own superstitions. There are no insoluble problems in the world.

A simple and effective principle for solving apparently intractable problems is to fully avail of the latest advances for the widest benefit of humanity. When there is severe food scarcity, it is possible to respond to it in a way that benefits the farmer who produces the crops. India’s Green Revolution can best be understood from this perspective. The principle applied was to utilize the latest advances fully for the benefit of farmers. The advances were new agricultural production technology based on hybrid varieties of wheat and rice and introduction of a national organization for procurement and marketing of surplus production. The benefits were to ensure a higher profit to the farmer even in times of surplus production by introduction of a minimum floor price. Today the threat of nuclear weapons still remains very real and great. Now we have the internet, which did not exist until after the end of the Cold War. The damaging effects of radiation are now well documented and we now have a system by which the real facts about those dangers can be widely disseminated to inform the general public everywhere. If done, public opinion would make it very difficult even to store nuclear weapons anywhere. This is a viable simple solution for a problem of great magnitude.

The world of finance has been in a great upheaval since 2008 and wrought great suffering on countless millions. There ought to be a solution. The solution is to produce much more wealth and distribute it equitably. It is not like there is only one way to multiply wealth. Nothing prevents us from using all available methods. An organization called “GameChangers 500” is promoting the value of B-corps, ‘for-benefit’ corporations, which are now legally permissible in 23 states of USA. GameChangers 500 has introduced a new measurement system to assess the commitment of companies to socially beneficial goals such as ecological conservation, full employment, education and community development. They cite studies to show that corporations promoting socially beneficial objectives actually outperform other corporations in terms of growth and profitability and are more successful in attracting and retaining loyal employees and customers than those which pursue profit as their one and only goal. Their success is based on the principle of self-giving. Underlying it is another principle, the more one gives, the more one will receive.

These principles are true and applicable to all subtle forces. As wealth is a subtle force, it too responds to this approach. People in Germany and Netherlands seem to believe that helping Greece out of their financial crisis will be at their expense. Therefore, they oppose any bailout. But the method we are advocating is to create more wealth inside the Greek national economy. This is an initiative that will make all the countries richer and eliminate opposition. A former UNESCO chief regretted that on a daily basis some $3000 billion is being wasted on arms purchases at a time when millions of people are dying of hunger. All sane voices would say that those funds should go to feeding the poor. But the fact is that all poor nations can create more wealth than they need. This they can achieve through a policy of self-help which will hurt no one.

All nations without exception have passed through a phase of corruption on their way to prosperity. Prosperity is a physical value which is achieved by hard work. But integrity is a mental value which requires centuries to develop and it comes out of cultural restraint. Corruption has been prevalent in all developing countries for several decades. The more a leader tries to eradicate it, the greater is its growth. Here we have to understand the truth about corruption as a phenomenon of social development. When thus viewed, the regret vanishes. Anand Dairy in India was well-known for its corrupt ways before V. Kurien took charge in 1949. Within a short time he converted Anand into the most efficient cooperative in the country. In 1965 Kurien was appointed head of the National Dairy Development Board and he extended the Anand model throughout India to usher in the White Revolution. Corruption in England, other European countries and USA was eliminated in a century by a natural process that occurred unconsciously by the growth of these societies. Rising levels of education, the self-respect which education engenders, and greater organization of the whole society gradually eliminated corruption. Today it can be abolished much more quickly by incorruptible leadership. What took a century in the course of the 17th, 18th or 19th century may be accomplished in a few years in the 21st century. Why it should be so can also be explained. Even corrupt societies have certain pockets that are free of corruption. We can start with that as the basis and begin working from there. The process will be greatly facilitated if procedures are made transparent. Transparency eliminates corruption. A question may be asked about what to do with countries that lack honest leadership. It is possible to create a small core of honest leadership, as was done in India during the last decade. When corruption saturated the body politic, it produced its very opposite as a natural consequence.

A truth of human nature is that man enjoys confusion and chaos and the intensity generated in coping with the problems. In philosophy this is referred to as the taste of ignorance. This was understandable so long as only a small portion of humanity was educated. But now when the majority of the world’s population is literate, social evolution can move from ignorance to knowledge. It is worthwhile examining the history of humanity over the past thousand years to understand how in each century humanity improved its ways and to beneficially apply that knowledge to life in the 21st century. We will discover that no longer need we rely primarily on physical means where social, psychological and mental methods are now possible, more rapid and more effective. Any approach that is not based on rationality should be discounted.

Problems and solutions exist in a scale from physical and vital to mental and spiritual. Solutions based on the same plane will work. Solutions from a higher plane will be far more effective. Solutions drawn from a lower plane will not solve any problem; they will only aggravate the problem. US President Franklin Roosevelt stopped the panic that had closed 6000 American banks in 1933 by appealing psychologically to the American people, when all economic solutions had failed. Churchill led Britain’s successful defense against the Nazi invasion by appealing to the patriotism, pride and love of freedom of the English people when the rest of Europe had surrendered to Germany’s military might. Solutions are possible for any problem because man is always free to draw on solutions from a higher plane.

Morris Goodman was critically injured in a plane crash and was completely paralyzed by multiple fractures of his cervical vertebrae so that he could neither move, breathe, nor even speak. Physicians said he would not survive a week. Goodman indicated his intention to survive and recovery by blinking his eyelashes in response to questions posed. Within a year he walked out of the hospital on his own strength. In another well-documented case, an editor of Life went into shock after receiving a penicillin injection and his vital signs indicated imminent death. He later reported feeling the cells of his body dying one after another. When the sensation of disintegration reached his heart, he made a conscious decision not to die and the process began to reverse. To the amazement of the attending physicians, he recovered and was able to narrate his experiences to the press.

The problem of famine and the challenge of increasing food production are physical, but they were addressed by C. Subramaniam, India’s Food Minister, at social, psychological, organizational and mental levels. He instituted organizational arrangements to ensure dissemination and demonstration of new technologies, purchasing and distribution of food surpluses, education and training of farmers and extension staff, and revamping of agricultural research. Psychologically he appealed to the vital interest of farmers, providing them with incentives to maximize output. Moreover, he appealed to the individuality of the farmers, saying the nation’s honor demanded that the country become self-sufficient in food production. Green Revolution succeeded in doubling India’s food production within a decade, because it was based on a psychological solution instead of a physical one.

A similar situation exists in the field of education in India and many other countries, where the methodology is still largely physical. The process relies on age-old methods of repetition, rote memorization that predate the printing press and much less on the exercise of mental understanding. It still relies on the physical delivery of lectures to passive students which also predates the wide availability of books and today’s instantaneous access to information. Experimentation with on-line educational methods has amply demonstrated the superior speed and quality of learning that can be achieved by a shift in method from passive learning through lectures to active classroom interactions between students and teachers. The encyclopedia of information now easily accessible over the internet has relieved the necessity of burdening memory with the exponentially expanding body of information, freeing up mental energy for higher forms of activity and vastly enhancing the quality and effectiveness of education. Education can now evolve reliance of physical methods based on memorization to mental methods of higher understanding.

FDR solved the US banking crisis by resorting to first principles. Churchill solved the problem of defending Britain against Nazi Germany by appealing to the patriotic sentiments of the people, which was a psychological approach. India used the spiritual principle of non-violence instead of an armed uprising to win freedom from the British through a peaceful transfer of power by the House of Commons. Solutions can be found to seemingly intractable problems by applying the latest tools and principles and acting from the highest plane.

Generally, problems do not assail a person who marches in step with the world that is evolving. Problems come to those who refuse to march along and, even more, to those who insist on reversing the march. Arresting the march is a fertile breeding ground for fresh problems. Reversing the march makes those problems intractable. If we stop the reversal and take a look around, we find solutions to what appeared to be intractable problems.

Thought was born in Greece and spread all over the world from there. Now she is in big trouble. She has been asked to accept austerities but has refused to do so and made her intentions known through a referendum. The fact of the matter is that Greece does not need Europe but Europe needs Greece. It can make a very good contribution to the wealth of the EU and motivate other economies to pull the EU out of the present crisis. The behavior of Greece needs to generate political authority commensurate with the monetary power that thus emerges. Should this occur, Greece can once again become a leader of the world.

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