I'm looking for a phrase that describes trying to fix problems caused by underlying issues, with the result of compounding the issue. I usually call this "targeting surface problems rather than root problems", but my terminology is verbose.

Example 1: A government bans buying and selling bananas in the state. Later, it passes a clause allowing citizens to purchase imported bananas.

Example 2: A divided highway is erected with two lanes going in each direction but, since it gets lots of traffic, the shoulders are widened into new lanes. This leaves no shoulder room.

What would be a more concise phrase?

  • Are you trying to describe something that may distract the attention from the real issues , or just a way not to face real problems. – user66974 Sep 24 '14 at 6:27
  • Good question. Words that come to mind are haphazard or ill-conceived. I will be interested to see if a concise expression exists. Although, based on the other question, I think "band-aid" is probably the closest you will get. – aaa90210 Sep 24 '14 at 7:08
  • @Josh61, it's about focusing attention on and trying to solve or find a workaround for a problem which is itself a side effect of a more prevalent issue. The results either convolute the issue or obscure it; either connotation is acceptable. – person27 Sep 24 '14 at 8:10
  • what a great question. could "addressing the symptoms" be useful here? – Fattie Sep 24 '14 at 11:24

Superficial? Short-sighted? Jury-rigged? Slap-dash? Penny-wise, Pound-foolish? Band-Aid?

  • These contain various connotations: corruption (jury-rigged), laziness or haste (slap-dash), etc. I don't think any of these concisely define the concept. – person27 Sep 24 '14 at 6:19
  • Jury-rigged has no connotation of corruption; it isn't a rigged jury. In this context, jury is a nautical adjective meaning "temporary"; in modern military lingo, it is "field-expedient". A sail made of an oar and scrap canvas would be a "jury sail"; a prosthetic hand is a "jury fist". You often see the ("corrupt" in a different sense) phrase "jerry-rigged", meaning the same thing. – Malvolio Sep 24 '14 at 10:34
  • lol right - that's funny that about "jury" (or "dury") rigged! you can see people incorrectly thinking it relates to the legal system. – Fattie Sep 24 '14 at 11:25
  • fizzled just FTR - for me these are all perfect. – Fattie Sep 24 '14 at 11:26
  • These could describe the process of targeting the topical problems, but most of these don't contribute directly to the idea. I think the closest one is Band-Aid, because it could imply a temporary solution. This is good enough for me, thanks. – person27 Sep 24 '14 at 17:29

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