Earlier this month, a UK government minister called for the institution of compulsory voting. According to Mirror.UK, it is a ploy to increase voter turnout, but it also seems to be politically motivated. The politicians pushing this policy (nearly all of who belong to the labor party) are highly concerned with low Brexit vote turnout. They speculate that if only voting numbers were up, they would have come out of the decision as victors. But with the seemingly endless Brexit debacle, a conversation about voting has been opening up in the UK. Should a civics exam be mandatory to vote? Is it okay to let felons vote? And famously, should voting be compulsory?
Roman King | United States
The United States is a country divided, in every sense of the word. As much as we Americans posture about being one of the greatest, most united nations in the world, the truth is that we are an often dysfunctional, politically charged conglomerate of people that just tolerate each other to keep the bottom line from going red. Politics viciously divide states, cities, and even families; ideology creates opposing hive minds. The torrential firehose of divisive rhetoric has created a deluge of toxicity between both states and the people; threats of secession, once a relic of a different time, have resurfaced. Truly, our United States are united in name alone. It has been a long time since this nation has felt like a true unit. Enter Tiger Woods.
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 Ryan Lau | @agorisms
By definition, a government is compulsory and coercive. Do you want to be the living embodiment of Ron Swanson, despising its very existence? How about a radical revolutionary, aiming to bring about serious political change? Rather than simply holding a belief, the proper course of action, in this case, is to take action.
Ideas Without Actions
It is safe to say that only having ideas for the sake of entertaining them, to borrow a phrase from Civil Disobedience, is not bringing about any change. Even the most ardent supporter of the state, in fact, is all too quick to point this out. With a stained American flag shirt and a hollow conscience, the patriot approaches the complaining anarchist brusquely. If only were he to have voted, then he would have seen his change! By sitting at home, is he not complicit in the crimes he claims to oppose? How is he escaping the state by allowing it to exist, unchanged?
The anarchist, then, bored and well-versed, is used to such questions. Almost as if reciting a second grade play for the thousandth time while one child cannot understand, he calmly asserts that a vote is a consent to be governed. By paying taxes into the system and voting for a leader, he would be complicit in the crimes of the state. Thus, he cannot, in good faith, do so.
An Inescapable State
Despite the vastly differing mannerisms and ideologies of these two particular individuals, they have one critical thing in common: they are both right. In fact, the very design of the state prohibits anyone, in any way, from stopping its injustices. Whether it did so intentionally or not, the state has a crippling grip on its people, to the point where not a single action can fully excuse him or her from its great injustices.
The average American has quite an interesting concept of liberty. As a general rule, the Land of the Free supports freedom everywhere except right here on planet Earth. With the magnificent Space Force, the outward bound of hypocrisy may soon expand beyond even our atmosphere. For all intents and purposes, though, I will primarily focus on the crippling nature of the United States.
The Three Types of Rebels
Simply put, the right to rebel is an integral part of American culture. It is interesting, though, that nobody really tries to bring this belief into reality. Is it perhaps because of the fact that the state is currently not acting unjustly? With soldiers slaughtering children across the globe, anyone with the slightest shred of morality cannot possibly vouch for the state in this manner. However, a sweep of the country reveals that not everyone has the slightest shred of morality, or for that matter, even pauses to think about whether or not something is right.
An individual must either support, be unaware of, or condemn the inhumanities of government. The first group, of course, has no desire to act in a civil or moral sense. Wearing stability and order like a grotesque mask, such actors in a society are no better than mounds of dirt that small children may play in. Their necessary barbarism is not even worth the passing glance a slightly concerned parent may give. Of course, the idea is terribly destructive, and like that mound of dirt, it is nearly impossible to rid the kids of it. The dirt, at least, lessens as they mature, but war only impacts them more.
The ideology of war, of murder, has no place in a civilized society. Also, those who practice it willingly will clearly have no desire to end it. Thus, those associated with it will garner no significant further mentionings.
The second group, then, would be those who are unaware of the government’s injustices. Someone without a great deal of political knowledge, for example, likely does not know how the state spends their money. Likewise, a backwoods recluse in a home without electricity, even if well-versed in politics, likely is largely unaware of modern drone strikes.
Though not as detrimental as the former, the uninformed do prove to be a bit of a roadblock. They act as lukewarm Spam on a table, beginning to gather E. Coli on its surface. Though not so hard to take care of, it is hardly the most pleasant thing to encounter. Without a doubt, the less knowledgeable are not meaning to cause any harm, but by silently paying into the system, they perpetuate it.
The Opposition: Tepid Supporters Nonetheless?
By process of elimination, the last group, of course, is the only one which may have any way of truly escaping the state. The first would have no desire to, and the second, at the minimum, must pay some form of tax on property, sales, or income. The third and final, having both a moral disposition against violence, as well as knowledge about the state, the institution of violence, is the only one that may have any hopes of escaping it. It is comprised of those who condemn the actions of government.
The vast majority of these individuals do not strongly attempt to escape the state. Though nominally decent, they sit and fund the wars while still criticizing them. Are they not so horrific that they are not worth any amount of self-sacrifice? This point would lead one to suggest that like Thoreau, one can live morally via tax evasion. But even then, one is not making a difference.
Innocent or Guilty: A Common Result
By not paying for the wars, sure, you didn’t pay for it. But why does this make a difference? The military budget does not rely on your tax dollars. While it would greatly appreciate them, to make itself easier to fulfill, they are not necessary. So long as a small enough percentage of the people pay, then the state may merely print the remaining money.
A government in charge of both budgets and the coining of money is a dangerous combination. This danger only multiplies when the figureheads are using this for the immoral practice of war.
Moreover, a large percentage of tax evaders end up going to jail. In this situation, the state is paying for your food, utilities, clothes, and more. Does your clean conscience excuse the fact that because of your actions, the state now needs even more money? Not only do the wars not stop, but your place in a jail cell only furthers state action, transforming you from the puppet to a part of the parasite itself.
The Boulder Comparison
Compare the situation to a group of one thousand men rolling a boulder up a hill to a cliff. Armed guards stand behind, and will shoot anyone who dares to step out of line. Additionally, the guards have a nearly endless supply of men that, also held at gunpoint, will fill in if enough men stop pushing. A town lies below the cliff, and at this rate, the boulder will miss a few of the closest homes and sail farther away, crushing most of the town. But, if you stop pushing, the boulder will lose a tiny bit of speed, crushing every home and person in town.
Two options exist: you may either continue to push the boulder, or you may step out of line and face severe punishment. By pushing the boulder, you may be able to slightly lessen your role in the collective harm done. When you avoid prison, the immoralities still occur, but you are not adding to them. When you accept punishment for yourself, you live with a clean conscience, but the burden on others is even more. What is the value of your clean conscience, when it may only bring further harm to others?
Puppets of Parasites
Much like the boulder situation, the state is inescapable, even through lack of participation. By taking an inactive approach, even if you do not find yourself in a jail cell, there is no real improvement, so long as the state has control of the treasury and does not change the budget. Is there, then, a way to truly escape the state’s parasitism? It appears, at least in the short term, that such a notion is impossible. We all, for now, are either puppets of parasites or the parasites themselves.
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By Casey Ward | United States
What’s the difference between a minarchist and an anarchist? Six months. The joke may be hilarious, but it is not always true. Many people continue to claim that they want smaller government. However, with the long arm of the law transgressing further upon our rights every day, this entire country should be outraged. Almost everyone is, to some extent, but not enough.
The issue lies in our selective outrage. Most of the modern Democrats argue for social freedom (with exceptions) while modern Republicans lean towards more economic freedom (with exceptions). At the same time, most support government monopolies over industries like police, legislation, and the military.
The question everyone should be asking is why: why do we allow government endless power? Often the answer is because people never knew any other way. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln became president; less than a year later, he started a poorly justified war and used his presidential power to enact the first federal income tax in order to fund it. This was a disastrous precedent. Lawyers and Congressmen often uphold the decisions of the past for fear of losing confidence in their future rulings. However, just because something happened once, does not mean that that something was right or reasonable.
A Dangerous Future
Nonetheless, from that day forward, presidents have acted as if the government’s power is plenary. In Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.’s book, “Against The State: An Anarcho-Capitalist Manifesto”, he goes back to the Great Depression and explains how even after it, FDR’s endless social programs remained in place. These may have looked life-saving at the time, but now, social security is overbearing. It even threatens to enslave the future with debts they never incurred.
The Disasters of Social Security and Regulation
As a result, many politicians call social security “the third rail”. If you touch it, you’re dead. Or, at least, your political career is. This is simply kicking the can down the road, but politicians and Americans alike seem to be able to live with.
To add a degree of relatability to the government’s market interference, examine a study by the Journal of Economic Growth that details these effects. This study details the frightful reality that government cripples GDP per household. Without added regulation since 1949, the study estimates, the average 2011 figure would have been an exorbitant $384,857, nearly four times higher than the recorded $107,857. Clearly, the economy has many more regulations now than then. Going back even further to fewer regulations, this figure would only increase more.
Even with the 81,000 pages of regulations added in 2015 alone, the hope of a free society is not completely gone. As Thomas Paine said, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” So we shall work in the direction we know is right. After all of the alphabet bureaucracies are revoked and regulations nullified, maybe then we will see that individuals are efficient enough to make a more prosperous world. Finally, this may give ourselves deserved credit and end the reliance on an ever-watchful state.
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