Sunday, November 26, 2006
The Idea of National Service
Not your usual draft proposal!
The idea of National Service has been around forever. It was debated in Congress in the 50's to my knowledge, and probably much earlier. NS is not simply the old draft in modern terms, it is a true national effort that does include the military, but is not restricted to it. Many other forms of service are part of this concept, which I will list later, but all of these service tasks would have in common the following efforts:
1. Regular physical exercise,
2. Learning discipline, strict schedules, rules of behavior, etc.
3. Learning proper dress, grooming and hygiene,
4. Learning the English language as written and spoken,
5. Being taught Civics in the
6. Taking a course on American history in a positive manner, not bent on slander,
7. Learning manual skills of the office, especially typing,
8. Teamwork, and how to get along with others, politeness,
9. How to march; that is, military drill instruction and practice
10. How to handle a weapon or two, and how to shoot them well.
11. An opportunity to learn a foreign language if qualified.
12. Learning a trade or semi-profession useful in civil life.
The inductees would be tested for mental aptitude, physical health, attitudes towards service, a minimum of three options they would choose for service, and then would enter the first 11 levels of training as given above.
The options they would be given for service in (12) above, under strict supervision, might include:
3. Neighborhood Watches (under police supervision)
4. Peace Corps
5. Hospital trainees
6. Building Houses for the Poor
7. Firefighter assistants
8. Forrest Ranger Helpers
9. Environmental Cleanup Program
10. Border Patrol
11. Emergency Rescue and Ambulance services
12. Flood and Disaster Work
13. Elder Care Assistants
14. Road Crews and Street Sweepers
15. Sanitation Workers
16. County and City Maintenance Services
17. Other tasks not thought of yet.
The age of these inductees would be from about 17 through 21, which in the next few years will probably top 30 to 40 million people or so! The big question is whether the tasks identified so far, or new tasks to be found, would be able to absorb 40 million young people, or a good proportion of them in useful and well-supervised work.
A possible solution would be to absorb only 19-year-olds for the year-and-a-half to two-year service time, thus bringing down the total to perhaps 16 million 19 and 20-year olds, or so, over two years at the peak, which is still an extremely daunting number.
This needs a lot of thought to make it practical and useful! It is a political disaster, particularly when many youngsters (and their parents) do not want to serve at all. However, it would benefit everyone.
Labels: National Service
Friday, November 24, 2006
Just who isn't going mad and fighting?
We have a ancient group of religious madmen called Jihadists bombing everyone in Iraq.
We have a group of Secular Humanists in the US that want to take control and move us into an International government.
We have a group of Loony Left Wing Liberals in our country that want to destroy our current way of life in order to install a Socialist government, and they make common cause with the Secularists.
Then we have a group of Ultra Right Wing Extremists who want to overturn the government and create a "Christian" theocracy by force.
Lurking around underneath the cover of these Humanists and Loons are the hard-core Communists, who follow the discredited dictates of Marx and Lenin, and call for the distruction of our society in order to build a Communist utopia, and raise a crop of little communist automatons.
Somewhere in the murk are the Neocons that still believe in projecting US power into the lands of the Jihadist enemy simply to kill as many of them as possible, especially in Iraq.
Another group that I will classify as Pacifists declare their unalterable opposition to any form of war and conflict, thus ceding the battle for minds, hearts and territory to the enemy. No fight here!
Hispanics have their agenda, which seems to be the reconquest of America by infiltration, as do the Muslims.
Iranians are threatening to blow up the Jews in Israel and our citizens in the US as well.
The Israelis, in turn, are threatening their own attack on Iran.
China is building a huge military capability, North Korea has the bomb now, Taiwan has a competant force poised to repel a Chinese invasion,
Afghanistan and Pakistan are scenes of deadly combat between the Taliban and NATO forces.
Hugo The Citgo Chavez is arming to defeat a phantom US invasion of Venezuela, and to dominate Central and South America.
Darfur is continuing to be the site of genocides despite UN (so-called) peacekeepers presence.
The Russians are not standing still militarily either. Their rocket forces are formidable, and their tank forces are strong and reliable, if not up-to-date.
India still looks warily at Pakistan, as if their long-standing conflict over Kashmir will reignite at any moment, and China is always pressuring them in the North.
What is this all about? To me, it is about survival of our way of life in this tumultuous world.
The majority of Americans support fighting to maintain our nation.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Congressman Charles Rangel is not one of my favorite legislators. However, he has championed a form of National Service for all young men and women, I presume after high school graduation and before college, with no exemptions to be allowed. There is merit in this, so long as the service tasks allowed are a form of military or police work, and not softie jobs of any sort.
Such a program should not be used as a dumping ground for the unemployed and unemployable, however. There should be serious training involved, and competence tests for the participants that are public records of success or failure. Anyone not performing well should be retained for extra time to correct their failures, thus trapping those who want to drag their feet into more service. On the other side of the coin, foot-draggers who want to stay around forever for a free lunch should find themselves in front of a courts martial.
The merits of National Service of this type are several fold: High school graduates would have an immediate job for a year or year-and-a-half; the training they receive could be of immense benefit to them in civilian occupations; the discipline they would be subjected to by the military or police would be of great value in shaping their character and their health; the nation would benefit by creating a vast pool of trained men and women in the event of war or catastrophes; the police would benefit from having what amounts to paid rookies; and the military could benefit by having a large pool of trained men to recruit for permanent positions in the all-volunteer armed forces.
I would support a program along these lines wholeheartedly.
Labels: National Service
Sunday, November 19, 2006
The search for historical parallels: is it a waste of time and energy?
There are a number of historians and and a host of amateurs who spend considerable time and energy attempting to identify past situations and outcomes that parallel some present situation. They do so to draw conclusions about the probable outcome of the situation at hand, and to support a lesson to be applied now by those in charge of policy and command of forces. In most cases of these prognostications, I submit that there are significant dangers in applying them:
1) Interpretation of past events through historical records is not a perfect science, and the records are most likely imperfect; 2) Objectivity of the historian is immediately questionable, since he started out to find a parallel--in his estimation--which is a biasing process; 3) It is extremely difficult to believe that sufficient parallism exists between events, timing, communications, states of mind, the available tools (of warfare, for instance), and the manifold intangibles of leadership, belief in a cause, motivation, training, scalability and insight, to name just a few aspects for the comparison between now and then.
There is one area, however, that makes study of history pay. That area is the practice of deception of fallible human beings. In warfare, deception is a major weapon, and historical lessons in how to deceive the enemy can be put to effective use today, if properly updated technologically.
The other useful aspect of historicism is to frame the debate about the current situation with pseudo-effective parallels from the past in the minds of the people concerned, the objective being to influence government policy and direction. Some would call this dishonest, wouldn't they?
Using the Vietnam quagmire comparison with our current Iraqi situation is an example of this framing. The comparison is superficial at best, and falls apart the minute equivalent details are brought to bear.
The one similarity I can agree with is the role played by the media in creating a climate of defeat in the minds of many Americans at home, and snatching defeat from victory at the last moment! This technique has been 'very helpfully' refined and extended since the Vietnam era, to the point that it has taken the media only three or four years to reach the public and the government with its defeatist attitudes, instead of the ten years it took back then.
There is much to be said for common sense and simply thinking one's way through a problem, instead of burning minds up looking for parallels from the past to guide the way.