Monday, July 10, 2017

Greatest Hits

After 6 years and over 630 posts, it’s time to pick out some favorites. 

The objective of Real American Solutions is to demonstrate, using examples from the news or common experience, how most of the problems we stress about daily and most of those crises highlighted in the headlines are under our control.  Washington did not cause them, so attempts to solve them through government action often make them worse.  We are not overweight or unready for retirement because of some governmental failure.  No, most of the problems we have can be traced to behavioral errors on the part of individuals as they accumulate to societal trends, sometimes referred to by the media as epidemics.

Viewing the problems through the lens of behavior (in the five key dimensions shown above) gives a new perspective, a new set of solutions, a chance to fix what is wrong through individual actions.  One by one, as people come to understand the theory, seeing their own actions and decisions and those of others in this light, these crises and epidemics will fall away putting America back on the right track.  The idea that better outcomes don’t depend on the party in power should be refreshing to everyone.

So over the years I have given many examples of behavior in each of these dimensions not just to fix those particular problems, but to show how any unwise decision leads to undesired consequences and how they can be categorized into a dimension to simplify understanding and lead to improvements.  This can all be done without accusing others (or ourselves) of some character flaw or dastardly motive.  People make mistakes not because they are stupid or evil, but because they choose the wrong behavior (and face undesirable consequences).  To fix it, choose the opposite behavior next time – and watch out for other opportunities or traps that come up in the same dimension in the future.  (We do tend to make the same kinds of mistakes over and over.)

So here are some of my favorites.  Please check them out at your leisure.

How Much Consumer Protection tells about one of so many questionable products that could not possibly deliver what they claim.  

Another favorite example along the same lines is Performance Bracelets.  

Even back in 2014, before EVERYTHING became political, I was not impressed with the news we were getting.  As I explained in First and Fluffy, we deserve and should demand better.  

Just three years ago I wrote about the Retirement Crisis and followed up later with several explanations of how people misunderstand Social Security.

A favorite subject has been the tendency for people to blindly adopt views on health and good eating regardless of a lack of scientific support.  This includes the trend toward all natural, non-GMO and gluten-free.  Americans also spend billions on vitamins and supplements without understanding the dangers and lack of evidence to justify promises.

There are more than 600 other choices to help polish everyone’s appreciation of how to think about behavior to choose better options, avoid the name-calling and accusations and find Real Solutions.

Remember, the first step is to see the world as a set of behaviors.  Then figure out which ones lead to better results.  Repeat these, and for the rest do the opposite.  We can’t do anything about North Korea, but we can make sure our kids get a good education, that we pay our bills on time, that we disdain frivolous lawsuits, that we research health issues instead of following fads and rumors, that we don’t fall for every get rich or get thin quick scheme, that we quit trying to “keep up with the Jones,” that we live with gratitude and that we anticipate and avoid behaviors we will later regret.  If everyone takes these simple steps and encourages friends and family to do the same, there will be many fewer crises and epidemics on the news and America will begin moving in the right direction based on the behaviors of its people.

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