The risk of avoiding problem solving

The conservatives’ stance on solving problems is quite simple – namely, that something should be done, but not now. It is based upon the hope that problems will eventually go away. Essentially, it seeks to avoid taking any risks. But risks exist around every corner. And the solution to any problem is rarely innocuous. A decision always has positive and negative consequences. What matters is the balance: whether the benefits of solving a problem outweigh the negative repercussions of perpetuating it. The conservative stance dictates that a problem should be tackled «when the time is right.» But when will the time be right? This is never clear. The conservative approach is to avoid the cost of solving a problem. But perpetuating a problem also comes at a cost. In a world of constant change, every problem left unsolved is merely aggravated. Not only do circumstances fail to become more convenient for problem solving, they become less so. In view of this, the comments by former president Costis Stephanopoulos regarding Greece’s stance with respect to Turkey following the recent jet collision over the Aegean are a breath of fresh air. Stephanopoulos’s 10-year stint as president consolidated his reputation as a prudent politician. His recent comments show us that he is also forward-looking, preferring action to passivity. His experience has taught him that the perfect circumstances for tackling Greek-Turkish problems will never exist; it has also taught him that having the country held hostage in the Aegean carries a huge financial and social cost as every euro spent on defense is a euro less for our education and health sectors.