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Speaking of drafting people ....(13 posts)

Speaking of drafting people ....mtber
Jun 20, 2002 1:26 PM
I read over the topics on this forum for the 1st time today - many interesting posts. The topic about drafting women was interesting but kind of got out of hand - very few seemed to address the guy's original question on whether true equality dictates that women be drafted along with men.

However, I have a slightly different question: What does everyone think of requiring ALL 18 year olds to spend a year (or maybe 6 months) doing public service? The individual would be able to choose from a variety of services that would build a sense of pride in America as well as personal self-esteem. The military could be one of these options as well as maybe wildland fire-fighting, building low-income housing (maybe habitat for humanity), working at the humane society - you name it. Anyway, I think that before 9/11 very few people of my generation (Gen X) had any sense of patriotism, serving one's country, etc since it has been 30 years since the last draft and we have not lived through a major war. What say everyone?
re: Speaking of drafting people ....The Walrus
Jun 20, 2002 3:09 PM
I've always thought some kind of meaningful, mandatory public service makes sense. As you suggest, military service wouldn't (shouldn't) be the sole option. I don't have any illusions about this fostering a groundswell of national pride and selflessness throughout the country, but it seems to me that citizenship incurs more of an obligation than just paying taxes, and voting when it's convenient.
I think that's a great idea...empacher6seat
Jun 20, 2002 9:24 PM
I think it'd be awesome to see that happening. It would be great to see a wide variety of options that relate to many different career choices as well. That way highschool students could get the oppertunity to "test the waters" of jobs that they're interested in before they go and spend thousands of thousands of dollars on tuition!
Patriotism vs Economics and a New EraAllisonHayes
Jun 21, 2002 4:41 AM
Although your idea sounds very patriotic, it probably is not practical for several reasons:

1. What would it cost to do this? Probably not economically feasible.
2. Who is the enemy? We are entering a new era where the "enemy" lurks in the shadows.
3. Soldier of the "future." To counter this new enemy, the future combat soldier will be a technologic marvel. Even now, the government is building a military infrastructure where it can deploy small combat units of men & materials to any place on the globe in short notice as well as have full command and control capability down to the individual level. Essentially, we don't need millions of soldiers.
4. Where we need people--prevention & intelligence. FBI, CIA, Homeland Security. Terrorists are able to easily operate without detection because our borders are pourous and they have the advantage of surprise. As I read somewhere, we are in for a 50-100 year war against terrorism.

Anyway, good question and thoughtfully posted.

Jun 21, 2002 6:51 AM
Paying for such a program would probably be the biggest obstacle, but we would be getting something in return. Remember, I said that the military would be only ONE public service option. Here is an example where the return MIGHT have exceeded the cost:

They are airing a show (Frontline?) on PBS lately about the nation's 100% fire suppression policy during the last 80yrs. This policy has caused a tremendous amount of 'fuel' to accumulate in the forests and is at least partly the reason for the huge scale of this year's wildfires. IF young people could have been used to clear out the underbrush (a tremendous undertaking after 80 yrs of NO small fires), MAYBE some of the expense that we are seeing now fighting such fires could have been eliminated. The following was taken from an article on Colorado's 9 News website:

The Hayman Fire has now burned almost 137,000 acres. It is more than five times the size of the previous largest wildfire in Colorado... the number of residences burned is up to 79 and the number of out buildings to 413...So far, it has cost $17 million to fight the Hayman fire. When it's all over, that figure could be over $50 million.

Just a thought.
On National ServiceJon Billheimer
Jun 21, 2002 7:16 AM
This thread struck a chord with me since I grew up in a Mennonite community in Northern Indiana. Mennonites, Quakers, and others from a pacifist religious orientation for decades have volunteered for two to three years of alternate service, working in hospitals, schools, Habitat type projects, etc., etc. I'm not advocating here for any particular religious or political point of view. However, I have never in my life experienced anywhere close to the sense of community and genuine neighbourliness that I did growing up in Northern Indiana with many Mennonites and Amish as neighbours. The ethic instilled was, you ARE your neighbour's keeper. I think mandatory national service, including non-military options, would go a long way to instilling a sense of caring community in our countries--both Canada and the U.S. The present emphasis on ultra-militaristic nationalism in my opinion has gone way over the top. We also need to develop a sense of caring and world community. Take a page from Pres. Jimmy Carter's example!
on mandatorymr_spin
Jun 21, 2002 7:41 AM
I like this idea, especially since there is such a sense of entitlement in people today. Maybe public service can add a sense of perspective.

However, the problem with mandatory anything, especially anything service-related, is that there will be a lot of people who are not interested in doing it. They will fight it, or worse, they will finish out their time as if it were a prison sentence.

It's like when I was back in grade school, and the nuns would smack me if I wasn't singing during song time. I don't enjoy singing. I have a terrible voice. Forcing me to sing then did nothing to instill a love for singing. I don't sing today.

The other day I heard about some politician trying to pass a law requiring school children to say the pledge of allegiance every morning. He claims that it will instill patriotism and love of country, etc., etc. I just have to laugh, because this guy is beyond naive. If his heart is lifted watching kids mouth words they do not understand, he is as dumb as they come. If he thinks the mindless drone of kids forced to say the pledge is patriotic, he is a fool.

People have to want to do things like public service, or it is meaningless. People have to feel patriotic on their own--you can't make them.
on mandatorymtber
Jun 21, 2002 8:04 AM
Sure, at first there would be plenty of opposition, especially by the rich-kid, coddled types. But, after time, it would become accepted as a part of life. Lots of kids hate school, too, but it is pretty widely accepted that you HAVE to go to school for 12 years. Adding 1/2 to one more year would hardly make a difference. Heck, we all hate paying taxes, too, but most of us do not argue the neccessity of paying them.

If well implemented (I realize that few things in government are well implemented) there would enough of a variety of service options that most people would be able to find something that suits their interests.

Finally, I agree with Jon B that participation in such a program would actually instill a better sense of community throughout the nation, as well as a sense of pride and patriotism, a heck of a lot better than just mouthing a bucnh of words before class each morning. When I was a kid, I participated in a 'cleanup' of a local river, which consisted of picking up trash - not very glamourous. But for that day of trash picking, I recieved a letter of thanks from (then) pres Jimmy Carter. Although, the letter was just hand stamped by some admin probably not even working at the White House, I was pretty proud of my acccomplishment on that day and future visitors to the river were able to enjoy a cleaner environment.
I like it, but............Len J
Jun 21, 2002 9:03 AM
there are a few details that I think would be necessary in order for it to be successful.

1.) It would need to be mandatory for all, there would be no exemptions. One of the big problems with the draft IMO was the fact that after the exceptions, only the poor and willing ended up being drafted. If this happened, support would wane. How would you manage it? Lets say you decide that 6 months during your 18th year is when you need to serve. OK does that mean you need to allow people to delay going to college? How do you coordinate this with the colleges? Lots of logistical issues.

2.) Selection of service would need to be fair. As in most things a large % would want to do the same things. There would be more "Volunteers" than positions. Who selects who gets what position? This is not an inconsequential issue. Imagine if you wanted to fight fires in Montana & ended up picking up litter on I35 in the middle of Texas.

3.) It would have to be gender neutral.

4.) Costs would have to include not just fair wages but also housing & transportation as well as administration of the programs. Not an insignificant issue. Imagine 10 to 15 million people in the program at once.

5.) Most importantly, how do you mind meaningful things for 10 to 15 million people to do continually? It's not a one time thing, you need to have things to due continually.

Just some preliminary thoughts, as in most things, the devil is in the details.

I like it, but............Jon Billheimer
Jun 21, 2002 10:09 AM

How do you find continual things for people to do in the military? As I recall from my youth, there was and still isn't a problem finding lots of productive things for alternative service volunteers to do. God knows we have enough under-serviced areas in our societies.

As far as gender neutrality is concerned, that's a requirement only if you approach this issue from a currently politically correct, liberal perspective.

Costwise, such a program would probably be considerably less than per capita costs for military participation.
I like it, but............Len J
Jun 21, 2002 10:24 AM
"How do you find continual things for people to do in the military? As I recall from my youth, there was and still isn't a problem finding lots of productive things for alternative service volunteers to do. God knows we have enough under-serviced areas in our societies"

I agree, however, it wouldn't take long for 15 million volunteers to "run out of things to do" in our underserviced areas. I'm not suggesting that this isn't a good thing, just that the implications are hugh.

"As far as gender neutrality is concerned, that's a requirement only if you approach this issue from a currently politically correct, liberal perspective."

I don't get it. We are talking about mandatory "soial service", what possible argument is there for not including both sexes? I don't think politically correct & liberal have anything to do with it. Help me understand.

"Costwise, such a program would probably be considerably less than per capita costs for military participation"

I don't think this is a relevant comparison. We are talking about mandatory service which would far eclipse the number of people in the military, so I think cost is a hugh issue.

I think that either I or some others are misunderstanding the original post. I read it to ask how we thought about a mandatory "non-military" social service program. Did I misunderstand?

I like it, but............Jon Billheimer
Jun 21, 2002 11:03 AM
Perhaps I misunderstood, but I thought the proposal was to supplant the former military draft, which didn't include women.

Although I'm not familiar with the present numbers or probable costs, I don't think a non-military draft would approach the costs of our current military programs, simply because of the capital and operational costs of the military.
I like the ideaTypeOne
Jun 21, 2002 11:41 AM
It could mean a lot to those who do the community service as well as the recipients. However, making anything "mandatory" is not always successful, as we all know. What is the punishment for skipping out on this or doing a poor job? Who would want this conscript labor working in a soup kitchen, in a park, with seniors, etc?

I worked in a middle school for a short while and talked with a teacher who had a Leadership class. Some kids were genuinely good kids, but a lot of kids signed up because it was an easy elective (not a lot of book work, just group discussions, etc.)and there were many field trips. But the class was discontinued by the school and the district after a group of kids went to a senior citizen home for community service, went unsupervised and caused some damage. Local groups wanted nothing to do with this class of hooligan "leaders." I was disgusted. This experience leads me to believe that most large groups of young people who are required to perform any work will either do a bad job, or do nothing at all.
But it just may work, and spark some empathy in a kid or broaden some understanding in someone. If the logistics and funding could possibly be worked out, it might be worth trying.