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Mental Illness and Government

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jacassidy2
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The citizens, through their government, must care for those imprisoned for initiating force or fraud.  Ideally these people would work off the cost of their incarceration by creating some equal value.  But what about the mentally ill who break the law and who we worry will do so again if released?

 

Some individuals in our society might object to reasonable policing or national defense, but Objectivists would ignore them because the funding system would not be imposing a forced cost on these detractors and anarchy is not a reasonable alternative.

 

So, based on solid Objectivist principles, would care of the mentally ill be a legit function of government, in line with local and national defense?

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A similarly titled thread was raised in the wake of the 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois University.

 

According to a Washington University study the vast majority of people with mentally illness are not violent, while a Washington Post article states that "[m]entally ill prisoners comprise a large fraction of the jail and prison population." In Dr. Peikoff's presentation, What To Do About Crime, he suggested Dr. Samenow's book Inside The Criminal Mind, which mentioned the way in which offenders try to play the psychiatric angle of the system to get off, which brings the Washington Post point into question in my mind.

 

In Samenow's book, knowing the criminal's game and refusing to play it, came across as the most effectual dealing with the psychiatric aspect. Would this be effective with a person who is mentally ill? If not, incarceration is a means of keeping those desiring to live rational productive lives safe from the those who do not or will can not.

 

Your second question, either intentionally or inadvertently broadens the point from mentally ill with criminal proclivity to mentally ill in general. Care of the mentally ill as a legit function of government in this sense would be akin to care of the physically ill via meddling in insurance or otherwise. It doesn't fall under the proper purpose government  is instituted for: of upholding and protecting individual rights.

 

Edited: former, latter.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Got it, agree with it, and thanks so much for the references.  But, limiting the discussion only to the real mentally ill who are, or potentially are, violent - an assault now puts them in jail for 2 years then they get out and commit a worse assault for 5 years, etc.  At what point is it reasonable for an Objectivist inspired government to house them?

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Presuming an objectively based government, at the point it can be reasonably ascertained that permitting violent mentally ill people to remain at large violates the prime directive of upholding and protecting the individual rights of who live by that principle.

Edited by dream_weaver
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Got it, agree with it, and thanks so much for the references.  But, limiting the discussion only to the real mentally ill who are, or potentially are, violent - an assault now puts them in jail for 2 years then they get out and commit a worse assault for 5 years, etc.  At what point is it reasonable for an Objectivist inspired government to house them?

 

"Housing" would be an over-reach for government.

 

Irrespective of whether charity or family will succeed in providing housing of some sort, food, and comfort etc., the government's role would be oversight of security to protect individuals.  Government should participate only to the extent required to protect individuals and their rights from the ill person.

 

If the ill person is living with family, this may necessitate monitoring of the home, ankle bracelets, and depending upon the danger posed by the person and the pending agreement with the family, may require bars, strong locks, or security personnel.  To the extent that the cost of having a person held at home exceeds that of a normal prison or an alternative the government normally used but for which the family has requested an alternative which can reasonably be shown to be just as effective, the family would be responsible for that extra funding.

 

In a parallel manner If an ill person is kept in a government run facility, the government might pay for security and monitoring, bare subsistence, family and charity might pay for tasty and or expensive food, TV, decorations, larger living quarters, state of the art mattresses etc.

 

If the ill person is actually homeless, this may pose an interesting problem for the government who would have to decide how best to spend its resources to ensure the protection of individual rights of the citizenry.  This may include monitoring, a security guard, perhaps a shock collar, even if only as a temporary step while the government attempts to persuade (not force) charitable organizations to take initiative in generosity towards the individual, be it in the form of shelter, food, and/or care. 

 

In the worst case scenario as possibly with certain criminals, exile into an isolated or controlled geography might be an option, after it has been established that no one, no family, no charitable organization etc. wishes to voluntarily divest itself of resources to take care of this ill person.

 

 

Government should be extremely careful not to exceed its proper function.

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