Millions of people want to Save the Planet from human-caused catastrophe.
Millions of people want to Save the World from poverty and poor health.
Billions of people have millions of other noble aspirations.
When these aspirations succeed the world is a better place. And, thanks to humankind's astounding material prosperity in the 21st century, many of these do in fact make the world a better place in which to live.
But many don't, which is sad. What is even sadder is when an aspiration that doesn't work, a failure, is not given up on. When instead, time, money and attention keep flowing into the failure for years or decades. This is waste, and it is waste that isn't saving the planet or people from misery. The iconic examples of this for me are the Wars on Drugs and Terror.
The first question I will address in this book is: Why? Why are some people and communities ready and willing to spend these dollars and time on waste?
The second question I will address is: how can we identify this kind of wasteful spending when it is happening? Clearly the waste is hard for supporters of these causes to see.
A big challenge of life in the 21st Century is coming up with ways to make these kinds of waste visible enough that supporters and non-supporters will see them and agree that other solutions are called for.
That's what this book is about.
Modern civilized society is filled with wonders. At the very basic levels we have reliable food, shelter and transportation. Compared to living in the Neolithic Village environment - the Stone Age - this reliability is truly amazing.
Along with these advances, we have embraced some strange practices that at first glance don't seem to improve our lives at all. Some are just strange, some are strange and deeply wasteful.
This book examines some of these strange practices and analyzes the human thinking that not only supports these practices but also believes they are very, very right.
The core of this book examines human thinking. When we understand why we are thinking in certain ways, and those ways are leading to deeply wasteful behavior, we can get directly to the root of fixing the problem. We fix the problem by identifying the thinking that is causing the problem. Then we work at fixing that thinking. Once the thinking is straightened out, finding a good solution becomes fast and easy: as in, “Ah… Of course! Why didn't I think of that before?”
This book is intended to provide you with a valuable tool: insight. If you can see when goat sacrificing is happening, if you can see when blind-spot-thinking has taken hold, if you can see when too much instinctive thinking is being used, then you can work at finding a better solution to the problem.
When you find that better solution, a lot of waste will stop, and the world will be a better place.
Some Root Problems
Fear of Strangers
Deep Belief Religion
From Practical to Pillar of Faith
Unions and Professional Guilds
Living in Hobbiton
Tolerance versus Prescription
VPS Gone Wild
Paying Workers for Endurance and Risk:
A Progressive Thinking Blind-Spot
Gaming the System
Fear of Technology
Growing the Resource Pie
The Fight Between Entrepreneurship and Instinct
The Midwest Disease:
The Mystery of the Rise and Fall of Boom Communities
Time is Money
Guilt and Good Intentions
Social Justice and Rights
Social Justice Promotes Corporate Greed
Helping the Poor
Begging In Its Various Incarnations
Atoning for Ancestors' Mistakes
Save the Children
Over-Protecting and Adding Demons
Bad Food and Not Enough Food
Breeding and GM Foods
National Food Policies
Good Intentions Without Good Oversight
Supporting "Out of the Box"
The Cost of Confidence
Jails and Courtrooms
Preparing for Apocalypse
Mania and Markets:
How End of the World Thinking Affects Markets