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Re: this:

and this:

Y'know, I would have no problem with requiring two years of national service right after high school of anyone who wishes to be an American citizen. Remember Heinlein? Sorta like that. But I disagree with Heinlein and others that it must be military service. In fact, that would counter the notion that this is good for America, because people would be force to do something they might be morally opposed to and cause protests.

However, most people (yes, most) right outta high school (or new to the country and seeking citizenship) ought to spend some time doing good for their country. Two years of paid volunteerism, seeing how the bottom half lives while becoming part of the country and learning who they are: That seems like a good idea.

If this resolution spelled out that the individual could pick their path (community projects, working with the homeless, cleaning up industrial spills, you name it), then I would support it! Honestly, how many kids are ready for college at 17 or 18? But I, for one, would have fought being forced into the military; heck, I would have bitched about having to do other service, but then kids of that age bitch just on principle.

How about you? Would you support mandatory national service where the hopeful citizen would be able to choose their path? A true rite of passage to citizenship. I predict it would increase the percentage of voters, too.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2004 01:28 pm (UTC)
A lot of countries require this. I know the deal in Germany is that you can pick either a year of military or a year and a half of community service. You do get paid for either path.

I guess the disadvantage is that people feel an all voluntary military has better morale and is more reliable in combat, since all participants signed up to go. I don't know.

The other problem with a lot of these systems is that they're sexist. Germany, as with almost all of them, only applies to men. Of course, the current US draft system is also sexist.

I think some sort of structured year of service away from the parents would do most people some good, and it probably would improve freshman grades in college. I'd just like to see it be something other than a year of military service. I suppose it would make a lot of people think twice about sending their children off to war, though...

May. 27th, 2004 08:53 pm (UTC)
I agree that voluntary military service is a must, that's why My Platform >g< only requires that anyone who wishes to have full citizenship (that is, the right to vote) must serve their country for two years (not one, that's a waste of training) in a significant way of their choosing, assuming there's a big list of choices. One of which would be military, of course, which would then maintain the military forces of our country. I mean, people pick that now.

Everybody has to go to work at some point, so why not make it something good for everyone? I know it would have done me good. And yes, if a significant number of them selected military service, I'd bet a lot fewer parents would be gung-ho for wars.

May. 27th, 2004 09:39 pm (UTC)
A year isn't necessarily a waste of training. In the event of a reinstituted draft, most of the population would still have some military training, so mobilization would be quicker with less training time required.

In the US - I have a feeling that there'd just be fewer eligible voters. Probably pretty close to the same amount of votes. Voting isn't a terribly effective carrot for young people. "It's the law, and you can't go to college or hold a job unless you do it." That would probably be more effective.
May. 27th, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC)
I would have very much liked an alternative from "college or job" when I graduated from high school. I probably would have done a helluva lot better once I actually went to college, too.

But, yes, as you say, only if there is an option besides military service. There's no way I would have survived that with my mind intact.
May. 27th, 2004 08:54 pm (UTC)
Heck yeah, it would have done me a world of good to do something like rebuild old inner-city buildings for the homeless before going off to college. I suspect you'd get the same (maybe better) level of cameraderie among young workers as in college. Dorms and all, why not?!

May. 27th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC)
Subsidized post secondary work-relief program
I begin to suspect that Heinlein put some thought into his system. It should be voluntary; I think that a post-secondary year of government service would be unconstitutional. The service should bring benefits beyond the rock-bottom minimal pay: a government-subsidized 401(k), for example, or a vested retirement benefit. Hey! Even the Republicans would like it if this sort of voluntary thing were linked to future SSI benefits.

("Hmm, work now for a year, retire with SSI benes. No work = no benes.")

BUT: I don't believe we should tie service with citizenship. America, the land of refuge and prosperity.

Perhaps voting rights. It would at least insure the voting pool of motivated people. Of course that would disenfranchise other folk, and that would be bad. Hmm. Perhaps folks who volunteer get to vote in all elections including Federal; folks who don't volunteer only get to vote in local/state government.

During the Depression my grandfather signed up with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, I think) as a make-work program (in the Appalachians, they built roads and did good) which led to his railroad building work which through various Union dealings led to his lifetime career of Merchant Marine. I can't think of anything more honorable.
May. 27th, 2004 08:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Subsidized post secondary work-relief program
I think you're right, that instituting anything that is required before full citizenship would require amending the Constitution. Hmmm. Wonder if it would be as popular if it weren't mandatory? I think not.

No, as with Heinlein, I wouldn't keep people from moving to the US if they chose not to serve the country, just preclude them from full citizenship. That is, voting. Make the vote something you gotta work to earn and people will respect their new-found power.

I like your ideas for compensation; yes, it would require incentives to be more attractive than other post-high-school jobs. Setting the stage for Social Security is nice, plus other types of things that those who serve time in the military currently get: College tuition help, free housing and food and uniforms while serving, a minimal but better than minimum-wage salary, and so on.

I think it would instill all kinds of self-esteem, too.

(Deleted comment)
May. 27th, 2004 09:05 pm (UTC)
Remember, My PlatformTM is not conscription but a path to citizenship. If kids choose not to serve their country, they just don't get the vote (or, as saycestsay suggests, Social Security). This is an out that a lot of Vietnam-era kids would have chosen, I bet, and imagine if Dubya had opted out of full citizenship... no Dubya in the White House... can't be a politician if you can't vote.

So I agree with Heinlein. In fact, I've though about starting a new political party. You know, The Dead Heinleins or something. Platforms being that you must serve to earn full citizenship and that we primarily deal (nationally) with policy that positively affects society for at least three generations into the future. That would preclude stupid crap like drilling in Alaska, allowing rainforests to be destroyed, and on and on while supporting development of alternative fuels, promoting space development, and so on.

I whole-heartedly agree: Give those who serve benies that make it worth staying in the service. As I wrote in another reply, at least as good as the current military gets, plus a lifetime-service path with raises in salary and rank to retain those who really love the work.

May. 28th, 2004 05:50 am (UTC)
Am I reading the bill wrong? It does say military or civilian service, and it does say men and women, right?

May. 28th, 2004 03:06 pm (UTC)
Yup, indeed it does. The thing that's making people nervous, I think, is that it doesn't say who gets to choose or what the non-military options are. Startled me at first, which is why I posted (seemed like they were prepping for eternal war), then when I got to thinking about it, it reminded me of one of the things I want to hear from a politician.

Not sure why some people were discussing the sexist nature, because it does say women and men...

Jun. 1st, 2004 08:42 am (UTC)
Voluntary militia vs. Conscription
I think one problem inherent with a strictly Voluntary Militia is that a certain kind of person volunteers for military duty.

For instance, the atrocities we're seeing now may have been mediated by the run-of-the-mill soldier who has been drafted/forced to serve in said militia. Perhaps someone would have raised questions earlier. Perhaps there would have been more soldiers who would have been appalled at what was happening, and refused to participate. (And clearly there were some soldiers who did exactly that, but frankly, not enough IMO.)

Furthermore, I think "forced" military service creates a more active constituent population, as well as more combat-trained citizens, ready to defend the homeland at times of war. I believe that this is one reason that Switzerland has been able to ward off foreign occupying forces.

I'm all for a "draft" which would require all citizens (excluding those who are physically or mentally disabled) to serve the country in some way. And frankly, I think that citizen should have a relatively compelling reason to /not/ have to serve in the armed forces. In lieu of such armed service, civil service seems quite appropriate. Perhaps this kind of forced service would improve our communities, and make better citizens. I think nothing would be so sobering as having to be required by law to go through boot camp and learn how to kill. But picking up trash alongside roadways can be equally unpleasant, so they both seem like a fitting choice.

Just my thoughts.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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