I’m tired of America’s ineffectual yet pervasive “band-aid” method of solving problems.

We see problems in our country, and we usually have good intentions in wanting to solve those problems (i.e. violence, unemployment, fiscal strife, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, obesity, and others). We say, “There ought to be a law!” We encourage legislation and pass law upon law, thinking the magic wand of government influence will solve that problem. Yet, the problems still exist.

It’s because we’re looking at solving these problems all wrong. We’re only applying a band-aid to a wound that requires much deeper inspection, and a remedy that gets to the very root of the problem. Let’s look at a few examples.

GUN CONTROL

In light of recent events, the ever-incendiary debate on gun control has made its way back into the national dialogue. Sure, we could pass more gun laws; ban certain kinds of weapons. But consider this—first, it is not the weapon pulling the trigger. It’s the evil, twisted, broken, pushed-over-the-edge soul behind it. Gun laws in Connecticut are among the strictest in the nation—and yet, those gun laws did not prevent the massacre at Sandy Hook. The problem was not the firearm, but the person who made the decision to commit the atrocity. Why did Adam Lanza do it? How could the emotions that drove him to shower classrooms with gunfire have been prevented? How could his parents, his teachers, his neighbors have prevented this boy from falling through the cracks, reaching such a decrepit mental and emotional state that unspeakable violence was deemed a logical answer?

Disarming Americans will not result in safer streets. One must look no further than Chicago, where deadly shootings actually increased after a handgun ban was put in place. We cannot legislate our way to safety. Look to the root of the problem—the mental and emotional factors that drive individuals to resort to violence—instead of the means by which such individuals commit acts of violence.

THE FISCAL CLIFF DEAL

Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (quite the euphemism) in the early hours of January 1 in an effort to avert the “fiscal cliff.” But the specifics of this deal reveal that this supposed “solution,” too, is a mere band-aid over the still-looming financial dilemma America faces. The Congressional Budget Office states that there are $10 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts in the bill, and it will raise $600 billion in tax revenue over the next ten years. It also raises the payroll tax for all, plus wealthier Americans will also see their taxes go up significantly. The bill increases government spending by $330 million.

I am incredulous as to why taxing the wealthy is always the answer. Taxes will not, by any means, dig America out of the fiscal hole that spend-happy politicians have gotten us into. Raising taxes is a band-aid effort—it will not solve the fiscal crisis that has arisen much in part to out-of-control government spending. Making serious spending cuts—and perhaps having a budget for the first time in years—are solutions that get to the root of the problem. We can’t tax our way to prosperity, nor can we tax our way out of debt. We’ll start actually addressing the root of the fiscal problem when we get serious about cutting government spending and when the federal government begins to operate within its means.

UNWANTED PREGNANCY & ABORTION

Sexual promiscuity is disturbingly commonplace in modern American culture—so we shouldn’t be surprised when teenage pregnancy rates are staggering and abortion is considered a “legitimate medical procedure.” In the ultimate “war on women”, pop culture turns women into nothing more than sexual objects (turn on any pop radio station for an example…), and makes a mockery of the values of chastity and purity. Premarital sex is encouraged if not glorified, resulting in unwanted pregnancy and all too often, abortion.

The federal government assists groups like Planned Parenthood that only encourage this kind of promiscuity by providing free (and often faulty) birth control. This does not solve the problem, but instead encourages it and keeps it thriving. Why don’t Americans revive purity—instead of mocking and degrading it? Why don’t we teach girls and young women the importance of purity, the value of saving themselves for marriage, and the dangers of promiscuous and irresponsible behavior? Why don’t we teach our girls and women that they are more than sexual objects—and why don’t we shun forms of supposed “entertainment” that degrade women to such levels?

CHILDHOOD OBESITY/DIETS

Looking at you, Michelle Obama. Thanks to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (another euphemism…) the USDA has the right “to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in schools during the school day, including vending machines, the ‘a la carte’ lunch lines and school stores.” Perhaps it’s admirable that the federal government wants kids eating healthy in an effort to fight obesity and other weight-related health problems. But it’s parents, not the federal government—and I’d even argue not even the child’s school—that are responsible for instilling healthy habits in eating and in exercise in their children. Lack of parental guidance and influence is the void that is lacking and its one that cannot be filled by schools nor government regulations.

In sum, we can legislate and regulate down the very last detail until we’re blue in the face (and at times I think some politicians have accepted that challenge) but unless we reach the root of the problem, we will still see people breaking gun laws to commit violence, the federal government spending remorselessly, abused women and widespread unwanted pregnancies and the travesty of abortion, children devoid of healthy eating habits, and more.

We cannot legislate our way into safety nor prosperity nor comfort nor health. It starts with the individual, parents, and the family. Until we start looking at solutions that address the true cause of our problems, we will continue to slap band-aids over America’s most painful wounds, while in reality those wound are not healing, but growing deeper and more detrimental.

Sarah Hinds | Lindenwood University | @Sarah_Hinds76