This question was posed 5 years ago in the Yahoo Answers forum. The 6 best answers, as voted by participants, are listed below. What do you think? Has any progress been made in 5 years? What would you add to the list today?
Best Answer – Chosen by Voters
1) Brain drain- we are losing our scientists, engineers, and critical thinkers en masse. No social problems will be resolved without people who can critically address them. For example, the USDA expects to lose up to 70% of its veterinarians due to retirement within 15-25 years. These are the people ensuring the safety of the nation’s food supply. Very few are stepping up to take their place. Promising young medical researchers are turning to China and India. The nation’s schoolkids think science is too much like hard work. We’ve made it extremely difficult for talented young scientists from other countries to get into ours. And so on.
2) Education, education, education. It’s not about “standards” and test scores, it’s about being able to apply knowledge, and creating life-long learners. You’ll never teach someone every fact, but you can steer them towards figuring out the facts for themselves. In the push for memorization and having quotas for passing standardized test scores, we’ve missed the point. Entirely. We turn off the best students and drive the best teachers to mediocrity.
3) Misuse of soil and water resources. We’re destroying the systems that sustain our agriculture, aquaculture, and biodiversity. There’s going to be a big bill to pay down the road when the rain stops falling in our breadbasket.
4) Poverty. If you address the root causes of poverty, you automatically create a situation that restores economic stability and human dignity. Want to do something about immigration? Ask what Latin America needs to address their crippling poverty, which was CREATED by colonialism and greedy Western interests. You reap what you sow, I’ve heard. Take a hard look at US foreign policy during the 1900’s in Central America, and then ask the really hard questions about why they’re mired in poverty. Also, ask why our brightest inner city children can’t afford entrance fees to get into college. Ask why Native Americans have the highest suicide rates in America. Ask why school lunch programs were cut to fund fighter jets.
5) Malaria, AIDS, and malnutrition. These 3 factors contribute more to world economic and social problems than just about any other.
6) Misguided social policy. We need to start asking questions about what works, and what doesn’t. We need to start thinking in spans of generations instead of election terms. We need to start evaluating downstream effects of our policies, and considering the human side of our progress. We need, bottom line, to ask hard questions. See answer #1.