The Path of Least Resistance: Intellectual Laziness & the Rise of Poor Policy Making

Today there is an intellectual laziness which has gripped not only the public at large but policymakers in particular. A laziness that leads to ignoring the root causes of problems facing our society and which says the answer to every problem we face lies in just accepting it and finding the easiest possible solution to the most immediate problem rather than getting to the core of the issue.

This is an intellectually lazy and ineffectual approach, which only serves to entrench the very problems it seeks to remedy, rather than actually solving them. 

Take for example the Opioid Addiction Crisis currently playing out throughout the country. A recent column in LA Times advocating for the return of the Opium Den as a solution for the ongoing addiction epidemic. True, these centers make it safer for drug addicts to indulge in their destructive habit without fear of accidental death as the result of an overdose, but is enabling their addiction really going to help them? No, of course not.

To simply advocate for the de-facto legalization of opioid prescription drug abuse is to completely ignore the underlying societal problems that got us to this point in the first place. Why are people so desperate, depressed, and hopeless enough to turn to opioid induced states of temporary bliss rather than live their lives? Why are doctors over-prescribing opioid drugs? These are the real questions that we and our leaders should be talking about. If we cannot address the underlying problems of our society then what does that say about us? What does it say about contemporary society and culture if we’re willing to abandon millions to their fates as drug addicts rather than helping to cure them? Another solution put forward recently by a City Councilman in Ohio was as simple as leaving drug addicts to die if they’ve called in overdoses more than three times. 

How lazy have we become as a culture when public officials are more willing to just let addicts die in the streets than actually addressing why they are addicts in the first place? Since when did America become the land where the path of least resistance was preferred over tackling the truly difficult questions of the day?

Another issue that this has come to impact is the debate over prostitution and how to end sex-trafficking in the United States. Some have advocated for the legalization of prostitution. Claiming that by allowing sex-workers legal status they will be safer working in brothels than selling themselves to strangers on the street and that such a legalization would put sex-traffickers out of business as brothels replace them. But again, this lazy approach to public policy completely ignores the deeper problems afflicting our society. What has gone wrong in our society where people have come to objectify women so much that some can literally be bought and sold like cattle? Indeed, what would such a legalization of prostitution imply? That sex is a commodity? That any woman is for sale for the right price?

Our society has come to always seek out the path of least resistance. A path that allows people to relax and forget that ours is an imperfect world in which there are never easy solutions. Yet in our desire to seek out the quickest and easiest path to success; we’ve lost sight of what it means to actually be successful. One has not really solved sex-trafficking if they’ve only managed to suddenly normalize it and make ok in the eyes of the law. Nor has one solved the opioid addiction crisis if they’ve just settled on allowing addicts to shoot up in an opium den.

All good things require effort to succeed. No business was built nor victory won by taking the path of least resistance. Our founders understood this, spending weeks and months debating issue by issue every single facet of our Constitution. They understood the value of hard work and the necessity of sacrifice.

As Americans, we deserve better than this intellectually lazy approach to the multitude of problems facing our society today. We must learn that, if we are to truly make America great again, we can no longer afford to continue to take the path of least resistance at every available opportunity.

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