Sometimes there are simple answers. Basic math says 4+7=11.  No argument about that, right?

But try and find an answer to a problem like poverty, gun violence, (oh, let’s stop there), and we can find simple answers too.

But not easy answers.

A simple answer is like an equation.  Do this and accomplish that.  But it may not solve the problem.

Last week I was reading articles like this one about the southern border problem.  Before I could finish, I had to start writing this article you are reading now.

Instead of using the border as my example, I’m going to take the topic of a higher education.

My wife has earned a couple of college degrees and works part time in health care.

I do not have a degree and work full time in marketing/advertising.

If my wife were to multiply her hourly wage by 40 hours (full time) she would still earn less than I do.

Fortunately her degrees are paid for.

My son and his wife both have degrees.  My daughter in law is continuing her education along with working and my son is working full time. He may go back to school someday, but that really isn’t the point.  While I am not privy to their income, I know that they have a lot of college debt.  They are like lots of people in their generation.

While the work they do is meaningful, their rate of pay is not putting them on easy street.  They have had to postpone certain things that their siblings are doing.  A big reason is that darn college debt compared to their income.

One simple answer is to have their college debt forgiven after a certain number of years.  A simple pay for ___ years and then pay no more is an idea that sounds simple enough.  But debt forgiveness these days is different than in biblical  times.  One persons debt is another persons investment.  Yes, the money you deposit in a savings account (sort of an investment) is loaned to someone else at a higher interest rate than what they are paying you.

If you wipe out a debt that is backed by an investment, you are hurting the grandma who is counting on her investments to live on.  That’s a simple answer, but not an easy answer.

Let’s try and look at it from the other side.  If they just made more money, they could pay off their education faster right?  How do they make more money?  Some say we need to increase wages, but where does the money come from to pay an increased wage?

Make a new law declaring everyone gets a pay raise would be the simple answer, but the debate on all of this is filled with pros and cons.  Depending  on the strucure of each business, they could either afford to give an increase to everyone, or an increase to a few and fire the rest to  come up with the cash, or it could put them completely under and out of business.  Again, no easy answers.

Take nearly any hot topic issue and apply the simple vs. easy answer principles I’ve mentioned and your head will explode.

But wait a second.

Because we get bogged down in the heat and passion of what we think the answer should be, we become divisive. Instead, what if we could actually have a conversation and explore the cause and effects of the ideas we have, talk with those who on the surface we disagree with and see what common ground we have that we can stand on together to explore solutions.

This is not an easy answer.  Nor is it simple.  It’s not quick, either.

It is hard and some problems and issues will never be solved.

But what if we started doing the hard stuff…