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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Insurmountable Problems

There's an old joke. If they had computers 200 years ago they'd figure out that in the future cities would become uninhabitable because all the extra horses would bury the city in manure. That is what you get when you extrapolate from a certain set of assumptions. A lot of insurmountable problems fit into that category.

200 years ago they didn't know that cities would not need horses to function. Today we sometimes make the same assumptions about cars and trucks.

Of course, the solution might not have involved replacing the horse at all. The could have decided to limit the size of cities and the horse problem would never had gotten out of hand.

The thing that makes problems unsolvable are the basic assumptions underlying the problem. Often the quickest and best way to problem solve is to change those assumptions. Here's a mundane example. Imagine someone trying to figure out how to be able to afford driving a huge truck. A few times a year that truck comes in very handy for hauling things. There's a whole bunch of ways to solve this problem. The truck guy is probably trying to figure out how to make more money. Maybe what he should be figuring out is whether or not he really needs a truck. Perhaps a small economy car could handle 99% of his day to day driving. That other 1%? He could rent a truck when he really needs one or maybe even have things delivered instead of picking them up.

On a personal level a couple years ago I was wondering how I was going to keep up with my house mortgage and taxes. Getting a job could have solved that. Instead my monthly payments were greatly reduced by refinancing. Interest rates had gone down quite a bit since I'd bought the house. Just had not paid attention.

Sometimes you have to figure out what the real problem is. A friend of mine bought a good sized house back when real estate was booming and they were giving out loans to anyone with a pulse. Since then he's had all kinds of drama trying to keep the house. It's put a strain on his relationships. Maybe he'll be able to hang on: maybe he won't. The sad thing is he was much happier back when he lived in a 3 room apartment. Perhaps he should let the house go, get rid of all the junk he's accumulated and move back into a small apartment. I bet it would greatly improve his quality of life.

For me my blind spot is that sometimes I actually have to do something to make more money. My go to solutions involve finding ways around spending money I don't have -to the point where it might have been quicker and easier to just find a temporary part time job.

Of course, like I tell people, you don't need a job, you need an income. That may involve an actual job, but it might not.

The solutions to insurmountable problems often are just a matter of redefining what the real problems are.



  1. The trick is to not owe anybody anything. That way, getting and keeping a job will not be critical.