For decades, the war on drugs has raged its way across the world, taking a particularly strong hold in America. With politicians from Reagan to Biden fathering policies that have incarcerated millions and killed many more, the world is beginning to see the disastrous effects of drug prohibition. For one thing, it actually can increase deaths from drug overdoses; when Portugal decriminalized all drugs, their addiction and overdose rates plummeted. But another drug, ketamine, offers solutions to the opioid crisis and many other medical problems.
The FDA just approved a new antidepressant, the first of its kind. Unlike other antidepressants, this one is a nasal spray. Esketamine, under the brand name Spravato, is developed by Johnson & Johnson and has been in testing for the past 2 years. The drug has seen remarkable success. This success is interesting because the drug is closely tied to the club drug “Special K.” Related to MDMA, Special K is known as Ecstasy. This marks the first major breakthrough in the treatment of depression since the 1980s.
By Benjamin Olsen | United States
The big switch is a long debated topic on whether or not the Republican party espoused racist ideas and ‘switched’ their party’s ideals in order to gain the southern vote. The idea that the South switched from Democrat to Republican overnight in order to oppose the Civil Rights Act is absurd. In fact, it shows a complete lack of understanding of history and economics.
The Republican party has its roots in the tumultuous time preceding the American Civil War, and the party was founded on the main principle of abolishing slavery. Its goal was to oppose the Democratic party in all dealings and to ensure that all new states or territories would enter the union as free-soil, where no man could suffer under the yoke of another man. After the war, the Republican party had accomplished most of its initial goals.
In the following years, they adopted the economic ideas of a free market. After all, the only way to get the South back on its feet was to allow the market to operate freely. This provided unprecedented growth in the United States. The problem with the free market after the Civil War, however, is that the South did not have the infrastructure to sustain the type of markets needed. Their fields had been salted and their raw exports they benefited from before the war had dried up.
The desolation of the South led to the inevitable meddling of government through tax-breaks, cronyism, and nepotism. The South was unable to partake in the free market that flourished under U. S. Grant’s presidency. The following presidents continued to meddle in the market. The result? The free market collapsed, giving way to defective cronyism.
Cronyism is a corrupt market economy where special interests control the government. This is achieved slowly and surely through political insider trading, campaign donations, and returned favors. The familiar images of the late 1800s are indicative of cronyism. The South’s voting bloc started to favor those who could revive the dying economy in the South. This means that even as soon as 50 years after the Civil War, votes in the South were going to Republican candidates. In 1868 alone, Tennessee, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Florida and Arkansas voted for U. S. Grant. On the other hand, New York, a Republican state, lit up blue for the first time. The South was more worried about getting back on its feet instead of preserving an institution that anyone could see was dead.
Fast forward to the progressive era. The new wave of socialism and fascism left many in both mainstream parties feeling disenfranchised. The parties seemed to gravitate towards the extremes and left many moderates scrambling for a party to call home. The South, throughout the progressive era, shifted and voted for the Democratic party, which favored populist ideologies. Populism sought to look after ordinary people and this idea was attractive to many ordinary people in the South. This is often because they thought they did not have the wealth and power of the North.
Enter the Great Depression. With the Republicans in charge when the market collapsed, many people looked to the populist ideas of the Democrats to save them. The people subsequently elected FDR to 4 terms. His New Deal policies put people to work, but unbeknownst to them, his policies, including a trade war, may have been responsible for the Depression’s decade and a half length.
FDR’s agricultural regulations led to the destruction of the once profitable business of farming. Farmers left their fields and fled to the city, effectively killing the industry until technology was able to bring it back from the dead. However, with the victory over the Axis powers in World War II, the US economy boomed. Most Americans, no matter their region, voted Democrat, electing Harry Truman. After Truman’s presidency, Eisenhower won in a landslide, reflecting his popularity after WWII. The map lit up blue once again when the South voted for JFK.
Most believers of the ‘Switch’ point to the election of 1964 as proof of the idea that Republicans were harping on racist ideas to win votes. The mastermind behind this plan that they point to is Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was a senator from Arizona who opposed two sections of the Civil Rights Act. The two articles regulated private businesses and forced them to cater to everyone. He saw this as unconstitutional and difficult to enforce. Therefore, he voted against the act.
However, he is not a racist for doing so. He did, though, accurately predict that the sections would lead to racial quotas. It is worth noting that Goldwater was a big supporter of the 24th Amendment, which made poll taxes illegal. He also strongly favored movements to pass civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960. Goldwater ran in ‘64 for president and many in the Deep South voted for him, perhaps misunderstanding his opposition to the Civil Rights Act or instead favoring his campaign promises of cutting back welfare programs and freeing the markets.
In 1968 the South voted for 3rd party candidate George Wallace, whose campaign was founded on complete segregation. ‘72 saw a landslide for Republican candidate Richard Nixon who promised to end the Vietnam war and restore law and order. In ‘76 the South chose to switch back to Democrat to elect Jimmy Carter. In ‘80, with another crippled economy, the South voted for a Republican again, electing Ronald Reagan. With continued economic growth and a full boom in effect, the South voted red again. And in ‘92, the South voted for Bill Clinton, going back to Democrat. But with the economy suffering under Clinton, the South decided to switch once more and voted for Republican George Bush.
After presenting the voting pattern of the South, it is hard to draw a line where the switch took place. The possible conclusion is that there was not a switch and rather the South does not vote as one racist bloc, but after their own interests, such as a good economy. The South has been voting for Republicans since immediately after the Civil War. There have been racist Republicans that have preyed on the racist tendencies of the deep South. There have been racist Democrats that have done likewise. However, race is not the only issue in an election, and economics has always played a larger role. Racial issues are important, but are not always most prevalent.
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By Dane Larsen | United States
“Warren Gamaliel Harding sweeps country in a GOP landslide” (San Francisco Chronicle, November 1920). After the 1920 Presidential election, the country had high hopes for a man who promised peace, progress and prosperity. Harding won the EC with votes 404-127, and stuck to his vowed code of ethics, by keeping the government out of the economy, bringing peace to the world after WWI, and protecting citizen’s personal liberties. An enormous portion of the United States voted him in so that they could see the results in categories like such.
Being preceded by Woodrow Wilson, a man notorious for his blasphemous economic positions, Harding was set up with a massive Depression from 1920-21. It’s not a big surprise that this was one of the depressions that hit us hard, but we never hear about it in the context of some of the worst in our nation’s history. This is because the former POTUS in question had about some of the finest economic stances, that he rarely went back on. Coupled with a post-World War economy, and the creation of the Federal Reserve, Harding was arranged to fail, as the economy as we knew it, was structured on faulty foundation. One future President, and Secretary of Commerce at the time Herbert Hoover, loosely defined himself as a laissez-faire advocate, and pushed for Keynesian tactics in the wake of a 17% GNP fall off, and a raise of unemployment by 8%. Harding ignored this.
Instead, Harding changed everything he could in his power, while keeping the checks and balances in D.C. that our forefathers envisioned, and not stepping over any boundaries. The Federal Income Tax started with a cap at 7% in 1913 but at the end of WWI skyrocketed to 77%. Secretary Mellon of Harding’s cabinet proposed tax cuts that would get the economy going again, with more money in the pockets of Americans in all tax brackets you could imagine. This cut in these taxes eventually led to a rapid growth in the US citizen wealth and all. In the passing years, GNP steadily rose 4.7% annually, and unemployment fell to 6.7% in 1921, then 3.2% in the following year. Furthermore, Harding cut spending of government entities by nearly 50%, and along with his almost 40% tax reduction, him and his administration cut back the national debt, with no bail-outs, government catalyst programs, etc.
Although he did enact a small tariff known as the Fordney-McCumber protectionist laws, he only had good intentions. Only one small crack in an air-tight economist of a President, the man “always decried high taxes, government waste, and excessive governmental interference in the private sector of the economy,” as Robert Murray wrote in “The Harding Era”. He was an honest man, who just wanted to see prominence in the economy of his home country, with the people he legitimately cared about.
Foreign policy is the regard where Hardings reputation begins to become tarnished. He was a product of his time, and it’s hard to envision anybody in power at that particular time not wanting to grab at immediate power when there were so many vulnerable assets up for grabs. The occupations of many satellite colonies in the age of Imperialism was something every power of the Western world partook in. Harding wanted to do as much as he could in power to put these activities to rest, but it’s a shame that he never developed his words into actions. During his Presidency, the affairs regarding control over territories in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua were still in tact. This cruel behavior was sinister, yes, but in the context of the 1920’s, not uncommon in the slightest. At least then, there was very little conflict or civil disruptions in the territories from 1920-22, besides the D.R. citizens fighting soldiers positioned on sight, which stopped after Harding retracted troops to ease tension.
He was, however, an advocate of world diplomacy, at least when it came to the world superpowers. The Washington Naval Conference was put on by President Harding from November of ’21, to February of ’22, pre United Nations, here Harding brought together a lot of the powerful countries of the World, in another of the conferences of the League of Nations. Along with pushing for disarmament around the globe, being the first world consultation of arms control, it also enacted three main treaties, among others, that stood out as being a type of foreshadowing of things that the world would see in the near future. After a long time coming, China eventually launched an “open-door” foreign trade policy that would stimulate the World’s economy, only following the Nine-Power Treaty introduced and signed by none other than Warren G. Harding. Furthermore, many attribute the breakdown of Imperialism itself to Harding, who knocked over one of the first dominoes with the Four-Power Treaty, which made sure that the members of the star members of the League of Nations wouldn’t exceed their status quo of stationed troops in Oceania during colonization. This was meant as a plea to give the citizens of their homeland some breathing room.
Through thick and thin, Americans could cont on Harding pushing for personal freedom in the oval office, on behalf of his supporters, but for the good of everyone in the country. At one time, it was him valuing freedom of speech, when he pardoned Eugene Debs, wrongly imprisoned under the Democratic President Woodrow Wilson for speaking out against the USA’s participation in WWI, whether he agreed with it or not. He thought that through free speech and advocacy of the American people, the federal government could take some notes on how to run the country that gave them their power in the first place. He seems like an honest and good-hearted politician? No wonder it sounds so foreign to us in the 21st century.
Furthermore, in a time of turmoil, post-Emancipation Proclamation and pre-Civil Right Movement, Harding was one who always pushed for legal and God-given rights to all, no matter their skin color, or potential criminal background. On one hand, he endorsed equal political rights for all, especially African Americans. He got rid of double standards when citizens in the South applied to vote. In a campaign speech in Birmingham, a notable Democratic, segregated city, Harding once said “Whether you like it or not… Unless our democracy is a lie, you must stand for that equality”, pertaining to the equal voting rights he proposed.
Furthermore, on the other hand, Harding pushed for legislation on all fronts in favor of rehabilitation over punishment as well. In a more extreme case, the POTUS signed into law an anti-lynching and/or mob violence bill, only to be hated by a Senate filibuster. Although he didn’t push for the death penalty or anything of the sort, he wanted maximum punishment for the type of people who would do these things to other humans. In some cases, lynching was a branch of the punishment, and Harding didn’t approve of such an act in his United States.
A Prosperity Story, from Rubbish to Riches
Harding’s success story aligns itself right up with the story of the USA during his tenure as President. Harding lifted himself up through the ranks of the governmental positions. Born in Ohio himself, he was elected as a State Senator, elected Ohio’s Governor four years later, and the to the US Senate in 1914. He was thought of as a gamble in the RNC and when elected in the primaries, but his fresh ideas served as a springboard for America’s success in the Roaring Twenties.
Known as one of the most prosperous time periods in the United States’ history, economically, socially, spiritually, and in every other category, Harding overlooked and set the states up for a great boom. From WWI and a body count too many to fathom at that time in the War, the USA was coming from nothing. Under Harding, the country was built on a great infrastructure, thanks to his core libertarian beliefs.
“Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little.” –Warren Gamaliel Harding
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By Mason Mohon | USA
Welcome to the glorious new world. We have an absurd amount of computer processing power and information in our pockets, at all times. We all carry around our phones with us all the time, constantly checking and looking for new information. The information age is kind of great. I can pull out my phone and text my friend in Sweden, look up an academic paper, or watch whatever episode of The Office that my heart desires. What isn’t to love?
Studies show that there isn’t much not to love. As The Economist recently reported, teens are backing off from what is usually considered “bad behavior.” That is, we are consuming fewer drugs, having less procreative sex, and beating each other up less. All across the developed world, this trend is repeated, with the average age of first consumption of alcohol increasing by two years in Australia since 1998. The pub and nightclub industry has lost the interest of young people in Britain. In the U.S., the teen birth rate has fallen down by two-thirds. In the U.K., about 3000 youngsters were in convicted custody when ‘07 rolled around. In 2016, that number has fallen below one thousand. Clearly, things are getting better. There is so much less to fear when teenagers aren’t going out and having abusive drunk sex.
Shoko Yoneyama, an expert on Japanese teenagers at the University of Adelaide, has gone as far to call it “kind of boring.” Everyone is a nerd now.
But this is coming at a cost. We are turning into really, really sad people. When I say that, I don’t mean that we are becoming sad as in lame (although the argument can clearly be made in favor of that), but rather we are becoming literally sad. We are frowning more, getting stressed more, and shockingly, we are killing ourselves more. The Wall Street Journal reported that depression is up 400% since 1990, and this seems to be more or less linked to our increased usage of life-easing tech. Dr. Ilardi, the author of the article, said the following:
Excessive screen time lulls us ever deeper into habitual inactivity, overstimulates the nervous system and increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. In the short term, cortisol helps us react to high-pressure situations, but when chronically activated, it triggers the brain’s toxic runaway stress response, which researchers have identified as an ultimate driver of depressive illness.
It is like we are playing a slot machine. We are constantly scrolling through Facebook or Instagram in search of satisfaction. We hope the next post to slide by will amaze us, and that’s the science of it. Dan Sanchez described experiments where both rats and humans would relentlessly press a lever that activated pleasurable feelings in their mind. He quotes Kelly McGonigal, who says the following: “When the brain recognizes an opportunity for reward, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine tells the rest of the brain what to pay attention to and what to get our greedy little hands on. A dopamine rush doesn’t create happiness itself — the feeling is more like arousal”
Our phones aren’t making us happy, they are merely arousing us to the potential of an award, and this has become extremely addicting for us. The aforementioned WSJ article said the following in relation to a group of 1000 students who pledged to give up screens for a day: “Most students dropped out of the study in a matter of hours, and many reported symptoms of withdrawal associated with substance addiction.” We have traded addiction to alcohol for addiction to phones and other kinds of tech. The results are extremely detrimental. Although evidence that the two are causally related is lacking, suicides in the U.S. increased by 24% in a period between 1999 and 2014.
Even though studies haven’t conclusively shown it, the link is clear. Face to face human interaction is important for us to have. We are engineered to pick up context clues from another human standing or sitting across from us while conversing. Taking that away and putting it into the world of phones makes even the most intimate conversations completely impersonal. It is clearly taking a toll, and it is a problem we need to fix.
But how do we fix this? Surely, it would only throw gasoline on top of the fire to ask the state to sweep in and solve things. What the solution has to be in personal responsibility. We need to both take care of our own minds and bodies by being careful in the amount that we consume, and we need to band together with families and friend groups to work together and keep each other accountable. There need to be support groups for screen usage just like we have for addictions of other kinds.
There is a lot that you can do in your own life, too. If you’re eating or getting coffee with someone, don’t check your phone. Don’t even set it on the table. See if you can go an hour or two throughout the day without it. We seem to be more addicted to our phones, using them every ten to fifteen minutes, than just about any other drug.
This is a problem we all need to work together to fix. Practice responsibility, and practice limiting yourself. When it gets down to it, we are dying for face to face human interaction and dying without it.