According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a problem is something that needs to be addressed: “A matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.” The intelligence briefs listed below describe problems that affect the health and well-being of American society.

Our objective in presenting these briefs is to provide a framework for focusing on and understanding the issues described as problems in need of solutions. As much as possible, we attempt to identify and filter out the noise – the distractions, the disinformation, and the misdirections that are often designed by special interests and their political mouthpieces to prevent productive discussion and real problem solving. Through this framework, we seek to provide enough common ground to bridge partisan differences and build the political will to accomplish what needs to be done.

National Debt: The national debt is increasing dramatically. Economists debate how high the debt can go before it becomes a problem of concern – or whether it has already crossed that threshold. There are significant unresolved questions regarding exactly where that threshold lies, so much of the debate has to do with the level of risk that citizens and policymakers are willing to accept. The higher the threshold, the greater the risk to economic stability. Given the lack of consensus on the specific threshold, Congress and the President are challenged to implement a consistent policy for controlling the debt.

Climate Change: Our best available science tells us with a very high degree of certainty that the Earth is warming due to man-made causes. With varying degrees of certainty ranging from low confidence to high, we understand that these changes will disrupt existing weather patterns, increase the force and frequency of storms, cause sea levels to rise, and increase the spread and virulence of infectious diseases. As vast regions of the planet are affected by climate change, the Department of Defense, industry leaders, and numerous city and county governments are among those who are preparing climate change action plans to ready themselves for the likelihood of specific impacts.

Income & Wealth Inequality: Since 1981, there has been a significant and widening gap in income as executive compensation among the largest companies has risen much faster than that of the typical worker. The result has been a growing concentration of wealth that is counter-productive to our market-based consumer economy and that undermines the principles of American democracy.

Money in Politics: Wealth provides political access to the few who possess it and leaves those who lack financial resources with no voice, or a very quiet voice, in the political process. It follows that as wealth shifts to a small percent of the population, so too does political influence. While the US continues to have free elections, in many cases, and especially at the state and national levels, the wealthiest individuals contribute vast sums of money to promote the candidates and policies that they prefer.

What are your priorities?

Use the text box below to let us know which problems you would like us to cover next – or suggest a problem that is not yet on the list. Your voice matters.