Compulsory Service: Inclusive Military University Essay Example

            Some people believe that military service should be a compulsory duty of all citizens.  In supporting the requirement of 18-35 year olds to serve two years in the national military, it is important to have an overview of the benefits of each person aiding the defense of individual and national justice, rights, and liberties.  If defending a person’s homeland is an individual responsibility, then it makes sense for all people to engage in various aspects of national defense.  For a person to be outside of the military would mean that this individual is not interested in being a part of a nation, not perceiving oneself as a part of a unified whole which deserves adequate support.  By assuming the idea that every person has the choice about whether or not one wishes to engage in national defense, one assumes that a person has a choice about opting out of nationality.  If America acts as a nation, unites its people in one government and speaks with one voice, it makes sense for all people to cooperate and work together in the defense of the nation.  Only if people abandon their nationality should they be able to abandon the duty to defend the nation.

            With an increasing population and a shrinking army, it does not make sense to continue the train of thought along the lines of optional military service (Robinson, 2006).  Freedom in America is not free.  It costs the lives and energies of many young men and women in defense of the entire nation.  For there to be thousands of people serving the United States military at any given time should be something with which every citizen is familiar.  However, unfortunately, there are many people who have never served and who have never known anyone close to them who has served the United States defense.  It costs money to run and effective military, but it also costs real time, energy, and devotion, real human lives.  It is a shame that so few people truly know what it means to give up one’s life for one’s country, to love a group of people so much that you would go to any lengths to defend them.  In implementing compulsory military service, it would be the responsibility and the privilege for all people to dedicate a couple of years of their lives to knowing what it really means to be a part of a nation, to join together with neighbors in defense of America.  In this day and age, there are all too few people who really know what it means to unify in a common goal and commit to a common purpose.  By encouraging all young adults to devote themselves to two years of military duty, America would be enforcing the responsibility of all people to their government.  Although America demands freedom for all people, it is a responsibility of the freely elected government officials to demand that the people of this great country each carry one’s own weight in regard to national defense.

            Many people in America today are very concerned with themselves, so much so that individual rights and aspirations often outweigh the rights and aspirations of the state.  Like in any organization or company, if citizens begin disrespecting the authority and management of the nation, there will be an organizational disintegration.  In order to keep a balanced cohesion between government and citizens, it is essential for the citizens to view the nation as their own group of people, a group worth defending.  Only when individuals truly realize that they belong to something bigger than themselves will they be able to see the value in compulsory military service.  Our young men and women need to embrace the fact that they live within a group of free and highly inspirational and loving people and take the measures necessary to help defend the nation in the face of adversity.

References

Robinson, J.  (2006).  Freedom Isn’t Free: A Study of Compulsory Military Service in the United States Army.  Storming Media.

 

Compulsive Gambling

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Compulsive gambling

People with compulsive gambling lose control of their betting behavior, often with serious consequences. They’re constantly chasing their losses, and they often go to extremes to hide their gambling. They may even resort to fraud or theft when faced with desperate financial problems.  Rather than being an addiction, compulsive gambling is technically classified as an impulse-control disorder — a disorder in which you can’t resist a temptation or drive to perform an act that’s harmful to you or someone else. Whatever the label, it’s difficult to overcome the powerful hook of compulsive gambling without professional treatment.  People with compulsive gambling are typically in it for the thrill, rather than the actual winnings. They find the action exciting and arousing.  The key difference between compulsive or problem gambling and social gambling is self-control. Each social gambling session usually lasts for a set period of time and involves pre-determined spending limits. It typically occurs with friends or colleagues rather than alone. The player gains satisfaction whether he/she wins or loses. (G. J. Smith, R. A. Volberg & H. J. Wynne (1994).)

Signs and symptoms of compulsive gambling include: A preoccupation with gambling, Reliving past gambling experiences, Taking time from work or family life to gamble, Concealing gambling, Feeling guilt or remorse after gambling, Borrowing money or stealing to gamble, Failed efforts to cut back on gambling, Lying to hide gambling.  People with compulsive gambling often wager money that they need to pay bills. When they lose, they chase their losses, or attempt to gain back the money they’ve gambled away. They may turn to gambling both when they feel down and when they feel up. If they try to cut down on gambling, they may become restless or irritable.  Children of problem gamblers are at greater risk than others for developing a gambling problem themselves. One study found that 50% of the children of pathological gamblers were also pathological gamblers (H. Lesieur & M. Heineman, 1988).

It’s not known what drives people to engage in compulsive gambling. Problems with certain naturally occurring chemicals in the brain may play a role. In particular, the neurotransmitters serotonin, nor-epinephrine (nor-adrenaline) and dopamine may be factors.  The following are specific Neurotransmitters that caused chemical changes in the brain and act as chemical messengers that enable nerve cells (neurons) to communicate. Neurotransmitters are released into the gaps (synapses) between nerve cells in the brain to help messages flow from one cell to another. If neurons don’t produce enough of these chemicals, messages aren’t communicated effectively. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that plays a key role in regulating mood and behavior.   Nor-epinephrine is  the hormone released in response to stress.  It has been linked to arousal and risk-taking in compulsive gamblers. Brain cells release dopamine as part of the reward system through which you learn to seek things that make you feel pleasure, such as food and sex. Dopamine plays a role in developing addiction. Together, these may set the stage for compulsive gambling.  On rare occasions, gambling becomes compulsive for some people with that very first wager, but more typically, gambling progresses through the years. In fact, you may spend years enjoying social gambling without any ill effects. But more and more gambling or a stressor in your life may trigger you to go down the path of compulsive gambling. Typically, how frequently you gamble and how much money you bet progressively increases. During periods of stress or depression, the urge to gamble may be especially overpowering. Eventually, you become almost completely preoccupied with gambling and getting money to gamble. If compulsive gambling has gotten out of your control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional who specializes in impulse-control disorders or addictions.  By the time most compulsive gamblers seek help, they are hugely in debt, owing as much as $120,000 or more, and their families are in a shambles. About 80% seriously consider suicide, and 13 to 20% actually attempt it or succeed in killing themselves. (Jane E. Brody, 1999)

Your gambling may be out of control if it is affecting your relationships, your finances or your work life.  You’re devoting more and more time and energy to gambling pursuits. You’ve unsuccessfully tried to stop or cut back on your gambling.  You try to conceal your gambling from loved ones or health professionals.  You resort to theft or fraud to get gambling money.  You ask others to bail you out of financial woes because you’ve gambled money away, have family members, friends or co-workers expressed concern about your gambling? If so, openly listen to their worries. Because denial is nearly always a characteristic of compulsive or addictive behavior, it may be difficult for you to recognize that you have compulsive gambling and to seek help on your own. It may take a loved one to persuade you that you have a problem that needs treatment.  Seek help at the first sign of a problem. Doing so can reduce the risk that your compulsive gambling will lead to severe family problems and financial woes.  Treating compulsive gambling can be challenging. That’s partly because for many people, it’s hard to admit that compulsive gambling is a problem in their life. A major component of treatment is working on acknowledging that compulsive gambling is a problem for you. If you feel that you entered treatment under pressure from loved ones or your employer, you may find yourself resisting your treatment plans. But know that treatment can help you regain a sense of happiness and control — and perhaps even help heal damaged relationships or finances.  There’s no one specific way to prevent someone from developing compulsive gambling. But because gambling often escalates over time, not gambling at all, avoiding situations in which gambling occurs, and not gambling around vulnerable people may help prevent the development of a gambling compulsion. The proliferation of lotteries, Internet gaming and casinos provides easier access to gambling. If you have risk factors for compulsive gambling, avoiding such betting facilities may help. Getting treatment at the earliest sign of a problem also can help prevent a gambling disorder from worsening.

The lure of gambling is hard to overcome if you think you’ll win the next time. Here are some recovery skills that may help you remain focused on resisting the urges of compulsive gambling: Tell yourself that it’s too risky to gamble at all. One bet typically leads to another and another.  Give yourself permission to ask for help, as part of realizing that sheer will power isn’t enough to overcome compulsive gambling.  Stay focused on your No. 1 goal: Not to gamble. Coping skills to better manage the other issues in your life can only be initiated when you aren’t gambling. Recognize and then avoid situations that trigger your urge to bet.  Make a point of engaging in supportive self-help activities. Add healthy social activities that don’t involve gambling. Acknowledge setbacks and return to your recovery plan.  Be honest with family members and friends. Tell them how they can help you stick to your recovery plan. Ask them to encourage your use of coping skills when the urge to gamble strikes.

WORKS CITED

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Compulsive Gambling.

           [Electronic Version]. 16 January2007 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/

           health/compulsive-gambling/DS00443/DSECTION=10

G. J. Smith, R. A. Volberg & H. J. Wynne. (1994) Leisure behavior on the edge: Differences

         between controlled and uncontrolled gambling practices. Society and Leisure.

Jane E. Brody, “Compulsive Gambling: Overlooked Addiction,” New York Times, May 4, 1999,

         D7

H. Lesieur & M. Heineman (1988). Pathological gambling among youthful multiple substance

         abusers in a therapeutic community. British Journal of Addictions, 83, 765-771. from

         http://rf-web.tamu.edu/security/SECGUIDE/Eap/Gamble.htm#9

 

The Impact Of Compulsory Voting In Australia

The Compulsory Voting System

For more than eight decades, Australia adopted the Compulsory Voting (CV) system for all its citizens during election period. Such system requires all citizens from age 18 and above to register to vote and go to a polling place to cast their vote during the election period. (whatisAbout.com). It has been known as Australia’s electoral institution, “a long standing rarity among the world’s democracies, that has helped push turnout in Australian federal elections well above 90 percent since its introduction in 1924, a level unparalleled among the world’s mature democracies” (Jackman, 1997, p. 4).

Since it was adopted, voter turnout at the Australian elections has never fallen below 90% — which meant that it had high level of participation in the elections (Evans, 2006).  This caused more than 30% difference compared to prior elections that did not require mandatory voting (Jackman, n.d.).  Evans (2006) stressed this as one importance of adopting the system in the electoral process, since it is a civic duty comparable to other obligations to the country such as taxation, education, jury duty, among others.

In this regard, about 9.6 percent of the world population were noted to be using the system in determining their form of government (Evans, 2006). There are about 24 countries, which have some form of CV but unlike in Australia, these do not subject to punitive measures those particularly who are unable to vote on Election Day (Jackman, n.d.). The Australian citizens are subject to fines, community service or imprisonment for non-compliance to vote. These penalties can however be waived if they will be able to present “valid and sufficient” excuse for not casting their vote as required (Jackman, n.d.).

Though compulsory, the Australian Electoral Commission provides several options for the citizens to be able to comply with the system – postal voting, pre-poll voting, absent voting, voting at Australian overseas missions and voting at mobile teams at hospitals and nursing homes and in remote localities, as well as ordinary voting at a polling place in their electorate (Evans, 2006).

The Consequences of Complying with the System

Various arguments have been raised for and against the CV system, leading for other countries who have been practising it to abolish and/or modify the system by altering the punitive measures applied for non-compliance (Wikipedia Encyclopedia).  These were based on the results of the previous federal elections that indicated the variation in the mandatory versus voluntary voting as well as the social behaviour of the citizens towards voting.

Voter Turnout

Upon instituting the Compulsory Voting System in Australia, it has been noted that nine elections later resulted to an average of 94.6% voter turnout compared to the 64.2% voter turnout prior to its implementation (Jackman, n.d.).  Likewise, it has been noted that ‘non-compliance penalties offset the costs of electoral participation, effectively attaching a cost to not turning out and thereby overcoming the fact that turnout is a low benefit activity for many citizens’ (Lijphart, 1997 as noted by Jackman, n.d.).

There were cross-national studies that show diverse results for adopting CV or abolishing the system.  In countries where CV was abolished in the electoral process, lesser turnout has been observed, dropping to 10% (Jackman, n.d.).  Jackman likewise indicated that the removal of fines for non-compliance, particularly like what happened in Venezuela, caused an average of 30% turnout fall.  However, in Austria, where some provinces did not adopt the CV system in the electoral process, there was a minimal difference of voter turnout (Jackman, n.d.).  With these, it has been concluded that the effects of the CV were “conditional on baseline levels of electoral participation – i.e., CV is likely to have bigger impacts on turnout when other factors predispose a country to low turnout and vice versa” (Hirczy, 1994 as noted by Jackman, n,d,).

Political Consequences

Since the Australian Government retained the system up to the present times, it indicated that the compulsory voting has not been opposed by the Australian citizens, who might be having a positive relationship with the State (Hill, n.d.). This may be due to the fact that the Australians have regarded voting as a normal part of their political culture and viewed the state in “quasi-idealist terms as a benign provider of goods rather than an unwelcome imposer of restrictions” (Hill, n.d.).  It was even noted in a minority report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in 1997 that there was no evidence of a public upsurge exclaiming for voluntary voting instead of mandatory voting, and that such move raised by the opponents of the system was assumed for a partisan self-interest, especially if it was raised right after the conduct of the 1996 Australian federal election (Jackman, 1997).  It was noted rather that there has been evidence that CV had a strong popular support during that time, which about 74 percent of the survey respondents affirmed the upholding of CV at federal elections (Evans, 2006).  Furthermore, Prime Minister John Howard announced in 2005 that CV will still be adopted at the next federal election since there are a number of supporters particularly from the government vying for a status quo, aside from the fact there is no justification for altering the current system (Peatling, 2005).

Proponents of the CV system argued that a parliament elected by a compulsory vote reflected the will of the majority of the electorate, since in a voluntary system, the turnout could vary from one electorate to another (Evans, 2006).

Moreover, Jackman (n.d.) noted the various implications of a mandatory system of voting, to wit:

1.        There were comparative studies showing the relationship between the socio-economic status and voter turnout weakens as the latter increases. This means that an increase in the electoral participation disregards the socioeconomic differences of the voters, implying the equal rights for all citizens.

2.        This also relates the partisan and ideological implications. Since it diminishes the socioeconomic differences, CV likewise diminishes the socioeconomic biases which are relative to the extent of support towards a political party. Hence, this results in “higher welfare spending and more state interventions in the macroeconomy and labour markets.  With this, the policy agendas are hereby redirected.

Australians have seen further the benefits of the CV, as noted by the early governments in the 2001 research paper from the Australian Parliamentary Library, that is, voluntary systems make the poor and marginalized citizens as non-voters compared to the mandatory voting for all that equalizes the citizens’ rights, whether belonging to the wealthy or poor clan (Barns, 2004).

This can be related to Jackman’s (1997) conclusion that there is no empirical evidence on relating the change in the voting system from voluntary to mandatory or vice versa that would favour any political party.  However though, these political parties would behave differently if the voting system would be voluntary (Evans, 2006).

There is likewise no way of determining whether the election returns were correctly completed by the voters themselves which may be due to some other factors, if it is some form of protest against the system or against the government (Evans, 2006). Evans further pointed out that because of such incidents, these may increase the number of incomplete votes such as the ‘donkey votes’ and informal votes[1], thus diminishing the quality of votes and thereby the result of the electoral process as a whole. In fact, in the 2001 federal election of the Australian House of Representatives, about 64 percent of the votes were considered informal, which may be due to misinterpretation of the electoral laws or merely ‘a deliberate act of civil disobedience’ either against the system or on any other matter (Evans, 2006).  Evans further noted that the “minor parties are obvious beneficiaries of the CV… since they provide an alternative for voters dissatisfied with Australia’s major parties, but compelled to vote.” Hence, leading to the form of government preferred by the voters.

Other Consequences

Lack of awareness on politics, including those with little interest are being forced to the polls, and so argued by the opponents of the CV (WhatisAbout.com). However, this has been clarified by the Australian Electoral Commission, referring to one case wherein one voter refused to vote because he had no preference over any political candidates then, to wit

“… However much the elector may say he has no personal preference for any candidate, that none of them will suit him, he is not asked that question nor required to express by his vote that opinion. He is asked to express a preference amongst those who are available for election. That is to state which of them, if he must have one or more of them as Parliamentary representatives, as he must, to mark down his vote in an order of preference of them.”  (Stated by then Chief Justice Barwick, Electoral Backgrounder no. 17).

This may be due to the fact that though coming to the polls and cast their votes are mandatory, their decision making on who to vote is still not manipulated by any political party, and the voters are given enough time to know the political candidates and make their preferences (Jackman, 1997).

However, should the non-voter present valid and sufficient reason for doing so (e.g., equal disapproval of political candidates), the Australian Electoral Commission would weigh the circumstances to measure its validity. Once proven valid and sufficient, there is a possibility that the penalty would be waived (Electoral Backgrounder no. 17).

On the other hand, Krasa and Polborn (2005), after examining the comparative effects of different types of social decision making, concluded that “costly voting induces suboptimal equilibrium participation and frequently leads to wrong choices.”  The study indicated that should the citizens be provided with incentives after voting, it would probably increase the quality of electoral decisions and social welfare of the country.

Krasa and Polborn further related voting to providing public good to the citizens and stressed that “an individual citizen who becomes informed and (then) votes increases the quality of public decisions for all his compatriots.  Thus, recommending to subsidize the voters rather than impose tax on them.

Similarly, adopting CV lead the socially-advantaged to have greater interest in investing in broad public education, as the socially disadvantaged happens to have greater influence on public policy, thereby, lifting the standard of public education and creating a greater sense of national solidarity (wikipedia encyclopedia).

References

Barns, G. 2004. Compulsory Voting means ignoring Election Day is not an option. Commentary in Seattle Post Intelligencer. Retrieved 30 May 2006. http://www.seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/200837_compulsoryvoting24.html

Compulsory Voting. In WhatisAbout.com? www.gegraphy.about.com/library/weekly/aa060100a.htm

Evans, T. 2006. Compulsory Voting in Australia. Australian Electoral Commission.  www.aec.gov.au/_content/what/voting/compulsory_voting.pdf

Hill, L. (undated). Compulsory Voting as a Democratic Innovation. Retrieved 25 May 2006. http://pchoice.anu.edu.au/Hill.html

Jackman, S. (undated). Compulsory Voting, as published in the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Retrieved 25 May 2006. http://www.jackman.standford.edu/papers/cv.pdf

Jackman, S. 1997. Non-Compulsory Voting in Australia?: what surveys can (and can’t) tell us. http://www.polmeth.wustl.edu/retrieve.php?id=399

Krasa, S. and Polborn M. 2005. Is Mandatory Voting Better than Voluntary Voting? http://www.econ.uiuc.edu/~skrasa/voting_january_2005.pdf

Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia, www.wikipedia.org

Peatling, S. 2005. Howard rejects calls to end compulsory voting. In the Sydney Morningn Herald, October 5, 2005. http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/howard-rejects-calls-to-end-compulsory-voting/2005/10/04/1128191720202.html

Compulsory Voting. Electoral Backgrounder no. 17, August 2004. www.aec.gov.au/_content/How/backgrounders/17/EB_17_Compulsory_Voting.pdf

[1] ‘Donkey votes’ are incomplete ballots that are considered bad votes and do not get counted. Informal votes are ballots not marked according to the rules and regulations of the electoral system. (WhatisAbout.com)

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