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I often hear pundits say: “what does XXX want?” XXX refers to some group of people such as plutocrats, Latinos, Catholics, union workers, etc. etc. etc. More broadly question is what do people need? Years ago Maslow answered that question with his hierarchy of needs. So the question of what does XXX want can be easily answered with XXX wants her/his needs satisfied. The argument is not about “what” but, “how.” Different groups have different beliefs about how to satisfy their needs.

By confusing “what” with “how” politicians and pundits have confused what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve. For example, consider the current discussion about the deficit. Does anyone really need the deficit to be larger or smaller? The answer is no. What people want is to have food, shelter, security, health, and on and on. But, politicians do not want to talk about these wants. Politicians prefer to talk about whether or not people want a particular deficit. This is an artificial want. The fiscal cliff is an artificial construct made up entirely by men and only exists in the mind.

How do we change the conversation from the artificial to the real? How do we get politicians to talk about how to satisfy people’s needs rather than how to avoid jumping off the fiscal cliff? This is a complex problem. The answer is simple; ask politicians questions about how they would satisfy our real needs. For example, how does cutting the deficit meet our physiological needs? Put more simply how does cutting the deficit meet our needs for food, water, sex, and on and on? How does cutting the deficit meet our need for safety? How does cutting the deficit meet our need for love? How does cutting the deficit meet our need for self-esteem? How does cutting deficit meet our need for self-actualization? These are the real questions we should be asking. These are the questions we need answers to.

Unfortunately, the pundits and the politicians refuse to ask these questions. They continue to ask what does XXX want? When the answer comes back at XXX wants the deficit reduced and then the deficit is reduced; we discover that people’s basic needs are not satisfied. We need to recognize as a society that some needs such as food, shelter, security, and healthcare are best met with government assistance. Other needs such as the need for sex the need for love and need for self-esteem are best met through one’s self with minimal government assistance. Minimal government assistance may include such things as receiving an education, receiving a means of communicating with others such as the Internet, and on and on. The drive, however, must come from within.

The question “how do we satisfy our needs,” remains. What we want is irrelevant.

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