Whose Problem Is It Anyway?

The way government systems work makes sense. Everybody can’t be in control, so the majority picks a select few people to do all the controlling. We elect leaders, and put these people in charge of our futures, our lives, and our experiences. That’s how it’s been since the start of the Roman Empire. Governance.

What else has been since the Romans?

Not much, as far as I can see. Maybe some city infrastructures, a few architectural designs, the basis of math. But the world has changed a lot.

The government system works, but can we really rely solely on a handful of people to fix our problems? I don’t think there are large flaws in the way our government works, I am a strong supporter of democracy, of policy, and of institutions.  The only difference is that we now have technology, which expands our freedom of speech into freedom to communicate ideas quickly and effectively. So can we use this technology to pool ideas to fix a problem, rather than waiting for a Bill to pass the floor of Congress?

I’ve talked before about pooling knowledge and experience to create news, but can we pool this same knowledge and experience to create solutions? It’s the same way that citizen journalism would work, except that we would embrace the opinion of the individual rather than only seeing the hard facts.

I spend a large portion of my time on social media. The majority of my time, however, focuses less on the pictures, the events, and the big stories, and more on the comments and the individual ideas that stem from a few short sentences piled onto each other.

What I like so much about social media is that it opens up the table to discussion. Not just to officials, or to members of a single party, but to the world as a whole, no matter what your background. We are united through access to the internet. I realized this when my co-worker posted it point-blank. His Facebook status read: “I would be interested in recommendations or case studies others can provide to assist Detroit in this crises. Detroit will certainly not be the last city in the Midwest or the country that will be stressed by affordability and access to clean water. Thoughts?” and was accompanied by this NY Times article.

It’s not easy for the few on Capitol Hill to truly understand what they are governing when they aren’t necessarily experiencing the problems themselves. Lack of clean water may be a new problem to the US, but to many others around the world it is not. The goal of policies is to appease the masses, and more often than not, appeasement isn’t enough. In order for policy to work, the policies need to support and be geared directly towards the masses, and the masses need to understand the policy.

Maybe finding the right idea or the golden solution, is like finding a needle in a haystack. But amid all those comments under every big headline, I have the feeling it’s in there somewhere. I’m going to keep searching, and in doing so at the very least I’m learning a lot about those around me.

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