Talk:Solution in search of a problem

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Good start[edit]

Good start. This phrase is very common on Wikimedia projects, so it's good to document it, although I admit I am guilty of using this phrase a few times. PiRSquared17 (talk) 16:20, 10 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It seems to be mostly used in situations in which people think there's an underhanded agenda to serve some political goal, or to make money off something, while claiming to be solving some other problem. E.g., voter ID legislation (ostensibly to stop voter fraud; also tends to keep the poor from voting), campus gun control laws (ostensibly to protect the public; arguably helps serve the broader gun control agenda by carving out more and more places where guns aren't allowed), etc. People said Google+ was a solution in search of a problem too, but in that case Google did have a reason to want to create it, viz. wanting to get into social networking. On Wikimedia projects, it's usually used in the sense of, Someone proposed something that is simply pointless because they have an unfounded worry. Leucosticte (talk) 20:24, 10 February 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Missing Aspect: Ulterior Motives[edit]

Surely one of the primary uses of "a solution in search of a problem" is to imply that the person proposing that solution has an ulterior motive; that implementation of the solution would be to their benefit for reasons not necessarily stated, hence their desire to find a problem that would justify its implementation?

To take a political example, Voter ID laws have been described as a solution in search of a problem: rates of voter fraud are low, so there is seemingly no compelling need for laws that are ostensibly designed to reduce such fraud. Nevertheless, various governments have introduced or attempted to introduce such laws. The theory advanced by opponents is that the true intent of the laws is to reduce voter turnout by minorities, and legislators are simply latching onto voter fraud as a "problem" that will justify their "solution".


In the summary portion of the page, you should mention somewhere that this in an idiom -- like "kick the bucket" -- perhaps before explaining that it is not literal, an explanation that may be perhaps superfluous by a mention of and link to the idiom page on Wiki/ Wiktionary, as, by definition, idioms have figurative meanings that can't be discerned from the words that make them up.

Bathroom Bills[edit]

A good example of "solutions in search of problems" are so-called "bathroom bills," legislation which purports to prevent a problem that does not exist -- i.e., these laws will prevent transgender individuals from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender-identity by making it law that the bathroom one uses must correspond with one's biological sex at time of birth. Bathroom Bills purport to protect children from sexual predators who, supporters theorize, will pretend to have gender identity issues in order to prey or spy on women and girls. These are similar to voter ID laws -- in each case, some minority class is unduly harmed, which critics maintain is the intended effect behind such legislation.