The Shortfall Master List

David Siegel
21 min readApr 21, 2021

My goal is to fix the world by focusing on the big problems first. This one is mostly about the USA, its problems, and how to fix them. First, a summary of major problem types, then a list of the largest problems we face in moving society forward, a note on political parties, and a set of solutions. This essay can be used as the basis for discussion or a class on critical thinking, society, and the future.

I am a heretic. A heretic challenges the fundamental assumptions of basic beliefs. In my view, the next thirty years are going to be breathtaking. We want to go into that future without dragging too much of the past with us. We should look at everything and ask, “If we were starting over, how could we get the big things right and worry less about the small stuff?”

The Goal: Reduce Poverty

I believe moving the most people from poverty into the middle class should be the number-one goal of most governments, institutions, wealthy families, and NGOs. We’re making progress, the last thirty years have been spectacular, but the global pandemic has set us back substantially.

Poverty is a trap that brings everyone down and perpetuates on its own. It takes a strong effort to increase the proportion of the middle class, and it’s that strong effort I want to focus on. I will argue that the main ingredients in any solution are better monetary policy, innovation, and much less regulation.

In the chart below, dark red is poverty. It shows how far we have to go.

Six Actual Problems

Many problems are just made up. If you get all your information from mainstream magazines, you will see mostly fictional, short-term problems that are very visual. True problems are harder to see. They come under one of six headings:

1: Structural

A lot of problems are structural, not circumstantial or political. Understanding the age structure of a population, the geography of a region, or the cultural differences between trading partners are fundamental to understanding solutions in those places. There’s a…

David Siegel

Provocateur, professional heretic, slayer of myths, speaker of truthiness to powerfulness, and defender of the Oxford comma.