When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

"attempting to correct physical defects by social legislation"

Like many other well-meaning politicians before and after them, the Gracchi were attempting to correct physical defects by social legislation.

topsoil-civilizationch. 9

Later on in the chapter they mention

Unfortunately, too many of the statesmen who governed the Empire failed to recognize the real problem. They tried to bolster agricultural production with various types of economic and social legislation. Pertinax, in A.D. 1193, offered to give ownership of any abandoned land in the Empire to anyone who would occupy and cultivate it, agreeing to exempt such land from taxes for ten years, but he found few takers who were willing to homestead the eroded, worn-out, abandoned land scattered over Italy and many of the provinces.

which they seem to have reprised in A.D. 2019.

The Romans did not ignore completely soil and water conservation in the lands they were exploiting. [...] The chief trouble with their conservation measures arose from the fact that the engineers dominated most Roman conservation work. Although they sometimes practiced crop rotation and occasionally used manure as a fertilizer, the Romans never conceived the idea of using the land according to its capabilities. They, like many modern Americans, assumed that you can control water and soil erosion largely with engineering structures.

topsoil-civilizationch. 9

"trying to apply a technological solution to a societal problem"

Google has refused to reinstate a man’s account after it wrongly flagged medical images he took of his son’s groin as child sexual abuse material (CSAM), the New York Times first reported. Experts say it’s an inevitable pitfall of trying to apply a technological solution to a societal problem.

Google refuses to reinstate man’s account after he took medical images of son’s groin


topsoil-civilization Dale, Tom, and Vernon Gill Carter. 1955. Topsoil and Civilization. ↩︎ 1 2