What Constitutes an Ideal Solution?

Freespeak (f-prime@activist.com)
Sun, 07 Mar 1999 05:42:27 -0700

What are the principles of good or ideal solutions?

Can a set of criteria be developed against which proposed solutions can be tested?

Can a methodology be developed that enables individuals to select solutions with a high probability of success, rather than spend their time on "solutions" that have little chance of being implemented, and even if implemented are likely to cause further problems because of their unintended consequences?

Suppose I have a problem with the "social security system" I'm currently participating in. I'm dissatisfied with the expected future returns on the money I pay into the system.

As a solution I could start a campaign to privatize the system with the expectation of higher future returns. I could spend a lot of time and money persuading people to join me in my campaign. What are the chances of persuading the politicians and bureaucrats in power to relinquish their system to the private sector? How long might it take before the system is privatized? And, once it's privatized, what if I'm still not satisfied with its future expected returns?

On the other hand, suppose I could find a way to opt out of the "social security system" and set up my own "personal security system." Every month I invest a sum of my choosing to build up a nest egg for my "old age."

The second solution suggests a principle: The implementation of an ideal solution is under personal control.

Someone may object, "You're not allowed to opt out of the social security system!"

This suggests another principle: An ideal solution may involve doing what most think is "not allowed"; what people say is "not allowed" needs to be questioned.

But if I do what's "not allowed" I may end up in jail! This raises the issue of risk associated with solutions. What risks am I willing to take in implementing my solution? What can I do to minimize the risk? How can I achieve the best reward/risk ratio?

Tentative Criteria for Ideal Solutions

They are solutions to personal situations, aspirations, or problems.

Their implementation is under personal control.

They may involve doing what most consider to be "not allowed."

They provide the best reward/risk attainable.

They respect individuals and their property, i.e., they don't involve coercion.

They should not cause worse "side-problems." (Analogous to a drug such as AZT producing side-effects.)

They should be beneficial to others, particularly friends. The losses, if any, to friends should be minimal and invisible to them.

The losses to certain enemies should be maximal and invisible to them.

They tend to increase personal power, competence, and effectiveness; their implementation leads to more powerful and effective future solutions that are easier to implement.

They need to be communicable and profitable so they can be "rolled out" to create a better world, i.e., other individuals can be inspired to also implement them to their own and general benefit.

Feedback appreciated.

Frederick Mann

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