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We Can Work It Out - Politics & Philosophy
10 January 2020
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QuarryMan
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I don't think creating a world government would solve many problems, as it would create extreme levels of bureaucracy and would interfere with the rights of self determination that many people prioritise. I think a better approach would be different governments working together to create parallel policy so that it would be possible to travel between different countries whilst not having to obey vastly different sets of laws. 

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14 January 2020
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This topic was brought up in my homeroom this morning and I was just wondering what y'all's thoughts would be:

Do you think that the number of young people joining the military out of high school will significantly decrease if college were free in the U.S.? 

"....When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind...." 

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14 January 2020
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That’s a good question. It’s certainly possible.

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14 January 2020
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Having had a quick look over the American recruitment situation, I'm not sure there's any correlation. The most recent figures for the US show that the Army missed its 2018 target by about 6,500 recruits. It's also interesting to note that 79% of recruits have a relative who served in the military, so it would seem that family history is more of an influence than the cost of university.

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14 January 2020
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I wonder if there are any surveys or studies about people’s motivation to join the military? I’ll have to look into that...

Even if free or cheaper college would make military recruitment go down, I still think it’s a good idea.

edit: oops

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14 January 2020
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According to a 2011 Pew Research Study, 75% of enlistees said they joined the military to receive educational benefits, up from 55% in the pre-9/11 era. So yes, free college likely would lead to a reduction in people signing up. 

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The same study also goes into the demographics of the modern US military. It's very sad to me that increasing numbers of soldiers are married and/or parents (meaning they might come home to their spouse and/or family in a coffin)...

Don't think it's accidental that the Washington political establishment is against proposals like free college, by the way. How else would they find people to die in their imperialist wars without a) leveraging it for a chance at joining the middle class and b) funding a constant patriotic propaganda campaign to convince citizens that murdering random Middle Eastern citizens does anything to serve them as Americans? 

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14 January 2020
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^damn, I only thanked it once

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14 January 2020
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However, it should be noted that the study cited by @QuarryMan dates to 2011, three years after the crash with the US economy still deep in recession. There always tends to be a raise in military recruitment in times of economic hardship and high unemployment.

Last year's report found a drop in those joining for economic reasons as the improving economy and employment market offer different options:

Not only is the pool of eligible recruits shrinking, but the number of young Americans interested in military careers is dropping as well, the report found. This is partly the result of a strong national economy, since plentiful civilian jobs may make military careers seem less appealing, according to Youngman.

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14 January 2020
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QuarryMan said
Don't think it's accidental that the Washington political establishment is against proposals like free college, by the way. How else would they find people to die in their imperialist wars without a) leveraging it for a chance at joining the middle class and b) funding a constant patriotic propaganda campaign to convince citizens that murdering random Middle Eastern citizens does anything to serve them as Americans?  

To be fair, the left has helped A LOT when it comes to making the military more inclusive:

During the Vietnam war, LGBT+ people were barred from service and women had to volunteer and were only allowed limited roles, meaning that for the most part, only cis-het able bodied men served. This also meant that convincing the military that you were gay was an easy way to dodge the draft.

Nowadays, anyone who doesn't have a disability and or a criminal record can openly serve in any combat role and even then, people with autism and or a misdemeanor/civil infraction can still get in with a waiver. On top of that, all biological men who aren't confined to prison or a mental institution (including those who are barred from serving) must register for the draft and since we're starting to make women do the same in other countries, it could soon mean that all free people are required to sign up.

Don't get me wrong, discrimination of any kind is horrible but if the left put more effort on abolishing the draft instead of making the military inclusive, this wouldn't be nearly as much of a problem as it is now.

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14 January 2020
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Just had a conversation with a friend this morning about his son joining the military to get money to go to college.

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14 January 2020
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Ron Nasty said

However, it should be noted that the study cited by @QuarryMan dates to 2011, three years after the crash with the US economy still deep in recession. There always tends to be a raise in military recruitment in times of economic hardship and high unemployment.

The number of people who joined because of high unemployment ("jobs were hard to find" in the graphic) only increased by 3% in comparison to 20% for the college thing. This can be explained by the fact that college has becoming increasingly expensive - according to Forbes, the price is increasing at 8x the rate of wages. Therefore, more people are joining the military in order to gain access to the education they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. 

This is just a semantics point overall, though. In either case, both factors - education benefits and escaping from poverty - reflect very badly on the military. 

Dark Overlord said

To be fair, the left has helped A LOT when it comes to making the military more inclusive

Of course it's a positive thing that people of other identities than cis-het men are able to pursue the careers they want; I don't think any reasonable person would deny that. But you'll find that the actual left differs quite significantly from the neoliberal establishment (who wouldn't be considered to count as "the left" at all in Europe and most other places) on this.

The Democratic establishment (who are typically obsessed with identity politics rather than actual policy) are perfectly fine with the draft and all the imperialist policies the USA pursues around the globe as long as there is adequate minority representation within the forces doing this. Actual progressives, on the other hand, couldn't really care whether the person ordering a drone strike on a hospital full of children is black or gay or trans or disabled, the point is that they are ordering a drone strike on a hospital full of children. If people want to make the US military a less bigoted institution internally, then that's fine, they can go ahead. It doesn't change the fact that externally, it's a brutal war machine that is responsible for an incalculable amount of human suffering worldwide, and that we should try and stop it taking advantage of people's desires to get an education and escape poverty in order to make them its foot soldiers. 

Sorry, went on a bit of a tangent there. You're right, the left (that's including both sides of it per my definitions) should definitely prioritise opposition to the worst practices of the military rather than fussing over the identity of the people caught up in it. All the more reason why my US friends should support candidates who are genuinely opposed to US imperialism, rather than ones who are just interested in giving it a more inclusive face. 

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14 January 2020
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Great post but the not everyone on the left is a peace loving libertarian. Unlike liberals, leftists don't have to be socially libertarian, some of them can be quite authoritarian. A good example of this would be Joseph Stalin, who was essentially the left wing Hitler.

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14 January 2020
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QuarryMan said

Ron Nasty said

However, it should be noted that the study cited by @QuarryMan dates to 2011, three years after the crash with the US economy still deep in recession. There always tends to be a raise in military recruitment in times of economic hardship and high unemployment.

The number of people who joined because of high unemployment ("jobs were hard to find" in the graphic) only increased by 3% in comparison to 20% for the college thing. This can be explained by the fact that college has becoming increasingly expensive - according to Forbes, the price is increasing at 8x the rate of wages. Therefore, more people are joining the military in order to gain access to the education they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. 

This is just a semantics point overall, though. In either case, both factors - education benefits and escaping from poverty - reflect very badly on the military. 

a-hard-days-night-ringo-8a-hard-days-night-ringo-8a-hard-days-night-ringo-8 I agree and also thanks y'all for the discussion and research....
 

To answer my own question, if I may, I do believe that significant financial aid given by the military is one of the main incentives to high schoolers wanting to join the military (next to family legacy) and that if college were to be made free that there would be a hole in the number of young people joining the military. The main reason why the topic was brought to my attention both this morning in homeroom with my peers during our discussion and in general is that I have witnessed a good amount of my peers, friends, and family members consider joining and/or join the military. I'm at the point in my high school career (as some of y'all are currently and a lot of y'all have already passed) where I'm very focused and being encouraged to focus on what I'm gonna do post-high school-- which, for me, is going to college. I, personally, don't have plans on joining America's armed ranks at all, but I have friends and fellow students who are very much considering joining the military because that is the only way that they are able to pay for higher education. In fact, I have friends who are currently in the army whose main incentives were that they couldn't afford to go to college. Now, if college were free or if their families were financially stable/well-off enough to provide the money needed, I know for a fact that they would just head right to college after they graduate. My own brother almost joined because my mom and the rest of my family was worried that she wouldn't be able to financially support him throughout college (thank god for academic scholarships, financial aid, and my brother making enough money now at his current job that he can steadily pay off his student loans in a few years time). So, in conclusion, to wrap up my main point-- I think that the threat of college-affordability is a major factor as to why America's young people join the armed forces after high school and that if college were free the military would steadily lose applicants (which is why I also believe that free-college is something that has been brushed to the side by the government....) The fact that naive kids my age have to literally fight in order to gain access to higher education is disgusting.

((I'm only a little sorry for almost going off into a whole book in my little rant......)

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15 January 2020
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Dark Overlord said
Great post but the not everyone on the left is a peace loving libertarian. Unlike liberals, leftists don't have to be socially libertarian, some of them can be quite authoritarian. A good example of this would be Joseph Stalin, who was essentially the left wing Hitler.

Okay, but is the authoritarian, hardline Marxist strain of the left actually seen as a serious force in US politics, or relevant at all to the political conversation today? If we see a major swing leftwards in Western politics, it will most likely be in the form of populist social democrats like Bernie. 

Well said, @lovelyritametermaid , completely agree. We don't have to fudge our words about what it is - it's coercion. Since actually drafting civilians would be extremely unpopular, the military-industrial complex needs a way of guaranteeing their cannon fodder, so military service is leveraged for what is many people's only chance at having a good life: higher education. 

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Yes and no. Most modern leftists only swing socially authoritarian when they think it's benefits to society outweigh the freedoms lost (ie mandatory voting attendance and banning single use plastic). However, we have ANTIFA who use physical violence to silence those they disagree with (mainly Neo Nazis and white supremacists) and while some leftists rightfully condemn the group for it's use of violence, many sympathize with the group and if one of these violent ANTIFA members get political power, i'm pretty sure they'd have no problem nuking any country that doesn't possess their progressive values.

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Aren't libertarian more right wing though?

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15 January 2020
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True libertarians are a little bit of both. A great example of a textbook libertarian is Penn Jillette who had a show called Penn And Tellers Bullshit where he defends things like gay rights, drug legalization, free speech, gun rights, prostitution, anti environmentalism, and the right to eat meat. These things are all over the political spectrum and he gets criticism from both sides for his views.

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Dark Overlord said
True libertarians are a little bit of both. A great example of a textbook libertarian is Penn Jillette who had a show called Penn And Tellers Bullshit where he defends things like gay rights, drug legalization, free speech, gun rights, prostitution, anti environmentalism, and the right to eat meat. These things are all over the political spectrum and he gets criticism from both sides for his views.

  

Very much correct. Libertarians certainly share a mixture of right- and left-wing stances, but overall they want the government to be more "hands-off" (or in radical cases, not involved whatsoever), which explains why Penn defends what he does: All of the stuff that Dark Overlord mentions that Penn defends are cases where a libertarian believes the government/any established authority shouldn't have a say (no matter if it is commonly grouped with the right or the left or elsewhere on the political spectrum.) 

Technically speaking, libertarians are more left-wing, though, since the libertarian school of thought was birthed there among the anti-establishment socialists; however, the contemporary libertarian stance leans towards laissez-faire, free-market capitalism as opposed to outright socialism. I usually lean towards the idea the libertarians are just a central party that just have a bit more ties to the left. 

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Starr Shine? said
Aren't libertarian more right wing though?

This is a common misconception; the term libertarian means anybody who is in favour of maximising personal freedom and autonomy. It was originally coined in the 1800s to describe people on the far left i.e anarchists and libertarian socialists such as Peter Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin, who want to abolish the state and run society through decentralised local communities.

However, during the 1950s the term was adopted by supporters of laissez-faire capitalism who believe that a free market without regulation or government intervention is the best way to maximise personal freedom, such as Ayn Rand and Friedrich von Hayek. They started using the term because they felt that the term "liberal" had been corrupted by the modern liberalism of thinkers like John Rawls which advocated for more wealth redistribution. Those who know me will know that I am extremely sceptical of this brand of libertarianism, but let's not get into that now...

To answer your question more directly; libertarians are not necessarily right or left wing, but in the US the term is usually used to describe right-libertarians. 

Dark Overlord said

if one of these violent ANTIFA members get political power, i'm pretty sure they'd have no problem nuking any country that doesn't possess their progressive values.

Political violence in general is a whole other topic, but Antifa's members are generally anarchists who are opposed to the very concept of political power to begin with; no one ideologically aligned with the group would try to gain power, rather the focus is on getting rid of those power structures altogether. Also, I'm pretty sure most people on the left don't believe in holding the citizens of a country accountable for what their government does. 

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@QuarryMan said

Okay, but is the authoritarian, hardline Marxist strain of the left actually seen as a serious force in US politics, or relevant at all to the political conversation today? If we see a major swing leftwards in Western politics, it will most likely be in the form of populist social democrats like Bernie. 

1) It's becoming more and more prevalent and mainstream; there's a growing cultural divide between the hardline leftists and everyone else, which is fattening the ranks of the right as a lot of people who have left-leaning or centrist inclinations find themselves driven to the right because the left won't have them. Even in the offline 'real' world, groups like ANTIFA have much more wiggle room in media and public discourse than any equivalent right-wing groups, which I don't bring up out of whataboutism but rather because the double standard bothers me. I don't like double standards.

2) Bernie, bless his heart (as we say in the South, and you can never be sure if we're saying it out of pity or disdain, which is of course the point), may not be particularly authoritarian himself, but he does seem to have a knack for finding the most appalling hardline leftists to hang out with and praise, which isn't exactly confidence-inspiring.

Well said, @lovelyritametermaid, completely agree. We don't have to fudge our words about what it is - it's coercion. Since actually drafting civilians would be extremely unpopular, the military-industrial complex needs a way of guaranteeing their cannon fodder, so military service is leveraged for what is many people's only chance at having a good life: higher education.   

I think there's just a huge problem in this country with the higher education system in general. In my opinion, there's too much government money in it all together, which causes the administration to be bloated unnecessarily and drive tuition up because colleges know they can just get student loan money. Also, while college can be a fine path to the good life, it's not the only one, and it's not right for everyone -- there are plenty of blue-collar careers to be had, such as welding, which pay excellently and don't require years of student loan debt. When you have a glut of college graduates, the value of a diploma goes down. This is one of my big problems with the idea of 'free' (i.e. government-provided) college for all -- and yes, I hear you arguing that just because it's provided doesn't mean everyone has to go to college. Of course, but you know there are many people who will totally take advantage of it just because they can, when it might not necessarily be what's right for them. My main problem is, of course, the fact that nothing is free. Not to sound like a stodgy old sweatervest-wearing conservatard here*, but someone's gotta pay for that shit. (I used a sweary word, do I get my cool Zoomer card back? ahdn_john_08_gif) Yes, life is unfair and sometimes you have to fight for things, like higher education. Ideally, not quite so literally, but I wouldn't say it's disgusting, although there are probably better ways to deal with the problem of a) getting an education worth a diddle b) lack of military enrollment (especially among higher economic classes) and c) the whole war machine thing. Wanting to have a strong military is not a bad thing, it's the big stick part of 'walk softly and carry a big stick' -- it's the 'walk softly' part that we seem to have such a problem with, and that's where my libertarian/anti-establishment side comes in.

Personally, I've done dual enrollment -- free college courses at my local community college while I'm also in high school -- and I've just about gotten enough credits for an associate's degree, so I'm of course at the stage of life where I've been thinking about all this because I have to decide what I want to do about it. I do rather fancy the idea of joining the military or doing something blue-collar like plumbing instead of doing two more years of college. If I do decide to go for a four-year degree, I'm not touching student loans with a ten-foot pole, nor would I want my parents to have to pay for it all. I think community colleges in general are highly underrated (is that oxymoronic? I'm PWT I don't care).

Okay I'm going to bed now, can't wait to wake up to all the rebuttal mentions I'm sure to get. I simultaneously hate any kind of conflict and love to argue for argument's sake. Why do I do this to myself? ahdn_john_08_gif

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**sometimes. Also, I've participated in precisely one election so far so take this with a grain of salt. a-hard-days-night-john-6

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