A Trans Military Ban in an Age without Nuance

On Wednesday morning, President Trump announced via Twitter that transgendered individuals will no longer be allowed to serve in the military.

Before going any further, let’s acknowledge that we don’t actually know what motivated Trump’s decision here. In his tweets, he cites “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as reasons for the move. Is he really concerned about medical costs? What disruptions is he referring to?

Did he really consult with “generals and military experts” before the announcement? If so, to what degree?

Is this a blatant act of bigotry or transphobia? Or is the president just throwing tennis balls for his attack dogs in the media to chase after?

Since only a fool would take Trump at his literal word, and since we are not mind readers, let’s avoid pretending that we know what motivated Trump to make this decision.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that some of Trump’s generals and advisers recommended he reverse an Obama administration order to permit transgendered individuals to serve openly in the military. The order was set to go into effect in the near future. We don’t have to assume that this was at the top of Defense Secretary James Mattis’s agenda, but let’s say he and some other top advisers were on the same page.

Let’s also assume that Trump does not hate transgendered individuals or any other members of the LGBT community. He is a socially liberal guy whether Democrats can allow themselves to recognize it or not. There is no reason to believe the president has an ax to grind with the non-binary.

Lastly, let’s assume that whether or not Trump genuinely believes in what he’s just done, he is certainly looking to fill the midweek news cycle. This issue, while fascinating, is one of the least important one could come up with. Think of how tiny the portion of Americans who identify as transgendered might be. Then think of how tiny the portion of those individuals who have any desire to serve in the military might be. We’re talking about next to no one. It’s juicy, but it’s not a big deal. Like Seinfeld, this is a show about nothing.

With all that in mind, let’s broach the issue:

Should transgendered individuals be allowed to serve in the military?

Unfortunately, I cannot give an easy answer to this question.

If I were a Social Justice Warrior, I’d say yes because all people are equal and discrimination is the ultimate sin.

If I were a Social Conservative, I’d say no because transgenderism is a disorder that disqualifies transgendered individuals from being allowed to serve.

The rationale for these opposing points of view do not matter to the issue at hand. There is only one thing that matters when it comes to determining who may and who may not serve in the armed forces:

What makes the military most effective at defeating the enemy?

Social norms, whether from the ACLU’s point of view or CPAC’s, should not factor in when policies of this nature are debated. It doesn’t matter what you think is right or wrong. All that matters is winning.

It might be the case that transgendered individuals improve the effectiveness of the military. Perhaps all they have had to endure in life makes them tough as nails. Maybe their unique perspective on the world allows them to see things that others can’t.

It might be the case that transgendered individuals damage the effectiveness of the military. Perhaps all they have had to endure in life makes them unstable in battle. Maybe their unique perspective on the world prevents them from seeing things others can.

I have no idea.

If our generals and other high-ranking members of the military determine that the effect of transgendered individuals serving in the military could be defeat when victory is at hand, I would support their recommendation for the ban.

There are times in life when social norms bear some weight. But when lives and the nation’s security are on the line, they don’t. It doesn’t matter which side of the socio-political spectrum gets their feelings hurt.

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A Trans Military Ban in an Age without Nuance

Why Climate Deniers, Anti-Vaxxers, and Flat-Earthers are Treated so Differently

This is going to be a non-scientific post centered around scientific themes. There will be generalizations. Prepare yourself accordingly.

Climate Deniers (individuals who dissent from the doomsday narrative regarding Climate Change), Anti-Vaxxers (individuals who believe vaccines are more harmful than beneficial), and Flat-Earthers (individuals who believe the Earth is flat) are regularly derided in Liberal bastions like Hollywood, the Mainstream Media, Academia, and Silicon Valley.

While all three are ridiculed by the same people, the ridicule they receive is unequal. This is for two main reasons.

The first is that the levels of risk vary.

The second is that the ability to rebut dissent varies.

Here’s how each one breaks down:

Flat-Earthers Anti-Vaxxers Climate Deniers

Level of Risk

Low

-Has no traction

-A few people’s beliefs about Earth’s shape has no effect on others

-No powerful people entertain the idea

Medium

-Has traction

-As you can still vaccinate your own children, effects can only felt by third parties (compassion based)

-Very few powerful people entertain the idea

High

-Has traction

-Complete cooperation required, so even a minority of dissenters affects the entire outcome

-Many powerful people entertain the idea

Ability to Rebut

High

-Look at a picture of the Earth

-Look at the horizon

-Look at the sunrise/sunset

Medium

-Explain immune system function

-Explain herd immunity

-Highlight eradicated diseases

Low

-97% of scientists agree (appeal to authority)

-Care for Earth (appeal to emotion)

-China is polluted (re herring)

Treatment Calm Ridicule

-Ignored with confidence

-Laughed at sincerely

Rebuttal

-Reasons to support vaccines explained

Disassociation

-Lumped in with Holocaust deniers

-Censored

-Strawmanned

Since there is no mainstream support for Flat-Earth theories, and because the curvature of the Earth can be easily observed, deniers of a globe-shaped globe are not taken seriously by many people. If they do not accept a simple explanation, it is of no importance. The world keeps turning. This is why Flat-Earthers are more of a source of entertainment than something to be worried about.

There are large swaths of the population who believe vaccinations cause developmental diseases like Autism, and many go as far as believing this is a conspiracy to dumb-down or depopulate the human race. But while large-scale non-vaccination can lead to contractions or outbreaks of diseases, parents can still vaccinate their own kids and live in areas where Anti-Vaxxers are uncommon. Additionally, it is not particularly difficult to understand why vaccinations should be beneficial, and there are few people in power who take serious issue with vaccines. This is why people are likely to attempt to explain why we should support vaccines and can generally do so in a civil manner.

For those who genuinely believe that Climate Change will lead to something apocalyptic, and that a massive global effort must be undertaken immediately to prevent it, Climate Denial cannot be tolerated. And for political and business opportunists whose agendas and finances would be assisted by the typically-proposed policies and regulations to address Climate Change, the chance of a lifetime cannot be allowed to slip away. Add in the fact that the climate and man’s impact on it are far too complex for the average person to begin to understand, and you have a recipe for uncivil and irrational reactions to Climate Denial. This is why emotional and authoritarian appeals and red herring arguments replace the simple reasons one can use to defend vaccines. Ultimately, drastic measures are often taken to silence and delegitimize those who deviate from Climate Alarmist narratives. This is because allowing a platform for a persuasive and difficult-to-refute argument that many smart and powerful people find appealing could be devastating to proponents of Climate Alarmism.

If those who support rational and good-natured discussions and learning about science, the environment, and the climate want to see their desires come to fruition, they must understand why their opponents feel and respond the way they do regarding Climate Change. Without knowing where someone who disagrees with you is coming from, getting them on your side is as impossible as accurately determining humanity’s overall impact on the average global temperature.

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Why Climate Deniers, Anti-Vaxxers, and Flat-Earthers are Treated so Differently

Don’t Mistake Libertarianism for Utopianism

Libertarians, Liberty sympathizers, and opponents of Libertarianism alike must acknowledge the fact that Libertarianism does not purport to be a Utopian ideology or political system. Unlike the various forms of Marxism and Communism, there is no promise of everyone and everything being accounted for and taken care of by the ideological variations spread across the Libertarian spectrum. On the contrary, becoming a Libertarian is often rooted in accepting the fact that neither everyone nor everything can be accounted for or taken care of!

If one believes he can design a system that provides everyone with high-quality healthcare, education, food, housing, and whatever else, he would almost certainly reject the Libertarian principles of non-interventionism, private property rights, and laissez-faire spontaneous order. Why would he seek to dismantle the means of centrally planned civilization, as Libertarians to varying extents do, if he believes they are the keys to a Utopian world?

Though I cannot speak for all Libertarians, the bulk of us support Libertarianism for one or both of two reasons. The first is that it provides a consistent and reasonable code of conduct and ethics for government and society to follow. This code is often boiled down to 1) don’t hurt people and 2) don’t take their stuff. The second is that Libertarian principles, as they are applied to foreign policy, personal liberties, and economic policy, are believed to be the most affordable and productive for individuals and society at large. Libertarianism can be appreciated for either its morality or its utility (or both).

While Libertarians espouse that their principles would further enrich human life at both an individual and societal level, intellectually honest Libertarians do not claim to have solutions to all of the world’s problems.

For instance, Libertarians are perhaps most famous for not only wanting drugs like marijuana to be decriminalized, but for generally vying to fully legalize all drugs including potentially lethal ones. We believe you have the right to do what you want with your body, so there is no justification for prohibiting you from buying substances or applying them to yourself.

If all of the world’s drug laws were repealed, whether instantly or in a transitional method over time, it is highly probable that someone who would not have had access to a particular substance will gain access and wind up dead or otherwise harmed as a result. Libertarians would be foolish to deny this.

But the big picture is that drug prohibition automatically causes death and harm via force. As we all know, making something illegal does not make it go away, especially when it comes to narcotics. Instead, a black market is created and gives gangsters and criminals a monopoly over production and distribution. Prices rise, and the stakes get higher, so life and safety become expendable as the rewards of selling drugs begin to outweigh the risks of getting caught. Furthermore, innocent people who mistakenly or intentionally use drugs are subject to being thrown into the cages we call prisons (or worse) despite the fact that no one was victimized by their actions. And for those who don’t get caught, understanding the composition and source of the products they use becomes increasingly difficult, which bolsters the possibility of unsafe drugs being consumed and more damage being done. With a legal and legitimate drug market, drug dealers would be forced to provide knowledge about their products or risk being outcompeted by those who do, discredited by consumer critics, and charged with consumer fraud in a court of law.

Some might say that supporting drug legalization with knowledge that it could lead to deaths that prohibition would prevent shows that Libertarians are willing to sacrifice some people for their ideals.

But this logic is flawed. A sacrifice requires an actor with intent to sacrifice. Libertarians pushing for non-action cannot be accused of sacrifice because a non-action cannot be a sacrifice!

There is also an omission of all those who suffer as a result of the anti-Libertarian laws that already exist. The abolitionists are blamed for hypothetical suffering that could come about after changes are made to drug laws while their detractors ignore the actual suffering caused by the restrictive policies already in place. And as initially established, accounting for all of that suffering would be impossible anyway.

All in all, what Libertarians vouch for is a less restrictive and more individual friendly way of being governed, not a perfect world free of tragedy and trouble.

Perhaps the fundamental difference between a hypothetical Libertarian world and the non-Libertarian world we live in is that in a Libertarian world, suffering, hardship, poverty, and despair would be more proportionately experienced by individuals who make the worst decisions while in our non-Libertarian world, a less proportionate amount of suffering, hardship, poverty, and despair is felt by individuals who did not make the worst decisions.

Through redistribution of wealth via the welfare state, economic favoritism via business regulations, and arbitrarily determined restrictions on individual liberties (such as marriage and drug use), force is initiated to determine certain outcomes. Without or with fewer uses of government force, individuals would be more responsible for governing how their own lives wind up.

This does not mean that each individual would ultimately control his own fate in a Libertarian world. One could take impeccable care of his body via diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle, and still wind up with a disease he can’t survive or afford to treat. One could do all the research he’s capable of, develop a product or service that seems bound to be in demand, and work harder and more efficiently than everyone around him, and still get outcompeted by a lazy dope who just happened to have an idea fall in his lap.

A Utopian world would not allow this, but a Libertarian world would.

Utopian worlds do not allow children to go hungry, workers to be killed on the job, people to face racism, entire sectors of the economy to be replaced by machines, or unhealthy foods and drinks to be sold. A Libertarian world would.

The most important distinction between a Utopian world and a Libertarian world is that a Utopian world could never exist. The aforementioned instances of tough luck and bad behavior will always be a part of human life regardless of what laws and policies are enacted.

Libertarianism does not promise to make these unfavorable circumstances go away. It simply accepts their inevitability and tries to mitigate the consequences they bring about by way of preserving and expanding Liberty.

Libertarians should not sell their ideas as Utopian. And critics of Libertarianism should not hold it to a Utopian standard.

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Don’t Mistake Libertarianism for Utopianism

Let’s Amend the Constitution… Twice

When I think about the Constitution, I generally focus on the Bill of Rights. As a Libertarian, it’s far more interesting to know what the government can’t do to me than know what it can do.

When I read that the feds cannot police my speech, arrest me without a warrant, or prevent me from owning a weapon, I feel happy. When I read that it can build post offices, levy taxes, and borrow money on the nation’s credit, I feel sad.

Alas, as much as I enjoy being reminded of my liberties, it might suffice to say that the more important section of the Supreme Law of the Land is the list of articles describing exactly how our government functions.

I like the way our government is intended to function for the most part. I like that the federal government’s powers are few and defined (even though it doesn’t always stop them from doing more). I like that each branch of government has specific responsibilities delegated to it, and that these branches are designed to keep each other in line (even though some are gaining unauthorized power while others are losing their influence).

Perhaps because of the fact that our federal government governs outside of its enumerated powers, it might be time to make a few tweaks to our system in order to better protect our safety and happiness.

I propose two new amendments: one to turn our congress into a parliamentary system, and one to set term limits in congress.

Our first and likely most respected president George Washington said in his farewell address to the nation:

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Obviously, we have failed to heed his warnings and are stuck in a two-party duopoly of embarrassing proportions. Upon a quick string of questioning, I suspect that few Americans would feel comfortable calling themselves steadfast in their allegiance to the Republicans or the Democrats. Thus, it is problematic that nearly all voters vote for Republicans and Democrats anyway.

To solve this problem, we should demand proportional representation in a European style parliamentary system. I am not well-versed enough to explain this perfectly, but the general idea is that minority political interests would be represented directly rather than have to choose the lesser of two evils. If 6% of California’s population votes for the Green Party, 3 of their 53 representatives would have to be Green. If 8% of North Carolina’s population votes Libertarian, 1 of their 13 representatives would have to be Yellow.

This would also help members of larger parties who don’t feel that their interests are being taken into account. Conservatives would be able to break away from Alt-Right Nationalists, and blue collar Democrats would be able to escape the identity politics at the other end of the left-wing spectrum.

Though it could be argued that adding more parties to our politics would be an even greater betrayal of President Washington’s warnings, a more balanced and accurate representation of the American people could return some power to We the People as Washington and the rest of our Founding Fathers fought to do in the Revolutionary War.

The 29th Amendment would be an even more important change. At the moment, congressmen are allowed to run for reelection until they drop dead (I’m not actually sure that a pulse is required). This is why John Conyers (1965), Thad Cochran (1973), and Don Young (1973) have been legislating far longer than I’ve been alive.

Since Congressmen are constantly up for reelection and are allowed to serve as many terms as they’d like, it is highly likely that the motivating factor behind their decision making is keeping their jobs by pacifying the masses rather than doing what’s right. Honesty and tough political choices have severe consequences; lies and handouts don’t.

If our potential congressmen knew that being a professional politician was an impossible career path, individuals who actually desire to serve the country would be more motivated to apply  and fight for the job.

This would help limit lobbying and shady campaign financing because special interests would be forced to constantly look for replacements to rally behind instead of finding established horses to latch on to.

In other words, if you want to get money out of politics, don’t provide such lucrative positions for people to fill.

What steps should we take to amend the Constitution? Would the parliamentary system apply to both the House and the Senate? How many terms should an individual be allowed to serve in Congress after limits are applied?

I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not the only person pushing these ideas.

But conversations have to start somewhere and continue somehow. And this is one We, the American People, need to have.

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Let’s Amend the Constitution… Twice