On Tuesday, April 30th, the courts finally convicted the Minneapolis police officer who killed Justine Ruszczyk. After a month-long trial, the shooter, a jury convicted “Mr. Noor” on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter. These together carry a maximum sentence of around 35 years, but he will likely not receive it.
By John Keller | United States
Coercive Paternalism can be defined as intervention in cases where people’s choices of the means to achieving their ultimate ends are confused. An argument of this nature, notably by Sarah Conly, rests on four main points: (1) Such a view promotes individuals actual goals. (2) Coercive Paternalism is effective. (3) The benefits are worth the cost. (4) Coercive Paternalism is efficient. Coercive Paternalism offers an ambiguous and unclear argument that ignores many of the complexities of the issues.
The Argument For Paternalism
A Coercive Paternalist would make an argument such as this: (1) People want to live long and healthy lives. (2) Eating processed foods and consuming drugs hinders people from living long and healthy lives. (3) Thus, the government must ban certain foods and drugs to promote the goal of the individual. Assuming the premise to be true, a rather noncontroversial claim, logically the next step is to examine the second step of the argument. Does consuming drugs hinder people from wanting to live long and healthy lives?
Examine, for instance, veteran suicide and veterans who deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Marijuana has been instrumental, if not vital, to veterans dealing with the mental complications involved with going into combat. By denying veterans drugs to promote the ‘individuals’ goals, they are actually exacerbating the mental complications of veterans and creating an environment in which veterans are forced to live shorter, mentally unhealthy lives as they tragically fall victim to the grip of suicide. Is this outcome the promotion of ‘long and healthy lives’? No, and thus Coercive Paternalism is unable to provide the needs of individual citizens.
The Failure of Coercive Paternalism
As it is unable to provide the needs of the individual citizens, it can not be effective. Paternalism itself is the idea in which the government must assume a role similar to that of your parent because the individual is inadequate to take of themselves and make good choices. Are any two individuals the same? Are any two children raised the same? Even siblings are often raised differently as a parent learns more, realizes mistakes, and adjust in real time to the needs of their children. The government, however, can not operate in this way on an individual level. Instead, they institute a policy under the basis of ‘one shoe fits all’. A clear example of this is common core education. With more money in the education system, improvement has been rare to come by. RealClear Education reports, “Between 2013 and 2017, only five jurisdictions logged improvements in 4th-grade math and just three in 8th-grade math.” As no two individuals develop the same, no government program can claim to be for the benefit of every citizen.
The theorized benefits of paternalism, that cannot apply to every citizen due to the nature of individuality, are not worth the cost. From 2013-2017, a total of $375,577,635,000 was spent federally, with an additional $840,757,185,970 spent in the same time frame by the states. In 2013, roughly 62,146,000 children went to school. That means that between 2013-2017, a total of $1,216,334,820,000 was spent on 62,146,000 school age children, or roughly $19,572.21 per student. As a result of paternalism, $1.2 trillion was spent to see only eight jurisdictions see an increase in math skills of America’s youth.
With the cost not being worth the near invisible benefits, Coercive Paternalism fails to also be effective. While it is not effective, it also fails to be efficient. Prohibition has historically failed to be efficient. The Eighth Amendment, passed in 1917 and ratified in 1919, was passed to prohibit the sales, transportation, importation, and exportation of “intoxicating liquors”, also known, more commonly, as alcohol. During the Prohibition Era, drinking remained constant. It is very likely that it not only stayed at the pre-prohibition levels but that drinking increased following the prohibition. When the government stopped sanctioning the legality of the alcohol industry and its services, it was forced to go into an underground state, run by speakeasies throughout the nation. The people reverted to the black market to get the products they desired, proving government regulation of the market to be inefficient. Furthermore, the government prohibition on the use of marijuana proved again to be a failure for the U.S government. Historically speaking, prohibition has always been ineffective.
Coercive Paternalism fails to promote the individual’s actual goals, is not effective, and is not worth the cost. The theory of Coercive Paternalism offers a simple answer to the complexities of society that fails to respect an individuals rights, needs, and the pursuit of happiness.
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By TJ Roberts | United States
“Support the Troops”: A Siren Song for Warmongers
“Support the Troops” is a mantra by which the neoconservatives pray to their God, the Military Industrial Complex. As the war machine turns its eye toward Iran (and inevitably Russia), you can already hear the same old nonsense from the propagandists for endless war. According to the propagandists, sending young men and women to be maimed, murdered, and traumatized by people who have never wronged them is supporting the troops. But anyone with any hint of common sense would know that this is the polar opposite of supporting the troops.
The True Nature of War
War is nothing more than legalized mass murder, and sending young people to kill and to be killed is not support. War has cost America almost $6 trillion since 9/11. Selling out the entirety of our future into debt slavery is not supporting the troops. It is enslaving them and their children. War is also traumatizing to the brain. It is believed that up to 20% of all veterans have PTSD in some form. We see this in our daily life. 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Opting to subject young Americans to atrocities that will torment their psyche for the rest of their lives is evil. In no way is this supporting the troops.
The impacts of war go beyond this as well. Nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless or were homeless in their lifetime. This is because the military does not prepare you for the real world. It prepares you to take orders and not think for yourself. The military strips you of your individuality. It makes you a slave of the State, literal property to the United States Federal Government.
Rather than advocating for war, or the death, injury, and destruction of our troops, you should Support the Troops… by bringing them home. 1.3 million American soldiers are deployed around the world. That is 1.3 million people who have left their homes and families because the government deceived them into believing that propping up the American Empire will keep us free and safe. But if the Patriot Act doesn’t give it away, war makes us less safe and less free.
So many American soldiers have died for nothing more than government propaganda. When one takes a closer look at reality, we realize that the government has funneled trillions into legal mass murder. The military is no longer used for defense. It is now used as a means to impose the will of America’s ruling elite upon the rest of the world. For America to be free, this must end. For us to truly honor our soldiers, we must bring them home and stop making more of them. If Americans truly support the troops, they would call for an end to the wars.
No matter how the government frames it, war is nothing more than legalized mass murder. Perhaps this is best expressed by the sentiments of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s second Secretary of State. On May 12, 1996, Albright claimed that the 500,000 children killed by US foreign policy in Iraq were “worth it.” The blood of half a million children is a high price to pay. But what did the people receive for that? Control. The US government is willing to kill millions in the pursuit of power throughout the world. Soldiers are no exception. If you are a soldier, the government sees you as nothing more than cannon fodder. You are more than this, but they don’t care.
The government hypnotizes soldiers by claiming that they will spread democracy around the world. This goal is neither honest nor noble nor possible. To spread mob rule to the rest of the world is to destabilize the world, but that isn’t the true intentions of the neocons in power. It is clear that the true goal is domination. When the US military “liberates” a nation, often sacrificing thousands of soldiers in the meantime, they do not allow self-rule. They implement puppet governments. The US expands its hegemony, dominating the world through the war machine. All dissenters meet their end, and it costs the American people hundreds of billions every year.
It is impossible to support war and not support big government. War amounts to the second largest expenditure of the federal government, with welfare in first place. Since 9/11, the war machine has cost more than $6 trillion to the US taxpayer. There is no opting out of this. Either you pay for the government’s organized mass violence, or they throw you in a cage. For one to have a war system as massive as the United States, the government needs to centralized, massive, and authoritarian. This is not freedom. If soldiers were truly fighting for freedom, they would defend America from its government.
Ultimately, war is the health of the State. Without war, the government would not be able to expand in the way it currently does. Defense would largely be private, and there would be no propagandist inducing fear into the hears of the public. The warfare State devastates the economy through inflation, opening the gates to the welfare state. The warfare state leads to the loss of millions of people throughout the world. In the last century alone, government has killed more than 200 million people in acts of war, democide, or genocide. If we are to truly honor the dedication to freedom that a soldier should hold, we would eliminate that occupation from this world. To honor the soldiers that lost their lives, we must stop creating new soldiers. No more should another person kill or be killed for the will of the government.
If you want to Support the Troops, oppose war, empire, and interventionism in all of its manifestations. This is your duty. If the State still chooses to go to war, it is the duty of any decent human being to encourage the people not to enlist and to resist the war effort in every way possible. And to the neoconservatives that claim this is hatred of the troops, answer this question. Which plan will kill more people: your plan, in which soldiers are sent into a battlefield to kill and be killed; or my plan, where war is a thing of the past and we support the troops by not sending them to die? It’s time. End the wars and bring them home now.
Originally published on freedomandeconomics.org.
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By Michael Kanter | United States
Once soldiers go off to war, the focus shifts to the diagnosis of PTSD. Amongst other views on the subject during WWI, PTSD was not taken seriously by doctors performing diagnoses. The symptoms related to PTSD were widely misdiagnosed as the concussive effects of shells landing near soldiers and were often attributed to general insanity. However, after noticing similar symptoms from soldiers who had never been within range of artillery shells, they realized that there must be another cause.
By the time WWI ended, it was called Combat Stress Reaction (CSR) and was soon inducted into the brand new 1952 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which included a protocol to properly diagnose (and treat) CSR. In 1980, as a result of research on Vietnam War victims, holocaust survivors, and victims of sexual assault, the DSM created the diagnosis known as PTSD (Friedman).
Today, soldiers are regularly assessed for PTSD upon return from war, and can also be recommended for screening by commanding officers based on unusual behavior or other concerns. For someone to be diagnosed, however, there must be an identifiable “Stressor Criterion,” or a stressful event that one can link to the disorder (Friedman). This makes it harder to seek support since it can be difficult to identify one particular event as the cause.
Despite apparent improvements in the diagnosis of PTSD, there are still many roadblocks to fully address the problem. Firstly, the “toxic masculinity” that is often core to military culture creates a stigma around the diagnosis, and soldiers are often reluctant to properly describe their symptoms. In addition, many wish to avoid formal diagnosis because it might ruin their military career. Lastly, politicians are cost-averse when defining the levels of severity of PTSD for which government funding is available.
As with diagnosis, the treatment of PTSD has developed immensely over the past century. During WWI, treatment was virtually non-existent. In fact, when soldiers complained, doctors’ objective was to quickly and efficiently return them to the front lines (Reid). “Treatment“ options ranged from shaming the soldiers to electroshock therapy (“Shell Shock Through the Wars”).
However, today, with the abundance of new information and changes in social understanding, treatment has improved. The increased emphasis on the value of soldiers’ quality of life caused governments and corporations to invest in research for treatments. The government has a new framework of programs to help veterans suffering from PTSD, and has created an extensive guide to the disease designed for veterans, including coping strategies and useful resources accessible online. Canadian Armed Forces members are also offered therapy and counseling in order to help them cope with the PTSD.
Notably, 18% of all benefits received by veterans are for mental health conditions, and more Afghanistan veterans received benefits for PTSD support than any other ailment or disability (Veterans Affairs Canada, “Mental Health”). Programs, though, are criticised for long wait times; some veterans have had to wait as long as three months to get an appointment for PTSD diagnosis, during which time treatment was unavailable (Bogart).
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