Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Philosophy 101 - Problem Solving

Pretty much everyone that reads this blog knows that I come from Mississippi and still live here. I dipped out for six months then came running back with my tail between my legs to the 'Sip and one of the last remaining areas of sanity in this world. With all due respect, generally, people outside of the Deep South are simply too stupid to breathe. Don't get your thong in a bunch, I said "With all due respect" you know that gives me a free ride to insult you.

Now, there are simply two classifications of people in this country to me, those from the city and those from the country. And oddly enough, those two classifications distinguish between philosophies so well it is stunning. Shall I explain?

Country people generally have very few people around their old homestead. They are basically self-sustaining folks. City people, on the other hand, have a whole bunch of sardine-folks piled on top of them and cannot, or will not, provide for their own sustenance. That is not a value judgment, that is a simple statement of fact. City folk are just dependent folk. Country folk are not. Please know that I am not placing a stigma on city folk or country folk, but there is a decided difference in mentality, and it has no bearing on where you live. Country folk can live in the city and vice versa. Now to the meat.

Country folks have a certain way of solving problems and city folks a polar opposite way. Country folks see an issue and then set about to resolving that issue by examining the entire problem. City folks see an issue and only that particular issue and set about to resolve that singular, insulated problem. An example? Why of course.

Jim-Bob (wonder if he is city folk?) breaks a plow. Immediately he knows one bazillion things. His IQ might be 60, but he is far from stupid in the ways of the world. The plow was dull, the ground is hard, he might be digging too deep, the list is endless. Throckmorton breaks a plow, he gets a new plow and goes back to plowing. Throcky never even looks at the problem, he just rages blindly ahead, following set protocol. And guess what? Throcky breaks sixteen plows before he is finally through with plowing. Oddly enough, his field gets plowed finally, but he then figures out that the ground has been farmed past its usefulness, that the seeds he has purchased have all gone bad, and that he is too late for planting since it took him so long to finish plowing. He starves to death in less than one year. On his deathbed, he screams, "But I followed the protocol for resolving the problem!" Never mind that he refused to even acknowledge the real problem.

On the other hand, Jim-Bob repairs the plow, saving the money of a new one, determines that the ground is too hard for the depth that he was plowing, looks at different crops to plant that require plowing at shallower depths, determines that the ground is not even fertile to begin with, and then looks into buying some cows from Jim-Earl and begins raising cows. By the end of the year, Jim-Bob sells most of his cows for slaughter, buys vegetables from the farmer's market, and his family lives high on the hog for the rest of the winter.

The major difference between the two men is that Jim-Bob never refused to place all of his options on the table. His responsibility was to feed his family and he did whatever he had to do to accomplish that task. Throckmorton determined that he was going to raise pineapples, even though they would not even grow in his area. He wanted to grow pineapples, so that was what he set out to do, ignoring every single issue that could arise.

As you can probably tell, I know very little about farming, but I do know how to solve problems. The very first thing to do is to identify the "problem." This issue was raised this morning by a simple article about "fully funding public schools." It seems that gas prices and the associated costs were not even examined before the Mississippi Legislature called the "problem" solved. They ignored that cost and set about to appropriating money toward public education. Needless to say, the legislature called the legislation "fully funded" and then the schools went all, "But we cannot afford the increased cost associated with the rise in gas prices! Education is NOT fully funded!"

Really the problem to me is that there should not be any such thing as "public schools." But we are stuck with that idiotic concept, since the birth of this nation.

Anyhoo, they ignored the real problem. The simple solution to the problem is to quit busing students, but that is COMPLETELY off the table. Okay then, you do not want to solve the problem when you remove something from the equation. City folk mentality personified.

Bean used the expression the other day "Thinking outside of the box." I hate that because the very statement implies that true thinking can sometimes remain "in the box." Yes, there are certain protocols for solving certain situations that are immediate. Your house is on fire, put the damn fire out, but if you stop there, you ignore the true problem. Something CAUSED your house to catch on fire. It could be faulty wiring, it could have been struck by lightening, blah, blah, blah.

To blindly bounce from one issue to the next without proper planning and WAR GAMING your life at every point, allows you to ignore the real deal. Make a plan, work the plan, but remain forever unmarried to the plan. There is an ultimate goal in every little thing that you undertake and that requires the ultimate decision of properly identifying the goal.

Goal: You want your kids to be smart and successful. Solution: Quit being a stupid failure. Write the plan.

Your thoughts?

UPDATE: Of course the real solution to all of your queries IS Bacon Salt. Do we really need to discuss this any further?