(Use back button to return to previous page.)(The exposition below is a theory. Suggestions for improvement or refinement are welcome at occupant@kurtsimmons.com)

Problem Levels - Theory Page

The theory here is that any problem will have several levels of definition. Each level of definition will be less refined than the previous level. P-0 will be the most defined and will probably speak to the root of any problem you deal with. P-4 will be a much narrower definition and will probably only recognize some small symptom of the problem as being the actual "problem." Each problem level, P-0 to P-n, will have a corresponding solution that addresses that problem definition, S-0 to S-n. Let us consider a specific example and then a couple of attemtps at general examples.

It seems like lately every year students in Boulder have a drunken riot after some sporting event or another. So what is the problem?
P-0 P-1 P-2 P-3
Students are socially irresponsible. They are not planning ahead to see that their actions do not harm their community. Students do not know how to drink responsibly. Students are getting drunk in business districts. Students are drunk.
S-0 S-1 S-2 S-3
Raise responsible citizens. All parents are required to change how they raise their kids. (Think you can implement that?) Teach kids how to drink in high school. Their parents are handy and can instill responsible drinking habits. (But my kid doesn't drink and I want to keep pretending that is true.) Close the bars before they have a chance to get drunk. (Wanna bet students have a couple at home about 5:00 before going out for the evening?) Raise the drinking age? (I think we tried that going from 18 to 21. Does not seem to have helped. The 18 year olds are still drunk.)
Cost-0 Cost-1 Cost-2 Cost-3
Complete overhaul of society at basic level. More work for parents of high school students. Ground work to get legislation passed. Reduced business hours for bars. Ground work to get legislation passed. Reduced sales for bars?

Let's try instead a generic version of the same thing.
P-0 P-1 P-2 P-3
Root of the problem traced through its social and historical development. Root of the problem traced to the social and historical step preceding the current situation. Root of the problem in the current situation. Symptom that is most politically correct at the moment.
S-0 S-1 S-2 S-3
Address fundamental imbalance in society. Create programs to try and overcorrect social imbalance. Pass law to address what appears to be root of the problem. Pass law requiring that symptom be alleviated at any cost.

In any case what you will see in social discourse is a collection of people who will complain about the various costs of solutions. Costs can be interms of time, money, energy, personal offense, discomfort, politics, laziness, and anything else that is in at the moment. By the time you are done the problem will have been defined as a weak set of symptoms and people will devise inoffensive, generic solutions to alleviate those symptoms instead of doing the real work to really address a real problem. You have been warned!