Categories
Philosophy & Politics

On Law Enforcement, Prison/Military-Industrial Complex, and Institutionalized Disenfranchisement

It takes approximately half the time to be trained to become a law enforcement officer than it takes to become a licensed cosmetologist.

The people giving you haircuts and perms are better trained in their professions than the individuals assigned weapons and political power in order to protect the assets of the wealthy, including private property. NOT to protect the rights of an individual.

If your landlord doesn’t fix your shit, your boss doesn’t pay you on time, police can’t, and won’t, do anything about it. As enforcers of the directly and indirectly racist institutions & social stereotypes embedded in our code of law, law enforcement officers are the domestic enforcement arm of capitalist institutions and private property rights.

Source: https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed

The prison-industrial complex encoded in our legal institutions must be dismantled and redesigned in a fashion that protects the rights of the individual. Class struggle is intersectional- these issues disproportionately affect minorities & disenfranchised populations.

I dislike when people say they “hate politics” and don’t participate. Inequality and disenfranchisement is an intersectional issue, and affects everybody, including many individuals who directly benefit from these institutions at times as well (see: toxic masculinity and male suicide, for example).

The prison-industrial complex engraved in domestic policy is intertwined with American military-industrial complex. The big-money lobbyists whom advocate for wars that send our troops to their deaths in the name of imperialism are the same individuals and organizations that advocate for domestic law that pumps our working class into for-profit private prisons (at disproportionate rates by demographic). I firmly believe the resolution to this issue lies in grassroots movements to recapture political power from the establishment (which is enabled by, and supports, big-money corporate lobbying) in order to change domestic and foreign policy to protect disenfranchised groups from this form of institutionalized oppression.

Categories
Economics Philosophy & Politics Science

Piaget, Vygotsky, and Political Economy

Piaget and Vygotskys’ theories of cognitive development are somewhat contrasting, and can be compared to one-another endlessly using anecdotal evidence from our lives. Piaget’s model implies that cognitive development occurs parallel to neurobiological development and the child’s interaction with their environment. It’s relatively individualistic by nature of its focus on how the individual’s sensory processing of information from their environment effectively leads to formulation of ideas, and furthers cognitive development (subconsciously attempting to master their environment). The concepts proposed by Vygotsky differ from Piaget conversely; he proposes that through the zone of proximal development and by use of scaffolding, the individual develops cognitively through social interaction. Vygotsky concludes that social interaction is crucial to the process of learning and cognitive development; I’d make the comparison between the two theories that one seems to be individualistic (Pieget), while the other, relativistic (Vygotsky) in nature.

After making this mental connection, I decided to do some digging. I found that Piaget was born in the turn of the 20th century in capitalist Switzerland, while Vygotsky was a Soviet psychologist, educated at the Imperial Moscow University. It’s fascinating to me that two psychologists who likely harbor some sentiment for ideologically opposing political-economic theories (Communism, which is culturally relativistic, and Capitalism, which is culturally individualistic) would propose two conversed theories of cognitive development. Not to discount the validity of the theories- but I truly wonder if this is evidence of human nature being contingent on the material conditions of our reality, rather than some inherited, implicit biases towards thoughts or behaviors. What do you think? Did the fact that the material conditions of Piaget and Vygotskys’ environments differed influenced their psychology? If so, doesn’t that necessarily imply that Piaget was right? Would this information discount Vygotsky’s theory?

Categories
Philosophy & Politics Science

Neonatal Drug Exposure and Supervised Injection Sites

Pregnancy is a delicate process: a pregnant mother holds not only an unborn child within them, but also the dreams, ambitions, achievements and characteristics of that child. The WebMD article “Drug Use and Pregnancy” breaks down the detrimental effects that drug and alcohol use during pregnancy can have on an unborn child. Use of cocaine during pregnancy for example can cause the baby to have a small head, indicating a lower IQ, and using methamphetamine can cause premature birth with low weight or early-pregnancy miscarriage, among other issues. Interestingly, marijuana use causes the same issues, but also causes the baby to experience withdrawal symptoms after birth.

The article also touches on cigarette smoking during pregnancy, ”According to the Centers for Disease Control, mothers who smoke early in their pregnancy are more likely to deliver babies that have several different heart defects, including septal defects – essentially a hole in the wall between the heart’s left and right chambers. Sadly, most infants with congenital heart defects die in the first year of life.” These reasons should be enough justification for substance regulation during pregnancy; just because the mother chooses to use, doesn’t mean the child should be forced to.

The information that drug use is bad for developing babies isn’t particularly ground-breaking, but it should be acted upon. If you can’t use words and articles to convince a using person to stop to save their own health, do you think they’ll do it for the baby? The issue arises when it comes to regulation, because it turns into a ‘rights of the mother vs rights of the baby’ discussion at that point. A debate is surely necessary- but politics moves slowly, and there must be a way to take action against prenatal substance exposure and abuse now.

There is a way to tackle this issue progressively in a manner that may ideological disagree with some: supervised injection sites. Supervised injection sites, also called safe injection facilities, provide addicts with medically supervised locations where they may consume previously-obtained illicit substances without risk of legal action by the state. Aside from providing a safe space with medical supervision, supervised injection sites offer addicts important services like case management and mental health treatment.

Though it sounds absurd- the idea of effectively granting permission to abuse illicit substances, especially to expecting mothers- the idea is not to encourage substance abuse. I’d be hard pressed to believe anybody would casually take up shooting opioids or narcotics because you gave them the O-K. Rather, the praxis is to encourage individuals who would otherwise abuse regardless with a safe place to do so, which accomplishes a multitude of social milestones.

One example of how implementing safe injection facilities in our communities would benefit society as well as addicts is the fact that less drug abuse and consumption would occur in our inner communities, and instead, be concentrated in a controlled environment with supervision to the benefit of both the consumer as well as non-addict demographics. Simply put- supervised injection sites = less drugs being used on the streets.

Although discussing the financials of public health policy feels frustrating, it’s important to recognize the economic impact of big policy decisions. When this concept is proposed, typically the initial conservative neoliberal, or “socially liberal but fiscally conservative,” response is “Tax dollars going towards helping addicts? That’s insane!” However, consider the following economic benefits of adopting these measures:

  • Sterile supplies and medical support greatly impact addict mortality rates. Over 40 peer-reviewed scientific studies have found a 35% decrease in overdose death rates in the surrounding community.
  • Declines in public needle-sharing and public injection, resulting in a reduction of HIV and Hepatitis infection.
  • Case management, mental health counseling, and rehabilitation including medically-supervised withdrawal offer addicts an important sense of hope for recovery- the most important factor.
  • Recovered addicts, in return, participate in the local economy, stimulating local growth, and paying taxes along the way. Three separate studies, as of 2017, have found supervised injection sites to be cost-effective.

If concentration of crime is a concern, in 2003, Insite, North America’s first supervised injection site was sanctioned. “[according to peer-reviewed studies…] Insite’s establishment did not contribute to increases in community drug use, drug-related crime, or initiation of injection drug use.” (Kennedy)

To return full circle, the idea of proposing supervised injection sites is, as far as public policy is concerned, a public health issue, as well as a civil rights one. The conservative neoliberal agenda detracts from “right to life” when they don’t approve cost-effective, safe, and potentially life-saving public policy under the guise of “but my taxes!” Hundreds of prenatal and neonate babies can be saved from death, disfigurement, and disability with the adoption of supervised injection sites.

If pregnant women cannot have access to safe and regulated abortions, then hypothetically, the baby shouldn’t be denied any slightest possibility of a healthy development, birth, and life in general.

Works Cited

Gaither, K. (Ed.). (2014, September 18). Drug Use and Pregnancy. Retrieved January 7, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/baby/drug-use-and-pregnancy?page=1

Kennedy, Mary Clare, and Thomas Kerr. “Overdose Prevention in the United States: A Call for Supervised Injection Sites.” American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, Jan. 2017, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5308167/.

“Supervised Consumption Services.” Drug Policy Alliance, http://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/supervised-consumption-services.

“Supervised Injection Sites Are Coming to the United States. Here’s What You Should Know.” Blog, 2 May 2019, nursing.usc.edu/blog/supervised-injection-sites/.