How Not to Solve Problems

One of the things I find so frustrating is the lousy approach to problem-solving we employ. The way I prefer to approach problems is

  1. Identify the objectives.
  2. Analyze the costs of alternative strategies.
  3. Analyze the benefits of alternative strategies.
  4. Consider secondary effects.
  5. Evaluate alternatives taking costs, benefits, secondary effects, and potential roadblocks into account.

Judging by the way Congress approaches problems their method is something like this:

  1. Identify who’s squawking the loudest.
  2. Pick the solution that will quiet them down while providing the greatest political benefit to you.

Take the fractious argument going on over immigration reform, for example. Immigration policy, by definition, is the process by which you determine who gets into the country to live or work and the terms under which they stay. If you were to judge simply by the published accounts of the “Gang of 8’s” plan for comprehensive immigration reform their main objectives are

  1. Legalize the people who are in the country illegally.
  2. Identify their path to citizenship.

Other than a handful of activists does that really solve the U. S.’s immigration problems? I don’t see it.

I think that members of both parties will be bitterly disappointed in the outcome of this latest attempt at immigration reform if it maintains its present contours. If the amnesty of 1986 is any gauge, only a minority of those eligible for citizenship will seek it. It’s really not that important an issue.

I would think that the two most important action items for immigration reform would be how we can get the workers we need and want and how we can keep anybody else out. I’m unquestionably wrong about that.

1 comment… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    I. Identify the objectives.

    Stay in office (R); take control of Congress (D)

    2. Identify the means.

    Pander to Hispanics and Business (R); Expand favorable electorate and/or propose immigration reform that the other party cannot support (D).

    3. Blame the other side for whatever goes wrong.

    Bi-partisanship at last.

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