How One Dimension Analysis Misleads People

I get material from Bloomberg and recently I have found it to be less and less useful. There are stories that I would think a 15-year-old could pick holes in. I worry when people are faced with a previously trusted source who through carelessness or malice, mislead them.

I am especially concerned for people who only read headlines. There are many of them.

The example.

Recently a UN official,  World Food Program director David Beasley, name dropped Elon Musk and how just a tiny fraction of his fortune, just $6 billion, would help solve world hunger. Those are political words and Elon Musk is a classic pragmatist. He tweeted that if someone came up with a plan that cost $6 billion to cure world hunger, he would sell stock and pay for it. So far no one has taken him up on it.

Why? Because the political crowd are not into solutions. They prefer programs that address symptoms. Otherwise they would have nothing to do should the problem be solved. They would be the new poor. It’s like big Pharma doesn’t want solutions, they love chronic problems.

Bloomberg’s article headlined “Hey, Elon: We Made a $6 Billion Plan to End World Hunger” made the point that there are 42 million people near famine in the world and $0.43 per day would provide the nourishment they need. Forty-three cents for 365 days and 42 million people comes to just under $6.6Billion. Easy fix right.

Well there might be other issues to consider. Specifically:

  1. How do you get the food to them. At present there is no shortage of food in the world. It is poorly distributed, however. The lack of infrastructure and the corrupt regimes in the parts of the world where famine exists is a far bigger problem than getting the food together. It could be argued that corruption is more the problem than absent food. There are no shortage of stories of food rotting in a port because there was no way to move it further.
  2. The article makes the point that while not really a solution, it would save many lives. The solution, if it could be implemented at no additional cost, {Insert laugh track here} would be fine for a year. Then what would you do? Since the 42 million people could reproduce there could be 42.5 million next year and the price would be slightly higher. Who will pay for the second year? And the third and fourth and forever.
  3. The article goes on to propose substantial changes in the food supply in places where serious hunger exists.. It further drifted into climate change, sustainable farming, and many more of the liberal talking points. All under the supervision of the UN no doubt. Politicians don’t solve problems. When they are not causing them, they sustain the ones that exist.
  4.  Business people don’t typically look at nursing a problem, they look for ways to eliminate it. I am sure if someone  went to Musk with a viable plan to eliminate famine conditions for $6 Billion, he would do it. Maybe even $10 billion. Maybe join with others and spend $20 billion. Even with his financial capability and the outcome of the problem clearly known, it will never happen with an event-like action. Problems like this demand a process solution. Treating symptoms is a loser move.
  5. No one is paying attention to the process and getting attention for it. Given that famine is a tiny problem today compared to 50 years ago, there must be programs working successfully somewhere.. The political problem is impatience. No one can claim credit for solving a problem that takes 50 years to reduce the problem by 90%.
  6.  There are people who move ahead incrementally. If Elon Musk ignored the UN and found them, they would have ways to address the problem. No institution in the world would have the insight because they are not looking for the same gains. The good news, if you wanted to spend one billion dollars over ten years with the right people, you wouldn’t solve the problem, but you would shrink it dramatically.

The takeaway

Find those who know the real problem and co-operate with them to address what could work. Ignore the institutions who benefit if the problem continues.

You’ll probably have to fight them. If I could solve air pollution for $1,000 per state, I would be more likely to solve the problem by just doing it. Assuming I didn’t get arrested before I finished. If I offered the answer to the government it would be studied to death and never implemented.

Never assign the solution of a problem to people who will be harmed if they do solve it.

Institutions are about show and tell. Elon Musk and people like him are about doing. The decision spaces do not overlap.

If you address symptoms instead of causes, you will seldom find a winning position.

Bloomberg should address cause and effect instead of facile and transient solutions.


I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email don@moneyfyi.com

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